It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Gift of Seven

On the seventh day of Christmas
my True Love gave to me,
Seven swans a swimming...

On one web site the "seven swans a-swimming" are said to refer to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Stated as: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. With no particular scriptural reference.

Another site cited Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 as the scriptures used to build the seven swans or seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. But from the two scriptures that were cited there seem to be a few extra swans a swimming: prophesy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, compassion, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, tongues, interpretation. I'm counting fifteen.

I wonder, that if the Twelve Days of Christmas was really written to be a catechism mnemonic device for catholics, that the seven swans would have been for the seven sacraments. But I can hear a few undergarments bunching at the mere mention of sacraments so we'll just talk about spiritual gifts instead today and count however many swans we want to. Which in itself may cause some bunching I am sure.

The gifts are in bold type.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Since we have
gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12

You know, let's just leave the discussion of Gifts from the Holy Spirit right there shall we. It's right there in scripture for all of us to see and deal with as we are able.

Seven has huge meaning in the Bible, as the seven days of Genesis imply, seven has to do with completeness. How interesting then that the seventh day of Christmas also falls on the day the current year is completed, January 31.

Here's another seven for you to ponder: 2 Kings 4:32-35

And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

Not just sneezed a bunch but sneezed seven times. What do the sneezes signify? Repentance.

What does the turning of the New Year signify?

A new start based on repentance (aknowledging and turning from the wrong way, then aknowledging and turning to God's way.)

Seven sneezes, complete perfect repentance, only capable in Jesus Christ our Savior.

There are quite a few sevens in the Bible:

"Not so ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over."

Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."

So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, (seven for Leah first and then again seven for Rachel)

The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said.

"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

These exmples are just a few, there are many more. Try it, put in "seven" on the deyword search of your favorite on-line Bible concordance ( I like BibleGateway myself) and see how many significant entries you come up with.

So what does it all mean? Is seven significant? I tend to think so but maybe some just see all this as a coincidence.

Ring in a wonderful New Year, Dear Reader and take heart, God is everywhere, through all time, knows everything, and is all powerful. We worship the One True God, who contains and sustains all things.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Six Geese A Laying

On the sixth day of (not after) Christmas
my True Love gave to me,
Six Geese A-laying

Six geese? Ahh, the six days of creation that confess God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

Creation most certainly is a gift!

The participation in creation is a gift, note that the six geese are a laying, all of creation is invited to participate in creation, creating still, still a laying according to His good Word.

Each day of creation is a gift in itself. Just as in a gaggle of geese there are unique individuals, squawking and honking in their own manner but together to make a whole.

Day One, the first goose a laying: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Earth, darkness and light, Day and Night. Precursor to rest and productivity.

Day Two, the second goose a laying: And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. Sky, heaven. Where the clouds roam, change shape and intrigue us.

Day Three, the third goose a laying: And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Land and all vegetation, producing seed and bearing fruit according to the type of plant it is, procreation. And the beginning of gardening! God's grand garden.

Day Four, the fourth goose a laying: Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. The sun, moon and stars. Spring, summer, winter, fall. Years and foretellings. The star that guided the wise men two thousand years ago.

Day five, the fifth geese a laying: And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. Animal life of the air and of the sea. Beautiful birds, slippery fish, oysters, clams... and procreation. Amusement, amazement and wonder. Who can understand the way of the bird in the air?

Day six, the sixth geese a laying: And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,
and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food."

And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Land animals: fluffy furry beasts, creepy crawly things and us! You and me, Adam and Eve. And more procreation. And more wonder and amazement, and confounding, for who can understand the way of a man with a maiden.

Not only the gift of a world of wonder but the gift of our job, to subdue the earth, rule over it, be the steward of it and all that inhabits the earth.

God's Creation and His invitation of participation, procreation, a gift not a curse.

We were out and about in God's beautiful world today.

Dirt had his first shearing appointment of the season, the prelambing season.

