Saturday, February 26, 2022

 The Garden

The woman was indeed zealous.  Whether strung out from caffeine, too much sugar, or just caving to her bouncy bottom DNA, she often resembled a tornado in a trailer park. I know this because…she was my mother.  It seemed that every few months or so a new hobby would suddenly appear in her repertoire.  During the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was macramé…followed by an array of hobbies including, plastic grid canvas, cross stitch, sewing, ceramics, crochet, furniture restoration, knitting, more cross stitch, quilting, more sewing, and then…gardening.  Like any of her previous hobbies, she was not deterred by lack of experience.  Every new opportunity was approached with the same exuberance and energy and when the energy just wasn’t there…there was always coffee to reset the circuits, and she was off again. 

In her new realm of gardening, she was all in.  These early years of horticulture found her planting a huge variety of annuals and perennials alike, varying their colors and sizes, to arrange for a plethora of petal perfection.  Each morning she would tear out of the house to work in her garden.  She held a broom in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  With one she would bump up the good vibes and with the other she would scare away the deer, which were eating at her hostas. 

With both the deer and the coffee out of the way she would tear into the weeds that where infiltrating the geraniums.  She ground her teeth in disgust at the weed’s constant opposition to the beauty of her vast array of blossoms.

One day, as she was cultivating the soft soil, she was pleasantly surprised by a new bloom that had sprouted among her begonias. It was a pretty little thing.  She carefully weeded around the newly grown plant. She watered it and even fertilized it, being careful to not give it too much of either.  The new spray of color responded agreeably and began to flourish.  Soon, with the new gardener’s watchful eye and care, the new shoot had grown too tall to remain among the begonias.  She delicately dug around the roots of her precious flower and scrupulously moved it to the rear of the soft bed of soil.  Once replanted, the plant continued to thrive. 

The garden had indeed become magnificent.  One day she invited a friend over to see her creation and behold its beauty.  Her friend was a Master Gardener by title and knew a great deal about flowers, herbs, and shrubs.  The Master Gardener was enamored with what my mother had accomplished. The two of them walked along the path of the garden. Her friend made many encouraging and affirming compliments to her layout and uses of coordinating colors, sizes and types along the beds. They came upon the coffee-consuming creator’s favorite plant in the entire garden.  By now, what had started growing among the begonias was now a tall hearty plant with robust purple blue and pink blossoms, spreading wide as it stood alone among the irises and lilies.

“What is that?” her friend bequeathed.

“Oh, that is a little wild flower that I found growing over near the begonias…but it just got too big…I had to move it over to the lilies.”

“Umm…Bunni???...Ummm…that’s a weed.”


“That is a weed.  It is known as Joe Pye…Queen of the Meadow…it is not a wild flower…it is a weed.”

My mother did the only thing that she could do…she downed the rest of her coffee and stormed through the garden, stepping right through the chrysanthemums, and daffodils.  She reached down, and grasped hold of the stalk of the newly discovered weed and gave it a jerk.  She jerked harder.  She ripped at it.  My mother, spastically, tried to shred the weed, but by now the root had grown too deep.  The weed remained steadfast.   

My mother then stormed into her garden shed…pulled out the spade and dug until that week was gone…forever.  Then…my mother enrolled in classes to become a Master Gardener.

Jesus uses countless illustrations and parables dealing with seeds and fruit and weeds.  These are lessons that we would do well to take to heart.  We find a series of these metaphors in Matthew 13. Here Jesus talks about seeds falling on different types of soil, mustard seeds and weeds that are sown by an enemy intended to choke out and even deceive the seed of the Gospel that has taken root in the hearts of believers. These parables reflect well what is taking place in the book of Galatians.  In this letter of Paul we read how metaphorical weeds have popped up among the believers, and it is time to deal with these weeds!

Identifying the weeds is a good first step. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

 Green Eyes

There was a time in my life when jealousy was indeed a green-eyed meat eating monster devouring my soul.

It all started on June 23rd, 1979.  My mom brought this ugly baby boy home.  I was 3 at the time, and this ugly kid got all of the attention.  He would spit vomit out of his mouth and nose, poop in his pants, and my mom was all gaga over his goo goo. 

I figured that it was just a season, but it didn’t seem to go away.  He got special treatment.  My older brother and I had to do all of the work such as feeding the pigs, shoveling the snow, and hauling in all of the wood for the furnace. Meanwhile, he stayed inside doing nothing.

I was in no way jealous of him…I just wanted to live his life of riley.   There came a day when he (my now 4 year old little brother) started twitching his nose.  It seemed to be involuntary.  I believed this to be the moment of his demise, and my return to penultimate, maternal adoration.  “Hey mom! Look at Rory! He keeps twitching his nose like he is going to sneeze or something! Boy is he dumb huh?”

“Oh how cute and adorable!” my mother cooed.

I wasn’t jealous.  I just wanted to rip that stubby little nose off of his twitchy little face.

I have grown in my self-acceptance and now own less insecurities. I suppose that my security may be somewhat fueled by my, now 42 year old, little brother’s hair loss, but what do I have to be jealous of really?

Sure he still has more hair, a higher metabolism, has shot bigger deer, is a better water skier, is smarter, has a dog that listens to him, a PhD, a bigger boat motor, a bigger house, and is still mom’s favorite. What do I have to be jealous of?

John Stumbo says that, “Jealousy is combustible…it inflates and infuriates…it will not stop until all threats are silenced…never settles for a compromise…jealousy MUST win – ALWAYS.”

