Sweet Autumn!

About two years after we moved to our current home, my wonderful husband gave me the most fabulous birthday gift:  an herb garden!  It was a grand addition to our yard and it has brought me many hours of pleasure!  Originally much smaller, it has now expanded to about 25’x40′ and, although it desperately needs to be weeded and remulched right now, it seems to come into it’s own with the approach of fall.

One of the beauties I look forward to most at this time of year is the blooming of the ‘Sweet Autumn’ clematis on the trellis at one end of the herb garden.  When in full bloom, it actually glows and can be seen as soon as you turn down the street where we live.  It seems to be gearing up for another grand display this year and it is just too pretty to keep all to myself!

I hope you have a beautiful, wonder and worship-filled weekend!  See you back here on Monday!

up close
“God’s Garden” by Dorothy Frances Gurney

The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world;
And placed there an angel warden,
In a garment of light unfurled.
So near to the peace of heaven,
The hawk might nest with the wren;
For there, in the cool of the even,
God walked with the first of men.

And I dream that these garden closes,
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod,
And their lilies and bowers of roses
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

In the garden…

It has been a very busy week.  We’re preparing for the Prairie Arts Festival this Saturday (only 2 days from now!) and that has meant spending a lot of time in the shop.  That’s usually a good thing, but when you’re prepping for a show and racing ahead of Issac “just in case the power goes out,” it can get a bit hectic.  Sometimes, the best cure for hectic can actually be a break.  Here’s what I found on a stroll around the yard this week.

white roses and blue grassRosemary blooms

Fennel bloomsCheery yellow mumsSociety Garlic

“And He walks with me,

and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known.”

–C. Austin Miles

The W Women

It’s been several days since I was back on the campus of my beloved alma mater for a small arts & crafts show that was held as part of “Welcome Week” for new and returning students, but I haven’t stopped thinking about my time there.  A lot of the campus looks just like it always has to me:  the clock in the bell tower, Old Maid’s Gate, The Goose, the post office, Callaway Hall.  I’m very at home there.  I am considered a “legacy” there:  my mother, sister, a cousin and five aunts are also graduates of Mississippi University for Women.  I have a history with this place.

A lot has changed on campus since I was a college student.  There are new buildings and refurbished buildings–even missing buildings, new garden areas and several new functions for some of the older buildings.  However, I saw the biggest change in the faces of the new students.  Honestly, I’m not sure we were ever that young.  I know that we were once their age and I do have pictures, but I really do wonder…

The W, as it is affectionately known, gave me more than just a great education and preparation for a career.  It gave me some of the most important friendships of my life.  Though we are spread across the nation, the friends I met there form a core group for me and I hear their voices in my head when I work out a problem or celebrate a joy.  My life would be dramatically diminished if they were not in it. Throughout the years, we have played and prayed and chided and encouraged and just generally seen each other through all kinds of life issues.  I have a common history with these women. 

Throughout the years since my college days, God has been gracious to me and added other incredible women to my life—those whose prayers I also regularly seek and whose times I have been honored to share.  I’m not certain I would have been as able to appreciate their strength if I had not previously been blessed with the life lessons that strong women need not fight even when they disagree and that friendships and families are often forged in the fires of difficult days…and lots of laughter.

As I looked at all those fresh young faces, I reflected on the years that separate us and the common experiences that unite us.  I pray they find their ‘line’ in life and that God gives them the gift of friendship in the measure He’s given me.  That’s a really big prayer.  I’ve been truly graced.

BIA. Shall I forget, then, When I am old, I ever was a child?
     I tell you I shall never think of you
     Throughout my life, without such tenderness
     As breaks the heart,--and I shall think of you
     Whenever I am most happy, whenever I am
     Most sad, whenever I see a beautiful thing.
     You are a burning lamp to me, a flame
     The wind cannot blow out, and I shall hold you
     High in my hand against whatever darkness.

BEA. You are to me a silver bell in a tower.
     And when it rings I know I am near home.

–the last portion of Act 3, Scene 2 from “The Lamp and the Bell”, a play by Edna St. Vincent Millay


More than you can ask or think…

We were sitting in the middle of our property feeding a fire when my husband asked the question, “What would you do if God said for us to move?”

“I’d pack.”

He waited a bit and then said, “What would you do if He just told me and didn’t tell you?”

I replied, “I’d still pack…but you’d better be right, because you’d still have to live with me!”        

We both laughed.  And then I jokingly added, “If God wants me to move, He’ll back an 18-wheeler up that driveway and pack for me!”  We laughed again.  It wasn’t a prayer request.  It was a joke.  Our driveway was just over a quarter mile long, narrow, unpaved and up hill with lots of trees near the house and absolutely no place for an 18-wheeler to turn around. 

We didn’t want to move, anyway.  We loved living on this place!  This beautiful 27 acres was our dream and it had come to mean even more to us during my husband’s recent battle with cancer.  In truth, I think God used the beauty of the land to heal my husband as much as he had the Drs and their chemicals and radiation.  The cancer was finally behind us and we were just starting down our road back to ‘normal’ life.  We were full of plans for the house and the land and us…  As I walked to the house to get us a drink, however, I felt God in my spirit saying, “Don’t get comfortable here.”  I filled up our glasses and called my prayer partner:  “AJ, we’re going to move.”  “Where?!”  “I don’t know yet.”  “When?”  “I don’t know that either, but God just told me not to get comfortable here and, AJ, I’m already comfortable here!  I need prayer!”