Some folks, like Kathy, appreciate their mommas sheared up so that lambing goes a little easier. Kathy cancelled until the weather gets a little more settled, but Tammy decided not to.

When we arrived at her snowy place she mentioned that she was hoping Dirt would have called her to say, "not today." She didn't realize that her snow was unusual for the area today and that Dirt had no idea it was several degrees lower at her house and sort of white. (We are mostly green now.)

It really doesn't get warmer from here on out until, oh say some where in April if we're lucky! However, hopefully not so crazy as the week before Christmas, but certainly not "warm." Dirt didn't mind the cold, shearing has a tendency to up your core temp anyway so it was just the rest of us that suffered. (Well, the others suffered, I spent most of the time in the truck with two seed catalogs.)

So here are all the fluffy warm wooly sheep. Not the least suspicious.

However, they're not understanding why this fellow is getting undressed (almost) and redressed in their chilly barn.

Well, they don't know what just happened! All they know is that it was very scary, noisy, and weird and now they are the ones that are undressed. And add insult to injury, no one is handing them some coveralls!

At home in the Laundry/Hothouse, some more signs of spring.

Thought you might like to know, on this day that we are talking creation and participation, that my onions did pretty well.

They are on a rather high shelf so the pics are not the greatest. At least you can see I have some little spindles of onions.

The only seeds that did not germinate well were the older ones packaged for o'six. So there you go, proof that they mean what "they" say, that onion seed only lasts one year.
Spent the rest of the day looking for on-line seed houses and scoping out some of the selections I might make this year.
Some chicken dumpling pie and some more sweets tonight before we do whatever fun activity Dirt picks out for us.
Tomorrow, on the seventh day of Christmas, we will be preparing for another feast and another gathering of good friends to ring in the New Year !
Dear Reader, I hope you enjoyed your sixth day of Christmas and in some way the gift that God gave us of the six days of creation.

More Finds

Clearing up old drafts (April '10) and here's another from '08 that I thought would be fun to keep. Dirt is shearing a gal's sheep, we had made it a family outing. The other pics are of my onion seedling crop from last year, they should have go in the ground some time around this time last year but they didn't make it. I ended up buying onion plants after I lost all of these.

This year, 2010, should be a better year, though I have lost more seedlings than I should have. Next year, deeper flats, quicker to transplant, water with chamomile water. Then hopefull we will solve the problem completely.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Good Friends and Gold Rings

The Bowermans hosted a dinner of old friends last night. You know the kind, people you really like to be with and admire greatly but because their family and yours do very different things you always wish you would get together but before you know it it has been too long again.

Joe and Marthie are such friends, being with them is like having a nice cozy blanket wrapped around your arms. They are incredibly gentle and encouraging. I hesitate to use the word sweet because for me sweet, in a person, is rather insincere and these people are definitely not insincere.

We see them when we are at the Fair but usually we only see mom and dad and the youngest. So, while I would have recognized the "baby" (now five), their other five children really through me for a loop.

Their older boys are tall and very mannerly, very personable. It is always nice to spend time with young men who know how to act like men and not sulky children.

Their girls are beautiful and like their parents, gentle and interested in people. My girls reconnected with their girls and a good evening was had by all. Plans were made for some horseback riding in the spring and I certainly hope that I am better at keeping in touch this year. Perhaps I should add that to my list of resolutions eh?

It was a great evening, thanks Mike. And thanks Rebecca, for such lovely ambiance, the candles, the greenery, the dishes, all were just beautiful and soothing. Especially after a day of pruning that least favorite tree!

Today is the fifth day of Christmas, hard to believe that it was only four days ago isn't it.

On the fifth day of Christmas
My True Love gave to me,
Five golden rings.

The five books of the Pentateuch; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers Deuteronomy.

I have a hard time thinking about the first five books and the Law, without thinking about Jesus' words. Specifically his words in the Sermon on the Mount. Where he brings up a few basic laws and then tells us that we need to go beyond the laws. That we need to go there without external compunction, but solely out of a desire to participate in Love, a love that is far beyond normal human imagination.

