Lofty

Sharing a song Josh introduced me to this week; the lyrics are below to follow along.  It’s a good one.

Happy weekend!

God spoke and the formless earth was sculpted
His poetry producing populations, making constellations
With His conversations gazing at His own creation
Proclaiming it was good and there we stood
Fashioned from the dust
With authority He orchestrated organisms and every single cell in every ecosystem
Every creature that dwells
The planets, the plants
The whole expanse, the sky above your head
And the ground where you stand
The clouds and the rain, the soil that soaks it up
And feeds tiny seeds so they sprout and vegetation proceeds
Infinite wisdom intrinsic within Him, self-sufficient
Intricate systems begin and end with His decisions Lofty
Out of reach, how He procreated with speech
So it’s appropriate for us to be completely in awe

I don’t why, still I try
To wrap my mind around You
Your thoughts are higher, Your ways are better
And I’m in awe
So bring me up to where You are
Bring me up to where You are

It’s evident in creation that God is the primary cause
The origin of all scientific laws
Everything else is secondary
The very breath that comes from lungs is caused by the fact that God is involved
One must begin with the mind that was given to Him to even believe He’s evolved
I’m in awe when I think about quantum mechanics and the rotation of planets
And the exact calculation of the universe is permanently impossible to manage
How photosynthesis takes place to perfectly convert the vividness of light into chemical energy
For the purpose of maintaining and giving life
Intelligent design doesn’t even begin to define His creative craftsmanship
Any attempt to align the mind of mankind to divine is insufficient and inadequate
It’s too lofty and far beyond us that God would not remain anonymous
Correspond with us and out of all of God’s creation would become fond of us

But worth, value, and beauty is not determined by some innate quality
But by the length for which the owner would go to possess them
And broken and ugly things just like us are stamped “Excellent”
With ink tapped in wells of divine veins
A system of redemption that could only be described as perfect
A seal of approval, fatal debt removal
Promised, prominent, perfect priest
Brilliant designed system, redemption for our kinsmen
Can only be described as perfect with excellent execution
And I’m in awe, the only one truly excellent
The only source of excellence
We are declared excellent only by His decree with His system
The only accurate response is awe
So we make lofty art
See the presence of good art will unconsciously refine a community
And poor art will do an incalculable harm
Only accomplished in the light of His excellency
It’s too high, it’s lofty

I don’t why, still I try
To bring something of worth
My words are fleeting
They’re flawed, depleting
And you’re leaving me in awe
Bring me up to where You are, God

Pruning More

“You know how loaded with baby peaches our trees were?” my Mom asked as we were walking between rows of fruit trees at a local farm.  My parents’ trees were full of tiny peaches waiting to ripen.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Why?”

“I filled two buckets — like full to the brim — with little peaches yesterday.”

“You WHAT?  You took them off?”

“I know,” she laughed, “I wasn’t going to but then I read that when the trees get full like that you need to take some fruit out.”

I kind of stared at her, trying to figure out why anyone would take precious fruit off a finally-bearing tree.

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Last year there were no peaches, and it was a big disappointment.  A few years ago the two trees had produced loads of amazingly juicy, flavorful peaches and we’d been hoping to have a similar crop the following years.  But, so far not so good.  And now Mom took off two buckets full of potentially-delicious peaches.

When fruit trees grow big and their branches expand and multiply, it’s beneficial to prune them back and remove some of the branches.  That much made sense; my parents had removed branches and honed in on the sturdy, productive ones to help the tree continue to grow.

Turns out when there are too many baby peaches on a peach tree some need to be taken out — enough so that there are about six inches between peaches.  This allows the tree to focus its energy on the remaining fruit and not be spread too thin.

With fewer peaches to nourish, the tree can produce beautiful, juicy, flavorful peaches instead of a bunch of watery ones.  Take away some seemingly good ones and you get a much better yield.

