Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful...

There is much to be thankful for on this first Thanksgiving without the man who always carved the turkey...

I'm thankful for the presence of God...
He was with us during our darkest hours this year and made His presence gently known.

I'm thankful for kindness...the kindness of people who quietly do astounding things without the need nor desire for acknowledgement.

I'm thankful for my mother, who has demonstrated strength and grace in her new, more solitary life.

I'm thankful for my siblings and the comfort of knowing that I'm not alone in losing my father...they understand.

I'm thankful for my husband who has dried more tears this year than ever before in our 32 years of marriage...add to the equation, hormone fluctuation and you have a hero right there.

I'm thankful for my kids, who have upped the ante this year for making mom proud...they are doing life well. I'll always think of them as my kids but I think this year it sunk in that they're all grown up...they're adulting hard and well. I am so proud of them.

I'm thankful for "the cousins". I don't think I could have asked for better nieces and nephews...in the darkest hours they were there...helping and loving and caring. I will never forget it.

I'm thankful for friends who pray, for friends who show up and for friends who read manuscripts and tell me the truth. A friend is a treasure and I am so thankful for each one.

I'm thankful for the nearly 52 years I had with my dad. Rather than be disappointed that he's gone today...I am going to try to be thankful. I'll remember the times he snuck me the first bite of turkey, the way he prayed and thanked God for his family and the food, and his laugh around the dinner table.

And finally (although I could go on and on and on)...
I'm thankful that the turkey will likely be butchered this year...or...perhaps the next turkey carver will rise up and be counted among the legends.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fertilizer...

            
            I love my hens. They’re fun, they produce the most delicious eggs, but they’re oh, so poopy. Yeah, I said it. Chickens poop a lot. It’s not an issue during the summer when the weather’s dry, eggs are plentiful and their contented clucks are my gardening soundtrack. But during the wet, rainy fall and winter—ugh.
            All winter long, it rains. The chicken run becomes a soupy mess of poop and mud and boy, does it stink. And they don’t lay eggs in the winter. For four months, I muck around in the poopy mud, cleaning their coop and tossing them treats with no reward. I grumble all the way to the grocery store to buy eggs. I grumble when I break a store-bought egg into the frying pan with it’s anemic yolk and bland taste.
            But spring comes—it always does. When we have a string of sunny days, we mow the lawn and weed the flowerbeds and that’s when my husband says, “It’s time to dig out the chicken run.”
            We put on our grubby clothes. He digs up the stepping stones leading to the coop and I wash them off. I break up the earth with a pitchfork and he digs out about four inches of muck. It’s mostly dry by now. He throws each shovelful into the wheelbarrow and hauls it to the garden. 
            When the coop’s been dug out it looks pretty much the same. The ground level has been lowered but it’s still poopy dirt—it’s a chicken run after all. The garden is full of piles of “fertilizer”. My husband rototills it into the earth. The soil turns a rich dark brown. It’s beautiful. A month later, we plant our garden. The vegetables and flowers grow large and lush.
            Mucking out my chicken run reminds me that muck soils my life as well. Sin, trials, failure, misunderstanding and loss—the stuff stinks to high heaven. A spiritual winter sets in and paralyzes me with fear and causes me to question…Why? Why me? What good can come from this? And I wait for answers. The rains come. The trials seem to go on and on and it stinks. The sorrow aches. The only thing to do is to trust the God who allows the muck and the pain.
            After a while, when the time is right, God has a way of turning things around. The Good Gardener has put into every trial, benefit. In every disappointment, purpose. And somehow, He adds to our loss, gain. He digs out the muck. He turns over the heaviness of our hearts and draws us near to Him. 
            He opens our eyes to others going through similar muck. We care. We pray. We love. We share joy.
            Love blossoms, joy bursts forth, the roots of peace deepen, patience grows, kindness spreads, goodness rises, faithfulness blooms and self-control is strengthened. The fruit of the spirit is borne of our reaction to muck…much like my garden.