Friday, April 17, 2015

Graceful Spring

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Did you read Wednesday's post? Five years ago, I was giddy about two tulips, and now look at them!

Now, I don't know if it's because we're fresh off Easter or because it's the end of another school year and I've been reflecting on the lessons I've learned, but these tulips struck me as a wonderful reminder of God's grace.

These tulips deserved to be dead. I left them in the refrigerator vegetable bin for two years and then hastily threw them in the ground without any soil preparation. It took 10 years before the first tulip bloomed.

Sometimes I am so discouraged by my spiritual growth. Sometimes I'm frustrated with God for the circumstances in my life. I often act like I deserved to be blessed and complain when things don't go my way. I want God to work on my timeline and bless me the way I want to be blessed.

The Bible, however, explains that I deserve no blessing at all. I deserve death. But in His grace, He gave me faith to believe in His Son and to have life. Because of His grace I have hope. And because of His grace, the gifts of the Spirit are growing in me, until one day when I am with Him in heaven I will be fully in bloom. I will be a full field of tulips.

The progress seems slow, or even nonexistent, when you're in the thick of things. Yet, when I look back over the years I do see growth. Sometimes God totally throws me for a loop -- blessings I could have never expected. See those two pink tulips? What's that about? Unexpected, but a blessing nonetheless.

These tulips could describe our homeschool journey too. So often I wonder if it's worth it, if it's making a difference, but then I look back and see how far we've come. Ryne wrote a research paper this week. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't bad either, and I have to remember that 13 years ago we weren't sure he was ever going to be able to talk. It's slow, steady progress, but he is blooming.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I'll just close with a few more signs of spring at the Blue House. I missed pictures of the peach, cherry, and pear trees in bloom. The lilacs are almost fully bloomed, so hopefully I'll remember to keep checking each day. The magnolia tree was a Mother's Day gift to me one of the first years we lived here. It's grown so much too.

Hope you're having a wonderful spring!

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

~ from one of my favorite hymns, Fairest Lord Jesus

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seasonal blogger

I seem to have become a seasonal blogger, as in I update this blog about once a season. In my last post I shared snowy scenery and the post before that summer flowers (we won't talk about fall right now; I barely survived that season!). So it is only appropriate that today I'm recycling an old post about spring tulips. I wrote this in 2010! It seems hard to believe this blog has been around that long (and longer). You'll have to come back tomorrow to find out why I'm recycling old material. And then we'll see if I can break that seasonal pattern. Happy spring!

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With Dutch blood flowing through my veins, you'd think I'd have a garden full of tulips. Only in my dreams, sadly. But these two beauties? They have determination. I bought these bulbs over 10 years ago. The yard around my 1920 Dutch Colonial was going to have sweeps of spring color through it.

But I was so busy raising babies and and tip-toeing around a kitchen that was missing a floor (seriously! you could just look right down to the basement), that the bulbs never got planted. I read that they would keep in the refrigerator, so they found a home in the vegetable bin, next to the carrots and celery. For two years.

Then we moved to the Blue House. I almost tossed the tulip bulbs as I cleaned out the refrigerator, but I thought,

Oh, why not? You never know...

Even though I did nothing other than bury them in the dense clay that is supposed to pass for a yard, the next spring we did see green leaves. But no flowers.

Fast forward about six or seven years. One fine spring day, the babies who are no longer babies, come running in, saying,

Momma! Come see the tulip!

What tulip?

In the backyard!

You must be kidding.

But they weren't kidding. And this year we even have two tulips.

Amazing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Good Tidings

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We have our very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree that sprouted up near our brush pile some time ago. Perhaps he is the offspring of one of our discarded Christmas trees of years past. We don't have many evergreens on our property, so I'm pretty fond of this little tree, especially when covered with the season's first snow.

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This school semester has been the hardest since we started homeschooling almost eight (!!!) years ago. I am worn out. My family is worn out. But when we woke up Thursday morning to a winter wonderland, our spirits brightened. Most of the area schools were cancelled, but the girls' school just delayed an hour because it was the middle of finals week. Ryne and I shoveled snow in the dark (Marc was out of town), but once the sun came up I had time for a little stroll in the woods. I soaked in the quiet beauty and then drove Anna to school (Grace, who doesn't have finals, was finished on Monday). We both just ooo-ed and ahh-ed the entire drive, except for the brief moment when my car skidded on an overpass and we thought we were going to go flying off a hill and crash land in a shopping center parking lot. It was a much welcome distraction from the day's physics and classical literature finals -- the snow, that is, not the near-death experience!

I've missed blogging and have written many posts in my head the last several months. I've also missed taking pictures. The other day I looked through my pictures for 2014, and discovered that if it didn't involve cross country/track, ballet, or a vacation, I took very few pictures this year. How sad! I clearly need more moments like this walk in the snow! If the pictures look funny, I apologize. My computer monitor has been sick all fall and I can't really see what my pictures look like. Right now they are all blue, so I hope that's not the case for you! I'm hoping a new laptop might be in my future, but that whole naughty or nice thing might be my downfall. : )

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I may be physically and mentally worn out, but my spiritual Hope has not worn out. It's been an amazing year of learning God's truths, especially through my weekly Bible Study Fellowship lessons. I wish I could go into more detail about those lessons right now, but I promised myself this would be a short post. I am, however, going to share one little nugget I came across a couple months ago in my personal reading. I starred it and made a note to post this on the blog at Christmas time, because it is so perfect for refocusing our weary minds on Who really matters this season.

The Gift of Gifts

O Source of all Good,

What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near 
on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery;
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.

In him thou hast given me so much 
that heaven can give no more.

The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions


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Have a blessed Christmas, resting in His peace!