Treasured Up

Our son, Isiah, turned 11 this week.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m old enough to have a kid that’s 11 years old, the time goes by so quickly.  One of the things I remember people saying to us before having our first was, “They grow up so quickly, enjoy every moment.”  I just shook my head in agreement, not fully aware of how mind bogglingly correct that statement would be. Those words of wisdom people depart to new parents, but they can’t appreciate them until it’s happening.

Anyways, we enjoyed having some of his friends over for some outdoor shenanigans and a hotdog roast Friday after school.  They had a fabulous time, and barely stopped long enough to eat…I don’t think they even roasted their hotdogs long enough to be luke-warm!  They played hard, and giggled (yes, our 11-year-old boy giggles) until parents retrieved them.  The time went so fast, and they made the most out of every second.

I watched as they ran from the whiffle ball field to the basketball court (aka, gravel driveway) then on to the hay bales.  As they ran and played on the hay bales, I remembered Mary and the events surrounding her son, Jesus’s birth.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 (ESV)

This scripture about Mary treasuring up all these special things about her son struck me a few weeks back when I began reading the book of Luke.  There are two places in Luke 2 where Mary “treasured up” moments.  As a mom, I wish we could bottle up all the special moments with our children.  A bottle that could be opened and re-lived at any moment.  We may not have a magic bottle, but we do have the ability to treasure them up in our heart.

Our heart is that magical place with infinite space.  A treasure trove, waiting to be filled, placed within us by our Creator.  For the keeping and pondering of special moments.  I want to encourage you to go and read one of these special moments for Mary, with the short story in Luke 2:41-52 about Jesus as a young boy.  He gets left behind, only to be found teaching in the temple.

fullsizeoutput_cf5.jpegI watched those young men running on the hay bales and prayed that God would help me to treasure up that moment in time, deep within my heart.  Much like Mary and Joseph, who were astonished to find Jesus teaching, I am astonished to witness our son growing into an amazing young man.  It’s an honor to be entrusted with him, from the Father, to love and raise him.

Along with reading Luke 2:41-52, I want to challenge you to take a moment to ponder what that would have been like for Mary.  What moments are you needing to keep safe in that treasure trove of your heart?  And treasure up that time with the Lord, put it deep into your heart, it will not return void. I pray that you too, treasure up the precious and holy moments of this life.  What a gift.

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Small Things.

“Small things”; this is the phrase that God has been giving to me lately.  It first came up at church a few weeks ago during class.  And then, a week later.  After that, nearly every day for the past three weeks.  I’m seeing it in the world around me, scripture, and in conversation.  Small things.

So often, we tend to think life is made up of “big things”.  (And in many ways, it is.) When we run into a friend who we haven’t seen for a while, or go to a family reunion, we want to hear all the “big things”.  The big career shift, the babies born, loved ones who have left this earth, leaving a big gap in our life. And we tend to look for the big things, the big thunder clouds in the sky for rain, the big oak trees for shelter, perhaps a bigger car or house?  It’s so easy to get caught up, and desire to know about or have the big things.

IMG_4330I believe God’s economy is a little different.  It’s the small things. In reality, that’s where all the big things begin.  Dreams are created with the smallest of thoughts.  Addictions are broken, one day or one moment at a time.  Forgiveness is fostered with the slightest change of heart. Majestic oak trees begin to grow out the small beginnings of an acorn.  That huge thunder cloud, pouring out rain, began somewhere with the slightest wisp of moisture.  Our berry farm (Danamay Farm, shameless plug) relies on the smallest of blooms to bring in an estimated harvest of 1 ton of blackberries this year.  It all starts with one little flower bud.

It’s the small moments of being present, or snuggling up to watch my kids’ favorite show and talk about it.  Yesterday afternoon, we had egg hunts around the house…it all started with one little plastic egg from Sunday.  That little act of fun between us, spilled over to today, and probably tomorrow too.

It’s the small things, that make up the big things.  One tiny moment, attached to another tiny moment, to create memories which last a lifetime.

