Monday, February 27, 2006

sunday thoughts

It's been a week since I posted. I planned to write yesterday, but lunch with two of my three sisters turned into lunch/shopping/knitting with my sisters (one of which had to bow out before the knitting began in earnest), which then worked itself right into home fellowship group last night. I can't remember when I've had a more wonderful evening. It was so good to gather with people I love and worship together, learn together, pray together. It was good to hear their hearts, and catch a glimpse of the walking they've done with God since we gathered last.

I want to share something that struck me yesterday morning during worship practice, but I'm waiting for a friend to send me the pictures I asked her to take of that moment. She just informed me it will likely be later tonight, so my sharing will have to wait a bit longer.

See you ... tomorrow?


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

feed me

Today I am the Provider.

The ruckusy call of seven goats tugs at my ears and walks my feet toward my brown garden clogs. I slip them on and step outside, and though I've seen this same view for a week, I still draw in my breath at the beauty of our white-coated lawn. The snow in town melted days ago, but our farm is insulated by towering pines. We're still white and beautiful.

The goats hear my steps on the porch and whine all the harder. "I'm coming!" I say, which turns the tone of their cries and laces the ruckus with a shiver of anticipation. I pick off a fat tab of hay and balance it on my left arm while I release the latch on the first of two gates. The goats can't see me, but they know the particular slide of that metal latch. They urge me to walk faster.

I do. And as I near the barn, one mama goat pokes her head through a hole in the mesh and welcomes me. Balancing the hay tab as I press in and push back the bar latch on their door, I hear, from the other side, the sound of hooves on straw, dancing the dance of the impatient.

They know the routine. They know that in about twenty seconds, I'll have the hay divided and spread into two slanted bins. But they don't want to wait twenty seconds. Instead, they rush me, trying to pull shreds of hay from my arms. "Hang on there, Jimmy," I suggest, but Jimmy just grins and takes another mouthful. "Back up, Blondie," I order, but Blondie presses in all the tighter. I have to reach over her horned head to toss one-half the bounty into a bin. By the time the second half is spread, hay coats the heads of three goats and clings to my hair and sweater. While they munch, I pick and brush the biggest slivers from myself.

They don't notice when I steal the two water buckets and slip back outside. I follow a well-packed snow trail past the duck yard and around the chicken coop and into the garden, where I raise the pump handle on the faucet. From beneath ground, I hear the water whooshing obediently to the surface. I fill the biggest bucket and bite my lip as I try to ease its weight off the lip of the faucet. While filling the second, a lone snowflake drifts past my vision and captures my hope. I scan the dark backdrop of evergreen branches below our meadow and see another flake, and another. I'm so immersed in my snow patrol, I forget about the water. It's only when a stream burbles over the edge and splashes my clogs that I pull my eyes from those trees and remember my task.

I'm so busy watching for snowflakes that the weight of two full buckets barely registers in my brain, though I'm huffing a bit by the time I reach the barn. When I secure the buckets and step back, I'm rewarded to watch S'More leave her hay long enough to take a long draught of ice cold water.

One more reward awaits me. Brownie, the baby goat, who only just recently learned to eat hay like the big goats, leaves the bin and walks over to me, still nibbling a tender, baby strand. She sniffs my hand and moves closer, then lowers her head and lets me scratch between her not-yet-there horns. In the language of goats, this is 'thank you.'

I leave them, but my task is not finished. The ducks want grain. The chickens want pellets. The dog is watching me from the front door and looking hungry. Six cats will soon be meowing and circling their dish. And in about twenty minutes, a sleepy-eyed girl will be wanting a steaming bowl of oatmeal and raisins.

Today, I am the Provider.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? --Luke 12:24 (NKJV)

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

here, kitty

Mocha came home two days ago. It's not that she ever really left, but before I heard and saw her scratching at the back window forty-eight hours ago, I knew her only as a hushed whisper that watched me from shadows and teased me from between the top row of hay bales. I'd sense she was up there and try to lure her out, but in the last two or three years, I've probably touched her only twice. She's old, and skittish, and much too independent for her own good.

But right now, she's napping under the love seat. I can see the bulk of her dark calico self peeking out from beneath the scalloped wicker edge; occasionally, I catch the flicker of her brown and orange tail.

