We all have an abundance of something, and sometimes we see our own abundance better through the eyes of someone else. We were put on this earth to share, to love, to give and to grow. Let’s live from our abundance together. And leave the legacy we are called to leave. Keep reading for tips, ramblings, recipes and more.
Remember that big start I told you we got in our garden last week?
The chickens loved it!
That’s right. About half a dozen of our hens, escorted by our handsome Barred Rock rooster, D’Artagnan, happily scratched around in that newly-planted section long enough to lay waste to 30 baby broccoli plants and the several rows of other goodies, like beets, lettuce, spinach and sugar snap peas.
That same day, while I was away at a class, two of our young dogs, Butch and Daisy Mae, escaped the confines of their pen to maul a neighbor’s chicken. Several months ago, we discovered that Butch can open the latch on the gate with his teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. He can grab hold of the gates latch with his teeth and lift upward to free himself from captivity. Once this was discovered, we solved the problem by placing a clip through the latch that he could not manipulate with any part of his body. Problem solved, right?
Only if everyone remembers to attach the clip.
And Daisy, she is just as sweet as she can be–until she gets distracted by something to chase. She doesn’t want to hurt the chicken; she only wants to catch it–over and over and over again. Catch. Release. Catch. Release. I’m sure that little game was a lot more fun for Daisy than it was the chicken.
Since I wasn’t home, and since my children tend to communicate like their father (releasing pertinent information in intervals that may lag for hours or even days), it took me the better part of a day to piece together the whole story. So, when my sweet neighbor asked us to be on the look-out for a wayward hen, I said I would be happy to keep an eye out for her hen. I even shared that my daughter had spotted a fox on our property that very morning. Wasn’t that helpful?
Oh, how I wish I could blame that fox!
The chicken had probably not even wandered onto our property (like I had initially assumed), but likely snatched it from its own flock in its own yard! This good neighboring business is humbling. So thankful for the grace we’ve been extended by more than one neighbor in regard to our ill-behaved critters.
Fortunately, we’ve been given the opportunity to extend some grace of our own over the years. It gives us the opportunity to treat folks the way we want to be treated and to model forgiveness to our children. And, when people show grace to us, that gives us an opportunity to teach humility as well as a willingness to change our behavior when necessary. Obviously, we aren’t perfect in this, and we are slower to learn some lessons than others, but Dave and I agree these are lessons worth trying to teach.
If only our poor neighbors didn’t have to be our guinea pigs for all of these teachable moments! Friendly smiles, fresh-baked treats and homegrown produce can go a long way in soothing ruffled feathers–well, unless you’re the chicken.
My son and I were having one of our little chats this morning, and we wound up talking about addiction. He summed it up like this:
“It’s like hand-feeding a monster that eventually gets bigger than you.”
The really cool thing, though, is that NO ADDICTION–alcohol, prescription drugs, shopping, cigarettes, food, success, porn, technology, whatever–is bigger than the POWER OF JESUS!
I don’t know what the voices in your head are telling you, but I know this:
You are never alone. You are never too far gone. You are never, ever a lost cause.
The world would NOT be better off without you.
Jesus would have gone to the cross if only for you.
If you’re ready to tame the monster, now is a great time to start. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be committed. If you don’t know where to turn, turn to Him. Just flat out tell Him you don’t know what to do, who to trust, where to go. Then, it’s time to listen. Don’t argue. Just obey. Just make the next right choice.
Let me know if I can pray for you.
My sweet redhead and I just spent a couple of hours putting out a variety of greens, sugar snap peas, beets, turnips, radishes, lettuce and broccoli. With the onions and potatoes we planted last week, I feel like we’re finally making progress toward some homegrown produce! The back of my neck feels a bit pink from all of my time outdoors today, and I’m even happy about that.
The bad news is that we found a lot of grubs in the soil–way more than I would’ve liked to see. I was hoping that the super cold temperatures this winter would’ve killed the little buggers, but they were buried deep! While Gracie smashed the ones she found with the shovel, I tossed mine into a tray and threw them to the chickens when we were done. It is an amazing world we live in when squishy, disgusting, destructive grubs can be processed into tasty, nutritious eggs! It reminds me of the ugly things in my life: God will waste nothing if I let Him use it.
So, Lord, whatever is harmful in my life, whatever is ugly and destructive, distracting or dangerous, please help me to give it to You. Take redeem my yuck for Your glory!
Today has been the kind of day I have been craving! Temperatures have soared well into the 70s, and the sunshine has been streaming in the windows since daybreak. I had a list of several things that needed done, and every single item–one of which I had been procrastinating on for a year and a half–now has a glorious line marked right through it! Victory!
The younger two kids have been wanting to rollerblade on a nearby bike trail, so we did that after lunch. I walked while they raced well ahead of me. It was such a productive hour for me–power-walking, thanks-giving, vitamin D-soaking, mind-clearing time! I needed that!
Since getting home, I’ve talked to a precious friend about garden stuff, walked the dogs over to visit with neighbors, planned where potatoes and onions are going to in the garden tomorrow and put my feet up to jot down these thoughts.
All week long, I’ve been looking forward to today. My reasons revolved around my expectations of time that was not necessarily my own to anticipate. When I realized around lunchtime that what I thought was going to happen was not going to happen, I began to struggle with my attitude.
My expectations were not going to be met, and I was disappointed. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I could feel myself starting to make it into one in my heart. I felt deflated and discouraged and, to be totally honest, a little bit snarky. To make it worse, the project on my To Do List that I wanted to do least was becoming unexpectedly problematic, and I was tempted to resent what I willingly took on.
