Monday, May 26, 2014

If We're Gonna Lose Our Skin...

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; 
struck down, but not destroyed.  
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
-2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Awhile back, I planted onions. I started their lives in a dark, hostile environment and watched patiently as seed turned to tiny, weak wisps of green that would collapse every time it rained. I got down with them when it was time, pulling away weeds that would choke them... chasing off pests that would kill them... nurturing life and waiting, patiently, for them to respond and grow.

And then, you know what happened. Just as the onions appeared to be coming into their fullness, into their good place, the heat came. In Texas it comes early and hot. And the onions do what onions do- their proud, tall tops bend under the conditions and that beautiful green ends up in the dirt. All that growing, all that height, and it shrivels away. The dying begins. And you know what? That's when I know they're ready.

See, an onion is supposed to come to life. It's supposed to grow. But what's of use to me isn't really all the showy, green tops that everyone who's visited my little garden bed comments on. No, what's of use to me is the root. What I'm after is the deep stuff that's been tucked away where no one can see. And it's only after all the pretty/showy dies away that I know my onions are ready to really be used. That's when I know they're mature.

A lot like God does, I guess, with our lives.

The Gospel of Jesus is radical. It's hard. But our American culture has been sold the lie that a weepy-eyed Jesus is off in heaven just waiting to give everyone good lives if only they'll try hard and be great examples and not mess up their lives and raise good kids. But the Bible paints a different picture. The Bible paints an onion picture. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Come. And die.

I pulled onions this week and braided them into thick, gnarly braids so they can dry and I can use them. And the entire time, I thought of how my life, really, has been so much like those onions-- growing, getting wiped out by rain, growing again, bending in the heat, and finally learning to die.

Clarke's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4 says that we are "every moment in danger of losing our lives in the cause of truth, as Jesus Christ was. We... are ready to offer up our lives for him. There is probably an allusion here to the marks, wounds, and bruises which the contenders in those games got, and continued to carry throughout life." It goes on to say that it's so the life of Jesus might be be made openly known, so "that in our preservation, the success of our ministry, we might be able to give the fullest demonstration that Jesus is risen again from the dead."

So we are living the life of an onion, we are struck down but not destroyed, we are bid to come and die, so that we may be poignant, air-permeating, bring-tears-to-eyes-strong demonstrations that Jesus died, but now He lives.

I don't know what you're going through. I don't know where you've been this past year. I don't know if you're seed... a thin, wispy bit of green... a top-flopped in the dirt... or a pulled-and-hung-on-display-to-die so that you can be used person. Gosh, I don't even know if you're an onion. But I do know that those who are have a 2 Corinthians 4 "so Jesus may be revealed in your body" moment coming, and that's spelled: immortal, heavenly and blessed.

So hey you. You take heart. You lift your weary head. You raise your voice and cry out to the Onion Maker that You hear His call, and that you will live a life and die a death worthy of the calling you have received. If we're gonna lose our skin, let's lose it well.

You have my heart and prayers, fellow onion.  -Brin

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Moment: Simple Like a Strawberry

There's a gal I really admire from afar that you have to meet.

Her name is Abbie Jean.

If you like my Monday Moments, you'll love her entire blog, Simple Like a Strawberry.  When I read this post, it made my heart happy. It also made me realize there's no way I could have said it any better.

So in lieu of Monday Moment, I'm sending you over to Abbie's. I hope you guys are blessed by her heart as much as I am.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wildseed Farms

It is cold today. Cold and drizzly. In Texas. In May. It's crazy. I love it.

The weather is reminding me of a visit to Wildseed Farms. Last fall, I took a Texas tour and drove wherever I felt like. So much fun. We found this cafe that served the most amazing breakfast ever and went there three days in a row. We floated the River Walk in San Antonio and drank Dr. Pepper from the original bottling plant in Dublin and ate killer pizza in Dallas and stayed at The House of the Seasons in Jefferson, among many other things. Not bad for November, we thought.

One of the places I was hoping to visit- but really didn't think we'd have time- was Wildseed Farms outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. In my mind, we could load up on pumpkins for Thanksgiving... but most importantly, flower seeds. Seeds I could plant and then save so one day my grandkids could be picking flowers alongside an old farmhouse and tell stories about how Granny Brin planted the seeds and would you believe the flowers still bloom today... (and so on, etc.). At least, that's how I explained my two buggies full of seeds and pumpkins. Ahem.

If you're ever around Fredericksburg, make a trip out to this farm. It's gorgeous. Their seed store is so inspiring! 

If you can't make it down to the farm, you can always order online and plant a little piece of Texas no matter where you are.

I think I may go and plant some of my Wildseed seeds now while it isn't too hot. I promised myself a legacy garden, after all...

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Seed Law

There exists, in your life right now, a very unyielding and very powerful force... a force that we will, for today, call The Seed Law.

Never thought much about this force? Well, maybe you should. See, The Seed Law is stubborn. It's always at play. And because of Who designed it, it never misses a thing- not a word, not a deed, not anything.

It's The Seed Law, my friends.

The Seed Law is simply this: You reap what you sow. But hey, before you scoff and start scrolling, know that there's more to it than meets the eye.