 

“I (Jesus) am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  John 15:1-2

 

When we think of pruning we often think of cutting off branches, pairing down to some main ones.  We don’t always think about further pruning the parts that stay (unless you’re a farmer; this concept isn’t lost on you!).  Removing fruit from the branches that remain seems counter intuitive; why take away fruit that could have a chance to mature and become good?

I wonder how often we overlook God’s pruning process in our own lives.  It’s not something that’s always front-and-center in our minds, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be — but maybe we miss some of His leading in that regard.

There are times we see the big things He wants to get rid of or re-prioritize; a ministry we should let go of or move in a different direction, weekly appointments that have run their course and are free to come to an end, etc.  But what about the smaller things, the things that seem even more beneficial and fruitful?  The things that we can’t fathom getting rid of or re-prioritizing, because they bless others immensely and seem to have a great impact?

It’s not for me to determine for you; it’s something to handle carefully, prayerfully.  God gives many good things and our lives can be filled with good fruit, which is wonderful.  I encourage you to spend some time praying about the fruit in your life and asking for His guidance and wisdom.

Maybe it all stays for this season, or maybe something needs to end or be passed on to someone else.  Even when it looks like there’s an abundance of fruit that we desperately want to see into harvest — maybe we cut back and thin out.  Keeping our hands open and not clinging too tightly to even the good things allows for more fruit to be borne and matured.

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The True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Love and Joy Perfected

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.”

John 15:1-17, taken from BibleGateway.com.

Dear Diary

Sometimes I wake up and I don’t know where I am.

And sometimes I wake up and I do know where I am, but it isn’t where I was when I fell asleep.

Mommy took me for a walk this morning and I almost fell asleep in the stroller, but then she was done walking and we got in the car instead.  I fell asleep in my carseat and when I woke up we were at the grocery store and Mommy was just sitting in her seat, reading, and waiting for me to wake up.  I’m not sure how long I was asleep!

Sometimes the grocery store is fun and sometimes it’s not.  Today it was fun because I wasn’t tired anymore, and when we were done Mommy gave me a snack.  I don’t really know why people don’t eat in the grocery store though; have you seen all the food?  I think the other kids who have to sit in their carts wonder that too.  Mommies won’t let us take food off the shelf and eat it.

But maybe someday when I’m bigger and I see another kid I’ll take him where our mommies can’t see us and we can eat a snack from the shelf.  Or maybe two snacks.  We’d have to eat really quick though, mommies can push their carts super fast…

Maybe it won’t work, but I think I want to try.  :)

Sincerely,

Me

A Note to My Hubby

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Josh,

I picked this photo to share because I think it’s a great snippet of our everyday life.  You, serving us and doing whatever needs to be done.  You do it all without complaining; you see the importance in even the mundane things and you do them wholeheartedly.

Though he doesn’t yet have words, I know Levi joins me in saying we’re thankful for you.  We both love you and value you so much.

Happy Father’s Day, babe.

Love,

Me

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“Home is the nicest word there is.”

-Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Enjoy this Friday evening, friends.  :)

Dirt

The green-yellow waves of pollen ripple through the air as I sit here to type.  It’s well over 90 degrees, and naptime isn’t happening.

We went outside and played with water and buckets — babies stripped down to their diapers are one of the world’s cutest sights, aren’t they?  We splashed and got muddy and ate watermelon and banana bread.

All the mud and stickiness came off in a swirl down the bathroom drain.  Levi banged his toys against the faucet, a new sound discovery that brought big grins and giggles.

I watched his joy and rinsed him clean, dried him off and sent him to play in his diaper.  He’s now sitting on the floor by me quietly flipping through his books, and I have to stop and pause.

The swirl down the drain, it’s a swirl that happens often.  Some days the water is mostly clear, some days it’s a bit brown with grime.  We rinse and dry that cute baby skin and let him go till he’s messy and dirty and it’s time for a bath again.

