Broken Fences

b099e3ee-a45d-4f37-90c8-d3cf83e07397The far back corner of our property has some of the worst fences we own. It’s wooded and overgrown with raspberry thickets and multi-flora roses.

The barbed wire is old and weak. The woven wire is saggy.

We patch and we fix, knowing that what we really need to do is rip the whole thing out and put in new. But it just never makes it to the top of the to-do list.

It’s the weak spot in our defenses.

A few weeks ago a neighbor got a new bull – a noisy, take-charge type – that has let the entire countryside know of his arrival. His arrogant bellowing was a challenge to our cows.

It didn’t take them long to find the weak spot and push their way through. Twice.

A cow round-up gives one ample time to think, and I pondered the profound as I drove the 4 wheel drive through the neighbor’s rainy pasture.

I have personal weak spots.

There are areas in my life where my defenses are low, and I am the most vulnerable.

And it’s at those weak spots that the bellowing of the world will be heard the loudest; that the siren call to see what was on the other side will be the most alluring.

It’s in those vulnerable areas, that I will be tempted to push my way through and wander in areas that I don’t belong, away from the protected pastures that God has prepared for me.

There is no way that I can silence the neighbor’s arrogant bull, and there is no way to silence the call of the world around me.

But I can identify those weak spots.

Use scriptures like barbed wire to protect myself.

And fix that fence.

Sibling Weekend

It was sibling weekend.

I spent time at my parent’s with just my four siblings (and 2 of our spouses, but only four of our many children).

Our official goal was to help mom and dad with a few projects.

Our unofficial goal was sibling time with mom and dad, sharing old memories and creating new ones.

The time was both relaxed and busy.

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We scraped and painted.

Dug and planted.

Cut and piled.

We dug out old photo albums and remembered faces and places we hadn’t thought about in years.

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We looked through the boxes of school memories that Mom had saved for each of us.

Worksheets. Art projects. Report cards. School pictures. Writing assignments.

And laughed till we cried at the things we found!

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Before we went home, we took one more trip to grandpa’s barn to take some pictures before it is gone.

It’s bowed and leaning – but still full of memories.

And mice, and coons and probably rats and maybe even bats.

Some of us were brave enough to venture into the hay loft – hoping we were making enough noise to scare away any unwanted critters.

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But few of us ventured up that ladder my uncle set out for us. My sister found a way up on the inside – climbing bales of straw and hoisting ourselves up.

My descent from the loft included a very ungraceful slide down those same bales.

I went home with straw in my britches and a head full of dust – but it was worth it to be a kid again for a few minutes with my siblings.

And really – that’s what the weekend was all about.

Going back in time remembering people and places and things that we share together.

One of my dad’s friends often says, “I would like to be able to go back and put my feet under my Dad’s table.”

And that’s just what we did.

For a few days one weekend in April, we put aside the cares and responsibilities of our adult lives, put our feet under Dad’s table and remembered.

Mission accomplished.

 

 

Staff Photographer

When Angel Girl graduates next month, I will not only lose my baby girl (not gonna think about that – sniff, sniff), I will also lose my photographer.

Since she got her first point and shoot on her 11th birthday, she has been taking pictures.

Her first Nikon made her my official staff photographer.

253954_104202246340174_8270041_nIt seems like yesterday.

But actually it was 5 years and a new camera ago.

I knew this was coming, but it’s getting more real every day as school and work take more of her time.

She gifted me her first Nikon in an effort to make me face the facts – I have to learn to take my own pictures.

The first two weeks I just looked at it.

We don’t want to rush things you know!

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Finally the third week I picked it up – and didn’t break out in hives. This is a good thing.

It took at least another week to get up the courage to ask Angel Girl to show me what to do.

Once I released my death grip on the camera, my first lesson went well.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; I’m just hoping they’re wrong.

Or that Angel Girl never leaves.

Or maybe both.

 

Spare Room

I had a startling discovery recently – I now have a spare room.

How did this happen?

After years of piling kids on top of each other in bunk beds in cramped rooms – of sharing dressers and space – we now have one room empty.

There’s nobody to claim it.

Matt, Dagmar and Pedro have all moved out. Buddy and Angel Girl each have their own rooms already.That leaves one left over.

A spare room.

At first glance this is a very sad thing – a reminder of the babies who have grown up and left.

But upon further reflection, I have come to the conclusion that not only is this a good thing – it is highly desired.

Think of how highly Anne of Green Gables considered the spare room.

“There’s one more thing, Marilla,” said Anne with the air of producing the last shot in her locker. “Mrs. Barry told Diana that we might sleep in the spare room bed. Think of the honor of your little Anne being put in the spare room bed.”

AOGG1-004“Remember me Anne-Girl when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my sparest spare-room bed to sleep.”

And later – “Marilla and I cleared everything out of the spare bedroom yesterday. Do you know, I hated to do  it? Of course it’s silly – but it does seem like we’re committing sacrilege. The old spare room has always seemed like a shrine to me. “

No – I think a spare room might be a good thing.

I now have a guest room!

Space for more books!

Empty dressers for linens!

I could make a new quilt for the bed!

Maybe I’ll call it the “Anne Suite” or the “Green Gables Room”!

No – I think I shall call it the spare room so that my guests – like Anne Shirley – can have the excitement, thrill and honor, of sleeping in my “sparest spare-room bed”.

The room may sit empty now – but it has a purpose.

It no longer reminds me of what is gone, but is a promise of what’s to come.

 

The Black Shirt

DSC_0007Teen Pact is just a few days away and Buddy and I have working on packing him up.

As we went through his dress clothes for the days at the Capitol, we noticed something.

His black dress shirt was missing.

He looked in his closet.

No shirt.

I looked in his closet.

No shirt.

This is the shirt he wears with his cool green plaid bow tie.

This leaves him one shirt short for the week. He would have to wear one shirt twice. Oh dear. If you have a 15 year old son – you know this is a crisis.

He asks if it might gotten in with dad’s clothes. I didn’t think so – but checked through them thoroughly to be sure.

No shirt.

I even went through the seasonal clothes in the attic.

No shirt.

I report my findings at lunch.

“Maybe it’s stuffed between my bass drum and the bed.”

Okkkayyyy…

A search there revealed many interesting items – but no black shirt.

I found it this morning.

You’ll never guess where.

It was in his closet.

It had fallen off the hanger and was on the floor, buried under his Chewbacca suit, a ripped backpack, a wrench set, a bucket of legos, computer parts and a sleeping bag.

No wonder we missed it the first time – we were looking for a black shirt in a black hole.

I guess we’ll be doing a deep cleaning soon….