Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Ploughman

We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord,
O thank the Lord
For all His love.

He only is the Maker of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.

We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
No gifts have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
This beautiful picture was painted by a French artist, Georges Philibert Marionez. It exemplifies the toil that is necessary to reap the bounty of the Lord's hand, while the hymn reminds us of our Lord's sovereignty in all things. May we give thanks on this glorious Lord's day for His good gifts!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Home Insecurity

We must have made quite the picture. Armed with baseball bat and bed rail as we snuck cautiously down the stairs inch by creaking inch. Who - or what - was in the house?
It started out as a peaceful, quiet evening. Isaac was spending the night with friends, Dwayne and Anna-Rose were fast asleep. The last one up, I had gone to bed around midnight, leaving doors and windows secure and lights off. Lying in bed reading, as is customary for me, I suddenly heard the jangle of the bell we keep hanging on the back door. What? Was Isaac back home for some reason? I scrambled out of bed and hurried to the head of the stairs calling his name. No response. Going down a few steps more, I shouted, "Isaac???" Nothing. Okaaaay......time to wake Dwayne up.
"Dwayne, I heard the back door!" Dwayne gets up, dresses quickly, and asks in hushed tones what we can use as a weapon. Uhhh....nothing? No, wait....there's a short metal bed rail in the attic. Armed with this less than deadly piece of weaponry, we both creep quietly down the staircase, pausing every few seconds in our descent. Isaac's room is off the hallway by the porch door, and Dwayne leaves me holding the bed rail while he sneaks into the bedroom and grabs an aluminum bat. Back in the hallway, he motions me to follow him into the living room. Step by step we move and pause, move and pause in the dark as we tiptoe toward the kitchen. Silence. (What happens if someone attacks Dwayne? Knocks him out? Shoots him? What am I going to do with a bad back and a bed rail? These thoughts race through my mind as my heart pounds.) Adrenaline is at an all-time high, and I learn what it means to literally have knocking knees!
Oh, the value of memorizing Scripture. The Lord envelopes me with His words, "You will not fear the terror of night......" Dwayne picks up a shoe and throws it into the kitchen hoping to startle someone into movement. Nothing. Again we move stealthily forward until we are in the kitchen doorway. Dwayne tosses his other workboot towards the dining room. All is still. Finally we are in the kitchen and he flips the light on and moves to investigate all over the downstairs and basement. It is vacant and silent except for the sounds of our heavy breathing and nervous chuckling. I have been known to make jokes in extreme circumstances, even while in transition during childbirth, and once again my humor rises to the occasion as I wryly inquire, "I have only one question.......12 gauge or 20?"
Beneath my frail attempt at humor lay fear, helplessness, and anger. We had no way of protecting ourselves and our home. No phone upstairs. No form of defense. No dog to bark and warn us. In our laxity and foolishness we hadn't even changed the locks since moving in. Which brings me to the point of this post. That night we had a lesson in preparedness, or rather, the lack thereof. This has been a popular topic on many blogs from time to time, and generally has addressed the methods of providing for ones family in the event of being cut off from the technology on which we are so dependent. Home security and defense is another area of preparedness - one in which we have personally been negligent up until this week.
We still don't know what happened that night......did I scare someone off? Could I have imagined the sound? All I know is that I never again want to experience those same feelings of defenselessness and violation.The next day Dwayne went out and bought new lock sets for the doors. The day after that he and Isaac drove up to Maine to a trading post that sells a wide variety of firearms. They came home with a Remington .20 gauge pump action shotgun which has been placed in an easily accessible but safe location in our bedroom. I'm breathing a little easier now although Isaac is still a bit nervous, perhaps because his bedroom is downstairs. I'm interested in hearing from other bloggers on this topic. Please share similar stories and advice on what you do to keep your homes the safe havens they should be.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Day of Rest

We've had some fears this past week so today is a welcome respite. Sickness. A possible intruder. Taxes!

The Lord's gifts are magnified in times of need and this day is one of thanksgiving.....a hallowed sense of being curved into the hollow of God's hand, secure and sheltered. Heart and soul, body and mind are overcome with His presence. His Creation is alive with praise and I immerse myself into this mystery of life and rejoice at simply being here in this place in this moment in time. May these memories nourish me when I am in a dry and barren land.

