Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Life

The tree was dying. All the top leaves and bark were brown and withered. Slowly that death was sinking down and taking the entire tree. It hadn't gone very long without water, which proved the very basic principal I had often taken for granted. That without water, there is no life--no life for us as human beings, no life for animals, and no life for plants.

I started watering the tree again faithfully every day, and slowly the green began traveling up the dead limb and transforming its formerly dead, withered leaves and bark back into green, living branches and leaves.

As I watched this renewal of life happening before my eyes--a phenomenon that is so basic many don't think about it passed kindergarten--I saw the physical correlation that God wanted me to see spiritually. I need Him like water. I used to be so dead inside without Him, and now it only takes a few days without Him before the deadness starts coming back.

"...Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:37b-39. (NASB)

Just like the tree needs to be watered by me, I need to be watered by Him every day. Jesus Christ is the new life and living water to my soul. I don't want to go back to being dead inside ever again!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Never Too Late To Be Unforgettable

The sermon by Bill Butterworth on being unforgettable jogged a special memory I would like to share.

Growing up, my grandpa was too busy to visit us. He lived in another state, and he was always working so hard that whenever we did receive a rare visit, my number one memory was that I had to be quiet so I didn't wake up grandpa in the other bedroom. Grandma on the other hand would fly out all the time, even one time when my parents were desperate for a babysitter for the weekend, she flew out to watch us. This left an unknowing confirmation in a child's heart that it wasn't the distance keeping grandpa from us. I believe you can only take so much of the belief that someone doesn't care about you before you start replicating that same feeling towards him or her. I experienced this with grandpa. If he didn't care enough about his grandchildren to visit, I wasn't going to care about what I was missing.

Years down the road when I was in my late teens, things began to change and grandpa was making visits with grandma. He'd come and try to talk with me, but he was a quiet man and a total stranger to me. I remember thinking, it's too late grandpa. You missed your time. You weren't here and now you've missed out. He was able to make some connection with my older brother who seemed to have a few more memories of grandpa than I did, but it wasn't working with me. Not that I didn't want it to work. I just didn't know anything about him. I didn't know him.

At 22, I got the news that grandpa had an aggressive cancer. It affected me that I might never have the chance to change the memories I had of him. So I bought my mom and I a ticket to spend 2 weeks in North Carolina with him and grandma. I wish I could say every moment was filled with the deep bonding our relationship had lacked and that we couldn't get enough of being together. But it was a process of us both allowing each other to get to know one another. There were special bright moments in that trip--when he told me how beautiful and grown-up I looked when I pinned my hair up for church, his smile as he watched me learn to clog on the dance floor as a little girl taught me the steps and the pride that seemed to swell in him when I learned so quickly. But most of all, the joy it gave him when a family crisis hit and my first instinct was to pray. I left with these new memories snuggled deep in my heart that I had finally gotten to know my grandpa.

But it wasn't until another year when he came out again to visit that he became unforgettable for me. He didn't give me the world or buy me some fancy gift. I could see in his face how much my visit meant to him, but the moment that changed everything was so simple.

I was standing in the kitchen, probably talking with some of my siblings. Grandpa came up and stood beside me. He slipped his arm around me and cupped my elbow in his hands. The touch was so gentle and safe. I could feel what he wanted to say, I love you, and never forget, I got my girl. Never had anyone cupped my elbow, let alone with the gentle love behind his touch. He became unforgettable for me in that moment and I will always remember the lesson that it is never too late. All you need is an open heart.

My fiance is the only other person who has ever cupped my elbow since. Grandpa is still alive and doing fairly well, and I look forward to having him there on my wedding day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Garden Update #1

It's now July and these pictures were taken a few weeks back, so they are outdated. Lord willing, I will be able to fully update them soon, but here these are so it isn't such a jump in size for you all.

(Me in the corn rows)
  (Tobin in the corn)
An aerial shot of part of the garden
 Summer Squash

 (Bell peppers)

And that's just a few! :) It's been so neat to watch them grow with water and sunlight. Every morning as I water I am reminded that Jesus is living water, and I grow like the plant.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Short Story: Change

Jeff's world had changed. No longer was he a little junior high boy. He had made it into a new school. Things were going to be different; things were going to be better. He needed change.

Jeff took a deep breath as he excitedly looked around the classroom from his front row seat. Finally the fresh start he needed! He was going to succeed and thrive.

