Giving and Grinning

Every year on Oct 31, I stop at the “big tent” to pick up a few bushels of items that keep through the cold. I love bushels of my favorite acorn squash long into the winter months. The Northern Farm Market is run by a very nice man who two years in a row has donated some items toward our Wednesday night dinner at church. This is the last day every year that he is open for business. However when I stopped in, I found out they shut down a day early yesterday. But George was there and he let me buy my items. He offered me a deal, I gave him extra to make up for it and started to load up my purchases. Another young man pulled up and picked out a few things and George said “how about all that for $15”. The young man was thrilled with the deal and pulled out his debit card. George apologized “we shut down our machine yesterday”. The young guy and his wife looked disappointed. He said back to his mom, “you dont happen to have cash do you?” I stepped up and paid George for his items. George seemed wonderfully stunned and the young man, well he stumbled all over himself in gratitude. It was really fun! I looked over at my Emma and she was grinning from ear to ear at what she was watching. We loaded the items on Emma’s side of the car and then I walked around to the other to get in. The young man kept waving and waving with a funny smile that was beyond just thankfulness. I kept waving back. As we drove home I was thrilled to see my little girl still smiling and knowing she learned the joy of giving today ……And then…..

After we got home and unloaded she walked in my bedroom. She sat down still smiling and said “here…” She reached out and handed me a $20 bill. I refused assuming she was trying to pay for what we had done. And then she cracked up and said “this is from the young guy. As you went around the corner he snuck it to me and said “don’t tell your mom”. I knew his smile wasn’t just thankfulness! He got away with something! And Emma? That grin on the way home wasn’t because she understood joy, she was on an undercover mission for the young man!  

Lately, I can’t do anything well! Not even give generously! I ended with $5 more than I started with!

The Grape Factor

Even though I grew up as a city girl, my grandma and grandpa fed us more like a farming family. This time of year, as I harvest our gardens I am so often taken back to my childhood in their kitchen.  Dinner was often a batch of boiled Potatos, sliced tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob. I loved when we had lamb patties with it.  My grandpa always had a garden behind the garage.  Every year grandma made huge batches of the family chili sauce recipe. We would head to the farm stores to get the produce. Grandma loved corn on the cob!!  But there were two other things that she loved that I don’t remember anyone else  eating except myself and her. We both loved the prune plums with their slightly crunchy tart yellow flesh inside and we both loved good old fashioned Concord grapes. Their gel like center with those pesky seeds inside tasted so good!

I stopped at one of the farm stores yesterday that she went to so many years before.  In peck baskets there were the beautiful dark purple grapes calling my name.  And just like in grandma’s house, there’s only one of my kids who love to sit and eat them with me.  We ate to our contentedness last night. And then this morning I got to making the grape jam. 

I’m not a grape jelly fan. But my kids are.  The first batch came out much softer than I had planned. I think I added a little too much water when I first started simmering the grapes.  The second batch came out perfect!  I lowered the amount of water to start with and simmered a little longer. The concentration was just right.  You never would know by the color of the jam that there is any difference between the two batches. By all appearances, they are the same. But I know one is richer than the other.  It brought to mind my own walk with Jesus. At times, I’m steeped in His word and the fullness and richness is evident in my actions and in my own heart.  But at other times, I’m a little light on the quantity or quality that comes from time spent with God.  On the outside, the appearance doesn’t change.  But the flavor…the fullness…the wisdom just isn’t what it could be if I had started the day with more of Him.  A watered-down version of Him in me is not enough.  

Dwight L Moody once said “Merely reading the Bible is no use at all without we study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth.”  It needs to be a all the fruit and very little water!  It needs to be lots of Jesus and very little us!  It helps us to be the strongest, fullest follower of Him we can be.  

In the winter, when my kids open the jars that came out of the autumn harvest, they’ll taste that goodness.  They might like one more than the other because of the flavor.  Or they might just eat it up without caring that I worked harder to make the second batch better. The quality might not matter to them. But I’ll know that the concentrated jars are the better ones.  How full of the Word are you?  How concentrated is your life with all of God’s wisdom and His power?  Pack in all you can!  You will have a lot more flavor for the world around you!  

 Psalm 119:96-98 To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless. Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies!

Messy People

Coming from a mom of ten, if I say “people are messy”, you’re probably envisioning the rooms in my house. In your mind they would likely be rooms with un-made beds and clothes strewn along the floor. There’d be dishes in the sink, and the table would be full of “stuff” including all of last week’s mail. If that’s what you’re picturing for the word “messy” in the house of a big family, then you’d actually be right, sometimes! Sometimes, the world gets away from us for a moment, usually at very busy times. But then we catch up and get some order back in real quick. 
That’s not the kind of messy I’m talking about. I couldn’t have come to a stronger conviction that “people are messy” than I did sitting right here in McDonald’s this morning. I needed some internet time and so I sat down to a biscuit and some coffee. I was very much stuck with only one choice for a seat because I needed the plug for my laptop. It put me right between two groups of people. One was a group of six white haired ladies. They were slightly behind me. Slightly in front of me were four white haired men. The women, I guess some would say typically, were louder at first than the men. They were talking local politics and I was thrilled to hear they were in total agreement with my local views. They were sharp and knew exactly what was going on. I was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge and felt a little bit of small town pride knowing there are people like this going to our polls. 
Eventually the men’s voices drowned out the women and I cued into their conversation. I was more excited than I was with the women’s points of view. The men were talking about the fear of the Lord and having a reverential type fear as opposed to a scaredy-cat kind of fear. They spoke of King Saul and all of his guffaws. They spoke of David. They talked about being real men of God. I was just about to walk up and thank them because we need men like this in our towns, in our schools, in our churches. They got to the end of that thread of conversation and someone said, “Hey, how about those Detroit Tigers?” Another answered, “maybe we’ll get a new manager! I was watching the other day and one of those Victoria Secret commercials came on. My wife quickly brought up the program guide to cover the screen!” The conversation slowly slid into the abyss with the conclusion of it stopping here: “I’m just admiring God’s beauty.” ….oh, that slide into the abyss hit my spirit too as my initial excitement turned to heartache for wives everywhere.
I turned away for a split second thinking how’d we go from talking about God’s plan for Godly men into using God as an excuse for lusting after women. It was then I realized the old ladies behind me were now fired up and cussing up a storm! Followed by “for Christ’s sake, put that away!!”. I looked up and saw one of the old men standing up scratching his belly. He fired back, “it’s my six pack. You know you want more!” The ladies conversation slid as far as the men’s at that point.
Oh, humanity…who are we and where are we going. People are messy! I wonder if God thought the same thing when he poured into his servant David. As David sang to him in the fields, herding the sheep. As he stoned the massive giant. As he became King of God’s own people. And then as he slept with another man’s wife… Does God look at us and say, “people are messy.” Does he shake his head and wonder “who are they and where are they going? They’re not the people I created them to be and they’re not doing what I created them to do.” 
How messy are you?
“If my people…will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV