Monday, February 29, 2016

Try & See

37 years ago there was a child sitting in a dining room sighing. She had played with the toys, she had eaten bacon and refried beans in a tortilla for breakfast, She had made works of art with the paints but now she was bored.  That child was me. My grandma looked askance and said "Child you need something to do, come here." I wandered into the living room, with it's china Matador, and Spanish bulls always ready to fight and gave that look.  You know the one your bored kids give you with the tilted head.  

Sit down, take this crochet hook and watch me, my Grandma demonstrated how to make a basic chain stitch. I tried, I failed. She made me unravel it, gently discussing how knowing how to crochet is a useful skill for man or woman.  She nattered on about how she doesn't know the stitches names but she was sure some book could tell me if I was willing to go look it up in the library. As she repeatedly made me pull out my stitches and try again. She just talked to me about how you can make up your own patterns if your just willing to think about it.  

As she let me do a one chain, then a single stitch (very bumpy) made me unravel my work. With a mix of gentleness and sarcasm, she challenged me to try try again.  When she was satisfied she taught me how to do a double stitch, and then a triple.  She covered where to place the stitch, in a loop or in the hole created by the stitch. "See how that changes your pattern?" she asked. She taught me how to keep all my lines on one side. How to skip, how to add a line with out increasing, or decreasing... Next up was adding stitches into a single loop to increase on purpose or make a pretty pattern.  Then how to do it in a circle and how you add rows to things that are round. "How many extra stitches do I add per row when it is round Grandma?" I recall her answer "Oh darling you go figure that out for yourself, it changes as you grow, never be afraid to unravel your work."   

One boring afternoon, turned into a life long skill and a fond memory.  I'm not that good. I still have to translate the secret code of stitches with a cheat sheet guide. Yet rarely do I use patterns. It's way more fun to wing it and see what happens. That sense of "Let us try and see" is still with me. I once set out to make a cap and made a beret instead that was fun. Considering I had tried to follow the beret pattern and gave up on it the month before. Maybe the pattern just needed time to sink in. 

On my birthday I got skeins of yarn from a friend.  I was amazed could I?? after 37 years could I??actually make an afghan? Did I wing it... yup I did. Did I unravel a bunch Yup. I finished it. I cuddled up under it and I was warm. It's so soft and I'm a bit in awe.  It is so big. It is the biggest thing I have ever made.  I of course see my errors but yet I don't think you will even notice. 

What a fine present my friend has given me, the yarn was a means to an end.  On cold winter nights I binge watched Netflix. As the afghan grew, it kept more and more of me warm, and each time I picked it up to work on it; as I placed the first stitches, the memory of my grandmas voice guiding me came to mind and brought a smile to my face. 

Sometimes my heart is heavy. Little Miss Sunshine has learned to crochet, but Sweet Potato thinks it is useless. Often citing how Ron Weasley of Harry Potter fame hated the sweaters his mom made him. Store bought is better, don't cha know.  Why spend so much time on a blanket? When you can buy a nicer one at the store and you don't have to work for it. I shake my head, how do I reach her? How do I get her to understand the value in things crafted by hand? Maybe I never will, or maybe someday she will make something she is proud of. Something she could not buy at the store, something just right for that space. Something she had just as much enjoyment in making it, as she will in using it. Oh child I hope someday you will see the pleasure is as much as in the creation / the journey as in the possessing. 

I leave you with those words of wisdom: "Oh darling you go figure that out for yourself, it changes as you grow, and never be afraid to unravel your work."   

Friday, February 26, 2016

New Life is Blooming in Me.

I looked at my plant. I was so disappointed in it.

Yet again it had made buds and the buds fell off.

Why???  I asked myself is this plant not blooming. My heart was hurting, we were praying about leaving GFA.  Each spring (and sometimes even fall) my orchid would bring me joy and and week upon week of blooms.  My heart sank, I love flowers and this one plant had uplifted my spirit for years. In this household that squeezes each penny till Lincoln screams, fresh flowers just didn't happen very often. The long gloomy spring continued as I asked myself why is this plant not blooming? I reflected on my spiritual life. "It's like me Lord."  I want to bloom but I'm missing something, I felt so stunted.

I bought orchid plant food. I repotted it. The flower stalk started to grow again.  I hoped.  Sadly I was disappointed, the stalk stunted and died right about the time we were leaving the ministry.  My friend took in my plants as my stuff went into storage. My life continued, I learned how deep grief can go. I learned how tragedy grows our spirits, gives us compassion and drives us to our knees in reliance on Him.

I marveled at God's precious grace as he guided us to a new church, to new opportunities to serve him, and new friends that completely "Get Us."  My heart is so tender now, I cry at commercials.  The years of pride in my "We're the only ones doing it right ministry" is sloughing away and God is showing so many amazing people in the previously disparaged american church.  People willing to accept an X-missionary with open arms in such love and grace.  The walls around my heart are breaking down and I feel like the Lord has so much to teach me.  The moments of happiness and contentment I am experiencing is helping me so much. Finding joy in my garden, the animals God has graced our home with, and just being at peace.

All the striving, the push and messaging to save the lost is fading from an urgency to a normalcy. Yes it's important but I no longer feel like I'm supposed to exhaust myself to reach them.  And really I asked myself is striving/suffering/exhausting the right way?

And then I watered my plants.