Today is a very soggy day and the Vicks are going to be quiet and reflective. Dirt is still home from teaching college and we are hoping that we can get to some reading and reflecting as a family together as we prepare for the seasons and the year to come. No tv, no radio, no big projects.

We'll let you know how it goes, but Dear Reader, we hope that your day today is a good one, that you are able to attend to what God calls you to. That these afternoons between big feast days are filled with refection and armament for the days ahead of all of us.

PS Please go read Meaningful Monday at Jo's place. It's terrific! After reading it I had to run right back here and tell you to go read it. So please, go read it! And then sit down and have a cup of coffee!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Four Calling Birds

On the fourth day of Christmas
My True Love gave to me,
Four calling birds...

The four men who wrote the four gospels calling us to Christ.

Before I head out to prune my second tree today, I thought I would share a favorite verse from each of the four gospels.

From Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.

As a child I said these words, or ones very much like them, every day (except Saturday) just before receiving communion. It is so true for all of us, we are not worthy of Him. Like John the Baptist we are not worthy to loosen his sandal straps, we are not worthy to ask for the healing like the woman who touched his cloak, like the centurion we are not worthy to have him come into our home no matter how grand. But He speaks and we are healed by His word, He speaks and enters not only our home but our lives, to forgive and heal. And what a healing it is, drenching, refreshing, restoring, from the great first healing to the daily on going healing of His word to our soul.

From Mark 10: 29-30 I tell you the truth, Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children of fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (home, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

I have indeed received more than a hundred times as much already in this present age, just in knowing Him more fully. If He had only given me Himself it would have been enough, but he has given me brothers and sisters that are far deeper than flesh and blood and continually adds to my family when I least expect it, always making room in my heart for just one more. Blood may be thicker than plain water but it is nothing compared to the living water and those who truly live there.

Luke 22:30-31 Simon, Simon, Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail. And when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.

This is my verse, if I was inclined to have a tattoo, I would put a rooster on my foot, so that every time I went to step out I would remember, who I was and who I am now. I am a Peter. I knew Christ, dwelt with Him, ate with Him, walked with Him, proclaimed Him, but then out of fear I denied Him. How exhilarating to my soul, to know that not only does my Savior save my very soul but He has prayed specifically for me.

This verse has also been the source of great comfort when I feel more compelled by my concern for the brethren than others feel I should have. When others, called to other things, in their zeal have tried to convince the entire body to become feet like them I return to these words that I know are mine and I am encouraged.

In the same way these words pull me up short time and time again, stopping me from what I think I would like to do, what would please others, and causes me to re-attend to what it is my Christ has set before me. To listen to the Holy Spirit's lead that I may do it as unto the Lord himself.

John 10:16 And there will be one flock and one Shepherd.

The things we think divide us are not as great as He who calls us together in His name.

You and I are the flock, the church. We do not go to church, we become the church, the one and only church. And we have but one Shepherd. All others are His brothers and co-laborers but He leads the flock. And some may very well be coyotes, feeding off of His flock. But we are not to fear because He has an awesome night vision scope and can see through the darkness.

Dear Reader it was very hard to pick just one from each gospel but I hope that I have given you a little more insight as to what makes me tick. I pray that you think of the verses you would pick if you were asked - hey consider yourself asked! I would love to do a lot of reading either here in my comment section or on your blog. What are your choices from the four calling birds? What do they sing to your heart?

PS Another feast day: The feast of Holy Innocence or the feast of the Holy Family today, maybe one feast for the first half of the day and one for the second half. Hug your children, hug other children, remember those who do not have a childhood because of the sinful world, pray for them. Luke 17:1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.

I knew I could get just one more favorite in today! Have a blessed day, a really truly blessed day, do not be sad, let your heart not be troubled, He who Is has us in His hand!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Christmas Season Traditions

Tipper from Blind Pig and the Acorn has greatly enhanced my twelve days of Christmas with the idea of "Breaking Up Christmas."

