Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Portrait of Poise

Two girls of ours who are fantastic, smart women. I am not bragging. I am stating a fact. God gets the glory.
First of all,I will hasten to say that any Christian daughter of yours could be listed here as well. I picked these two photos because they are of my current and beloved...And what I had available.
Raising godly daughters has stretched me. Stretched me far beyond the neat and tidy ideal I used to believe was It.
Elv has been teaching from the story of Esther lately. Esther has finally reached my understanding. I am so excited about this. Finally, with the help of my daughters and Esther's story, I am going to learn how to handle fear and how to combat the Enemy. By God's grace.
Often lately, the girls have comforted me with strength and common sense gained through their own struggle/battle/victory when I face raw fear now for the first time in my life.
The pretty, put-together, Queen Esther finding out that she and her family were to be put to death did not succumb to fear and fainting. Nor moods and moanings. Not even panic or hand wringing. She didn't get on the phone to Mordecai and instruct him in screeches and tears to DO SOMETHING! I would have.
I would have so messed things up!
Esther handled stress by prayer and fasting with her maids, and having time to be pretty and plan banquets, and staying thoughtful and kind to everyone. She was even kind to that odious Haman, the perpetrator!
Besides, God was doing stuff in the background that was perfectly timed.
Esther was perfect because she had strength and poise to draw on in her hour of need. As a result, her appeal was successful.
I suppose none of us girls are ever going to be an Esther. But we have little excuse not to pray, we and our maids like-wise, constantly. We ought to take care of our wardrobes and our nails so that we present ourselves appropriately for any given situation. We should stay connected to our Source of strength and holiness. We must learn to use time as our friend. God works in the process of events that take time. Three days of fasting and praying. Then we shall manage to stand in the court and wait quietly, maintaining poise over our pounding hearts in the heat of the moment or the panic of rising fear.
To all of you daughters, being daughters, raising daughters, Esther knew what she was doing. She had resources to draw on. So do we.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

More Zinnia



When sitting down to do this posting, I realized that I am lacking a picture of the rows of flowers in the garden as they are at this time. I am sorry about this, because you would get a better idea of how lush and large the zinnia plants have grown and how rich and numerous the flowers.
We found that the new Hobby Lobby in Rice Lake carries silica get for drying these beauties. I bought two of the largest packs to get started. I'll be getting more, because I had only enough for two 9 by 13 containers or one layer of blooms. In my excitement in opening the first package to pour into the container, I poured too quickly and lost a handful of the perfectly round balls of it onto the table. They rolled and rolled off the table, across the floor. Sweeping them with the broom wasn't over successful and I had to vacuum them, ultimately.

I chose the nicest, more brilliant blooms for my first batch. I cut the stem off right below the flowers and laid them in a bed of the drying gels. Then I poured the silica gently around the flowers until they were completely submersed in the sand. After one week we shall see. I hope I will pour the sand off and lift the dried flowers out, completely preserved for our enjoyment for months to come. I will spray them with an acrylic spray to finish them nicely.
The summer before Jenny was married she planted rows of flowers to use for her wedding the following February. She had visions in her head, I suppose, and decided to make them reality. I had no idea when she started what it was she saw, but did my best to help her make those rows of flowers produce blooms. It was not an expensive venture and it had promise if it would work. They did turn out beautifully for her wedding flowers. She had boxes of dried flowers stuffed under the bed and in her closet all those months from fall after the frost until February.
Nobody's getting married around here this winter and I won't have nearly as many as she did, but maybe there'll be a few to put into Thanksgiving and Christmas swags and garlands.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Zinnias and Applesauce, It Must Be Fall!