I mean, what is a seed? The dictionary says it's "a flowering plant's unit of reproduction", meaning that it's how every flowering thing passes itself on, or ensures that it will leave life behind even after it dies. In other words, seeds are the beginning of something that continues to develop and grow. They are just the beginning. And they continue to GROW.

Take my British Wonder and Green Arrow peas, for example. I started back in February with just a few seeds- twenty, I think, of the British Wonder. The tiny, insignificant-seeming things were planted and then I went about my life. Then today, some three months later, I went out to find that those 20 seeds have now produced hundreds, possibly thousands, of its kind. That's a miracle of the Seed Maker and an important lesson of His Seed Law: you reap what you sow. But not in the same quantity. Heck no. Seeds multiply. They continue to develop and grow far beyond what you planted. Plant one, get back hundreds.

It's important to note here, also, that like seed produces like seed. I planted British Wonder seeds and got British Wonder peas. Therefore, you get exactly what you sow. If you sow good, you get good. But the reverse works, too: sow bad, and you definitely get bad.

It's The Seed Law. Sowing good= lots more good back. Sowing horrible= lots more horrible back.

So let's make this real. Because of The Seed Law, what you are doing and saying today MATTERS. These tiny, insignificant-seeming words that leave your mouth... the tiny, who-cares-or-sees things you do, they matter. They are seeds going into fertile ground, my friend. You sow vicious gossip and you'll reap heaps of vicious gossip back on yourself. Sow encouragement and you'll reap a bounty of encouragement back in your own life. Sow sin and you'll reap sin. Sow righteousness and you'll reap righteousness. How you live today matters.

I was reminded of The Seed Law as I picked peas this morning. I thought of that rude thing I said to someone this weekend. That phone call I keep letting go to voice mail. That gift I never "have time" to deliver to a friend in need. Ouch. How I'm living today matters.

God, give us the grace to remember Your natural laws, and help us produce good and lasting seed in our hearts and lives today!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. 
A man reaps what he sows. 
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; 
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 
-Galatians 6:7-8

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Made Blueberry Bars Again.

I don't know who was more excited- me, or the folks who are getting leftovers.  :)

I'm thinking of you all this Mother's Day, especially those those who've lost a mother, lost a child, or long to be a mother. Have a blessed and peaceful weekend.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Remembering Blueberry Hill

I'm growing blueberries in clay pots this year. As I search and pray for an old farm place to renovate, I find I'm impatient to start it all: berry patches, orchard, gardens- all of it. So blueberries in a pot will have to do. And you know what? They're doing just fine!

This is a Climax blueberry, which crosses with a Tiffblue blueberry, which is perfect for blazing, humid Texas summers. They're also perfect for muffins, cobblers, jam, ice cream sauce and salads. Heck yes.

Each day as I water them, I can't help thinking of Blueberries for Sal. Do you know this book? A teacher read it to me ages ago, and my older brain still projects images of the beautiful pictures of Blueberry Hill every time I glance at the blue-dotted bushes. In fact, I think I need to re-read it this week....

Wishing you a Blueberry Hill kind of day. Happy Tuesday!

Oh! My first job was on a blueberry farm. Read about it here. 
 And make my favorite Blueberry Breakfast Bars with this recipe.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What Can? Nothing.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
 neither the present nor the future, 
nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth,
 nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39

What, then, can separate you from His love? Can your illness? Can unpaid bills? Can quiet desperation? Can grief? Can failure? Can your loneliness?

What about your questions? Can they keep His love away? What about your past, your present, or your future? What in your life, today, can separate you from the love He's loving you with?

Nothing. Nothing can.

Nothing can.

Take heart. You, take heart. Because this thing you're facing- fighting through- working out- barely surviving- it ultimately is powerless over you or what matters. Because Jesus loves You, and He has made promises to You that He will keep.

He will keep.

What can separate you from Love Himself? Nothing.

Go in peace today.  

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Meet Maggie

We had already been discussing another dog. After all, maybe Millie could do with a pal, right? I contacted a local rescue and considered a few dogs but none seemed right. Then we got a call. A relative was housing a wiggly Yorkie-mix puppy but could we please take her? 

Turns out, the puppy had been trotting up and down a nearby road, and when followed, she took off towards what appeared to be an abandoned house. But it wasn't. An old man lived there and yelled at the puppy rescuers to take the dog, I don't want it. So they did.

She had a broken back leg. She was cold. And she was severely malnourished. We took her on the spot. 

Meet Maggie.

Once home, Maggie slept by the food bowl. It took several days for her to realize that the food would be there, always, and she didn't have to eat herself to sleep. It was heartbreaking. I carried her around like a baby. And while Millie initially avoided her, Maggie didn't let it deter her. She followed Millie everywhere. Millie's begrudgingly come to accept that her little shadow is here to stay. 

The leg's doing better. It didn't require extensive surgery, for which we were relieved. The veterinary surgeon is pleased with the "function" of the leg and aside from it being crooked, you can't tell she was ever injured.

And boy, is she rambunctious. The silly thing loves to be outside. Yesterday, after letting her out and not hearing from her after 10 minutes, I went looking. She was in the yet-untouched part of our yard, digging.


I just discovered this little rascal is the source of that mysterious pile of dirt we saw the night before. But how can I be mad at this?:
How, indeed?

Little dog, you've been given a second chance. Welcome home.

 Love animal stories? Read another and Meet Millie here.