Thursday, September 29, 2011

The girl in 651 B

I did it. I stopped the car. Driving through the alley behind our shop after office hours, I stopped for the barefoot girl crouched against the wall, tears streaking her face.

I can count on one hand the times I've stopped the car to help someone, and I'm ashamed at the countless time's I've just kept driving. I don't know how this girl was any different. Maybe I stopped because I'd just come from Papa's funeral and wanted to be more like him, always helping people, always loving people and always serving God.

She told me that she was okay, but thanks for asking. She was just arguing with her boyfriend. Her face was bleeding and raw, but she convinced me that it was a chemical burn from a faulty skin care product.

And she thanked me for caring, for being different. "People just don't stop anymore. They don't care about other people. Thank you for caring."

That hit so deep. She treated me like I was a saint or a guardian angel or something, but I only stopped on an impulse. I couldn't look her in the eye and mumbled something to the effect of, "Of course I care!"

After visiting for about 5 minutes, she told me that she lived in the shop with her boyfriend, said she was there all the time and urged me to stop by anytime.

I don't deserve her invitation, her regard. I don't deserve her friendship.

Lord, thank you for the girl in 651B. Thank you for using her to show me what I snob I am. Help me to listen to Your promptings and be willing to step out of my comfort zone, to stop the car and get involved. And help me to do it for You or for the people You created, but never to for myself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flat line

My walk is filled with a lot of highs and lows and a lot more of plateaus and I think I fear the plateaus the most, because when I'm in a spiritual low at least I know where I am. One good thing about being at rock bottom is that the only place to look is up, but my plateaus last for weeks at a time, when I'm not stumbling, falling, crashing and burning, but I'm not growing and stretching upward either. For weeks at a time I'm just sort of existing in these plateaus. I despise them.

Life is so short. How can I dare to waste it away like I do? If my soul is flat lined, I'm dead. My heart is still beating, but I'm not living at all.

10,000 feet in the air and climbing. The clouds rush by and the seat-belt light is still on. No wonder I'm thinking about the mortality of man in comparison to the immortality of God.

I've seen God this week. I've seen His love, reaching out, pouring over His people, saturating them and flowing out of their hands and hearts. I've seen His handiwork, beautiful sunrises, all manner of creatures, the miracle of life, magnificent landscapes and the ugly beautiful. I've seen His heart while reading through His word. His incredible mercy, unfailing love, unsearchable works.

I've broken through the plateau. My soul is soaring, climbing, leaping and rejoicing. I've taken the dare to life life to it's fullest, whatever that may involve.

I've been feasting my soul. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled!" I've been filled. What an amazing feeling.

I've been filled, yet I thirst for more. To know Him more, to love Him more, to serve Him in everything that I do. It's a paradox, really, being filled and hungry at the same time. I love it.

When I consider what I deserve in comparison to what I have I stand in awe. My gifts journal is filling up fast. I'm well on my way to 1000, and I won't be able to stop there.

"When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His, doesn't all become a gift?"

- Ann Vooskamp

My life is a gift. Every moment I'm alive is grace. What can I do but praise You?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday afternoon

So its time for a nap. Today's my last day on the farm, and I'm sad to be leaving, but happy to be going home. I miss my family like crazy.

I miss my dad's wisdom and insight. I miss sharing things I'm discovering in the Word with him. I miss listening to him talk, sing, play the guitar or whatever.

I miss my mom's counsel and advice. I miss cooking with her, talking with her, listening to her, working out with her and hugging her.

I haven't seen my oldest sister in months! I miss her family like crazy! My nephew is talking now, I've been told.

I miss the other married siblings, but I'm used to missing them. I can't wait to see them all when I get home!

I miss my oldest brother and his passion and dedication. I miss his piano playing too!

My sisters at home are my very best friends, and I miss them so much. I miss waking up and seeing their beautiful faces. I miss working with them, playing with them, talking with them, drinking coffee with them, and fighting with them.

