Sweet Reminder

Sweet Reminder

There was a hub-bub in my yard yesterday.  Two robins, 1 catbird, and 6 finches were having a loud discussion.  The robins sounded alarmed and when I walked over to our picnic table, the cause for the alarm was evident.  The robins nest which we had noticed a few days earlier was lying upside-down on the ground.  We had been so entertained at supper one eve when we discovered the nest just a few feet above our heads.  The babies’ excited chirping over their supper added happy interludes to our dinner in the garden.  Every few minutes, as the mother perched above them,  each delicious morsel of worm was met with a burst of little voices singing their thanks in return.

Seeing their happy little home lying on the ground the next day saddened me, and the little ones were nowhere to be found.

The next morning, I watched in amazement as the mother robin was carrying on some secret activity.  I could tell she was taking great pains to not let me see what she was doing; flying in low and landing near the hostas.  My hunch was right.  After some careful investigation, I zeroed in on where I thought her little ones could be and when I pushed aside some large protective leaves there they were;  little bald creatures with just a few feathers replacing the sparse fluff here and here, their bright orange mouths open wide.

After doing a little research, I found that robins will continue to care for their young even when they fall out of their nest, bringing them food faithfully every 15 minutes, at the risk of their own lives. It is best to leave them alone and I will have to curb my curiosity to check on them frequently.

Our family has enjoyed using ABeka homeschooling resources throughout the years, and one of our favorite workbooks is their 3d grade Spelling and Poetry.  Not only does it include basic spelling exercises, it encourages children, (and therefore their parents,) to memorize precious poems that will be an encouragement for years to come.  One that has particularly been special to me is called,  Overheard in the Orchard.

Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

(Elizabeth Cheney, Streams in the Desert, October 10).

What a sweet reminder.

 

Making Changes

DSC_8879Today is our 29th wedding anniversary.

Watching my own newlywed daughters work at their marriages makes me smile.  They seem so much more mature is some ways than myself at their ages.  Maybe it is because they have had the chance of seeing me make so many mistakes along the way.  Homeschooling means you are together a lot, and that doesn’t always allow you to hide your ugly side from your children.

When we were married, our pastor wanted us to write letters to our future spouses’ parents, and my letter to my in-laws would be embarrassing for me to read now, all these years later.  It said something to the effect that I saw a lot of potential in their son.  What I really meant was,  there was potential for change, and it would be up to me to help in the process.   Woe to any young bride who goes into marriage with a thought like that.

Oh how we laugh when watching re-runs of the Red Green Show, especially when all of the men stand at the end to take the Possum Lodge Oath;  “I’m a man.  I can change.  If I have to.  I guess.” They say it  with completely defeated, monotone voices and  I possibly laugh loudest, because it hits me  the hardest. I’m sure, throughout the years, I have expected my husband to take the exact oath, and I would be by his side to help him carry it out!

Elisabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot,  shared a wise observation in her book, Love Has a Price Tag.

“My second husband once said that a wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to eighty percent of her expectations.  There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it very much.  She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”

I shamefully admit that I have thought, “If I could take only the positive qualities I see in other men and somehow put them all together to create the ‘perfect’ husband, then, I would  be happy.” After all, then he would be all-knowing, all-caring, always available, always creative,  always handsome…Hmm…. sounds like I’m describing the only One who can truly bring me joy in life. Once I realized the error of my ways,  it cleared up a lot of unfair expectations I had in my mind regarding my husband.

Instead of changing him, which is not my job anyway,  I figured out I was the one who needed some changing and am learning to ask God daily to do the heart surgery it requires.

Delighted

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It’s been hot this past week.  Living in northern Wisconsin, I don’t always spend much time watering my flowers.  In Nebraska, where I grew up, the farmers spend all summer irrigating.  The rains are few and far between, and crops would soon dry up if they didn’t receive a steady supply of water.  On the other hand, we in Wisconsin have what would be termed “dry land corn”  by farmers in my home state.   We plant, cultivate and then go fishing; leaving the bother of irrigating up to God.  And He is faithful; usually sending timely rains, producing beautiful crops of corn year after year.

I take the same attitude with my garden and flower beds.  I like to plant, may pull a few weeds, and rarely feel the urge to water, knowing that if I just wait long enough, the rains will come.   Today was different.  My flowers were looking at me with rather thirsty expressions, after some days in the high 80’s and I suddenly realized, they were depending on me for the steady supply of water they hadn’t received.   After going to the trouble of dragging my garden hose all the way around the house to reach my parched patch of color, I was glad to stand and rest awhile, with my hand on the trigger of my trusty sprinkler gun.  Who knew watering flowers could suddenly move me to tears.

The sun’s rays were intense, and as I felt the mist blowing back over my face, I looked aside at my favorite bunch of deep red lilies.  And that’s when it hit me. A sudden rush of emotion and tears on my cheeks;  for all of them seemed to have their  bright little faces turned gratefully towards mine and what’s more,  they all looked as if they were appointed by God to cheer me.

I recently found a gem of an old book on my mother’s bookshelf.  No one wrote their name in it, claiming it for their own, but I like to think it cheered the heart of my father, whom I never really knew, or maybe even his mother before him.  It was published first in 1901, by Mary Wilder Tileston, and the copy I found is a small, hard-cover one in mint condition.  It is called Joy and Strength and it is a lovely collection of writings meant to be read as daily devotionals.  Every single reading has been timely, and I can hardly wait to sit in my garden with my morning cup of coffee, to see what God has for me each day.

The poem that Mary Tileston chose to share on July 17th (the morning I watered my lilies,) was written by Gerhard Tersteegen (1629-1769,) a  German Pietist who spoke so deeply of the things of God that hundreds crowded into his home to hear him speak, ”often putting ladders up to the windows to be able to hear him.”(www.Path2Prayer)  I’ll share his poem with you this morning, and you won’t even have to put a ladder up to my window to hear it!

Come, children. Let us go

 Our Father is our guide;

  And when the way grows steep and dark,

 He journeys at our side.

Our spirits He would cheer,

The sunshine of His love

 Revives and helps us as we rove,

  Ah, blest our lot e’en here!

(Tersteegen,197)

 Author of the book, The Spiritual Combat, Lorenzo Scupoli (1530-1610), says it well; “Delight in the happiness of God. “  (Scupoli, 196)