We had the opportunity to celebrate something huge this weekend, the Resurrection of Jesus.  That, is huge.  But it started small – with a little baby.  That little baby, small in Mary’s arms, grew in small ways just like you and me. But that small baby, would knit together small acts of love and forgiveness in such a way that He, Jesus, would save the whole world in a very big way.  (Alright, some acts were pretty big…but you get the idea.)

There’s a story in the gospel of John about a boy’s lunch, his mom has packed up five barley loaves and a two fish. (I think he must have been a teen or pre-teen to eat that much food!  I have an almost 11 year old boy.) But with that seemingly small lunch, John 6:1-15 tells us that Jesus fed over five thousand people.  That’s young man’s lunch, probably big to him, seemed small and inadequate to the disciples. They were looking for something huge.

It’s the small moments of choice throughout our day, that bring change.  The smallest “hello” to the cashier in the gas station.  The slightest smile as you pass someone on the street.  The small gestures that let our family know that they are loved and wanted, cherished and desired.  It’s washing my daughter’s baseball cap, that lets her know I care about her.  Small time away from the world, with the Lord, brings us into unity with our Creator.

I don’t know about you, but it’s almost like a treasure hunt now.  A hunt to find, do, and enjoy the small things.  What’s one small thing you can do, enjoy or acknowledge today?

The Vinedresser

My husband and I started a berry farm in 2012.  Actually, it began long before that—first as a dream, then a canvas planted in wheat and finally, bare earth formed into rows by the toil of our endeavors. A berry farm wasn’t something we envisioned for years upon years, but the dream manifested in the five years leading up to our first fruits.

Recently, I read the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 9:6-9. Sometimes I read parables in the Bible and shake my head in confusion, but that day I read the scripture with clarity and application, particularly the vinedresser’s response to the owner of the fig tree.

“And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.” (Luke 13:8, ESV)

It made me think of our dear little farm.  Like the man in the parable, we waited for three years without yielding fruit. It seemed like the years of hard work might never pay off. There were numerous time I wanted to rip some blueberry varieties out of the ground and start over. It seemed my time and finances were being wasted , not growing one inch.  But my patient husband, much like the vinedresser in Luke 9, encouraged us both to wait. Just one more year, and see what happens.  He labored over those three rows, weeding and caring for them just like the others.  One more year, turned again into, “Just one more year.”  Four years later, they bare some of the sweetest fruit in the entire field.

Isn’t that what the Lord does with us?  His grace of “one more year” can show up with a second chance at any moment, and with His new mercy each morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)

How many times do we share our hearts and desires with God, and wait for years to see the fruit (answers) of those prayers?  It may not come in the form we desire, but we can trust God and know that He hears us. (1 John 5:14)  Are you willing to be patient along with Him?  Trusting His timing?  Trusting in His steadfast love that never ceases, for you?

Waiting those three long years, in some ways, seemed like three (or more!) long months of winter.  Barren, cold and unfruitful.  Much like the vinedresser in Luke 13:8, we pruned and dug the earth, fertilized with manure and provided nutrients.  Eventually, with faithful work and patience, came the fruit.  Sweet abundance. Miracles in the faithful waiting and abiding in the Lord, the working and patience.

Winter months can seem to last forever, but we can always trust that spring will arrive and bring forth fruit.  Spring also can bring the pruning of life, it can be painful.  There have been seasons of my life where the pruning seemed to be more than I could take.  How about you?  In John 15, Jesus reminds us to abide, rest and tarry with Him.  He is the vine, we are the branches, our Father is the vinedresser.

For me, some of the richest “fruit” has sprouted from the “manure” of a winter-like season, filled with harsh pruning and an aching heart.  How about you?

This spring, let’s choose an attitude of gratefulness towards the pruning as we abide in Him.  What would happen if we embraced and gave Him permission to dig around us, pruning the hinderances or diseased parts from our life?  Nourishing our minds with the richness of His word?  Maybe we would flourish in the Son of spring, and warmth of His steadfast love.  What fruit would come if we chose to abide in Him, the Gardener of our soul?