It has been a chill raw day but the smell of rain on newly tilled soil has redeemed it. Dwayne is outdoors feeding the first fire in the new pit he built and the rich incense of burning leaves and brush filters into the house. The smell of chili simmering on the kitchen stove adds to the warm homey aroma of woodsmoke to create a comforting atmosphere. My desk looks out upon the back yard and I can see heavy smoke drifting lazily across the tops of the trees as their black boughs stretch skyward to receive their anointing from above. I peer out to where I can hear the muffled laughter of father and daughter and see the hot red flicker of flames through a screen of lilacs. I put on my coat, grab my umbrella and camera and venture outside to document this adventure. I get to the pit just as Anna-Rose tosses some brush onto the fire. Wet pine boughs sizzle and spark as she leaps back and squeals in mock terror.

Back indoors I think upon yesterday. I spent the afternoon planting tomato and pepper seeds. Pushing them into the moist soil with bare fingers, a deeper understanding and appreciation of the greatness of our Almighty God stirred within me.

Awareness. Reverence. JOY!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He Is Risen!

"I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives
and believes in me
will never die."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rain Delay

Our plans to take down the maple tree were deferred on Saturday thanks to a rainstorm the day before. Working on a wet tree is probably a bit hazardous and our friend called to cancel and reschedule for later this week. Looks like we may be rescheduling again if the forecast turns out to be accurate. We'll see.

Not much else to report. New life continues to abound. Our bird feeders are visited by a cardinal and his mate, numerous goldfinches, chickadees, and tufted titmice, a pair of downy woodpeckers, a hairy woodpecker, several juncos, mourning doves, a few timid bluejays and one lone fox sparrow. The chickadees are quite bold, even saucy, and I am convinced that we will have them eating out of our hands before long. Robins abound as they bounce and bob cheerily about the yard in search of earthworms. The crows wake us on occasion with their raucous cries, so jarring in the early morning light. I much prefer the sweet "phoeeebe phoeeebe" of the chickadee as my alarm clock.

Our lilac bushes are crowded with fat green buds, the forsythia is celebrating the return of the sun in its raiment of yellow splendor, and I am at a loss to name all the shoots of green and red I see popping up everywhere I look. Irises for certain, and maybe daffodils, but several unknown to me. It's a wait and see kind of spring!

We had a little visitor in the garden today, curled up in the dry grass catching some sun after his long hibernation.

He - or perhaps she - appeared to be not at all shy. Perhaps he was still a little dull and groggy from his long nap! It seemed as though he were studying us with curiousity in his calm gaze as Anna-Rose stroked his back gently, and when I slipped a hand under his neck and lifted him, he displayed no resistance. His skin was so soft, cool and smooth underneath. After a while Anna could no longer contain her exuberance at this new discovery, and he slithered off quickly, but gracefully, to his hideaway underneath the propane tank. I'm sure we'll find him sunning himself again another day.

We came upon another discovery today while shopping and the Terrorist Baby now has her own set of gardening tools. She is a bit excited to say the least and I'm certain that she probably has tilled at least a square acre of the yard in record time while I sit here at my desk. Better check on her progress!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Weather and Other News

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day:
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
-Robert Frost
March may have crept out like a soft wooly lamb but appearances can be deceiving for April's weather has proven that the lion is not slumbering. After being lulled into complacency by several blue-skied balmy days, we had a surprise snowfall yesterday with freezing temperatures. This poor cardinal seemed flummoxed by the change in weather as well, and spent the afternoon huddled piteously in the bush outside the kitchen window. He might have been more cheerful had he known, as we did, that it would all be gone today. Looking out back I see that the ground is bare once more and the grass is greening up quite nicely.
Here are my husband and his dad taking a breather after completing the work on our new fire pit over the weekend.

Dwayne had done the majority of the work on Saturday, then Bob pitched in to help haul and assemble the last big rocks the following afternoon. New Hampshire, aka The Granite State, has more than its fair share of stones and they were able to put quite a few of them to good use. I don't think the fire department will have much to quibble about when they come by to inspect the pit. Currently there is a ban on burning because of the dry weather. Lots of wind but not much moisture. We can get a permit as soon as the ban is lifted.

During the warm weather we've been able to accomplish a fair amount of outdoor work, but the main event is to take place on Saturday when our monstrous maple tree will meet its demise.
I don't know how old the tree is but we have been assured that the trunk is hollow rendering it a dangerous threat to our home should it ever collapse. It must tower about 150 feet high with too many limbs to count, some as thick as tree trunks themselves, and measures just under 150 inches in circumference. Although I'm sure our friend whom we've hired to perform the deed knows what he is doing, I am a wee bit nervous, and debating whether to make myself scarce that day or hang around just in case since he has requested some assistance from Dwayne and Isaac. If I want to journal the affair with my camera I suppose I will have to remain on the premises.......a little too close for my own comfort to be sure.

More updates to come as they occur!