Category Archives: Devotional

79. Wind

It was a very blustery day. Gusty really.

Me: “Draw a picture of the wind.”

The Spy (he’s 8): “That’s easy. Give me the paper”

(I hand him the paper)

The Spy: “Wait. Just draw wind? Or trees and stuff?”

Me: “Whatever is your best depiction of wind. You choose. It just needs to be a good drawing. I’m probably going to scan it in.”

30 seconds later:

Not his best work.

Not his best work.

Me: “Maybe yeah add trees and stuff. Do another drawing.”

30 seconds later:

Ok his heart wasn’t in it.

Ok his heart wasn’t in it.

He was eager to get back to Calvin and Hobbes (It’s a Magical World). But even if you try your best, it’s basically impossible to depict every aspect of wind.

You can photograph a flag blowing.

You can photograph a flag blowing.

Hair blowing.

Hair blowing.

Trees swaying.

Trees swaying.

But without a baseline image of the trees, how is one to know that the image shot are the trees displaced?

A breeze and a gust are hard to distinguish in an image.

A breeze and a gust are hard to distinguish in an image.

And the images are missing the sound. Let’s give it a go with words.

A low tone rumbles in the distance. Advances through the trees. The rumble builds, changes pitch and then…whhoooooooooshhhhh leaves are flying, branches are cracking. Your eyes widen and dart up to the trees. They swing wildly. You’re overcome and thinking of nothing but the wind. The gust hurls through.

And then you get on with whatever you were doing. Unless your power is out. Or your house is destroyed. Then you get on with cleaning up or, God forbid, planning a funeral. That’s why your eyes widen and dart up to the trees. The pictures of post-storm damages never seem to capture the wide-eyed power of the wind. Fortunately, our windy day did no harm (to us). But the same winds/storm did do a bunch of damage across the Midwest today.

Wind or no wind unfortunate things happen all the time. Thus is life.

Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3:8:

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”

Well, we do have Doppler radar but the actual wind is still pretty mysterious and complex. We can’t predict its path with any real certainty. We can’t gauge its strength in a photograph. We can’t fully give voice to its sound with words.  And we certainly can’t govern it. Jesus mentioned the wind in trying to illustrate that some things (flesh vs. the Spirit, being “born” again) are basically impossible to understand. It’s ok to accept some things as incomprehensible and look beyond a “narrowly naturalistic view of human beings”*. Being overwhelmed by the beauty of things like a mighty, rushing wind(y day) facilitates this leap of faith for me.

Baby discusses the wind with the Spy

Baby discusses the wind with the Spy

At our neighbor's

At our neighbor’s

Jumping

Jumping

Swinging

Swinging

Another angle

Another angle

Time for tricks!

Time for tricks!

Baby gymnast

Baby gymnast

Baby Yogi

Baby Yogi

Southeast corner of the garden (facing south/southwest)

Southeast corner of the garden (facing south/southwest)

Northeast corner of the garden (facing south/southwest) (and Dexie)

Northeast corner of the garden (facing south/southwest) (and Dexie)

*The quote is from the “study note” on James 3:8. From The Lutheran Study Bible English Standard Version Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO

35. A Walk in the Woods

The “Spy” and his friend walking in the woods today:

Little Explorers

Little Explorers

Can I come too?

Can I come too?

Woods

Woods

They found a big feather and a good-sized bone:

Finder's keepers

Finder’s keepers

Pretending to cross a raging river

Pretending to cross a raging river

Clearing under the power lines

Clearing under the power lines

A clear, crisp day with fall colors appearing:

Leaves

Leaves

Changing colors

Changing colors

A type of aster?

A type of aster?

Another type of aster?

Another type of aster?

Eliza Waters recently did a post on asters, and I was surprised to learn there are at least 50 varieties! I don’t know too much about wild flowers, so basically any flower I see in the woods blooming late in summer/early fall I’ll refer to as “Another Type of Aster?” hahaha

Some type of nightshade?

Some type of nightshade?

I’ve seen these fruiting plants along our street this summer. The foliage looks like an eggplant (you can’t tell this as the foliage in the one pictured is quite withered).

Natural Halloween decor!

Natural Halloween decor!

A large tree

A large tree

Another view

Another view

Great day for a walk in the woods!

Great day for a walk in the woods!

A few Sundays ago I wrote a little devotional and said it would be a new Sunday tradition. I only did it the one time so I’ll try again today! One of the verses we read today at church was…

Matthew 18:1-4

At the time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Reading this made me wonder for what childish qualities should we strive? Do children follow with a “blind” faith, accepting truth without any doubts? I don’t think so. My kids are curious and rarely accept something as “truth” without questions, discussions and considerations.

Do they test limits and feel tempted by sin in the same way as adults? Are they more eager to please? More willing to help?

How are children humble? Aren’t they egocentric little beasts? “IT’S MINE!” (and so forth) (especially here thinking of a two year old) hahaaaha. Maybe they aren’t humble in regards to their human relationships, but in how they view the world or truth?

