Archives for September 2009

On The Offense

This past weekend, Lawn Man (otherwise known as my husband) was on the march. On the offense against sneaky weeds just waiting to rear their ugly heads come next spring.

The lawn is Don’s baby. For the past several years, he’s ridden herd over any stray weeds (and there are plenty) that make their way onto our property. His weapon is the trusty spreader pictured above, and his magic bullet is a good supply of Scotts Brand weed and feed. Right now the exact product name eludes me, but maybe Don will chime in with details in the comments section.

The weed and feed offense takes place at our house twice a year, every fall and spring. By taking advice and following instructions, Don learned years ago how to get the upper hand against offending greenery and wildflowers (those pesky dandelions!). And let’s not forget the “feed” part of the equation as it protects and strengthens for a better spring lawn. Because of Don’s diligence — and the death blows he deals to the weeds that do sneak through — we enjoy the beauty of a healthy, uniform lawn.

The Word of God tells us about a weed fight of a different sort. Jesus spoke of a farmer who sowed seed, and some of it “‘fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.'” (Matthew 13:7) We may not think of thorns as weeds, but they certainly do the job of weeds, choking out the growth of good plants.

Jesus went on to say, “‘The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.'” (v. 22).

Sounds like we would be wise to go on the march, on the offense, against some weeds of our own, doesn’t it? Let’s think for a moment about the worries we currently face or about the lies the world feeds us where money and the constant need for more is concerned. And don’t forget the trap of overextending ourselves financially.

These are the kinds of things that can dominate our lives, robbing us of time and getting our focus off of God, His truths, and His work in our lives. These are the kinds of things that can choke and stunt our spiritual growth.

What do you do to ride herd over these sneaky weeds? What advice or instructions do you follow to defeat them? What weapons do you use? Have diligence and death blows paid off for you? Chime in with an answer to any of these questions. Let’s go on the offense together!

**I’ll kick it off by sharing one very practical strategy we’ve followed that protects us from one kind of choking. We don’t put anything on our credit card that we can’t pay off that month.

*My photo

A Sheltering Tree

It’s just across the street. The beauty of this sheltering tree that awaits my glance each day. It’s big, it’s lush, and it’s…old. A fixture since we moved into the neighborhood 30 years ago, who knows how long it stood there before that.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve only truly appreciated this tree the past couple of years, since the time I made it a habit to slow down and indulge in an early morning drink of nature. When I take the time to look, the tree sings out with beauty and strength.

It’s trunk, ever strong and dependable, is rooted deep and gives rise to a vast network of branches arrayed with evidence of life and fresh growth. As it’s shade blesses all below, it offers sweet shelter above to a variety of God’s little creatures.

It’s got it all — a place to rest or build a nest, a stage for singing or a playground for running to and fro. This sheltering tree…what a place of beauty, blessing and refreshment. Not a bad legacy for an old tree, huh?

As we grow old (and some of us are getting closer all the time!), let’s hope our lives offer much of the same. Strength and beauty. Shelter and shade. Blessing and refreshment. Life and fresh growth… A very good legacy indeed. Oh Lord, help me be a sheltering tree!

“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:14

*My photo

Expert Help

This past Sunday afternoon our nephew Cody came to town looking for some expert help. Don’t worry — he didn’t hitchhike or ride his bike 75 miles to get here. My sister Carolyn drove him up, and Gavin, our younger nephew, came along for the ride and whatever excitement could be found at Uncle Don and Aunt Cheryl’s. Thank goodness, we didn’t disappoint :)

While Gavin just came looking for fun, Cody actually came on business. Science fair business, that is. And who better to help with a science fair project than Uncle Don? Cody’s finding out that it can come in pretty hand to have a mad scientist for an uncle. When his friend texted him the other day wondering what they were going to do about the project, Cody already had his answer — Uncle Don, the resident family expert in all things biological. Our own little pathological biological maniac :)

Now don’t get me wrong. Cody will do his part. Sunday was just the preparation day, the day to do a practice run-through and fill out all the paperwork (and there was a lot of paperwork!). He’s also going to have to come back for a weekend sometime to do the actual experiment in the lab with Don and then read the results a couple of days later.

Yes, he’ll be doing the procedure, but he’d be lost without Don’s guidance, without the expert help. With the help, he’ll leap tall buildings in a single bound and subdue every bacteria in sight. Okay, so that may not happen, but we’ll all be happy if he just ends up with a successful result :)

For all of us, sometimes things are just beyond us, aren’t they? We come up against problems or jobs that we’re not equipped to handle with our own capabilities. We need expert help. Someone with training, someone who’s mastered the situation, either through study or life experience.