Much later, after the downsized job (a whole other story there!), months of looking for a job, finding one (another whole store there!) and then living in two different states as my husband started his new job and I stayed behind to finish mine and sell the house, we were together again as we waited on a man his new company was sending to tell us more about the move.

I’d never had someone move me before, so I wasn’t shocked when a man dressed in a suit stepped out of his car to begin our evaluation.  As he walked around checking out our possessions and asking all kinds of questions in the Georgia summer heat, he got a bit warm and removed his suit jacket.  I started to get a bit concerned about that sparkling white shirt and tie as he walked in to my husband’s small shop to look at the items kept there.

When he came out, he was rolling up his sleeves and then he stopped and just looked straight at me.  “Mrs. Childs,” he said, “I don’t normally do this.  I own the company and I usually send someone else to do this kind of thing, but I was in the area for a meeting and I told them I’d just handle this one myself.”  He continued, “Mrs. Childs, I just want to tell you that my boys are going to back an 18-wheeler up your driveway and they’re going to pack every single thing you own for you.  You won’t have to do a thing.  In fact, if there is anything you don’t want them to touch, you’ll need to have it packed and inside your vehicles before they arrive.”

I’m not sure what that man thought when my eyes started to water a bit or when my husband and I looked at each other and smiled really big.  I couldn’t really speak right after that, but I think I may have heard God laugh out loud…

Faith under the dryer

My clothes dryer had been taking longer than I thought it should for some time, but until today, I hadn’t done anything about it. Today however was the day to unplug, pull out, vacuum inside & out, behind and under…to straighten out that hose and do the maintenance work needed to make the dryer work as efficiently as it should.

Have you ever cleaned out from under your dryer? If you have the same problem I’ve been having—or if you’re bored or just in need of something to do—you might want to give it a try. Oh, the things you’ll find there. Oh, the things you’ll see that need to be cleaned or removed or replaced…or just found again.

Back in the corner…amongst all the lint and escaped bits of dry cat food and the empty bleach/water bottle and the used dryer sheets…there…what is that?  A rock?  A beautiful shiny rock…with a big divot on the back and the word “Faith” engraved on the front. It’s obviously been through a lot under there…

Sometimes our own life of faith is like that. Our beautiful shiny faith—that God is Sovereign or interested in even the little things about us–gets into places we’re not expecting and it may even feel like it may be hiding from us.  It’s part of the every day world we live in and sometimes we take it for granted.  So, how do you fix that?  The first thing to do is make sure your faith is in the right One!  The second thing is to spend some time talking to God about your situation and asking for His wisdom and His best solution for you.  You’ll often find that some time in His word will help you straighten some things out, so grab your Bible and spend some time just listening as you read.  If you’ve done those three things and your faith still seems to AWOL, then just give it some time.  It’s still there and it may have taken a beating, but you’ll find it again when you need it most.

Where’s your faith today? Does it need some extra maintenance? Maybe you need to clean behind your dryer, too.

8/25/12—For your weekend…

I love Ann Voskamp’s blog practice of collecting items for us to check out over the weekend, so I’m adopting the practice here for this weekend. 

If you can, take a little time and check out the following:

Since I’m adopting a practice from her site, it only makes sense that I include a link to her blog!  This is beautiful!  I need this prayer still…all for myself!    http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/08/a-prayer-for-a-daughter-2/

This one really hit close to home for me.  Read it and share below if anything sounds familiar to you, too.  http://holleygerth.com/whats-your-shadow-mission/

Grace & Peace!  See you back on Monday! 



“Because He bends down…”

“Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  Psalm 116:2
My friend AJ posted the verse above as her Facebook status earlier this week.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since then. 
I picture a pretty little girl we see each Sunday at church.  She just turned six and she’s very small for her age.  Her favorite color is pink.  She has physical challenges that require her to be supported by a walker and she has the sweetest, tiniest voice you’ve ever heard.  It is so soft that, even when she is loud by her standards, each listener must lean in close to make out her words.  Even then, her speech is often difficult to decipher.  She is determined, though.  She will just take another deep breath and patiently repeat (and repeat!) until we get it or her grandparents are able to translate for us.  When we finally understand her communications, the most beautiful smile breaks out over her features and your whole day is just better for seeing that smile. 
The image is so clear to me and I’ve been thinking about how God–with all that is going on in the world and all the other people who are praying at any given time–is so great that He can bend down and take the time to listen to each of us.  On our celebration days when our hearts are full and laughter and praise comes so easily, He bends down to listen.  On those days when our limitations seem so much larger than our abilities, when the day has just been too much for us and our hearts are broken and even our vocabularies are strained…He bends down to listen.  According to Romans 8:26 & 27, those are the days He goes even further and provides a intercessor/translator for us in the form of the Holy Spirit. 
I don’t know where you are today–physically or in your spiritual walk–but I do know we all know someone who could use someone to just listen.  Maybe it will be you or me.  Maybe we’ll be the one who is “Jesus with skin on” for them today.  Maybe we’ll be the one who lifts them in prayer.  Maybe we’re the ones who need to be heard.  Either way, I promise you–and them, He will bend down and listen.  The One with the plan for our good and theirs will bend down and listen.  It is the incentive I need to keep praying for some of those long-term prayer requests on my list and “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  How about you?