His naptime this afternoon hadn’t lasted long, and when he woke up screaming — twice — I could feel my frustration and anger start to rise.

Even this morning, before the day had much time to get going — little things brought irritation and I saw my lack of patience.

These little bits of myself that appear from day to day make me cringe.  The frustration, irritation, short-temperedness all stick to me.  They’re the little particles of dirt and dust, clinging to my skin and reminding me what a mess I am.  I hate them; daily I fall before God and ask Him to change me, make me better.  Forgive my dirt, my sin and uncleanness, and make me more like Himself: patient, long-suffering; not easily angered or irritated.

I watch that swirl in the bathtub and remember:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

In Christ, I am new — He took all of my sins on Himself as He died on the cross, and He rose again to prove victorious; the only One who could ever conquer sin.

Try as I might I can’t make it go away.  I can’t get rid of the dirt all over me; I’ve tried, and I fail every time.  I end up smudging it and making it worse.  Yet He’s made me new and He cleans me as I lay it all before Him and ask Him for help.

He gladly lifts my head and shows me that He’s forgiven me, so I can forgive myself and move on.  I can try again, and if I lean on His strength I’ll make it through the struggle/temptation/hardship.  Even when I only get so far before I stumble again, He always gives me another chance when I look to Him.  His strength is sufficient, and His grace is amazing.

I pray that my swirl becomes clearer and clearer.  That I’ll lean more and more on His strength and watch Him make me like Himself; I want to be more like Him, and experience more of His joy and peace.  He is such a good, good Father.

Dear Diary

I was a-pposed to write yesterday but I forgot.  I’ve been really busy and sometimes I remembered but then there was something else to do and I keep forgetting.

Mommy and Daddy took me on a LONG drive and we went to Great Grandmum’s house for a couple days.  It was so much fun!  Great Grandmum has a lot of fun things to play with and she even got some toys for me.  And I got to explore all over her house — and Daddy taught me how to go down the stairs so I practiced that a lot.  I fell too but it was okay.

We went for walks and we also went to a playground, and Daddy went down the slide with me.  It made my belly feel weird.  Oh, Great Grandmum has this big black thing on her wall and it has pictures in it — and if I pulled it I could make it move!  Mommy said no so I had to be sneaky.  Cept then she’d still catch me.

One day while I was sleeping Mommy and Daddy made a-nnouncement.  Mommy says I should share it with you too.

ThenThereWereFour

They say that I’m a big brother now and that there’s another baby, but I don’t know what they’re talking about because I don’t see any other baby.  A little while ago I could tell Mommy was different and I’m not sure I like it but I think I’m used to it now.

They said that the new baby is coming in a little time, um, it was like Dember or something.  So I guess when Dember comes I’ll know it cuz there will be a baby too.  Maybe Mommy will let me touch the baby.  Actually, maybe she’ll let me hold the baby, cuz that would be better.

But anyways I don’t know what it’s gonna be like and I remembered I needed to tell you one more thing.  Today I got to go to Grammie and Grandpa’s house and guess who was there?  Twixy!  She’s a kitty and I got to chase her over the whole house.  I get so excited and I scream and she runs and I run but then she gets somewhere I can’t go so I have to wait for her to get bored and come back.  It’s SO FUN.

That’s all.

Sincerely,

Me

The “Why”s in Motherhood

Some days I wonder why.  Why my life looks like it does.

The past four days or so have been rough; Levi came down with fevers and couldn’t sleep, which means we all haven’t had good nights of sleep.  His fevers stopped but a rash showed up – little pink/red spots all over his body.  His throat has been hurting and he hasn’t been eating.

The fevers started in my body and wiped me right out.  Now, as I sit on the couch with a burnt out overhead light and cold rain falling outside — I too have the little pink/red spots.  (I’ve spoken with a nurse and am going to get checked out tomorrow, don’t worry.)

