Sunday, May 24, 2009

At long last!

Well, I feel like it's been a long time since my last post...hopefully a bunch of pictures at once will make up for it. :)

The Bean Teepee (which is a word I never learned to spell)

Queen of the mountain!

As Seen Through the Iris

"Come Lord Jesus"

The color only God could invent...

Monday, May 18, 2009


This spring my uncle gave me my first lesson in pruning fruit trees. While I am nowhere close to proficient, the experience gave me a new understanding of Christ’s words, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1,2)

The first lesson I learned is that the one pruning is a visionary; he does not see the twigs that are there, but the branches that they will become. Based on that, he decides what growth to leave, and what to prune out. When the Lord looks at the various parts of our life and our character, He sees how they will develop down the road.

On an apple tree, the desirable boughs are those which grow out horizontally, within easy reach for picking the fruit and into a space where they will receive enough sunlight. The goal of pruning is to maximize the amount of nourishment and sunlight that these branches will receive.

The easiest part of pruning is removing the dead branches; it is very clear that they need to be gone in order to avoid shading the living branches. It is easy to understand why the Lord prunes out certain parts of our lives which He shows us to be sinful, dead works.

But once the dead branches are removed, it becomes a lot harder for me to know what to prune. There are some healthy, vibrant boughs that need to be taken out, because they grow straight up, where their fruit will be out of reach and of no use to anyone. They will only shade the lower branches. Therefore, they are pruned out, though it might seem like a shame. There are things in our lives that might not be bad, just useless, and they take energy that could be put into more profitable things. When our desire is to bear fruit for the Lord, He loves us too well to let us be comfortably distracted into wasting our lives.

It’s even harder to understand why some branches must be removed that grow in the right direction, and seem full of promise for good fruit. But they need to be pruned out because they will crowd out the other fruitful boughs. Our lives can only support a finite number of occupations, even useful ones. Our Husbandman sometimes has to help us focus on the good works that He has given us to do (Eph. 2:10), not all the good things that need to be done.

Yet just as there is a limit to how many fruitful branches a tree can sustain, there is a limit to how many of the undesirable branches can be removed at one time. How wise the Father is, knowing just how much to prune us at a given time. I’m so glad that He is the one who holds the clippers, and that I can trust His all-wise, all-loving hand to make my life more fruitful.


The other night when I was working, I took my break around 4:30 in the morning. As I sat down in my in my usual spot, I looked out the window and was startled to see the horizon brightening. It was that unique blue-green color that is so hard to describe, still very pale and bordered by clouds, but it was bright enough to outline the silhouettes of some giant pine tree tops.

Suddenly there came to my mind the words of H. Suso's beautiful poem, a poem that expresses the way I want to feel about my Savior.

The Night Watch

Oh when shall the fair day break, and the hour of gladness come,
When I to my heart's Beloved, to Thee, O my Lord, go home?
O Lord, the ages are long, and weary my heart for Thee,
For Thee, O my one Beloved, whose Voice shall call for me.
I would see Thee face to face, Thou Light of my weary eyes,
I wait and I watch till morning shall open the gate of the skies;
The morn when I rise aloft, to my one, my only bliss,
To know the smile of Thy welcome, the mystery of Thy kiss.
For here hath my foot no rest, and mine eye sees all things fair
As a dream of a land enchanted, for my heart's love is not there;
And amidst the thronging of men I am lonelier than alone,
For my eye seeketh One I find not, my heart craveth only One.

I lay down for a rest, and when I woke up, the day had come. Just like that morning will come one day. And I won't sleep through it's arrival!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just 'cause

A couple more pictures that I liked...

Home Sweet Home :)

Friday, May 8, 2009


Well, my plans to sleep in this morning didn't work out, but it was such a glorious morning that I couldn't be too disappointed. :) Here are a few random pictures from this morning.

Eye spy....

This isn't a great picture artistically, but I love this calf's "Peek-a-boo!" expression as it looked over the back of another calf.

If You Only Knew

I wrote this piece in 2005, about a paramedic I knew. In a sense, though, he represents the man or woman that each Christian knows, the one whom the devil would have us believe will never be saved. I still pray for his soul. Thank God, this medic's final call hasn't come yet.
I see you sitting across the room, sprawled over a battered chair, your boots up on a small table. You are the picture of self-satisfaction, an imposing hulk of resting strength. There is nothing of weakness in your strapping form, in your square jaw, or snapping eyes. What would you say if I told you what I am thinking, that before me is a man bound helpless in the entanglements of sin, and lost in black darkness. Could you believe that my heart is filled with pity for you, that I cry out for your soul to the One Who alone can break your bonds? You would only laugh to hear such things—it would only be a big joke. Will the day ever come when you feel your need, when you are silenced by the realization of your lostness?

I have seen your dark eyes smolder sullenly and dance with teasing—will they ever burn with repentant tears? Will they ever shine forth the light of Christ’s transforming life?

Your hands, so large and yet so dexterous—they have often striven to save the lives of others; will they ever be clasped in prayer at the feet of Him Who is life? Will they ever turn the pages of a Bible with reverence?

You are laughing now—a hearty, ringing laugh that fills the room—and yet I know that yours is a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. Shall the day ever come when from those lips flow words of grace, bearing testimony to the love of Christ? Shall your voice ever utter words of humble thanks to Him Who died for you? I think I would cry to hear it, but they would be tears of joy such as I have never yet known.