The three little girls are such precious jewels! I miss their antics, their giggles and watching them grow up and discover life. They keep smiles on all our faces.

My manly, exuberant brothers, my pals, protectors and friends. They're all taller than me now. Even the youngest one. I miss looking up to see their faces. =) I miss their jokes.

I miss them all!

It's been an amazing week learning to be a farm girl. I've done things I never thought I would do, from milking a cow by hand to driving a tractor. I'm so grateful for the opportunity and the experience! (besides the fact that it was a ton of fun!)

Tomorrow I'll be boarding an airplane to fly home. I'm excited about that, because I love flying. Even by myself.

I'm excited to spend a week with all my brothers and sisters at home, because that doesn't happen very often!

I'm excited to see what the future holds, because I know the One who holds the future.

Oh, and I'm excited to see the 180Movie which is coming out tomorrow on their website, Check it out if you get a chance!

"Let no man despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

That verse has been talking to me all day. =) Alright. Nap time is over. I'm gonna go wash milk buckets.

Pete and Re-Pete
Sunday mornings
The legacy that Papa left
Grace that is greater than all my sin
Raw Milk
Rainy mornings
The heart of God
Learning more about Him
Tall trees
The smell of clean laundry

These are a few of my favorite things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"we can cry with hope, say goodbye with hope..."

So many thoughts are tumbling through my mind right now. My "Papa" passed from life into glory yesterday.

He was a story-book type of grandpa. I'll never forget the way he would make time to play with us, to chase us around the yard, to let us "climb -the-mountain" and then swing us down.

He'd mow his lawn with an old fashioned push-mower, letting us "help" push it up the hill, and then share his diet coke with us, as a treat. To this day, diet coke is one of the only sodas I like.

I'll never forget the way his beard tickled my ear when he'd whisper secrets. Sometimes it was a silly tongue twister, but often it was, "Never forget, Papa loves you very very much."

When I was 3 we moved into the house next-door to Papa and Grandma. Those twelve years were such a gift! I got to know my grandparents for who they really were. Whenever Papa would go anywhere we'd wait in anticipation for his return. We'd run down the street and flag down his car, which he would then let us "drive" home. (Until we were too big to sit on his lap and squeeze beneath the steering wheel.

In Papa and Grandma's house there's a sign over the dining-room. It says "All because two people fell in love..." Eleven children, forty-five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. The last time I saw Papa, he pointed out that sign to me, (he was so proud of it, and pointed it out at least once per visit) and said, "Look what the Lord did!"

His last few weeks were spent in and out of the hospital. He declined really fast. The last few days his speech was so garbled nobody could understand him, but he continued to tell story after story, to beam with joy when his kids and grand-kids were around, and to tell us that he loved us.

I've been so privileged, so blessed, so joy-filled! Without hope, there can't be any joy, but I have hope. More than hope, I have faith. I know I will see him again.

Papa, I'll never forget. And I love you too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Jesus is the Rock of my salvation, His banner over me is love!"

7:45 am, and this song is playing over and over in my head. All I wanna do is snuggle down into the blankets where its warm, but it's time to wake up, get up, get dressed and start my first day as a real farm girl.

See, I'm a total city girl, born and bred. But when my brother married a girl from Central Oregon and her 8 year old friend knew more about everything there is to know than I did, I decided it was time to expand my horizons. That's the nutshell version, and here I am, spending ten days with my sister-in-law's family on their farm.

It's a beautiful day today. 9:45 am, and the cows are milked, the calf bottle fed, (yep, that was me) the milking barn scrubbed down and breakfast cleaned up. The dishwasher is humming in the background, and the sun is shining. There's still a lot more work to be done today, and even more before the week is out.

Life is beautiful. God is all powerful, perfectly just, and full of mercy. His goodness is more than I can imagine. Jesus IS the Rock of my salvation, His banner over me is love. Yep, life is beautiful. You know that saying, "stop and smell the roses?" Well, sometimes I just need to stop and smell life.

We've gotta sort and clean the garlic harvest, but first I get to finish my coffee. =)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just for fun....

