The Beauty of Creation

Three weeks ago, I started my garden.  I plotted out what I wanted to plant and began the task of putting seeds in the soil to (hopefully) produce my family some vegetables!  I started with nothing but seeds; I didn’t do any starter plants this year, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take to see growth or if I would even actually see growth at all.

So far, I have not been disappointed!  I am astounded when I walk back there every night and see little green sprouts shooting up from the ground!  My Parisian pickling cucumbers are just stems and two leaves and my excitement would indicate they’re practically ready to harvest.  I just can’t believe how these little tiny seeds can be placed in dirt and watered and they can grow into food for us to enjoy at dinner!

This reminds me that nothing is created under the sun that isn’t created by God.  Genesis clearly tells us that He made heavens and earth, mountains, trees, grass, plants, animals and humans.  There isn’t a single thing on this planet that wasn’t orchestrated by God and it shows! 

I think of Psalm 96:11-12, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it.  Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy” where even His creation praises who He is.

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”  Romans 11:36 tells us that He created that seed to go in the dirt that He brought into existence.  How awesome is our Father that every intricate detail was thought of and planned.

I think that too many times I overlook simple things like this.  It’s… “second nature” to me!  I walk through the woods or see trees or gardens and I don’t even think about the fact that it was designed with purpose.  It’s incomprehensible to my human mind how complex creation is, and yet, God spoke it into existence knowing exactly how it should be!

I pray that as we go through this week, that we stop and truly see the world around us that God has allowed us to be part of.  Sing with joy for the beauty that He has surrounded us with.  Praise Him for His creation!  What He has given us is beautiful.

~Erin

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

By Dawn Green

Sitting here waiting on my sister to come to get me for an appointment, I’m watching bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds going from flower to flower.  One hummingbird is smaller than the others, maybe a younger bird, maybe a different kind of hummingbird.  He doesn’t know he’s different, he just goes about his business.  He or she gathers and gathers and then flies to the crepe myrtle to rest a while.

My mind is kind of like that little bird.  It goes from one thing to another, sometimes I get work accomplished, sometimes flitting around gets me distracted so the desired task doesn’t get completed.  Maybe the difference between me and that tiny bird is he has one goal, food for survival, rest a little, then go gather again.

I wonder, too, as I watch, is that the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies all feed off the same flowers.  Do they know to leave a little for someone else?  Not like the human characteristic to get it all for me.  Also, do the plants produce more nectar because the little creatures come back day after day. Of course, there are eventually new flowers during the growing season.  But some flowers remain on the bushes for several days.  I’m no botanist, however, it all works, I’m amazed at the complexity of God’s creation.  How these tiny creatures know all that they know.

As cute as they are, they are also fierce fighters among themselves, like tiny fighter jets, attacking each other over the bird feeder.  But it doesn’t seem like they ever mortally wound one another, just warn and scold and fuss at each other.  One little bird has found a place beneath the feeder where he can watch his food source and defend it, perched upon the halo of a garden angel.  Another is camouflaged in a nearby tree, where he is the same size, shape, and color of the leaves. He’ll wait and watch and then dive bomb the watching hummer.

I wouldn’t have gotten the pleasure of watching these amazing creatures if the Father hadn’t sat me down for a while, healing from pacemaker surgery.  The goal here is to heal and rest a while.  I wish it didn’t take something like this to slow me down to see God at work.  My friends and family have been generous and thoughtful to do my gathering for me.  And I’m grateful that the Father also brought these sweet people into my life.  He also helped me be settled and see that he is all around me, walking with me in this growing season.  Not to be too sappy, but can’t we be the sweet nectar in the life of another?  Serving, caring, providing, and protecting, Just as the Lord has done for us and will continue to do.

He promised, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you”.  He’s definitely all around me.

~Dawn

Hummingbird graphics

The Day Before Surgery

Last month my mother-in-law, Renee, earned herself a helicopter ride to the ER after having stroke-like symptoms.  Less than a week later, she was scheduled for surgery to remove a brain tumor that had metastasized from kidney cancer.  The day before her surgery, five days after her helicopter escort, she still hadn’t regained use of her right arm.