I found a lovely YouTube clip of a song with the name of the tradition she spoke of.

I love the idea of singing and dancing my way to the end of the season.

A bit more about the third day of Christmas. While out pruning today, I began to wonder about the three french hens. (All pretty simple stuff really, pruning in the cold rain took some energy of its own.) I was using my orchard ladder which of course is a three legged ladder, two hold the steps up and the other is the brace. The beauty of using a three legged ladder is the same as any other tripod, because it is three points it will always be steady, as three points can always find a common plane. Always stable no matter what.

But Dear Reader, you know what I realized? That the Triune God was the first tripod, the original tripod. When we use the Trinity as our ladder no matter how uneven the ground we will always find a common plane on which to stand steady.

I thought of many of the threes in the spiritual life. Many "three french hens," the first of which is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Day Three and Counting

On the third day of Christmas,
my True Love gave to me,
Three French Hens...

Faith, Hope and Love
These gifts my True Love gave to me. And though they belong to me, sit beneath my tree, if I do not open them, unwrap them, use them, they are just pretty idle packages.

God gave these gifts to me for me to use, not to wonder about, not to look at and admire, or to talk about once a week. But to use, to exercise like a muscle. They are mine to build and strengthen.

Romans 4:18-Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

And when I have unwrapped it, applied it, one time witnessed it in action, does it then rest on the shelf? When I am faced with a tough spot do I forget that with God all things are possible? Do I worry that I do not have enough Love, enough Faith, enough Hope? Do I disregard the workings of the Holy Spirit to increase in me those gifts given?

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
"What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.
A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."
"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Mark 9:14-29

Dear Reader, did you get a present this year that you really appreciated and were thankful for, say a Cuisinart food processor? Are you going to leave it in its wrapping, in the box under the tree? Going about your life in the old way, chopping, slicing, shredding with the old tools, the Law?

That would be what it would be like for me to neglect the gifts God has given me.

But should I go about praying and desiring more gifts, gifts of phenomenon, because these three seem so ordinary, mundane, simple? Perhaps, but I should not because these are mundane, not while ignoring, just talking about the gifts already given.

1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

My job, to abide. Attending first to the greatest gift.

So Dear Reader, I am going out to exercise my love for my other Love, and prune a few trees. He was anxious to get to these earlier this season, a little to early. I have made him wait until our hard freeze so that the sap is driven down into the trees. Making him wait and tending to insist that I do them myself definitely makes it a job that I need to get to right away while the conditions are good for it.

I heard a horrible thing spoken in my home, I heard two people say, "Yay, green! We can see green again."

Arggh, darn PNWeners, green lovers. Well that means that there is no snow on the trees and the ground under them is no longer icy. So out I go, with my new sixteen foot aluminum orchard ladder.

Have a great third day of Christmas and I do hope you had a lovely feast of St. Stephen yesterday, did you sing the song, Good King Wenchelas? Did you think about the words?

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.
"Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.

"In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Kathy, I cannot give you good news about coyotes so instead I chose one of your favorite musicians.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Feast of St. Stephen

On the second day of Christmas,
my True Love gave to me,
Two turtle doves...

The Old Testament and the New Testament

How gracious a gift God gave to us, his written word, one to lead us to His Son, His Salvation.
The other to proclaim the Good News’ to the world, that Salvation has come and is available.

Have a terrific Boxing Day, some of us are building a duck pen and some of us are out to find discounted Christmas flavored Yankee candles, and a poinsettia or two that need a home.

No scheduled gathering tonight, just depending on the nature of the season to keep us ever present with the Body.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Not many pictures of today.
Yet, this one picture speaks for all our hearts this Christmas Day.
There was a twinkle in every eye and a squishy squeeze coming from every heart.

The grand boys loved their trucks, Kai's a remote controlled dump truck, and Aksel with his trio of road equipment. Kai took over the controls and had it going all over the place, Aksel on the other hand was sure that he had gotten some yellow chairs with wheels, he kept sitting on them!