But I sit here questioning, why.  Being a mother is hard work; I didn’t know the full extent of the work until I was in it, which is a good thing.  It’s exhausting.  It’s so many days of being home, just Levi and me, trying to be creative and get his juices flowing and help him learn.  It’s lonely.  It’s constant housework, cleaning in circles, trying to relax when things break and little hands put foreign objects in places they don’t belong.  It’s going to parks and playgrounds and seeking out venues that may have other children he can play with.

It’s a separation from life before.  I think maybe this is the hardest part.  So many times I ask God why He surprised us with a baby so soon.  We wanted kids, absolutely, but we wanted some time first.  Time to get to know each other as married people, instead of just dating; time to explore and go on dates and have a flexible schedule.

For the most part, our classmates and friends are still in the single/dating phases of life.  Many of them are traveling the world, going to parties, having dinners out, going on road trips at the drop of a hat.

And here I sit next to a pile of toys strewn across the floor, having just scrubbed the bathroom down.

I traded the traveling and exploring for kid’s museums and loud playgrounds.  The dinners out are so few and far between; instead, we try to convince a toddler that green food is okay and I rarely spend an entire meal in my seat.  The orderly, cohesive home I started out with quickly became overrun with toys — toys that have even made their way to centerpieces on the coffee table.

It’s only been a little over a year, and I wonder if maybe this parenthood thing is a lifelong adjustment — it’s not a one-and-done thing the moment your child is welcomed into the family.  Your heart and your mind and your strength rise and fall with the ebb and flow of this new life.

It’s a new life that many of our friends can’t relate to; and we can no longer relate to theirs.  It’s the separation that plops me on the couch or leans me against the table and begs the question, why? 

Why now, why not a little later?  Why first — why not after a couple of our friends?  Why the feeling as though our freedoms have been stripped, my identity and interests put on the back burner until who knows when?  Why is it so hard?

I’ll admit, I took a break from writing this post.  First because nap time was over, but also to process and pray some more.  Sometimes these life changes hit me hard.  I decided to let my creative juices flow, regardless of what Levi was doing.  So we rearranged the living room while he ran around and delayed our progress.  But it helped perk me back up and show me that my own interests are still valid and necessary.

Some days it’s hard.  Some days I wish I could go out with friends, walk through the city at night, have a day to myself.  But I’ve realized and reminded myself of a few things that I think are important —

  1. Just because it’s a “no” right now doesn’t mean it always will be.  And as babies get older and more self-sufficient, outings and flexibility can happen.  And, babysitters are there for a reason.
  2. Instead of waiting for the empty-nest years to do the fun things, do the fun things now — with kids.  It can be fun if I choose to make it fun.
  3. Motherhood is a gift.  Children are gifts.  If I have been privileged enough to have a child, I want to make the most of this calling.  It’s a blessing to have a little one to raise, nurture, direct, and provide for.  It’s a greater depth of love and sacrifice than I’d known before Levi came to being; in all its hardships and struggles, it’s an incredible love.

 

The dirt and messes and shrieking may not get easier.  But I pray my view of them continues to change, even if it’s a slow adjustment.  Instead of fighting the new normals in my life, I think I’d do best to allow God to soften me and change my focus.  To see that He’s given me the gift of motherhood, and to embrace it and learn to wholeheartedly love it.

With that being said, my little one is outside my door anxiously awaiting some food.  Time for me to go give him a kiss and make some dinner.  :)

Dear Diary

I got to see a friend today!  Mommy took me in the car for a really long time and I didn’t like it, and I told her that.  But then we got to a playground and my friend was there!

First I had to give him a hug because I really like to do that.  He didn’t like it a whole lot.  Then I found the slide — well, he found it before me and I watched how he did it.  The stairs were fun and there was a big hill on top.  Mommy and me walked on that for a little time because it was so cool.

And I went down the slide too, but it’s not my favorite.  Mommy and her friend say that I need more practice and then I’ll like it.  ‘Cept I don’t think I want more practice.