Is it just that they always seem to be seeking truth?

I will have to continue to think about the ideal traits we should strive for to “become like children” to more fully answer that question. I do know that kids don’t have to remind themselves to stay “in the moment”. They notice the details of each step and sight and approach their surroundings with wide-eyed wonder. So how can that approach be applied to an adult’s spirituality? I’m not entirely sure, but tagging along for a walk in the woods with the boys is a glimpse of the world through littler eyes (and a good place to start)!

12. Harvest Lessons

The results of my poll were overwhelmingly in favor of me writing more about our garden. And by “overwhelming” I mean, two people voted for me to “Get back in the garden!” and write more about the varieties of vegetables we are growing.

Harvest du Jour!

Harvest du Jour! September 1, 2013

This time of year some plants are dried and brown. Sometimes I feel like cutting them back but then I remember it is almost fall, so I change my perspective and suddenly

They are fall decorations!

They are fall decorations!

So ugly So festive

So ugly So festive!

Allowing plants to completely brown and dry out encourages them to produce seeds, and send all the nutrients back down into the roots of the plants (in the case of perennials).

Yardlong bean pods drying out

Yardlong bean pods drying out

Yardlong bean seeds

Yardlong bean seeds

Last year we had a horrible drought and we went without rain for something like 40 days. During the drought I learned that grass goes dormant during periods of drought and though it turns brown and looks dead, it actually takes 60 days without rain to completely kill grass.

The corn to the left of the teepee is quite dried out

The corn to the left of the teepee is quite dried out

It has been hot and dry the past week and the soil has that ugly tan look. Even though Spy Garden Paint was kind of a joke, I am seriously considering whipping up a batch to improve the garden photo shoots haha. In more colorful news…

Delice de la Table melon

Delice de la Table melon

How do you know when a Delice de la Table melon is ripe? It blushes slightly with a peachy yellow and smells fragrant (like a cantaloupe). It is chilling in our fridge and we will cut into it tomorrow!

A little Jack be Little pumpkin

A little Jack be Little pumpkin has appeared!

I thought a nice Spy Garden tradition to begin would be to do a little gardening-related devotional on Sundays. So many of the hymns in our hymnal at church allude to tilling, sowing, and harvesting, which makes sense because there are about seven million lessons to be learned in a garden and the Bible often uses gardening/farming stories to illustrate lessons.

And doesn't this sky over Spy Garden today just scream "Aren't I awesome? Love, God"

And doesn’t this sky over Spy Garden today just scream “Aren’t I awesome? Love, God”

Luke 12:22-25 says “…”Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.”

These verses follow the “parable of the rich fool” (Luke 13-21) a story about a man who grew a bunch of crops, had an abundant harvest and then built barns to store the food in. After that he was thinking, sweet, life is good. I can just relax now, my work is done. But just because we have a bunch of food or possessions or money does not mean we are “all set” or “good to go”. Anytime we start feeling a sense of security based on things, we can get really disappointed when that balance is upset.

Now how can I apply this lesson to our garden?

I am planning on making seven quarts of pickles tomorrow with lemon cucumbers. I never set expectations of what I will harvest and what we will be able to eat from the garden. This is mostly because I am relatively new to gardening and don’t have much of a basis for comparison. For example, even though I planted 25 tomato plants, in the back of my mind I was prepared for the possibility of 25 tomatoes. Or zero tomatoes. This approach may reflect my lack of knowledge and past challenges and failures but really it is a good way to approach life.

Blooms! On the giant cape gooseberry plants!

Blooms! On the giant cape gooseberry plants!

This is the third year I have tried to grow giant cape gooseberries from seeds and this is the first bloom I’ve seen! Isn’t it more fun to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed because of arbitrary expectations? I mean, I know the point of planting seeds is to grow a plant, but since I have never seen a giant cape gooseberry it was an experiment without much of a hypothesis.

This is the giant cape gooseberry plant. The leaves have tons of tiny holes from flea beetles

This is the giant cape gooseberry plant. The leaves have tons of tiny holes from flea beetles

So back to the notion of “expectations”. We shouldn’t garden expecting a perfect harvest. We shouldn’t go to our neighbor’s houses expecting to be fed, entertained or served. We should be striving to see how we can serve our neighbor. Continually striving to improve ourselves (and our gardens!); never trying to “pile up” our assets so we can “call it good”. The last time I made pickles I (somewhat accidentally!) ended up giving them all away to friends and neighbors who visited the garden. I think I gained a lot more in giving them away than I would have eating them. It is just so fun to teach people something new and share what you enjoy with others. We should use our “harvests” (food or otherwise) to improve other peoples’ lives without expecting anything in return. Of course, I am not advocating against preserving food! Just encouraging an approach that values the many components of the experience. Joy in sharing is a lesson that can be far more valuable than a jar of pickles!