Through all the visitors who trickled in and out of Renee’s room the day before surgery, our little family was well aware that these may be our last moments with her.  We had spent much of the day laughing and storytelling.  Brittney, my sister-in-law, had the outstanding idea to pack a picnic lunch so that the grandkids could share “snacks” with Grandma one more time.

As the evening drew to a close, Brittney and I offered to wash Renee’s hair, which hadn’t been washed the entire time she’d been in the hospital.  We kicked the husbands and the kids out of the room (We weren’t sure how wet we would get, let alone how much skin would be revealed!).  We gathered towels, basins, warm water, and a little bottle of baby shampoo.  While Renee sat upright in bed with pillows propped up against her lower back and a slack right arm, Britt and I pour water and lathered suds.  We rinsed and rinsed.  We controlled drippy water like experts and Renee hummed in the satisfaction of having her hair washed.

A trio of women focused on a humanizing task…no one else in the room.  Two serving one.  Not just because Renee needed her hair washed (which she did), but because two daughters-in-law loved their mother-in-law enough to want her to feel special.

In the hallway, a nurse said, “She’s so lucky to have a family to care for her with servants’ hearts.”

That statement sat in my heart for several weeks. I wasn’t sure that “servant’s heart” was the correct phrase.  Perhaps it was; perhaps it wasn’t.  I didn’t feel like I had a servant’s heart at that moment.  I just knew that Renee had been subjected to humbling tests and treatments…ones that strip a person of their privacy.  I knew at that moment, I wanted to tag team with my sister-in-law to make Renee feel “human.”

Scripture tells us to regard our family members with acts of service.  “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ~1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV).

Scripture also tells us how to regard our elders with acts of service.  “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ~1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)

The act of washing hair may be worthy of saying “servant’s heart,” but it was definitely a moment where family was taking care of family. It was an act of love.  It was one where humility was exhibited by all three women.

God blessed that action; just as He has blessed every act of service done while modeling Christ’s love for one another. He’s blessed this family and He has wrapped His arms around Renee as she has faced the uncertainty of life and death this last year.  She survived brain surgery.  After a few complications, she is doing well in rehab and is starting to regain movement in her right arm.  God is good. All the time.

Cancer is a terrible road.  I wouldn’t want this reality for any family.  But I will freely admit that I wouldn’t change one moment of that “day before surgery.”  I wouldn’t change the picnic lunch or grandkids’ giggles.  I wouldn’t change the parade of visitors or watching my husband hold his mom’s hand.  I wouldn’t change the group prayer around her bed, as we left for the night.  And I certainly wouldn’t have changed any part of the hair washing.

~Emily

Cockroach Leg Eyebrows

As a small child, my mom would smooth down my eyebrows as soon as I woke up in the morning.  As a teen, I would make my eyebrows a mess by pushing them backwards against the grain…just to see if my mom would notice. She always did.  Apparently, those eyebrows were wild!

Interestingly enough, my mom has never worn make up.  Therefore, she didn’t teach me about make up.  Other than smoothing my eyebrows down, she taught me nothing about taming the beasts above my eyes.  It wasn’t until I had been in the Air Force for over four years that friends took me to a tweezing session.  That first tweezing was HORRIBLE!  My eyes were welled up and I was sneezing. I thought my brains were being pulled out!

Since then, I’ve experienced cultural eyebrow grooming throughout the world.  Most notably, the string technique in Turkey, a wicked stinky mix of wax in Korea, and a hefty German woman plucking away while swilling beer.

My eyebrows have been beaten into submission.

My husband’s eyebrows? They are a different story.  He has one that shoots out like cockroach legs. I’m constantly smoothing his eyebrows down.  What I would give to take a pair of tweezers to his caterpillars!

Alas, last week while wiping a roach leg into place, I suddenly had a thought.  Does anyone, let alone God, really care about the appearance of our wild brows?  Instantly a verse came to mind.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”                ~1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Each of us have such potential to be great in God’s sight…with or without the outward adornments. God doesn’t equate the outward adornment of our eyebrows with our inner worth.

My eyebrows will continue to be tamed.

My husband’s will probably continue to get my attention.

With 1 Peter in mind, I’m going to try to give his brows less attention.

~Emily

Eyebrows