If we’re smart, we’ll seek out wise counsel during those times. It may be our only hope for leaping the tall buildings that lie before us, our only hope for a successful result. The question is will we, like Cody, be willing to go to the lengths needed to acquire the help and then do the work that’s suggested? Will we take care of business? Let’s not forget — sometimes experts aren’t so hard to find. Sometimes they’re as close as our own family…

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Marking Time

Believe it or not, this past Thursday marked my 2-yr. anniversary as a blogger, and over 200 posts later, I’m still blogging away. As of the end of my second year, I’ve had hits from all fifty states as well as 53 foreign countries, including places as surprising as Cameroon, Morroco, Bolivia, and Malaysia. Through the blog, I’ve met many new friends, encouraged and blessed others, received encouragement and blessing in return, and grown as a writer as well. When I took the plunge into the blogging world, I had no idea the blessings that awaited.

As I thought about my 2-yr. mark as a blogger, I began thinking of other identity markers in my life and thought it would be fun to chronicle them here. So here we go:

*54 years as a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, and cousin
*50 years as a friend and neighbor to various people (Susan in Arma, KS, is the first friend I remember)
*47 years as a Christian and church member (gave my heart to Jesus at the tender age of 7)
*42 years as a poet — of sorts :)
*40 years as a choir member (to the best of my memory)
*39 years as a driver — became a shopper about that time, too. Imagine that! :)
*36 years as high school graduate
*36 years as a voter
*36 years as a sister-in-law — Debbie started that role by marrying Keith :)
*34 years (in December) as a wife and homemaker
*34 years as a daughter-in-law
*32 years as a college graduate
*32 years as an aunt (34 if you count aunt by marriage)
*30 years as homeowner (the last 4 of those with mortgage paid off!)
*29 years as mother (and all the jobs that entails…)
*28 years a Bible study group participant or leader
*21 years as a preschool Sunday School teacher
*14 years as a writer (on various stages of that journey)
*12 years off and on in various part-time caregiving roles for my mother-in-law
*7 years as a great-aunt
*6 years as an empty-nester
*5 years as a missions committee member
*3 years as a mother-in-law (yay!)
*2 years as a blogger
*1 year as a Facebooker (use the link to connect to me!)
*3 1/2 months as an Angel Tree coordinator
*1 month as a mother of the bride — again!! Yippee!

Okay, so that’s way more of my identity markers than you ever wanted to know, but once I got started it was hard to stop. Sorry :) Of course, there are a host of things that I couldn’t nail down to a specific time — like chocolate-lover, prankster, and nut for example :), — and then other things that were temporary roles like student, secretary, teacher, prayer ministry leader, etc.

We all fill a multitude of rolls throughout our lifetimes, don’t we? I just hope at the end of my days, I’ll be able to say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). And even sweeter would be the blessing of hearing the Lord say, “…’Well done, good and faithful servant!..'” (Matthew 25:21a)

I’d love to hear how long you’ve been in some of your roles or which of these you share in common with me. Let’s have some fun. Leave a comment and let’s see what we can learn about each other!

Flickr photo by Marionaire

Surprise Audience

Last week as I was indulging in another early morning drink of nature, I did a quick survey of my surroundings (as I always do) and saw that no one else was in sight. Good. I was free to give actual voice to my worship and sing my praise –albeit quietly — to my Creator and King.

Looking heavenward, favorite praise choruses flowed from my lips. After all, it was just the two of us. Just me and the Lord. Or so I thought.

In mid-melody, I glanced down and found, quite unexpectedly, that I had an audience. A neighborhood cat had slinked in from behind the bushes and was sitting there on her haunches watching and listening to me as if she had purchased a ticket to a show. I couldn’t help but smile.

So as not to disappoint, I continued quietly singing and found myself watching the cat and wishing I had my camera. I’m not sure how long she would have sat there if I hadn’t broken the concert spell I had her under, but I couldn’t help it — I had to try to get a picture. I inched my way into the house, but of course by the time I returned, the moment was gone, and the cat had moved on to a more exciting adventure. Digging under the bush. My surprise audience had slipped away.

My early morning encounter with this neighborhood kitty reminded me that just when we least expect it in our lives, we may discover that someone is watching. We may have a surprise audience.

We, in fact, have people watching us all the time, don’t we? What will these unsuspecting ticket-holders see before they slip away? Let’s hope they see something of our Savior. Let’s hope they see something of Jesus…

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Flickr photo by fazen, Creative Commons License