The girls have so many socks now that Dirt is certain that they will not find themselves in his sock drawer anymore, at least they ought not to have a reason!

Elisabet's wheelbarrow was gifted unassembled (it fit in the living room better that way) and so they used the barrow part for sledding this afternoon and said it was the best and now everyone wants a wheelbarrow next year, unassembled of course. For sledding not working.

The food made by the girls was delightful. Anna's breakfast casserole was very good. Bet's breakfast super rolls were lovely and her dinner braid was very pretty and tasty.

Well, it was a delightful Christmas with so many little details that all run together, it was for me, one of the best ever. Christmas just gets better and better every year, each has a special cache of wonderful memories and each year I think that the next could never be better.

As the time approaches I look back at the wonderful memories of some of the years and I just know that though this year will be okay that there is nothing in the works to make it a special Christmas like the others.

And then all of a sudden in the middle of the ordinary, a less than perfectly devised and executed menu, uninspired presents, I feel the look that is on the picture above, inside me and on those around me. Then all over again I realize that the day does not depend on anything but the incredible love we feel for one another. A love born from the love of God.

We are not an incredibly demonstrative family and some may wonder at the banter that goes between us, but each of us knows that the others would lay their lives down for whoever among us would need it. Short of our very life we would even give the time, now matter when, if one of us would need another for the simplest of needs.

Sisters share gardens, prayers abound, advice is gently given, no different from most every other family. Dear Reader, I hope that today your eyesight broke through the familiar to see what God has given you and yours.

My house is fairly quiet now. The Manleys and the Stones have gone off to their homes or more family connections. Bet and Anna are sacked out on the couches with their dogs and kittens piled around and on them. Dirt is out in the cold on a coyote stake out as we lost one of last spring's biggest ewe lambs yesterday to a gruesome attack. So I am listening and watching the lights, ignoring the dishes and writing out my thoughts of today.

I am thankful for all that the Lord has done in my life. I often look at my life and realize that I do not deserve one ounce of what I have been blessed with; my husband, my strong, gentle and forgiving parents long since gone now, my children that fill my life with noise and solace, the leading of the Lord in so many specific things and for certain even the small and seemingly insignificant pieces of my life, for the friends that are bonded far stronger than any family bond...

Well shots were just fired so I am thinking Dirt has either gotten his villain or scared it off with a miss. He'll be in soon and close to frozen so I'll have to get back to those thoughts. Have a merry Christmastide.

Christmas Morning

Joy to the World, The Lord Has Come!

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Let the Twelve Days of Christmas Begin!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
a partridge in a pear tree.

My God loves me like no other. Like no other can.
He is my one true love, my only true love.
And because He loves me so,
He gave me what no one else could.
He gave me His Son,
to come to earth as a man,
to take my sin upon himself,
to die an innocent man on the cross,
to pay the price for me,
that I may live as he lives.
He gave me life, life in Christ.
He gave me His Son from the beginning of Creation.

For that I rejoice, I dance, I feast, I love deeply.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Endings I

As the candles all grow shorter, it is Christ that I wait for. Hold my breath for.


Christmas, a bright light at a dark time, illuminating the Christ, our bright guiding light in a dark life, in a dark world. A time I have come to know as the spring board for the ordinary time, that I may grow deeper with Him through out the year. A time of feasting, drenching myself in Him, that I may be bolder, stronger to drench myself in Him everyday.

The whole season is saturated with symbolism, metaphor. There is hardly anything that I look upon that does not cause me to see the bright light in my life that is Christ. There are things that most definitely are not directly a symbol of my Lord, but not unlike the meal blessing song that we sang in Girl Scouts, there is something in back of that, and then something in back of that and then in back of all there is a direct witness to Christ, my Savior.

Some symbols, metaphors, allegories or witnesses present in this season are purposeful, some accidental, many borrowed from the very cultures that Christ invaded. But all help bring my Lord to mind, His unfathomable grace, mercy, divinity.

