I love to work in the back yard. Partly it is because a lot of work has already been done. When we moved in there was already a sprinkler system, it is even automated, cool. Sod had been laid down so there is great grass and very few weeds to control. There is a border around the grass with a few trees on the edges and plenty of room for additional plants, plus two amazing rose bushes.
Joan is never too excited when I prune those rose bushes for she thinks I slash and burn too much, but they always seem to grow back and the number of blossoms seems to grow every year. I have to admit that sometimes what I plant doesn’t always grow, we planted a Meyer Lemon tree about two months after we moved it and it bit the dust about a month ago. We had it for two years and it never seem to take to the place where it was planted, whether it was the soil or the lack of nutrients I am not sure. I did feed it and try different ways of encouraging its growth, but it never seemed to make the transition from pot in the store to plant in the ground.
As I was dead-heading, cutting off the blossoms which had died back so new ones can grow, the roses this last week I noticed something very interesting. The rose bush we had in the middle of the backyard by the fence no longer had only one colored rose. Not only were there more roses than ever before there were also now two varieties of blooms. There has always been a coral colored rose, but now there was also burgundy colored rose. Neither Joan nor I have ever seen this color of rose on this bush before.
I first looked to see if there was a rose bush growing from the neighbor’s yard into ours with this type of rose on it. There was none. This rose was part of the rose bush we have in our backyard. I also looked to see if perhaps there was a graft on the bush I hadn’t seen before, but I could find any grafts.
Whether this is a throw back from a former bush that made this one a hybrid or this is just a different strain of the same rose bush I don’t know, but what I do know is this rose is beautiful. Sometimes as we nurture our relationships with others we find a serendipitous benefit. Sometimes out of nowhere we receive and unexpected gift. God can and does surprise us.
This special gift does not replace what we are nurturing in the first place, but it is something we can enjoy and for which we can give thanks. You never know what your day holds, but I do know this I am thankful for the roses I have been nurturing and for those roses which unexpectedly pop up. I just need to be ready to experience the beauty and the joy which God gives me. Are you ready to receive the wonder God has in store for you?
Looking, with you, through eyes of wonder all around us,
P.S. Can you tell which is the new rose?
I was getting a lot done on Saturday morning. I was up early so I checked on the garden, did my devotional reading, and then decided it was time to wash the cars. Joan was on a 64 mile bike ride in Napa and since the soccer game I was referring was not till 9 am I would have some time to wash both cars. I always have a good feeling after I wash the cars because I feel like I am being a good steward with what I have been given by taking care of them and doing it in the most economical way. I use only on bucket of soap and water and since it is early in the morning the finish on the car doesn't get damaged from the soap and sun, plus I use a towel to dry them off before I take them out on the road again, thus the dirt doesn’t get stuck on them right away.
The Kia had taken a recent trip and gathered a few bugs on the front so I was glad to get those off the license plate and front grill. Once the Kia was done I parked it in front of the house and pulled the truck up into the driveway. The truck doesn't usually look dirty but once I get up close I can see the grime and spots from scattering rain and the accumulated dirt from the roadway. I like to park the truck in the driveway since the driveway has a bit of an incline. That way when I wash out the bed the water flows downhill and out the back. I thought I would go ahead and wash the tail gate before I did the bed that way that end of the truck would be all done once the bed was washed down.
As I sprayed water on the tailgate I noticed that the new tail gate was missing something. I have had the truck for almost five and a half years now and just a couple of months ago I had a new tailgate put on because of a recent rear end accident. I was disappointed that the name plate from the car dealer I bought it from was no longer on the truck for when they replaced the tailgate they don’t transfer those type of plates to the new tailgate. The car dealer was in Iowa so it had been one more thing that reminded me of our delightful years in that state.
Now I noticed that the Ford emblem was missing from the center of the tailgate. Evidently someone had come by our house between 11:30 pm, when I went to bed, and 6:30 am, when I got up, and had pried the Ford emblem off of the tailgate of the truck. Why? I have no idea, unless they were making a collection of car emblems. I looked over the truck and found nothing else missing and there was no additional damage to the truck. They also didn’t take the emblem from the Kia, for which I am thankful.
It is ironic that I had that truck for five years already with no changes to the tailgate and two months after I had a new tailgate someone altered that tailgate. I like to keep things in as good a condition as I can. But I also realize that nothing lasts forever, especially things we accumulate here on earth. I am reminded again of Matthew 5: 19-21, “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth . . . Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven . . . Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I am thankful I have a truck and I haven’t decided if I should get a new emblem or not, maybe I should put a Jesus fish on it. Oh, well I a good reminder that what is here on earth is not going to last forever and we also need to be thankful for what we do have. At least with this missing piece I wasn’t missing peace.
May we continue to seek the treasures in heaven over those on earth and may we continue to be good stewards of what we have been given.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern fo this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12: 2a
As I drove this morning into the parking lot I was greeted by two young smiling faces with the exuberant shouts of “Good Morning Pastor Randy!” This is just what I needed. After this past week with news about the bombing in Boston, the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas and all the news about abusive relationships in the media I was ready for a new direction in my mind.