We're anticipating the coldest days we've had in over a decade. In a few hours, winds from Canada are expected to swoop down and blanket this area with frigid, windy air. I have to wonder if Mocha--who will be fourteen in a few months--smelled the coming storm. I picture her lifting her head from atop her favored hay perch, wrinkling her black, triangular nose, and sniffing the breeze. I imagine her little quarter-pound brain scanning its files, pulling out a memory from ten or twelve years ago, and analyzing the remembrance with a growing sense of dread. Of her own choosing, she's always been an outdoor cat. Not long after we brought her home as a kitten, and three-year old Zac welcomed her with an exuberant cuddle and rub-down in the recliner ("Mama--she name is Mocha"), the cat searched for the nearest exit and skedaddled.

But she's here now.

Wise creatures scan the skies and smell the breeze and scrutinize signs. They take stock of their position, and when they determine that something ominous is on the move, they drop their weighty independence and seek shelter. They go to where they'll be welcomed, and stroked, and loved--where a bigger someone is waiting to offer bowls of warm milk with egg, and safety from the storm.

That we would all be so wise.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
--Luke 13:34 (NIV)

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Monday, February 13, 2006

new blog

I have to say I'm shocked to call myself a knitter. That's because knitting always seemed, to me, to be something you did in your "winter years." I never pictured myself haunting yarn shops and fingering wools and worsteds and furry balls of possibilities. Had you told me that the day would come when I'd rather knit than eat; when I'd hanker after an expensive set of bamboo needles; when I'd happily spend an hour browsing and deciphering patterns--even those for dishcloths--I would have laughed.

But I'm not laughing now. I'm just knitting.

I like to set myself up with all my favorite companions--a well-stocked woodstove, a lit candle or two, an instrumental or classical CD, and a cup of herbal tea--and knit for a stolen hour. I say "stolen" because there are always five or fifteen "do me's" tugging at my sleeve, but I've developed a knack for ignoring those voices. My daughter, Tera, would call that "skillage." Yes. I'm mighty skillaged at stealing time to knit.

I like that millions of women before me, throughout the centuries and in every corner of the world, have shared my passion. I like knowing that despite the slight variances in style and preference, we've all held those sticks in virtually the same way, all cast on our chosen yarn in virtually the same fashion. And I love knowing that despite the differences in time and place, in life experience and family and viewpoints, we've all felt the exact same thrill when we look down at the work in our hands and find a pattern emerging between those two needles.

I thought it might be nice to have a place to share our little knitting victories. I've asked a few of my knitting friends from church to join me in a new blog, which we're calling Chicks With Stix. As of this moment, the only post you'll find there is the one you're reading right now. But if you come back soon, you'll probably get an eyeful of our works-in-progress.

Until then, read this little description of another woman, from another time and place, who knew the joy of working with her hands:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is worth more than precious rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She will not hinder him but help him all her life.
She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant's ship; she brings her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day's work for her servant girls.
She goes out to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household
because all of them have warm clothes.
She quilts her own bedspreads.
She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth ...
She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs with no fear of the future.

--Prov 31:10-25 (NLT)


Thursday, February 09, 2006

foreign words, foreign concepts

"How do you spell 'servanthood,'" Dave asked me a few moments ago from the living room, where he was at work on his laptop.

"S.e.r.v.a.n.t.h.o.o.d." I said.

"That's what I thought," he said, "but spell checker won't take it."

"That happens all the time to me," I said. "A lot of the words we use--fellowshipers, firstfruits, lovingkindness--aren't recognized by spell checker."

And then it suddenly made sense to me. We speak a foreign language.

Until the world bows their knee to the One who bent His own knee to demonstrate foot-washing servanthood, the One who drew strangers together in committed fellowship, the One who offered Himself up as the sacrificial firstfruit and demonstrated in three-dimensional poignancy the lovingkindness of His Father, they won't understand our language.

Oh, God ... make me an interpreter.

*   *   *   

But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. --1 Cor 2:14 (NLT}


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

with a little help from their friends ...

And that's all I have to say about that.


Monday, February 06, 2006


Sometimes, God lets you say something profound--even if only to yourself.

Not ten minutes ago, while peanut-buttering a slice of just-ground, just-baked wheat bread for Tera's lunch (we've gone organic ... but that will have to wait for another post) I stepped on Squishy's toes.

