Wonders of His Love

I had horrible homework habits as a student.  I told myself I worked better under pressure and always saved my homework until the last minute.  The fact is, I only worked under pressure, so I have no idea how well I would have done if I would have given myself more time to complete each assignment.

I’ve tried to start my kids off from the beginning with good study habits.  They have way more homework than I ever remember having (I don’t think I had any homework until 3rd or 4th grade), but we already have a routine.  The boys come home and have a snack and waste time for a while, and then it’s straight to the table for homework, followed by at least 15 minutes of reading (also required by their teachers) before they can play with friends.

The other day when the boys got home from school I told them to grab a snack and get started on their homework while I took a quick shower.  As soon as I got upstairs, I heard them outside in the backyard.  I opened my bathroom window to yell at them to get to their homework, but a warm breeze hit me.

I looked down to see that the breeze was rattling my Ash tree.  Dozens of yellow leaves danced toward the ground.  Isaac was chasing each leaf, trying to catch them all in a cup in his hands.  They proved too fast and capricious for his small cup.

Asher grabbed a handful of leaves tossed them in the air and managed to catch a couple of his own.

I’m so glad that my boys still notice the allure of creation.

Oh, it just brought a smile to my face and a peace in my heart.

Depending on how the wind blows, we usually have a couple of days a week, where homework takes hours and the boys whine and complain the whole time.  This day, was not one of those days.  We decided to head to the deck and read outside and finish our homework there.  This was our view.

Oh, the difference a view can make!

I dread the coming months, when the leaves are long raked away and our bare trees open up a new scenery of a bright yellow and green building and a chain link fence.  When it’s too cold to expend all our energy outside, and the homework tears start rolling again…

But that’s in the future.  This is now.  And now, I’m going to enjoy the view.

 

God, may these boys, may I never lose the sense of wonder at the beauty of your creation.  May we never put a list of chores above noticing what you are doing around us.  Keep our eyes open and our souls in tune with your spirit.  Thank you for giving us this amazing world.  May we hold on to these moments in the sun when the dark clouds roll in and the colorful leaves are long gone and we’re left with little but a chill in the air.  May we find new beauty in pine trees and twinkling lights. Remind me then that the table is not a mandatory tool for homework. That a change of scenery can flip a mood. May we remember that each new season will come in it’s time, and never forget to enjoy the wonders of your love.

The Pumpkin

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
Thank you God for fall!

Why do we Fall?

So… I got in a bike accident the other day.  Ten days ago to be exact.  It was so stupid.  It’s like I saw it coming, I knew it would happen, but I didn’t do anything about it…

Randall, the boys, and I decided to go play tennis in the courts at the end of our street (a mere two blocks away).  We scrambled around the house for about 30 minutes trying to find everyone’s tennis rackets, and a can of balls.  The boys decided to ride bikes down to the club house and that seemed like a good idea to me at the time.  I wondered how we were going to get all the gear there, but with four people and lots of pockets, we managed to get everything accounted for as we hopped on our bikes and set off down the street.  I had my racket in its case strapped around my back and as I climbed onto my bike, I knew that there was the possibility that it would slip off.

The boys took off, and Randall and I headed up the rear.  I put my right foot into the straps on my pedal and pushed it forward.  I got my other foot on top of the left pedal and pushed it slowly forward. Just feet later, my tennis racket slipped off of my right shoulder and just like on TV everything happened in slow motion.  As the strap began to slip I thought to myself, here we go.  I somehow knew instinctively that the handle of my racket was headed straight for my spokes.

I braced for the crash and flipped off my bike.  Don’t worry, my face broke my fall.  The impact knocked the wind out of me and my lungs expelled the air in a long, loud groan.  I realized that I was making an audible noise as I sat up in the street, but I couldn’t stop myself.  Still in slow motion, the involuntary groan lasted far too long.  How embarrassing, I thought.  Eventually I’m going to stop making this awful noise, and then I’ll be able to breathe again and get up off the street.

By then, Randall had circled back to me and asked if I was okay.  I left my bike and stood up and stumbled to the nearest patch of grass where I collapsed into sitting position again.

“Emily? Are you okay?” Randall asked.

“Yep.  Is my face messed up?” I asked.

“No,” he lied.

I stood up as Randall got my (now broken) bike out of the street.  Randall walked with me the few steps home and I told him I’d be fine and he should go check on the boys.

He left me on the porch and I went inside to view the damage.  I remember thinking I needed to wash my face.  But I don’t remember actually doing it.  The next thing I remember was looking around for some Neosporin.  I came to as I was rummaging through a drawer in the boys’ bathroom.  I’m looking for Neosporin, Neosporin… I don’t know where I am and what’s going on, but I know I need Neosporin and this looks like a good place to look for it…

About 15 minutes later, Randall came back to check on me.  I was in the bathroom, but I don’t remember what I was doing.  He laid on the bed and asked again if I was okay.