Finally, the garden zinnias are blooming profusely. Frost is just around the corner, but for now there are flowers enough for every occasion.
Old jars hung on nails and arranged full of flowers and grapevine make a perfect fall doorway decoration.
The other big plan for all these flowers is to dry them in silica gel. Visualize these mixed into our winter/Christmas swags. If that materializes, I'll show you here. I hope.
The girls and I set about making applesauce outside on Wednesday. Three bushels done, and five to go for next week.  The weather was awesome: crisp, the leaves starting to turn and fall is here. The yellow jackets thought the warm, sweet apple juice impossible to resist. More than one dive-bombed the hot sauce and died immediately.
We sat out on the patio to lunch savoring this particular feeling of lovely autumn around us. The children ran between us and riding their bikes and turning the strainer handle for brief moments. One of the babies experimented with rolling an acorn around in her mouth, getting rather dirty in the process.

Benny turned five that day, too.  I believe it feels amazing to be five to him. I remember, again, my fifth birthday each time someone in the family turns five.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Nobody's Gonna Drown

     All of our children are adults. We have a lot of happy things in our scrapbook. Mistakes, too. And lessons learned. And still learning.
     This morning I ran across the apostle Paul's words to his fellows during a storm at sea. "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship." It is too easy for me to believe that the ship is IT, and forget that lives are actually what's to save.
    Routines, tangibles, and the organization seem to be so important. Best way to raise a family, they say. Have plenty of worthy work and good routines. And this is true. But I have been learning that the darkest, secret sins can thrive there, too.
    I am all for saving ships: church, family routines, school, and home. We pray and work hard on these things, as we should. But it is souls we are mostly concerned about. Each individual one.
    In our ship, our children wanted to know if they mattered more than the ship. Maybe ours were different than others; but I doubt it. One of our children said to us clearly, "We need to hear things like, "You can do this, you will not be lost, you matter, you are worthwhile!", instead of the accusatory, "Stop rocking the ship, or why are you rocking OUR ship, we have the best ship around and you ought to be grateful".
    So, I am encouraged with Paul's tack with fearful, unsure people around him. Read through one of his many letters recorded in your Bible. You'll see what I mean. His ideas are all about "You can do this", "Jesus did for you", and the power available to anyone willing to make himself a living sacrifice.
   A living sacrifice is one of Paul's sayings that I am interested in studying up on, especially along side Jesus' saying, "...my yoke is easy, my burden light." Really? How are you mature, Spirit filled people putting that together and living it out? I don't want to hear good ideas; I want hear how the rubber meets the road, for you, for real. That's what our children want to see and hear, too.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

             My fall pretty spot today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

In Reply To "Savor"

     Lisl's Post for today is great. Go over there and read that first if you want to know for yourself. She is a great, organized writer and I'm proud of her. after I read it, I hit comment and started writing. And then thought I should blog my comments here. So go over there and see what she says.

  My Comment:  Hey, what a good idea. I'm home all day today, well, until six this evening anyway, and I'm guarding THAT jealously. All I had in mind was to get the laundry done, complete, finished! And to have all the dishes put away, the kitchen and porch and "pile-it" places cleared and clean and sparkling. Now you come along with this good idea. Remember that pumpkin candle holder one of you gave to me last fall? Hmmm, what else is there. My table is sporting a vase of wilted and wasted zinnia, an undone puzzle, someone's folded piece of music with notes on the back, and a basket of oranges and apples. Oh, and a dirty table runner laying sideways across the table. It's all in disarray.  It must be time to give it some thought again.

                                                           Fall Management
    I feel like I have been too busy to pay attention to details like the family table centerpiece. And that is too busy!  There are freshly rained upon zinnia blooming in the garden just waiting to be gathered into vases. Lisl is using books and cookie cutters and birds. The candle and flower give the whole thing warmth and attraction. Autumn themes already!
    Fall is our favorite time of year around here. It's time again to get new portraits of the individual adult children living here at home. It's time to gather up the latest couple/family pictures of each the children and get them framed and hung in place. It's time to redecorate our bedroom for fall: warmth, lights, and something pretty.
    And it's time to go through the freezer. I have no idea what all is down there in the depths. And if we aren't eating it, what's the point of letting it pile up in there. That's been my freezer dilemma all my life. Most other good Menno moms have two or three freezers well stocked with what? I'm mystified by this. We don't get to the bottom of our little half sized unit in a year's time. I guess its a management issue.  And I'm a poor one. I have always wanted to know. Do you with two full freezers even know what's at the bottom? Really? It's an honest question.
    That's my scattered stuff for now. Work hard, be happy, and don't fuss about the inevitable in your life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Of Orchids Unaware and Other Serendipitous Moments