Your pulsing, vibrant life has often come in contact with cold death—you know better than anyone else how frail this life is. You have witnessed man at his worst, at his weakest, at his most degraded, and you have a tough shell after all these years. I don’t blame you. But how I pray that beneath your cool, glinting bravado there lurks sometimes a doubt, a fear, a concern, albeit fleeting. A realization that the day is relentlessly approaching when your ruddy countenance will be set like a pale mask, when your darting eyes will be fixed in a terrible, empty stare, and you will be dead. Just dead.

You take a drink of your coffee, lean back to call out something to a friend passing in the hall, then your boots hit the floor with a bang and you stride out. Your shoulders fill the doorway, and you are gone.

Yes, hope quails within me. But why? There is One Who broke the power of death itself, and crushed the dominion of the Prince of Evil under His pierced foot. He who can plant a tiny seed in a cleft of rock, and cause it to grow into a great tree, rending even the ledge that binds it, can, with a word, shatter your defenses. He came into the world to save sinners—can He not save you? Will His blood, which cleansed Saul the Pharisee, the thief on the cross, and my own poor soul, fail to wash away your encrusted sin? May it never be!

“For the Son of Man has come, to seek and to save that which was lost.” Even so, may He come to you, and when you bow before His loving Lordship, you, even you, will no longer be lost.

And it seems that the angels of Heaven will scarce rejoice more than I.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"The Winter is Past"

"For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land." (Song of Solomon 2:11,12)
No wonder that Solomon found his joy echoed in every shade of springtime! What an exhilarating time of year! The winter is finally gone for good, and the rain clouds, at least for this afternoon, slipped away after having freshly washed the face of the earth. It was a glorious afternoon, and I trotted around outside from bush to flower to tree, trying to capture some of the beautiful blossoms. As usual, the pictures can't quite capture the beauty, especially because they can't capture that wonderful turtledove song, which echoed above me in the trees. And there's positively no way to capture the fragrances that emanated from each flower that I stopped to sniff. Such wonderful scents as I could never think up myself; in fact, I could hardly believe my nose!
Mmm...blueberries on the way...taste those blueberry pancakes!

And we'll have applesauce to put on our blueberry pancakes!

I hope to post some more photos soon; there were many more flowers that I didn't get good pictures of; I'll have to try again another day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Big Dreams, and Higher Thoughts

The last night that I was working, I took my break around 3:00 AM. My feet and my eyes were heavy with weariness, and my heart was heavy with other things. Desperate for help from the Lord, and blinking back the tears, I went to my favorite break spot, pulled a bench over to the window, propped my sock feet up on the heater, and sat looking into the darkness and crying out to the Lord. I was not only tired, but resentful, thinking my yoke very hard and rebelling against the means that the Lord was using to answer one of my prayers.

And, as He always does in His grace, the Lord began reminding me of Himself. Reassuring me of His love, reminding me of His faithfulness, reinforcing His presence with me. The verse came to mind, “"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

It was as though the Lord began saying, “My thoughts and plans for you are so much bigger than yours. You can hardly grasp the beginning of what I want to do with your life. Rachel, I am working to glorify Myself in your life! Think of it! To bring glory to the eternal God, the creator of the universe, by means of your humdrum, puny life!

“You wish your life was different—how do you want it to be? You want to bid goodbye to loneliness, to have the people you enjoy always with you. That is a big want. But I want something bigger for you; I want you to enjoy the only Friend that actually can be with you in every moment. You want to enjoy the love of family and friends. Rachel, I am offering you the love of God! I will not have you settle for less than the boundless, incomprehensible love of Christ!

“What is that? You wish your life was easier? That you were more free to do the things that are important to you? If you could only realize the privilege that it is to be doing the things that are important to Me! There is a reason you are here right now, Rachel. A reason you are living where you are, doing the daily chores that you are, bearing the responsibilities that you are. There is a reason you are working at this hospital, working this night shift. That reason is nothing less than My will—the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. I know your dreams don’t involve these things. But My will does.

“You have two big dreams. To be a wife and mom, and, if that doesn’t work out, to be a flight nurse. My will may encompass those things for you, but it goes far, far beyond. My will for you began before the foundations of the world, and it extends into eternity, long after this world has passed away. You are to do a work even nobler than that of a helpmeet, more magnificent and important than saving lives in a helicopter thousands of feet above the ground. That work is to accomplish my will. To follow in the steps of My Son, Who said, ‘I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.’ (John 17:4) And right now accomplishing My will means doing dishes and washing laundry and trying to figure out what to cook and working night shifts. It’s big stuff, Rachel. It’s the work which I have given you to do.”

I sat there in the quiet hospital and felt humbled and awed. Humbled because of my petty unbelief and self-will. Awed to know that my sitting alone on a bench in the night, was, to the God of heaven, a distinct event in eternity, a moment for Him to reveal Himself, even if only to one heart. And to daily life I now carry the thought, “The object of my life is not to carry a yoke that I love, but to love the yoke I carry, because the Lover of my soul has laid it on me.” How glad I am that the yoke was not removed while I moaned about it, because now I have the chance to learn to sing beneath it, and to gladden the heart of God by my song.