My friend went down the slide a lot.  But one time he went down a bad way and he got hurt and had dirt in his mouth.  He cried, because he was sad.  I was sad for him too.  And I got hurt on another thing, and I don’t know what it’s called, and it hurt a lot.  Well maybe it wasn’t awful but I was extra sleepy and I wanted to stop playing.

We had a snack and that helped me wake up, but I still wanted to stop playing soon.  After a little time Mommy took me home and I fell asleep in the car.  And then I think I slept a long time because Mommy said she had to wake me up in the house — and I always wake up when she gets me out of the car.  But she said she liked snuggling with me, I think it was nice but I was asleep.

The not nice part was when I woke up because she changed my diaper and I don’t like that.  We got to play and have lunch and that was fun.  And we played more and now I’m in my crib because it’s naptime ‘cept I can’t fall asleep.  Mommy walked me for a long time and I can’t fall asleep.  So I’m telling Mommy my stories so she can tell you and maybe I’ll fall asleep soon.  I threw my books and bears out of my crib and now I have nothing to play with.

I maybe need to tell Mommy to come back in.  I like it better when she’s in here with me.

Sincerely,

Me

Tracks in the Grass — a Thank You

“Are you hurt ma’am?” the officer asked.

“No, no — just this seatbelt rash –” she answered shakily.  “Just that — I’m fine.”

“So how’d you end up here?  How on earth did your car go across that median and into this tree?”

The officer looked confused as he surveyed the tire tracks and kicked up dirt that didn’t match any logical path.

“I blacked out, I don’t –”

“She passed out back there,” a man pointed down the road, “and kept going in the wrong lane.  Hit another car back there and almost hit me — then she just went right down that bank over there, came across this median and kept going down again till she hit the tree.”

We replayed it in our minds and looked at the smoking car.  How she ended up with only a seatbelt rash was God’s grace.  I prayed her 29-week old baby was still safe and sound in her little belly.

More sirens sounded in the distance; the initial wave of responders had made it to the first car she’d hit and a second group was headed to help her.  Policemen and firefighters and EMTs, soon they all flocked the scene and got to work.

“You don’t need me for anything, do you?”  I asked the policeman next to me.

“Nope, we’re good,” he replied.  “Thanks.”

I nodded and walked back down the hill with Levi on my hip.  We ate our breakfast and watched out the window as everyone worked and cared for the young woman.

Some were talking with her, checking to make sure she wasn’t bleeding anywhere.  They helped her up and brought her to the ambulance.

Others walked around the car and looked it over, deciding how to handle it and which parts might be dangerous.  Scraps from the bumper and front were strewn yards ahead; a couple men went around to pick them up.

The mulch and tulip leaves she’d plowed over were swept back into the median, and the road was cleaned right up.  Soon cars and trucks began to leave and one group of firemen was left waiting for the tow truck to arrive.

They hooked up the car and the tow began to pull — scraping the grass in two clean strips straight up the hill.  They picked up the other bumper fragments and made some paint marks on the tree and grass.  With a few finishing tasks, they all loaded themselves up and off they went.

As I watched the whole process I couldn’t help but be in awe.  From the time she hit the tree to the moment the last responder vehicle left was no more than an hour.  It amazes me how quickly and efficiently everyone works — and they all work together, however many of them, without stepping on each other’s toes.  I’m sure there are moments they get in each other’s way, but think about it; they come on scene and work.

They make sure everyone is cared for first.  People are the priority; and once they’re covered, they jump head first into whatever the problem is.  They see it through to completion and make sure everything is accounted for.

If you know someone or multiple someones who serve in these ways — will you thank them?  Thank them for their dedication, their resolve to do their best, their sacrifice.  They do the dirty, painful, hard work that often goes unnoticed but undoubtedly makes our lives so much easier.

And if you’re reading this as one who has served, thank you.