Rudolf. How more unspiritual can you get than my little friend Abby's sweet Rudolph toy that I picked up off the floor while she is visiting here? But as I picked it up, my thoughts trailed. Rudolf, the red nosed reindeer. One of Santa's reindeer. Santa, a character that we have formed from St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas, Nicholas of Myra, a third century bishop, known for his giving, his caring, his working in consort with his Lord, Jesus Christ.

One of the many in the growing cloud of witnesses that I have in my life to spur me on to love and good deeds. Good deeds that for my husband and I include great care, concern, prayer for marriage and purity. When I become tired and weary, for certain my strength comes from the Lord, but He uses my memory of a life such as Nicholas of Myra, a fellow human, a fellow lover of Christ, to spur me on.

Or the wreath of ivy that my daughter hung on an empty nail near my mother's picture, the wreath my daughter wore on December thirteenth, St. Lucia Day. It reminds me of a young woman, brave in her love of her only Savior, brave to the point of torture, humiliation and painful death. Will my daughters be so brave if a time such as that comes for them? I pray that they will. And if, by their depicting Saint Lucia one day a year each year, they are spurred on to hold strong to their Lord in the face of adversity or torture, then I thank the Holy Spirit for bringing the tradition into our lives.

Little things about my house this time of year, a toy reindeer, a crown of ivy intertwined with a red ribbon, the evergreens, the lights, the candles, Santa hats, holly, lambs, symbols. Symbols, metaphors, allegories, witness.

What would our world be without symbols? These very letters I am typing on the screen are a symbol, the simplest of symbols, known to just about everyone, used by nearly all. We are dependent on these symbols. Like the symbols we write in our check register to represent the money we have, we need to be able to use these symbols to have them represent spoken words, and ideas.

Other symbols we are less dependent on, but utterly dependent on what they represent. The cross that hangs on a chain around so many necks or stands tall on a building where believers gather, even those who do not claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior know that it is a symbol. Some know fully that it is a symbol for Christians of their faith. The lamb holding a the banner of victory, the Greek letters for Chi Rho, a grape vine, not as universally understood as the cross but many find comfort in what these symbols represent, what they bring to mind, the very Master of symbol, metaphor, allegory, parable.

I'll admit that perhaps I need more symbols in my life than the next guy, I take them as my personal gift to help my mind break through the mundane and clutch the Divine. I am distracted, easily harried, caught in my own needs and flesh. Pictures, icons, symbols knock me right again. And again. And again. They bring whispered prayer to my cold lips, restore thankfulness to my hard heart, infuse joy to my defeated soul.

Like the smell of evergreens, alpine firs in the mountains amongst the huckleberry brush, as I grasp the branch and slide my hand down releasing the fragrance into the air and onto my hand, my mind flies back to Christmas. Christmas tree gathering with my father, my father's large hand holding mine as we listen to the Scripture being read at midnight service, Scripture telling of the salvation my Lord brings, my Lord as ever present, always the same, as the evergreen I grasp.

I'm not dependent on the symbols, not dependent on the witness, just what is witnessed. The strength, the power, the mercy, the forgiveness, the salvation that Christ brings. I am thankful for the symbols, thankful for the time to celebrate but incredibly thankful that it is not an inanimate object I worship or the observance of a particular day that is my salvation.

Yesterday was the beginning of Hanukkah and I was reminded of the many times that we have done our best to hold a Passover Seder. Each time I am blessed by the story the observance shows, the prophesy that it illuminates. But equally, I am blessed by the knowledge that I am not dependent on observance of Law for my salvation, that in fact the Law cannot save me only condemn me as the sinner and wretch that I am. It is not a day or a ceremony or a observance that saves my soul, that enables me to bear the burdens of life. It is whom the day, the ceremony, the observance points to.

Christmas is only a day, an ordinary day, no different than any other day. The Christmas miracle is not that death, grief, pain stop for this day, but this day reminds us that on a night, no different from the one we call Christmas, our God came to earth to be born of a simple young woman in a simple town in meager means. It reminds us that there was a night over two thousand years ago that God humbled himself, becoming incarnate, to bring the Good News. To free me from bondage.

