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June 14, 2011

"Uglies"

Now that I'm not a slave to the alarm clock and school bell, I can enjoy other pursuits in the early mornings.


I visit a local Farmer's Market on Thursday mornings. For me, there's nothing that can compare to freshly harvested fruits and vegetables. And since I am prevented from growing my own by the local deer population, this Market is a favorite weekly destination.


One farmer brings tomatoes and lettuce grown hydroponically. Which explains why he has this produce and others who grow in soil do not.


Upon the table is a sign, "Ask to see Uglies". Under the table is a box of "Uglies" tomatoes. These fruits are shaped oddly, or have blemishes of one kind or another. But they are still perfect for kitchen use.


Last week I walked the market, and I spied lugs of early crop Michigan strawberries. Red, so ripe, fragrant, absolutely luscious-looking. Oh, how my eye feasted on those pretty things! I purchased 2 quarts, measured out by the farmer scooping his hands into the lug and filling quart containers.


At home, I carefully washed a large handful of berries, my mouth salivating in anticipation of that first bite of cut-up strawberry mixed in with some fresh vanilla yogurt.


But what's this? "Uglies" in my strawberries? I didn't pay any less for these fruits which didn't measure up to a certain standard of perfection. Hey, did I get cheated?


But, oh no! Carefully washed, cut, and tossed with a spoonful of sugar, the berries glistened and smelled pungent as only fresh strawberries can. Mixed with the yogurt, enjoyed to the last spoon scraping of the bowl. That which was declared to be "Ugly" tasted just as sweet as those looking "Perfect".


Can these strawberries be made a metaphor for the sinner saved when grabbed by the heart, where it doesn't show? Made clean and new, fragrant, sweet to the taste, to be enjoyed without paying attention to what shows on the outside skin? Made perfect for a God so holy that only perfection will be allowed. Perfection found only where the eye cannot see. 


And "fruit of the spirit" is holy indeed, and perfect for sharing with the world. To be enjoyed to the last spoon-scraping of the bowl.



I am blessed by the Farmer's Market.

June 9, 2011

My Hands In Service

One of the "Senior Saints" in our community of believers has gone on to meet his Savior face-to-face. Friends and family will gather soon to memorialize a long life. 


And there is a need for a meal. Time is needed to prepare the meal. And I have the time today.


And so many years have past by when my teaching duties had to be the priority, and my heart cried, "I want to serve through my kitchen today!" But God had decided He would keep me with the children. As it should have been.

So as I bake today, I will be using my hands to serve the brethren and, by extension, Jesus. How humbling. My breath catches in my throat and tears well in my eyes as I record these thoughts. One who is unworthy to touch His sandals is able to give Him part of herself.




The ability to touch fellow believers' lives through the simple act of baking a cake. 


As I crack the eggs, stir, blend, pour and bake in the oven, time to pray. 


Creating an offering to my God and my King.





Using the time given as a gift. That I may serve Him.




Loving my Creator. 


Loving His people.


Reaching out to the world from wherever I am. 


Using my talents, my treasure, and my time, in Him, for Him.


Jeremiah 29:11

June 8, 2011

It's Not About The Money

Retirement has its benefits and challenges. Having one's income cut by a little more than half means having to make adjustments in the monthly budget.


Dinner out once a week has become dinner out once every four to six weeks.


A new favorite shopping destination is a store which carries secondhand goods. (Just how many "things" does one person need, anyway?)


What was once "routine maintenance" of hair and body is now "for special only".


And which items haven't been axed from the line-item budget?


The giving of first fruits to God.


A few dollars set aside to enjoy coffee, lunch or dinner on occasion with loving and supportive friends.


The box of cards to mail to those who need encouragement.


And in return I have time available.


Time so special. And totally, profoundly priceless.


The time to reflect upon a lifetime of memories, and upon the new memories being made every day.


The time to help in the nurturing of grandchildren, and the care of an aging parent.


The time to have an unhurried meeting with the One who loves me above all else, my Lord and my God.


I am so blessed by this gift of time.


Jeremiah 29:11

Tea Time

My grandmother taught me how to drink tea.
Hot, strong.


Hers was sweetened in the Russian way with strawberry preserves stirred in.
Tea even on the hottest day of the year.
Fortifying, restoring tea.
I kept a box of tea in a cupboard of my classroom. Many cups of tea were sipped at my desk, accompanying my paperwork, the duties of the day. Tea time at home feels a bit different.


Interesting that I became a teacher, a life-calling that was forbidden to my own mother by this same grandmother.
She taught me how to drink tea.


And now I have begun to teach my own granddaughter how to drink tea. 
How to dunk the teabag, to give it a push with a spoon, to pull it up and against the bowl of a spoon and squeeze the last drops of liquid out.
To add a sweetener, perhaps milk, maybe a taste of lemon.
And look what happens if you mix lemon and milk in your teacup! Life lessons.
To take a sip and savor the flavors.


Sipping at life in a slower pace now.
Many pauses in my day.


This gift given to me, this time to use.
In service to Him.

June 7, 2011

A New Day

This morning's coffee was taken out of the house and into the warm mugginess that is Michigan in June. So many Junes during my "working life". 


This year is different. No rushing off to open a classroom to sweaty, excited children. Excited to see me? Hardly! There are only 8 more days of school! (Or 9 or 6 or whatever.) Making fans from recycled paper. Repeated trips to the water fountain and sink. Panting as the day's air temperatures progress upward and onward.


But this year: hot coffee with the kitty and cardinals. A soft breeze keeps the mosquitos at bay for a few minutes. Long enough to discern a God-glorifying sunrise. Time given to me as a gift to reflect upon the most important, distractions removed. 


Time given as a gift. Isn't that true of all life, first to last breath? Allow me to breathe in. And to breathe out my prayer in thanks.