At about that time, one of my kids offered to heat up some vegetable soup for my lunch. It was such a sweet, simple offer, and it was just what I needed to re-focus my mind.
I am blessed.
No matter what happens or what does not, I am amazingly, remarkably, miraculously blessed.
Even though this day did not turn out to be what I had anticipated it to be, it was still good. It was still full of hope and love and beauty. I just had to let go of my expectations long enough to see the blessings.
Over and over and over lately I have been thinking about this: It’s tough to be a young girl in our culture. Oh, I know, the guys have it tough, too. (They really do, and I’d like to share my heart on that some day as well.) But, as I skim through the scads of prom photos posted on social media, and as I watch the young ladies in my own circle of influence, I can almost hear them pleading, “Please! Please love me!”
I see it in the way they dress and in how they keep fidgeting with their hair. I observe it in the way they interact with their peers…or in the way they stand on the fringe and wonder how they’ll be received. I hear it in the way they talk too loudly or too quietly or in how they so often talk about themselves. So many of them are just desperate to be loved.
While I was thinking about these young ladies, and trying to encourage one in particular by letting her know that I love her, the following letter came to my mind. I wish I’d had it to read back when I needed it most. I wish I’d understood that what I thought I wanted, and what I actually craved, were two very different things. I wish I’d known how very beautiful I really was. How very beautiful we all are.
Dear Beautiful Girl,
You truly are beautiful.
I know that you disagree. I see you looking at the other girls, the ones you think are closer to perfect, weighing yourself against what you see…and finding yourself lacking.
You don’t think you’re enough. You’re frustrated by your hair, your skin, your eyelashes, your teeth. You’re dissatisfied with your eyebrows, your ears, your hips and your chest. You know what perfection is, because you’ve studied it on every billboard, in every article, on every commercial. You know who the perfect people are—the ones who always get the guy in the movies–and you know how far you fall short.
Sweet girl, you truly are beautiful. I know you are trying to cover up, fluff up and push up. You are trying to straighten out, fill out and stand out. You buy the products, beg for the labels and show too much—just trying to be like the plastic, perfect people. But you’re not plastic.
You crave their attention. You yearn for their approval. You want to be looked at, longed for and loved like that. You lower your standards, push your own limits and justify your actions every step of the way. Everyone else is doing it. You just want to be wanted. You just want to feel like you’re wanted—even if it’s temporary. You just want to feel beautiful—even if it comes at a cost.
Even though you already are beautiful.
I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. Precious. Priceless. Absolutely beautiful.
I have a plan and a purpose for you, Beautiful Girl. Since before you were born, I have wanted you. I have planned for you and prepared for you. You are so very special to me. There is no one else like you. I see my fingerprints where you see your flaws. I am not limited by what you perceive to be your inadequacies. Your weaknesses can shine in my strength.
You are so very beautiful to me.
The price I paid for you was worth all of the pain. I make no mistakes, and I made you.
You are my beautiful girl.
Hold your head up. Keep looking to me. I will remind you. Don’t settle for plastic. You were made for beauty. You were made for me. And you are enough.
Never forget how deeply you are loved by me.
I am your, father, whose image you bear.
It is still cold.
I have lived in Indiana most of my life, and I know in my head that Hoosier springs can have snow and freezing temperatures well into April, but my heart is ready for sunny days and the smell of lilac blossoms.
So, along with everyone else, I wait.
The good news is that, unlike in years past, I have not neglected my list of spring cleaning jobs in favor of lovely 70-degree afternoons outside in my flower beds.
(Grasping at straws here, folks…)
Actually, by this time last year, we knew that our fruit crop was probably a loss because of the early blooming and a late freeze. This year, our trees have not yet opened their blossoms, so we are optimistic that they are still safe. Maple syrup farmers are also having a fantastic harvest this spring, with the gentle up-and-down temperatures that allow the sweet sap to keep flowing. Every cloud has it’s silver lining.
I was thinking of that this morning as I studied my early-blooming daffodils. Their blossoms were bent under the weight of the latest snowfall, and the flowers appeared somewhat discouraged. As I walked alongside them on the stepping stones, I whispered to them, “The sun will come out again, the temperatures will warm. Your beautiful blooms will be able to stand up and show off your glorious petals! This, too, shall pass”.
And, when it does, we will be in a new season with new challenges and new wonders. While working through the challenges, may we stop long enough to notice the wonders–and to give God our gratitude for both!
As my kids get older, more and more “adult-ish” stuff is thrown at them–calling for quotes, filling out applications, providing references, making appointments and opening accounts. Time and time again, I have to mindfully restrain myself from just stepping in and taking care of these things for them. It would be so much more efficient for me to just do it already, but that wouldn’t really be equipping them for the real world. So, quite intentionally (and often painfully), I remove myself from the room–still available for questions, but not so tempted to micro-manage the situation.
(This comes after listening to one of my children spend the better part of an hour trying to activate an incredibly uncooperative debit card. Call. Fail to activate. Call Customer Service. Customer Service calls back. Call. Fail to activate. Call Customer Service again. Customer Service calls back…. ACK!)
Why is this so hard?!?! Every momma knows that independence is the goal, but a little part of our hearts crave being needed by our kids. It’s so important to realize that our identity is not found in being moms. Our identity is in Christ. Even when our kiddos leave the nest (as we should be strongly encouraging them to do in early adulthood), God still has a plan and a purpose for us! Our value doesn’t stem from our children needing us. Our value stems from being made in the image of God. He has imprinted Himself on our hearts, and He will waste nothing if we let Him use it.
Just as we promise our children that God will be there for them, He will be there for us, making His strength perfect in our weakness. There comes a time when we need to step away from our children while stepping toward Jesus.
And may our children follow.