Thursday, April 7, 2011

The years of Famine

A few weeks ago I was in Haiti. I went to the morning devotions that are held each day on the Double Harvest compound. The man who preached was a Haitian farmer. He delighted in the Lord! While he spoke in Creole, I listened through my eyes. In the background, I heard an interpreter. He did his best to give us an idea of what the message was all about. The scripture was a common one, one that I have heard many times since I was a little girl. It was the parable of sower and the seeds that fell on different types of ground. His message was different than what I have always heard. He asked, rather than what kind of seed I am, what kind of soil am I? Will my soil produce a bountiful harvest? As I would like to share more about that question, there was something else he said that I am pondering today.

He talked about our dreams of good things to come in the future. He asked us "what are you doing today?" The things we invest in today will influence the things that happen tomorrow. What you "sew" today, you will reap tomorrow. The way we nourish the "seed" of the gospel now, will be evident later. This message is full of life lessons. It made me thankful for something I did years ago.

As I was growing up, I was given scripture. Memory verses, hymns, Sunday school songs and such. It didn't seem like much then, but years of repetition filling my soul with scripture was "filling my storehouses." I remember many quiet moments as a teenager and young adult in which I bathed myself with devotions and worship time. I had no idea that I wasn't just soaking in the moment, I was filling my storehouse during the time of plenty in my life. Years down the road, the famine hit. Life became harder than ever. This is when scripture verses flooded my mind throughout the day. Sunday school songs played themselves in my heart without my prompting. I was amazed that these treasures that I stored up in my heart, managed to find their way to the surface just when I needed them! I knew that the doors of my storehouse had been opened. I have been nourishing my soul in the famine, with the fruit of the years of plenty.

Although it was hard to see the point in my younger years, I sure am thankful for it now. As a teenager, I lived for each moment, choosing to do what felt best at the moment. I am thankful for the good choices I made then....I had no idea that I was preparing to feed my weary soul later.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beautiful Day

Yesterday was beautiful. It was warm, with a light breeze. There were birds singing, green grass, flowering trees, daffodils bloomed. After a long, hard winter and a cold early spring, everyone was so happy to see a day like this! Spring has a way of making someone feel refreshed, revived, full of new life.
It was a bittersweet day for me. I couldn't wait to go outside. I dug into my flower beds and pruned the shrubs. The more time I spent outside, the harder it got. I loved it...because I love spring, but I hated it too! Every thing I did, everywhere I went, I could see Ashley. I could almost feel her. She loved spring! She could never wait to get outside. She never wasted a beautiful day. As I pulled weeds in my garden, I found some baby herbs coming up. They are the survivors from Ashley's herb garden that she planted several years ago. She loved to plant flowers. Every year, she would beg me to let her plant her own "secret" garden. One time, she managed to find a spot behind the barn. She shaped a few little gardens with rocks that she found, filled the space with soil from the greenhouse, then planted a bunch of flowers that she found in the greenhouse junk pile. She was so proud of her garden!

I worked outside as Grace played. I missed my kids. I couldn't wait until they got home from school. I began to dream up Ashley coming home from school. I remembered her smile, her laugh, her ambition to get outside to play. When Jacob and Emma got home, we went right to the swing set like we always have. The kids and I loved to spend spring afternoons playing on the swings. Sometimes we do homework outside too, so we don't waste any part of the beautiful day! As I was swinging, I stared at the spot under the tree where Ashley and I would spread out the quilt. We would sit there and read books or just chat. The kids and I went to visit our goats and ponies...then we rode dirt bikes for a while. Every piece of the day was filled with blessing, and refreshed our souls, yet the pain was intense. I felt restless, and helpless. No matter how comfortable life might be, no matter how refreshed, or how beautiful and perfect the day is, it is never enough. Nothing satisfies, it is always partly empty. As I was sitting on a chair, I saw a bug that was on it's back. He had gotten wedged into a crack. It was wiggling, and moving it's legs as fast as it could, but couldn't get anywhere. It could not accomplish what it wanted to do. I felt like that bug, pinned in place.

Spring reminds me of Ashley, not only because she loved it so much, but because it is full of life. It is bright and cheerful, colorful, and welcoming. Spring best describes my Ashley. I will never forget how her life changed the minute the warm weather set in. She loved to play outside. Everything else lost importance to her. She would get up in the morning with a list of everything she wanted to accomplish for that day. It was usually things that she wanted to play.

When I am comfortable, I am content to be where I am. When I am restless, I desire heaven, because it is the only thing that will make me whole again. It is the only place I will be comfortable again. God wants us to be in the place of restlessness. He wants us to long to be with Him. Heaven is real to us. My children know how real heaven is as well. When I was a child, I looked forward to the next driving, to dating, to marriage, to having children. My children dream up heaven. They can't wait to get there. As hard as it is to watch, I am thankful that they get it. They know what matters. I always tell them that God will come when His work here is done. Because we are his hands and feet, we need to work hard for God every day. Soon He is coming. The old will be gone, and the new will come.