Did I strive for this blossom? No. I figured the stalk would shrivel and die like every other one had for the past 2 years. I didn't feed it. I didn't exhaust myself for this blossom. I didn't do anything but water it, and once I attached it to the bamboo because hey it might bloom but I doubt it.  First Corinthians chapter 3 talks about watering, planting and who ultimately is responsible for the increase. I'll give you a sneak peek.... It's not us! 
God is the one who makes things grow.   
Each of us has a part, but there is such freedom in knowing I'm not totally responsible for the increase. This chapter has a warning as well, admonishing us to be careful. You can see Paul is chastising us too not get prideful, to be aware of how we build/work for Gods Kingdom.  If we do not build rightly it will get burned up, we still get to be saved whoo hoo! even if our work is full of pride and built with non enduring materials.  

 KP Yohannan stated in so many of his messages to staff (I'm paraphrasing here) "Crowds of people will greet you in heaven saying 'Thank you for sending us missionaries'."  I wonder will there be?  This encouraged MY pride in the work, I wonder how much of my work was built  with straw and how much was built with Grace?  Only Death can revel this mystery, I'm willing to wait! but for now I hope to not labor in vanity or pride and be diligent in doing the work God has set for me. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February Gardening

So today was a very productive day for me I wonder if I hit my 10k steps yet... I love Texas because NOW is when I can start to garden.  Yippie!

Unbelievably my Winter garden is still going. I have managed to cover it every frosty night, and the lettuce is happy... The onion sets and that tiny row of radishes were planted in January. I have been so blessed by my garden.  Being able to eat what I'm growing as well as having it produce all winter long yippie I didn't kill it.  Lettuce has always been an elusive plant for me in the Lone Star State. I always plant it too late in the spring. This time the September planting has been producing as a cut and come again all winter.  Happy Happy Happy!
 Last week 6 new babies came to roost under our roof. So far only one of these chickies has a name.  The one on the wooden board is called Queenie because she is always at the top of the brooder surveying all she can see. If I find a cricket she snaps it up and runs allover the place trying to eat it all by herself. She is of course chased by all the other chicks.  Today I was holding her and a cricket crawled up my pant leg. He had no chance once she saw it she pounced and almost got away from me.  I don't know why but she is my favorite.
Here I have started my peppers and tomatoes I bought a bunch of heirloom seed samples I can't wait to see if they grow.  Every other year I have tried, I have failed. This year I plan on having a huge garden and My friend CM is going to come play and grow with me. I figure if I actually plant more than 2 plants I might succeed with a few.  I figure if I start getting horn worms I'll run the chickens in the tomato patch, or eew gross pick them off and feed them to the chickens.

 I got a head start on beets and carrots. we will see if these seeds germinate.  I have orange and yellow carrots and those beets that are striped inside. My swiss chard is also still happy I keep cutting it back and I keep getting new growth. The garden is such a peaceful place for me. It grounds me, calms me, frees me. There is something so inherently beautiful in planting, watering, and harvesting. Eating the product of your garden, it tastes better because you knew all the steps that brought about your harvest. All the failures that went before, the tomatoes eaten overnight by rats, the leaves devastated by horn worms in previous years are forgotten in the moment of harvest. Each year is unique you never know what will grow well or what will fail... with the exception of cherry tomatoes which always grow in profusion and in the worse  year manage to produce tiny red globes of deliciousness.  I still remember convincing a child who hated tomatoes. She had never had anything but hot house tomatoes. I gave her Yellow Russian Pear tomatoes, she loved them.  Tomatoes from the garden taste so much better than anything from the store.

Years ago I house sat for a friend in the 90's. I found a pile of Iris's in the North corner of the lot. They were in a dark place and did not bloom.  My friend said they never had bloomed for her.  Can you picture the bemused look on my face? They were in the wrong place. I dug them up and moved them to the south side along the drive way. As I dug I found rhizome after rhizome.  They bloomed like mad the following year.   I split them and took them with me to my house in Rochester. I shared them with my neighbors and I had to leave them behind when I moved to Texas.

Today I found a patch of Iris's on our property stuck in a back corner. I dug them up and moved them. Now they are in a bright sunny spot where they can brighten my life as well as those passing by. Hopefully they will bloom this year.  I was having flashbacks to the 90's and being happy it is as if God is restoring the things I lost when I moved to Texas to serve him. God is good.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Letting Go

How can I hold on to this pain, this relationship gone awry.
How can we both be the same, yet be so far apart.
In the land of he said, and she said, and lies and deceit.
How do I live?

As the gulf grows between us my grief fills the gully.
I wonder will you be like the prodigal son?
Shall I wait out your disgust, your distain, your deceit?
Accused of being a Judas, by a lie... a machiavellian defeat.

Where oh where can I find a cure for this pain.
I wonder are you the thorn in my hand?
Like MacDonalds' Lilith holding on to pain?                       I should let go.
The laughter, the joy, the sorrow, the suffering we all shared.
Is not strong enough to bind us when we are scared.

By the child,
                  the father,
                                  the mother,
                                                    the friend.
It hurts.

         It Is Meant To Hurt.      

I understand.

Like a child I run to my Fathers arms.
He pats my hand and tells me to free it.

Free it in Love.
               in Pain.
                   in Joy.
                       in Grief.

                                               Free yourself.                
Let It Go.

I am your Yahweh Rapha
All the pieces jumbled and littering the floor.
I see the the whole brokenness.
Restoration and healing are mine.