Alpine Lake is hidden away along the Nordic Ski Trail just waiting to share its splendors for the honest quiet seeker/watcher of God's awesome creation. Elv and I had Saturday evening to ourselves, so we decided to hike the trail to see the little lake. We were there several years ago on one of our "explorings". This time it is at "full pool".
    I sat down at the very edge to watch and see whatever there was. The more you look, in this kind of setting, the more you will see. Elv stood behind me and waited, too. We each had our phone cameras in hand.
    Right at my toes I found these little beauties. The perfection of a wild swamp flower amazes me. This is a arrowhead plant. You can see most of the leaf there (missing the point of the arrow on this picture). There were tiny black ants crawling around on the leaves and flowers.


There were fish jumping out there... trout, we read, on the information board on our way out later. The blue jays had a discussion under way beyond the northwest shore of the lake. We never did find out what it was there were making such a racket about.
   I always hope we will see a bear or some deer emerge from the woods on the other side of the lake to drink. Only once have we seen this, many years ago up on Cheney Lake.

    On the way home I spotted a reptilian looking plant growing in the dead leaves along the trail. A tiny piece of it came home with me. I found out the next day that I had just filched an orchid from the wild. Rattlesnake Plantain Orchid to be exact. It is beautiful.          
The DNR officer that we met when we got back to our car was a lot more concerned about the mysterious pile of a child's possessions: car seat, life jacket, toys and other things pertaining left lying in the parking lot there by the woods. A lot more concerned, than about my ignorant orchid gathering.
        Another untold story that. My mind goes all kinds of places that I wish it wouldn't go when I see such things dumped in the wrong spot and abandoned. Where's the child? What the story? And then I realize I don't even really want to know. I want to know that the situation is being "taken care of" by the right people. That's all. So then I think of my one way of helping. I can pray. God knows all. He cares perfectly. He can. Possibly by my intercession alone, an angel of some sort can effect a rescue. I must never forget to pray. It could make all the difference.
    Do you believe that our whole day was orchestrated: our work, our free evening, our walk, all of it could have been by God just for our concern to come before Him for this? How big is your God?

    Brad has been yearning for a little workshop of his very own. He has worked hard all summer and saved his earnings. So last week he was ready. He still waits for his driver's license so I took him to the lumber yard in Stone Lake for materials. We took time to brainstorm and make a list first. I'll admit that I pushed him to do it right for a couple of reasons, appearances being one of them. What's worse looking than a thrown together shack of this and that?! So with the help of CLP's fat, carpentry text book and his own ideas, he began. This picture was a week ago. He's been working his two other very part time jobs between and taking time to play on the weekend and as of this writing four walls are up and door framed in and the rafters soon to be.

           More about stories again now. We are so very, very blessed. A little old Native American lady told me her stories last night and this morning sitting at my dining room table. Elv cooked for the two of us while she prepared to be taken to the clinic for her next stopping place and then we sat down to breakfast. She put honey and creamer in her coffee and stirred it vigorously while she talked. I sipped my coffee and listened silently. I honestly couldn't tell what part of the things she told me were true or what things were only a part of her unrealities, which seem very real to her. I honestly don't know what to think at all. What part of what I did for her even came off as the love of Jesus to her? She thanked both Elv and I profusely for all we had done for her. She claims to love Jesus in one breath and talks about Hollywood in the next. She has lived a hard life. She is not able to think straight. She has a well worn Bible.
     In the end, I have to believe that part of her time here was about how I would do with it all. It was my test. I guess I don't have to figure out which box she fits into, do I? She is a lonely old soul and Jesus loves her as much as He loves me. My story reads far different from hers, but I have to say, if she ends up next door on Mansion Street, I won't mind at all.