I think Mr. Stumbo is right.  We see this evidenced in Acts 13 & 14 as we read about Paul’s work in establishing the churches in the region of Galatia.  It is jealousy that fuels the opposition to the Gospel. To the extent that Paul is beaten to the point of death. The rage that jealousy generates is scary. Perhaps why it is so scary, is because despite my denials…I know that jealousy lingers within me.  May the Lord deal with my jealousy and bring me into a proponent of His Gospel Kingdom and not an opponent of it.

Thank you Jesus, for your patience in dealing with my jealousy.

“I wonder if I should tell Mom that it was Rory who broke the antler off of her ceramic deer???”

Saturday, February 12, 2022

 Rescue Plan


There were yelling and screaming kids running everywhere! I was one of them…a fellow 5th graders looking to get involved in the mayhem.  I stood at one corner of the pen. A chain linked fence covered the perimeter of the playground and teachers were commission to guard the entrances to the yard.  I noticed that the new girl was being chased by virtually every male 5th grader in a 7 mile radius, and for no wonder. To the new girl we were all on the same level.  Neither I nor any of the other 5th graders had done anything to ruin our chances of setting a good long lasting first impression…yet. 

As I watched it became apparent to me that the new girl was involved in a massive game of tag.  This struck me as odd, because the “It” is usually the one chasing the others, but this “It” was being chased by everyone.  This just didn’t seem fair.  It was obvious that this new girl needed rescuing from these preadolescent monsters! I knew what I had to do.

I put my plan into motion.  I ran with the other boys chasing the new girl. To the average observer it may have appeared that I too was one of the monsters. That would soon change.  I ran hard, ducking under staircases and ladders. I ran up the slides and slid down the poles.  Finally, I found my opening. I dashed off 37 degrees to my left and cut her off…but instead of “tagging her,” I stopped and turned to face the savages.  “Stop right there!” I bellowed!  “Leave her alone!”

I had done it, I had wedged myself between her and the wolves.  I AM her RESCUER!

I hear her sweet voice behind me beckon like a siren to a sailor, “What are you doing you dweeb? You are ruining our game!”

I guess sometimes we don’t always realize that we need rescuing. 

That is sometimes the case with Jesus too.  Jesus is the great rescuer, but often times we either don’t know we need rescuing or we simply refuse to be rescued as we would rather stay in our chains of bondage. 

Our response does not change the fact that God offers to rescue us.   God set his rescue plan in motion from the moment of original sin.  God’s plan to rescue mankind came to fulfillment in the Gospel.  That is the Good News…that Jesus will cut our bonds of slavery and set us free! He will rescue us, if we will simply accept his rescue plan. This is the message we find throughout Galatians.

May we come to find our rescue in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

 The Mission

The Mission…should I choose to accept it…Replace both the toilet and vanity in the bathroom of a home that holds a family of six…in 36 hours or less…before company arrives.

Despite being a dire undertaking when potentially 6 people in a home all need to use the facilities all at the same time…I accepted the mission. Yes I know that it was just a generation prior, (my mother’s in particular), who had 9 children and two parents sharing one bathroom…with one sink…and one bathtub…and no shower. 

“Yeah Mom! I get it! Life was so hard when you were a kid!”

In a bit of irony, I think that it was likely that her mother did not have running water when she was a child.

In any case, this was the mission that I had accepted.  To prepare for the task ahead, I had gathered all of my supplies ahead of time, so that I would not need to go to the hardware store, and I could just attack the project first thing on Friday morning.  In fact, to be overly prepared for the mission, I had even ripped out the old vanity the night before…but not the toilet…that would be too risky. 

Friday morning arrived. I donned my rubber gloves, and went to work.  I removed the old nasty toilet, cleaned the nasty dirty flange, finished the wall boards, laid the new vinyl tiling, set the new toilet, fixed the leak on the toilet.  Then…I fixed the leak on the toilet, fixed the leak on the toilet, fixed the leak on the toilet, and finally fixed the leak on the toilet.

By the end of day one, my back hurt so bad that I had to have Sarah drag me to my bed.  I think that I fell asleep before the lights went out.

Saturday morning arrived, and it was time for the vanity.  Isaac and I hauled the heavy beast of a cabinet into the home where I cut out all of the holes in the back.  Then…I made all of the holes in the back bigger.

We set the vanity in place. Then…I made the holes in the back of the cabinet bigger yet.  It was at this time, that I began to work on the plumbing.  After not having enough of the right supplies, I went to the hardware store to get the pieces that I was missing.  I returned and began to assemble the plumbing.  Then…I went back to the hardware store to get the supplies that I was missing…then I went to another hardware store to get the supplies that the first hardware store did not have.

Finally, I returned home to finalize the installation…only to realize I was short one plastic elbow.  I sent Isaac to the store to get the final piece of the puzzle.  When he returned…I realized that I didn’t need the elbow. 

When all of the pieces were in place and secured tightly, I turned on the water and declared “Mission Accomplished.”

When a mission stands before us we must decide, “Will I accept the mission?”

When it comes to the Mission of Christ we are beckoned to join him.  The mission will be challenging. There will be times when we will feel ill equipped.  There may even be a day where it seems that we need someone to drag us to the next location.  But…the Mission of Christ…is WORTH IT!

The Mission of Christ is about so much more than mission trips and evangelism.  The Mission of Christ is a way of life.  This week…may we be reawakened to the Mission of Christ!