The bushy-haired teacher turned around and silenced the chatter. "Welcome to your first day as 9th graders. I am Mr. Wish, and since we will be together all year, I think we should get to know one another. Let's start here." He pointed to the student next to Jeff. The young girl promptly reported her name. Then the teacher pointed to the next student and so on until they had all given their names.

"Very good, " said the teacher. "Now I'm sure you're all anxious to know what you should expect."

Jeff sat up a little straighter. He knew his hard work would pay off this year. He would make it to the top, and he would make his parents proud.

"I have developed a new system by which I will be grading your work."

Jeff leaned forward in his seat so as not to miss a word.

"I believe in fair and equal opportunity, so we will help each other. Each test or paper will be matched up with another student's work and the two grades will be averaged together for the final grade."

Jeff saw the same confusion in the girl's eyes next to him that he felt. She tentatively raised her hand.

"Yes?" the teacher called on her.

"Do we get to choose which student we are paired up to work with?"

"Absolutely not. The highest grade will be matched with the lowest grade. The second highest with the second lowest. The third highest and the third lowest. You get the idea."

A shocked silence filled the room. Jeff exchanged horrified looks with the students around him, but a few cheers arose from the back row. With a satisfied nod, the teacher began the lesson for the day, but Jeff couldn't concentrate on the lesson. He couldn't grasp the fact that no matter how hard he worked or how much he studied, his grade would be taken away and averaged with another student who may never have cared to study as hard as he was willing to study.

His shoulders drooped forward as his eyes glazed over. He slouched lower in his seat. Everything the teacher said went in one ear and out the other. But he didn't care. Tomorrow he would sit in the back row.

Written by Rachael Nicole
Concept by Dave P. Davies

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wild Bird

I had one of coolest experiences. The other night I was saying goodnight to Tobin and this little finch came flying under the roof of the porch with the cat pursuing with a hunter's eye. I thought the bird would just fly out from underneath the porch and away where the cat couldn't follow, but the poor thing was in a panic and didn't seem to see the way of escape. Frantically, it searched for high places to land but without success. The bird flew back around the other side of the house, and I followed to shoo the cat away. That was one determined cat who refused to be deterred. The bird dropped lower as exhaustion overtook the little thing, finally landing on the top of an outside bird cage. The cat could easily climb to the top, so desperate I stuck out my finger to see if I could carry the bird to safety.

I never thought it would work! However, the bird not only allowed me within inches of it but with a little coaxing, the wild finch stepped onto my finger, out of breath. I carried it away from the cat and out under the open night air to safety, but it didn't leave. I had Tobin next to me and two of my brothers surround me fascinated with the bird but it still didn't fly away. He stayed on my finger and trusted me enough to close his eyes and rest.

(I am on the left edge of the photo with the bird on my hand, and my little brother jj--who refuses  to let photos be taken without him...hehe-- in the background)
The finch stayed on my finger until I was ready to call it a night and put him in a tree. Then he flew away to high tree top, but he left me with an amazing experience. I felt like a Disney princess with the wild animals trusting me, but mostly I felt grateful that the Lord allowed me an amazing experience that blessed the socks off me. Literally. I wasn't wearing socks or shoes. :P

Finally on a more serious note, I couldn't help wondering if the joy I felt was anything like the joy the Lord feels when we completely surrender to His protection and trust Him even when we are scared.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Adventure-Gardening

 If you asked me what my top 10 priorities are in life, gardening would not have made the list, but life is full of surprises. My boyfriend Tobin and I have started our own garden on my parent's property. We started by planting beans, cucumber, corn, basil, watermelon, tomato plants (not seeds), bell peppers, zucchini, and green onions. Plus tending to the strawberries and berry plant that were still growing from my brother's old garden.

(Above: Beans sprouted first about two weeks after planting.) 

 (Cucumber was a close second and then corn.)

(Recently we transplanted the corn out of the greenhouse. Later we learned that corn is hardy enough to be planted in the ground directly and doesn't need to start in the greenhouse. I'm sure there will be a lot of lessons to learn through this new journey.)

(Our most recent plant that is ready to be added to the garden is zucchini.)

Everything we first planted has become a plant except green onion. We are still waiting to see if anything will grow or if they were bad seeds. Most recently, bell peppers have finally emerged. I almost began to doubt that they would ever grow but persistence paid off. 

Since we started, we have added cantaloupe, pumpkin, parsley, cilantro, summer squash, and artichoke. Plus receiving three more tomato plants. Pumpkin is the only one that has emerged so far but looking forward to the new surprises. It's exciting to watch them grow and see the transformation. More to come!