Of course, you don't do something that heinous on purpose. I didn't even know she was there. I'd been standing there at the kitchen counter scraping the last of the cherry jam out of the jar, and stirring the peanut butter to mix it back into a spreadable goo, and thinking about my day and all the must-do things I needed to fit inside twelve hours, when I moved my foot every so slightly, and stepped right on that cat's front paws.

The pain was all hers, but we shared the near-heart attack. She shrieked and ran. I shrieked and dropped my knife, and then burst out with, "Don't sit at my feet ... or you're going to get hurt!"

Isn't that profound? And I wasn't even trying.

It's true. Take it as the word for today. Please don't sit at my feet. Don't sit at anyone's feet, unless that someone happens to be the One who walked out of the tomb. You'll never go wrong sitting at His feet. Never. In fact, all the wisdom you need for life and health and strength can be gleaned from that sacred position--sitting in expectancy, looking up in adoration.

But me? Your best friend? Dr. Phil? Oprah? We're all sinners. We'll all fail you eventually. I can guarantee that each of us will, in turn, step on your toes at some point. The ones you really want to watch out for are the ones who like to gather people at their feet, who like to be the distributors of manna, as though you can't go to the Bread of Life yourself. Steer clear of those disciple-gatherers.

Be Mary. Carve ten minutes from the chaos called today, strip it of "must" and "now" and "hurry," and settle at the feet of the One who'll never fail you; the One who has all the answers; the One who loves you with reckless, irrational, passion.


Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. --Matt 15:30 (NKJV)

*   *   *

And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. --Luke 7:37-38 (NKJV)

*   *   *

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet.

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part ..."
--Luke 10:38-42 (NAS)



Friday, February 03, 2006

new e-zine

I received a nice surprise earlier this week--I was invited to participate as a columnist for a new e-zine. Christian Women Online is up and running as of today, thanks to the efforts of editor Darlene Schacht.

Hope you can take a minute to visit.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

thank you

Thank you to whoever nominated wind scraps for "best religious blog" over at bloggin' out loud. If you'd like to vote, go here and scan the list. You're allowed three votes, which can be spread out or used for one blog.

Here's the email address for voting: BestSoFar@RightThinking.net


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

cowboy courtin'

I was seven that summer morning between first and second grade when I had my first taste of wooing. Danny was a quiet classmate, someone I'd smiled at once or twice and shared my reading book with on a half-dozen occasions when he couldn't find his own. Sometimes that's all the encouragement it takes. Sometimes, that's enough to make a boy rise early and don all his cowboy gear ... and go a'courtin.

“Mornin’, Ma’am,” he’d drawled in his fake John Wayne voice when my mother answered the door. “I’ve come to call on Shannon.”

Fortunately, I’d been sitting out on the front porch watching a pincher bug cross the walkway at my feet, and I heard and saw Danny making his high-noon advance from well down Cedar street. Long before I could make out the silver spurs attached to his red boots, I heard them jangling. I’d had to squint my eyes and peer hard at first, but then my suspicions had been confirmed. His hat was cocked at a jaunty angle; its red and white striped strings pulled hard against his hairless chin. The sun glinted brashly off his cereal-box sheriff’s badge, making me feel as if the Law were coming after me. The swagger did me in.

My heart galloped right to the bottom of my saltwater sandals. I left the pincher bug, skedaddled straight upstairs and into my bedroom and hid myself under the covers before my suitor could reach the house. As my bedroom was just above the front porch and the window ajar, I could hear the goings-on clearly. When my mother came upstairs to tell me I had a gentleman caller waiting at the door, I informed her in a shaky voice that I had the flu.

She rebuffed him kindly. My illness fled almost immediately, but to this day I can still feel that calf-with-a-branding-iron-coming-at-you lurch in my stomach if I dwell on the Danny incident too long.

I've no idea why I feared that cowboy so. I only remember feeling like that manchild-on-a-mission might just toss me in a feed sack, hoist me over his shoulder, and cart me off to the ranch. Maybe all he wanted was to show off his new spurs, but in my heart of hearts, I felt like a bunny who'd been spotted by a hawk.

I didn't see Danny again after that. My mother remarried not long after and we moved to Oklahoma before the start of the new school year. I have no idea what happened to him or where he is now. But I do hope, in the end, that Danny found a girl who appreciated spurs and badges and red-striped chin straps. I hope she took one look at that struttin' cowboy, and ran herself out to meet him.

That's just what I did, when the right one came along.

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