The beauty and blessedness in this celebration is the freedom God gave through Christ, the gift of redemption, the only perfect gift ever given. No gift we give, no money we spend could ever come close to what has been already given by God. But knowing that does not bring me to not give gifts. There is no service that compares to what God has done and continues to do for us, but we still continue to serve, not like He needs us, but continuing to serve none the less.

Celebrating with gifts and feast, perfumes of firs and spices is not the source of my happiness, the source is only my Christ, the celebration is my gift to him, my worship during this arbitrary time on the calendar. Not unlike the perfume a woman spilled upon the very head of my King, upon his very feet, wiped with her hair and mixed with her tears, worth a year's wages, yes I suppose it could be said that the money spent on the celebration Christians enter into could be spent on what others think is more important, more worthy.

For some reason Jesus did not agree with the disciples and their pious condemnation of her actions of worship. He did not say that they indeed had a better idea, a better way of worship. In fact, he said that we would always have the poor, in spite of programs and giving we would never overcome poverty. I know he did not say that we ought not to give and care for the poor, in fact he claimed that whatever we do to the least we do for Him which could as easily have included "if we ignore the poor we ignore him." But yet, He not only did not chastise the woman for her "wasteful extravagance," He told those harassing her to leave her alone, and claimed that her story would be told with the gospel where ever it was proclaimed.

It is incredibly surprising to find that story amongst all the others in the gospels. Christ's words are very surprising indeed. We ought not to be surprised by the surprise, soaked in prayer we can come to hear the will of God, we can confidently step into this season in whatever manner He would desire for us to. Whether it be extravagant perfumed worship, or the humble meager quiet celebration of a free person. But no matter the direction in which we move, we move to the Holy Spirit's lead as a people unburdened from the Law and traditions of man as much as a people unburdened from the chains and bite of the evil one.

We are free, our freedom came from Christ who came on some night such as the one on which we will celebrate His incarnation. Our freedom does not come from our salary, our purchase power, our piety, our talents, our service to others, our participation in a seasonal giving program. Our freedom comes from Christ and for that my heart sings, my soul spills over with joy and peace no matter what the days ahead hold for me.

Dear Reader, as I come to a close here, I recognize that I have not been speaking to anyone in particular, that these words are self indulgent, these words I spoke from my heart for my heart. I do pray Dear Reader that you have heard and found in this season of Advent what you were listening and looking for, that you embark upon whatever worship of Jesus Christ, our only Lord and Saviour, that you have been called to.

Snow, It Is So Cool

Lets see a hot day in July do that!
(Please don't get me wrong, I love hot days in July, I love the hay that they bring in and the beautiful flowers and healthful vegetables that they grow and ripen. I love the beautiful water that it beams on, so many things I can't begin to describe. My point is that the sun could never do this.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'd Like Sum Moor Plez, Mum.

The first day of winter and it sure looks like it!

Feeding time at Vicktory Farm and Gardens means putting several bales of our grass hay and a half of alfalfa into the tractor wagon, throwing a few helpers in the back and heading out into the pasture.

The animals are split and some of the old momma sheep and all of last spring's lambs are over

here with the horses. The horses don't mind as long as they get their own pile.

Piles for every one but the sheep still end up sharing

Well sheep share, others do not!

The rest of the flock are over in the back pasture, instead of driving through the gate farmer Dirt just flings it over the fence.

Bet is looking for a spring lamb that got mixed up with the older gals yesterday, hopefully the ram was busy staying warm. First year moms are hard enough but when they lamb right after turning a year they are near impossible to lamb without some sort of problem. So out she goes.

More please!

One last check to make sure everyone got taken care of and then off to other chores.

I went off to put out some more feed for my wild feathered friends.

They would like me to note that their suet blocks are getting small, I better pick up some more when I'm in town tomorrow.