I was sitting in at the school table yesterday, studying on my own while my sister was teaching. She started passing out plot cards for a writing assignment, and it looked like fun! I asked her if I could have some,

My character was "sea horse", the characteristic was "moody". The setting was "in the toy box", and my plot was, "a secret tunnel". I had ten minutes, and this is what I came up with. =)

It was 9pm, toy box time when Danny, the moody little sea horse finished his tea and laid down his book.

"Ahh!!" he sighed, stretching out his tail. "Maybe I should go to bed. Or maybe I should stay up later. Who knows? I might miss something exciting if I go to bed! But I might wanna get up early if I stay up late!"

Too many choices and decisions clouded his rubber mind until he kicked over the Barbie chair he had been sitting in.

"UGH! Why'd I do that? Now I have to pick it back up or Barbie will know I was using her chair, and Ken will come beat me up. And I don't even have any hands to pick it up with!"

Life is tough for sea horses. They're the bottom of the food chain in the underwater world they were meant to live in, and even lower down in the toy box. Life is even tougher for moody little sea horses. Most the sea horses in the toy box had already accepted the fact that life was hard and moved on. Instead of dwelling on the fact that their lives were harder than some, they chose to be thankful that they had lives to start with. They were happy little rubber creatures. All except Danny, who had yet to learn this valuable lesson.

As he stood next to the overturned chair he remembered something the wise old jack-in-the box used to tell him. He could almost hear the old guy's voice reminding him, "Danny, you can't see the bigger picture, so just enjoy the moment."

"Man, I miss that guy! I wish he hadn't gone to the Children's hospital!" All of the sudden he caught himself. "...but I bet the kids there need him more than we do!"

"What a difference that makes! jack-in-the box was right! So... living in the moment right now involves this upside-down chair, and one hand-less sea-horse. (that would be me!)"

Being a moody sea horse had left Danny with a lonely sort of life, and he had gotten in the habit of talking to himself lately.

"No use staring at it! That won't help one bit. Neither will getting frustrated, obviously, since that's what got me into this mess in the first place."

He lowered his nose to the floor, sliding it gently under the back of the chair, and slowly started to lift. "What in the world? What's this on the floor!?"

After righting the chair, he bent back down for a closer look. Sure enough! It a button. Slowly, he pressed it with his nose, and a section of the floor slid away reavealing a secret tunnel....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wisdom from a Cherokee

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, & ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & truth."

The boy thought about it then asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"

The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed.

"Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God... Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."

I've been so careful lately about what I've been feeding my body, and dieting has been really good for me, but what about the things I'm feeding my soul?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Who we are...

My family is made up of fourteen children, three in-laws, two grand-kids and of course, Mom and Dad. We're a total of 21 souls making up one unit, living in four different households, pursuing fifty-eight different dreams.

We're all individually unique, and similar at the same time, but no two of us are the same. We each have different tastes, likes and dislikes, passions, beliefs and drives.

One brother loves politics, while another obsesses about sports, and another family member strongly dislikes both subjects. We don't always get along, but we always love each other. Truly, we do.

One thing we all have in common, is that we all like to do things with each other. Anything, whether it's work or play, becomes a fun adventure when you add a couple brothers and sisters to the mix! I'm not exaggerating on this one. We've had some of the best times doing dishes together, or scrubbing 2500sq ft of old hardwood floors, or camping in the rain, or getting stranded when the bus broke down. (yes, we have a bus)

On any given day at our house you're bound to find a couple of us surfing, swimming, scuba diving, skateboarding, singing, snoring, snacking, doing sit-ups, sacrificing, sauteing, scolding, scheduling, shopping, scheming, scrutinizing, self-destructing, sewing, shouting, studying or shuffling. Some of us will be doing two or three of these at the same time

We are a family, just like any other. There's no magic formula that made us who we are, just blood, sweat and lots of tears. (and lots more spankings) My parents deserve all the credit for anything positive that any of us do, and take no responsibility for the stupid things. (Unless the stupid ones are under 18)

I've done nothing to deserve this beautiful gift God has blessed me with. I take it all for granted every day, and I wanna change that.