“I don’t think I’m quite here, yet.” I told him.  I was aware enough to know that I was missing some things…

I went back in the bathroom to wash my face and noticed there were two wash cloths out, like I had already washed my face twice.  But I didn’t remember washing it at all, so I washed it again.

“What’s your middle name!” He asked.  I told him. “Spell it.”

“J-A-Y-E,” I correctly responded.

“What month is it?”

“… …  I have no idea.” I said.  I was thinking it was about fall, so it could be September or October, but I really had no idea.  I grabbed my phone to check.  “September!” I declared.

I slowly came to and realized the extent of the damage done.  My face was scraped all around my right eye and eyebrow and faintly down to my chin.  Later, a faint bruise would cover my cheek and the side of my lips.  I scraped the skin completely off of my right shoulder and did enough muscular damage that I still can’t use my shoulder without pain.

My back was so sore that I could only take short, shallow breaths for three days.  On the third day, the right side of my face swelled so severely, I decided to go to an urgent care to make sure there was no broken bones in my cheek.

I took pictures every day to see how the swelling progressed but I will spare you the sight of those.  I pretty much looked like this guy, except imagine less whiskers, more oozing yellow scabs.

The doctor took an x-ray of my face, but was worried about my shoulder and lungs as well.  All checked out fine, and she sent me home with some antibiotics and shoulder exercises.

That was Sunday.  Just two days after the accident.  But I was at my worst.

Since Sunday, I’ve dramatically improved.  The antibiotics worked quickly to reduce the swelling and by Wednesday morning you could hardly tell there was any difference between the size of my two cheeks.  My whole right cheek is bruised and tender, but it hasn’t turned colors yet, and I’m thankful for that.  On Wednesday, after I washed my face, most of the soft yellow scab fell off and I was left with new pink skin.  The skin on my shoulder is slowly healing.  I’m gradually getting a bigger range of motion out of my shoulder although it is still weak and I get the occasional charley horse feeling.  I now have no pain in my back and can breath completely normally.

I went to church this weekend and saw one of the few people that knew the story.  They said that God must have wanted me to take a break.

A lot of people think that everything happens for a reason in this life.  I’m not one of those people.  Sometimes, people just make the stupid decision to ride their bikes with their tennis rackets loosely strapped to their shoulder.

We are given choices.  Sometimes we make good decisions, sometimes we make stupid decisions.  And that’s why things happen.  But I do believe that God can use any situation to teach us a lesson.  To teach us about him.

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Because I’m a teacher at heart and I look for the lesson in every situation, I’m going to share with you later this week the things I’ve learned from my fall.

Stay tuned!

Seasons

I’ve always had a hard time determining what my favorite season is.  It seems that as each new season turns, I welcome the change.  I dream of winter and the holidays and the family and comfort food that it brings,

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but when spring comes around, I am so ready for new life and flower buds and awakening trees.

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Everyone loves summer, right?  We get to play out in the sun and go on vacations and swim.

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But fall really must be my favorite.  It brings with it cooler weather (usually) and beautiful colors in the trees.  I absolutely love jacket weather, crunchy leaves, and pumpkins.

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Every new season brings the joy of change for me.  I don’t like monotony.  Though I know the benefits of it, I am not one for routine.

 

Asher started full day kindergarten today.

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He was so visibly excited and had no sign of apprehension.

So, now I find myself in a new season of life.  And I am full of possibilities… and apprehension, myself.

I was reminded to “run with endurance the race God has set before me” this morning when I read Hebrews 12.  But what if you don’t know which race you’re running?

People ask me what I’m going to do now that both boys are in school and I shrug and say, “We’ll see!”  God has given me some talents and passions and I want to spend my free time using those, but what will come of it?!  I don’t know yet.

I guess the verse says to run the race that has been set before you, not sprint to the finish line.  Maybe we don’t have to know which race we’re running, quite yet.  Maybe, in obedience, we just set one foot in front of the other.

I teach a class at my church and actually talk about the blessing it can be when God doesn’t reveal his big picture to us at the beginning.  If Paul had known what he’d encounter on the race God set before him, he may never have started.  Ship wreck, imprisonment, stoning, running for your life all to spread the news that Jesus really is who he said he was.  Even if God had just said, “Paul, you’re going to spread my story throughout the known world through a bunch of soldiers and other gentiles,” it may have been too much for him to handle the first day.

Today is my first day.  It’s new, it’s a change, it’s good and exciting.  But today, I’m going to write one word at a time.  Take one breath at a time.  Say one prayer at a time.  And tomorrow, I’ll do the same.

What will come of it?

We’ll see.