They really go through the food when the snow stays around.

I barely get the tubes filled and hung back up before the birds start flocking. By the end of the feeding season they are so used to us the girls can stand with feed in their hands and have the wild birds land in their hand to eat.

I need to pin down the identification of this one and add it to my month's list along with the Purple Finch I saw on Wednesday. My girls are much better at identifying birds than I am, Bet is a very good birder based on their songs. It takes me a while to sort out the similar colored ones like this fellow above.
I decided to keep better track of who comes when, I will be renewing the list each month so that I have a record of when they come and go. I would like to get more specific with the food I put out depending on who arrives.

The furry and feathered friends around here would like some more feed, I would just like some more snow! More! More! Okay, I know everyone else is miserable so maybe a break but then, more more!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Beauty and the Beast

The beautiful, placid, rest-giving, winter scene created by our gracious Heavenly Father.

The tenacious, lawn ruining, equipment buggering, pea pod pilfering beast created by our gracious Heavenly Father.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Squeeky Snow

Our Snowman welcomes you back to our continuing Snowfest.

Yes, this is even after it snowed some more, but remember, this is a hayfield on a hill so what snow didn't blow off got lost in the hay stubble. But we have enough for a good sledding day. In the PNW lowlands you take what you get and get out and have fun.

The bummer of taking a spill. And no one seems to care.

Trudging up the hill again. The beauty of a short down hill run is the short up hill climb.

Michelle, my second oldest, came out to play with us while her husband was working, even though she was not feeling her best and had shopping left to do, you make hay while the sun shines and you sled while the snow lies.

And Bet generously gave up her snow pants and is toughing it out in jeans, luckily today the snow isn't the typical soggy PNW snow we usually have. (Right now it is squeeky like unaged cheese.)

Anna tries the whole upright thing and is getting it pretty quick.

Sometimes it is fun to go down the old fashioned way, cross legged, on a saucer, backwards.

But now Bet has grabbed the sled and trudges back up the hill.

And back up the hill.

And back up the hill.

To go back down the hill.

But then someone swipes the sled back again and you're left with the saucer.

Chelle really got into the whole stand on the sled thing.
But then she got distracted by Fluffy trekking across the not so solid pond.

We all watched and held our breath as our favorite "bear" crossed the pond.

Wilford's younger brother is not into oatmeal, (note what he is holding).

But Dear Reader, I know what your sitting around patiently waiting for...

More spills and shenanigans by Lanny!

The girls could do the whole "stand up pretend you're a snow boarder" thing, so I think I can to!

And I did pretty stinking good, if I may say so myself!

Not only did I stay up, I acquired a little finesse too.

Well sometimes. Other times I found myself in various positions not on the sled.

But it is all good and too much fun. Unfortunately, I did have to head back to the farmhouse to deal with my frozen fuchsias, I'll tell you all about them in another blog, (when I'm sick of playing and writing about the snow, but then that might be when I move to North Dakota and live there for ten years!)

I had so much fun that even when I was moving plants around in the laundry house, did a few loads of laundry, I just couldn't resist. The untouched snow in the backyard called me...
and I succumbed to the snow angel in me.
What do you think? Falling backwards in skinny snow was a little scary considering my age, but I counted to three and let go. Yes, the landing was a little hard but not as hard as I thought it was going to be, or maybe the thrill of making the perfect snow angel took the pain away!
My girls spied me from the dining room and the look on their faces told me they thought I was slightly insane. I was in my shirt sleeves, had just dashed from the laundry house in the middle of working on the plants and laundry, carefully walked backwards into the middle of the backyard and fell straight back.
After I bounced back up from creating the perfect snow angel, I ran in and upstairs and took the pic from my second story window.
I love it when it snows! The twenty degree weather is tough on my garden, I seem to be cleaning up snow issues constantly, but oh well! I love it when it snows and freezes!

Thanks for stopping by and indulging me in my Snowfest.
Dear reader, I hope you cut loose today and fell backwards into your world!