And we have random dance parties in the kitchen on a regular basis.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School starts...

School will be in session this morning at our house, for the first time since spring. The anticipation zings through the air like an electrical current, affecting each in different ways. Some light up like light bulbs, others snap like static charged socks.

Oh yeah... this is home. Where I belong.

I was always thrilled about school starting for the first couple of weeks. It gave me a sense of purpose and belonging. A responsibility that was all my own. I'm sitting here wishing I could be a part of that again.

Somehow it's different now, being on the outside, just observing. My younger sister has charge of the household, and for me to butt my head in and try to take part would just undermine her authority that she works so hard to maintain.

While I miss being a part of the yearly ritual of "school", the chance to impart my small bit of knowledge on to my younger siblings, to watch them grow and mature every day, I have some separate responsibilities all my own. I'm grateful for the trust my parents have bestowed on me with the responsibility they gave me, and I hope to do my very best with it.

So why is it that what someone else has always looks better? Maybe I just like the thought of staying home every day. =)

Oh well. =) I'll trust that God's plan for my life is better than mine, and go get ready for work.

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep... For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." - Psalm 36

Monday, September 5, 2011

These things make me smile...

"I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual...
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment."

-Henry David Thoreau

#202. Smelling coffee, even if I'm not drinking it.
#203. Foreign languages
#204. Waking up to a magnificent thunderstorm
#205. Smelling the rain
#206. Listening to my sister tell a story
#207. Visiting Papa and Grandma last night
#208. Family, who are "forever" friends
#209. Cozy mornings, curled up on the couch
#210. Dreaming.
#211. Earl grey tea.

"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."

- Brother David Steindl-Rast

Friday, September 2, 2011

So I'm senile...

There's so much to be learned from elderly people. So many life lessons, bits of wisdom, awesome stories and tips of the trade. Lets face it. They've been around a lot longer than us, and have so much to teach the next generations, if only we would take the time to wait for them to get the words out.

We've been going to an assisted living facility every week for the past 15 years and while the names and faces have changed through the years, the people are the same.

From the scary looking grouchy old man who melts into smiles at a hug from a little one, to the embittered old lady who is rotting in a pool of misery, to the flirting, giggling, bouncy gal who's lipstick is always just a touch too bright.

There's always the sweet grandmotherly types, the few whose children still come around at least once a week, the one's who've completely lost their memory's, but are just as happy as could be, and the one's whose minds are sharp as a whip and you wonder why they live there at all.

Some love the feeling of independence, some have no other place to go. All have lived through the Great Depression and most through two world wars. All have lost many loved ones. Some have outlived their entire families, including their children. Yet, the prevailing attitude is a positive one. What do they have to smile about? Oh yeah. They're STILL HERE!

I can learn so much from them.

I was visiting my sister-in-law last week, and we had each other rolling on the floor laughing, relating silly stories some of the residents at Villa Colima had told us, often three times in a row.

There's one dear lady who asks me every 4 minutes if I'm married, and when I tell her I'm not, she recommends that I go to Deadwood, South Dakota because back in the day in Deadwood there were 200 men to every woman. One Sunday, as soon as the church service was over, I turned to her and beat her to the punch, asking her if she was married. She wasn't, and I gave her the same advice. She was shocked!

"How did you know?!"
"Oh, it's the word on the street!"

Not more than two minutes later, she interrupted herself to ask me yet again if I was married. =)

I'm kind of senile too. Especially about the lessons I learn. And the mistakes I make. Over and over again. Some days it frustrates me. I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall, and getting nowhere. (Well, that would be obvious... Beating my head against a wall really would get me nowhere)

But seriously, I hope I can learn from my friends at Villa Colima, and be cheerful about my limitations. 'Cause my attitude is the only thing I have control over, and it makes all the difference in the world. =)