Thursday, July 14, 2011

So Many Grapes!

Journal for Christa—
I don’t know if it was the cold winter or the advice Nate got from his dad before he pruned them last Christmas, but in 20 years I’ve never seen so many grapes in my life! Up and over the veranda, huge bunches dangle from the vines.
Traci said she’d read where the harsher the winter, the sweeter the grape. Just looking at them reminds me of this morning’s sermon by a visiting pastor. He spoke on life’s trials—
·      How we live in a fallen and broken world
·      How we as Christians aren’t exempt from creation’s brokenness—from natural disasters to terrible diseases. (And, I would add relationship thorns to that, as well.)
Yet, the end result is good—because it makes us stronger—stronger for the next trial.
But, sometimes, I think it doesn’t make us stronger. Whether we failed or those around us failed, it just didn’t work—I don’t know why.
That’s when I pray that God will come to love us back to Himself—gently, carefully working in our world, not unlike a skillful pruner of grapes.
I’ve often heard of God’s pruning our walk as harsh and painful, but I don’t always see it that way. I want to see the hand of God in my life and others, and it’s not always negative, even when we’ve gone far from Him. I most often see it as gentle, patient, and with an unexpected twist. And even the stuff trimmed off can be beautiful and useful—like the grape vines Mel and Nate twisted into wreaths from his cuttings last winter.
Then, in the end—even when things turn out differently from what we’d choose—we can see good, too—God good.
So here today, I sit staring up at bunches and bunches of green grapes, that in two months time will turn dark, deep black purple. And oh, the smell of them—I always know when to pick them from the wonderful grapy smell on a warm September evening. And this year there are so many! I don’t know whatever I’ll do with all of them!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Have a One-person Kitchen

I have a one-person kitchen. Most of the time this works out just fine. But, let’s admit it: Sometimes couples just get in the way of each other. Sunday morning was such a day. Since we were going to the late church service, there were several things we wanted to get done beforehand.
While Jay was out spraying the fruit trees and power washing the deck, I was putting together a potato salad for dinner and trying out a new gluten free coleslaw recipe I needed for the 4th. Everything was working well until—I got to the last ingredient, dill, and realized it’d just been sprayed with poison, as it’s planted close to the plum tree. I had known I needed dill; I had known Jay was spraying trees that morning. I just didn’t think of getting the dill until I needed it. Oh, well, I had to run to Safeway for the celery seed that I didn’t seem to have for the potato salad either.
About the time I was cleaning things up, Jay came in to make coffee. He’d had a sample of iced coffee the day before and decided he’d make the coffee ahead of time so it could refrigerate while we were at church. The only problem was that the coffee maker is located on the counter above the dishwasher I was loading. Silently, we stretched around each other, Jay reaching for the coffee pot and me ducking under his arms. “This isn’t working,” I thought. I sled the washer door shut and went upstairs to get ready for church. (Dishwashers can be loaded later.)
As I was finishing, Jay came up to brush his teeth. (Thankfully, we have a two-person bathroom.) “I’m running to Safeway. You need anything?” “Whip cream,” he said. “Whipping cream like you whip up?” “No, the kind in the can you squirt.” “Gotch ya covered.”
Sometimes it’s best to just get out of the way, especially in a one-person kitchen.