I couldn’t help but smile, and wave back of course. Even after I got out of my truck these two young excited girls couldn’t wait to show me a special stamp they got at a party. Their mom was patiently putting sunscreen on them, since today is supposed to be really hot, but it was very hard for them to rein in their enthusiasm.
So my day, which had been earlier greeted by the depressing headlines of the newspaper, had changed from the gloom of the current tragedies to the excitement of what great things God has in store for me this week. A simple celebration of life had turned me around to look forward to all the blessings that I can’t wait to experience.
Know that the struggles of the past do not define us for the future. I pray that you not only will have a similar greeting by a friend or even a stranger, but that you might help one person change their perspective by exhibiting your joy of the special life God has give you.
Smiling in the Son with you,
As we move towards Easter this week we encounter the excitement of Palm Sunday. We remember the people who celebrated their hope that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. They waved palm branches, the laid down their cloaks, and they shouted praises that the Son of David had arrived.
Yet after Palm Sunday these same folks experienced the devastation of a quiet prayer time gone wrong. Judas betrayed Jesus’ whereabouts and the authorities longing to curtail the growing number of followers had Jesus arrested, tried, and crucified.
I wear two bands on my wrists. One usually draws excited comments about the colors and a desire for getting one like it from on lookers. The other is less attractive and somewhat startling as it looks like barbed wire circling my wrist.
The first colorful one reads “Walking with Jesus” a joyfully colored orange, yellow, pink, and white wristband. It speaks of times we laugh, sing, and play in God’s world. The second black band reminds us of the times which are painful and difficult. It reads “One with them” worn to remind me of those Christians who are suffering persecution. As a Christian it doesn’t take long to experience trials and painful times in this world, though rarely do we in the west experience persecution, but we do know what it means to suffer.
We shouldn’t just remember the one day celebration on Palm Sunday, the joy, the hope, and the excitement of Jesus’ triumphal entry in to Jerusalem. We also shouldn’t just remember the painful torture of the cross on Good Friday.
We still live in a time when joy and hope swirl around us. We experience pockets of celebration. But we also experience times when struggle and pain encroach on our good life. It is when Easter comes that we celebrate Christ’s overcoming the pain of this world. It is our celebration of Easter that is a celebration in full knowledge that this life is a mixture of good and bad, of joy and pain, of celebration and tears. But we also know that someday Jesus will come again and the two bands will be traded in for one. We will have bands that encircle both arms that bring a rainbow of wonder and goodness that will last for eternity.
For now I wear two bands. One of celebration and one of pain, knowing that one day Jesus will come and give me a new band that will signify that he has overcome the world. On that day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Lord. Hallelujah!!!
I can’t believe I did it again. During the time of Lent we, people at our church, try to refocus our commitments and make God more of a priority. Also Lent is a good time to seek to be more healthy. Some of us give up something that is not good for us, like drinking soda, or eating too much bread, or even snacking. One reason why it is so hard to give up something is that we don’t replace those things we try to give up, like drinking more water instead of soda, or eating more fruits and vegetables instead of bread, or eating more healthy filling meals instead of snacking.
Another reason it is so hard to give up things is because some of those things we do are just comfortable habits. We have learned to play video games or search the web for those things that are so enticing, like books, or kitchen gadgets, or we like just wandering the mall or ambling through the hardware store, always looking for that one more shirt to buy or one more tool we just have to have.
Joan and I are currently trying to eat more simply and celebrate weekly with a feast day having some of those things we have not had during the week. Yet I still find myself looking for books and my new passion fly fishing poles. I mentioned before that 18 months ago I had only one fly fishing pole. It was my father-in-laws. I was introduced to fly fishing when I was on a preaching retreat about two years ago. When I came back I remembered I had that old pole so I got a reel, a book, and learned from a friend how to cast using that pole.
After a year had passed I had seven poles. There are just so many good deals on ebay and it was so hard not to get an eight foot pole to complement my nine foot pole. Then there was the Japanese pole that could be an eight and a half foot fly pole or a five and a half foot casting pole. There was the pole that was used in the 1920’s by a seller’s grandfather and the pole that had a walking stick with it that housed an extra tip.
I finally decided I had enough poles to go around the family and then some. But then two weeks ago I saw an extension pole. This pole was three and a half feet long closed up, but you could extend it to eight and a half feet with all the extensions pulled out. And it was selling for less than $25, most other extension poles were selling for $40 to $75. Did I need an extension pole? Was I missing out because I didn’t have a metal pole? Did I need another fishing pole? The answer to all these questions was “No.” Yet still I bid on it, I was the only bidder. And I soon find myself a “proud” owner of a great deal on an extension fishing pole.
I can’t believe I did it again. The excitement of bidding, of getting a great deal, of finding something unique all added to the enticement. So now I have another fishing pole, but I also have a renewed conviction to stop buying more fishing poles. I know that if I look at the whole picture. If I remember my priority is not to possess things, but be more concerned about people. If I don’t worry about missing out on a great deal, but instead look for ways I can celebrate the great friendships I have I will be able to resist that next enticement.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4: 13),” reminds me that Jesus can give me strength and Jesus was one who focused on people not possessions. This will help me not only during Lent, but the whole year through.
Rely on Jesus and celebrate people not poles.
Fishing with what I have,