Gift Ideas - Handmade and Other

Friday, July 18, 2014

Time to Bloom

Five Minute Friday - 300 seconds of writing without editing, just writing. Join in over at Lisa Jo Baker's. Today's prompt is BLOOM . . . ready . . . set . . . write:

Back in the days when I lived in a house rather than an apartment, I loved to plant flowers. Especially morning glories. I liked to prepare the dirt for planting, insert the seeds, and wait for them to grow. And grow they did with a little sun and a little water. Finally viney stems would appear that would creep slowly up the strings I had prepared for them and eventually they would bloom -- pink, blue, white -- beautiful blossoms.

I love the parallels between plants and life. Others plant seeds in our lives - seeds of wisdom, of character, of a dream. We plant seeds in the lives of others. The water and sun of relationships, learning, failure and success, and adversity help those seeds to grow. And we must weed. We. Must. Weed out the negativity and naysayings and difficulties and character flaws that would sidetrack us. Eventually with water, sun, and weeding of our lives we too BLOOM to become something wonderful, something wonderful that started with a tiny seed.


What seeds have you planted in others?
What seeds have been planted in you that have bloomed? that you're still waiting for?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where We Belong

The sun was hot outside in the Belizean sky. Inside the small room was filled with faces of varying hues from milky white to golden brown. The air was close and in the center of the room a wizened old man lay dying. The tall, blonde pastor spoke reassuringly to the dying man through an interpreter. Talking with him about eternity and the God that he would soon meet. The wrinkled old man curled in a ball in his hammock indicated that he wanted assurance that he was okay to meet this God. The pastor explained truths about life and knowing God through Christ. Then together we prayed for and with the old man.

For that brief sojourn in a crowded, hot, and heavily scented room I knew that we were exactly where we belonged on that day and at that time. We had helped a dying man to experience peace and assurance in his final days.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lessons My Father Taught Me About Living . . . and Dying

I learned many lessons from my dad by the way he lived his life.

I learned that hard work is a good thing. My dad didn't work in a faraway office. When I was a child, my father owned a dairy farm - a business where the work never seems to end. He took me on the tractor to the fields and let me "drive" it even as a young girl. When he was building on an addition to the barn, he hung a swing from the rafters for me so that I could play while he worked. When I was older and the farm had been sold and he ran a sawmill, I went with him into the woods while he cut down trees. As a thirty-something adult, I finally came face to face with the realization that this was not the way most kids grew up. For many Dad left in the morning and came home again in the evening and in between they didn't see him. I learned about work by working side-by-side with my dad doing things that little girl hands could do. I don't ever remember him asking me to do something that was beyond my ability and I remember him protecting me from the things that could harm me in the hazardous work he did. He seemed to know what I could and couldn't do and asked me to do what I could, but didn't ask more.

I learned not to complain in the face of pain and difficulty, but to keep going, pace yourself, and do the best you can. When I was an infant, just 6 months old, my father had his second back surgery. As long as I can remember, he lived with chronic pain and significant health issues, yet he rarely complained. Sometimes in his sleep you could tell how bad the pain was because in those unguarded moments he would moan, but in his waking hours he rarely complained. And, despite the pain he built two successful businesses - the family farm and then a rough cut lumber business. His lumber business grew mostly by word of mouth. Customers would come back again and again because of the quality of the product they received. He did his best. And he paced himself, resting when needed, taking family vacations, and weekend getaways with my mom. Then he would return to work hard and do his best.

He was a man of few words, yet when he spoke his words carried weight and had impact. When he said he would do something, you could count on it.

I also learned about love. He was a quiet man and words of love didn't come easily to him. Yet his love for his wife and family was deep. He loved to have his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in his home. He always seemed to know that people were more important than things and that family were most important of all people. As long as he was able, each year he would drive the many hours to visit my sisters who lived far away to spend time with his daughters and their families. He made many gifts in his wood-shop for his children and grandchildren. He helped remodel houses, build potato bins, play games, hike, pick berries, and visit historical sites for and with his family. All of these expressions of his love.

He also taught me lessons in his dying. I had the privilege of helping to care for him the last 10 days of his life. The hospice workers warned us that it is normal for people to do things that we're not accustomed to them doing - like swearing a blue streak. My father, although in incredible pain those last days, didn't cry out, didn't get cranky and didn't swear. I don't think I ever heard him utter a swear word during my lifetime and that habit, I believe, was so deeply ingrained that even in death those words were not a part of who he was.

I knew that he loved Christ and had served Him faithfully for many years. It was his custom to spend time reading his Bible each day. As he lay in the hospital bed, the toxins building up in his system, I read to him from his Bible. One day I asked him if there was anything special that he would like me to read. His response was, "No, it's all good."

He died on a Sunday - Mother's Day - and the night before he uttered the last words I would ever hear him say on this earth. He had been basically in a coma for the few days before that, talking little, sleeping much. On that Saturday night, he spoke in a clear strong voice and said, "Thank you, Jesus!" I knew that he could see and was experiencing something very real and profound in the spiritual realm. In that moment, I felt closer to God than I had in a long time.

I am thankful for the lessons my father taught me in life and in death. He lived well and he died with dignity and honor.