Archive for June, 2013

I Brake For Bees

This may be the shortest blog I ever write!!!  I discovered today that I am now braking for bees when I mow the lush clover in the yard.  My eyes see them where I never saw them before.  They are busy little beebodies.

To Bee or Not to Bee

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I have been fascinated by bees for a loooooooong time. In fact I wrote 2 term papers when I was  in school about bees. Several years ago a bee club started in Powhatan and we were approached about selling bee supplies.   My dormant interest returned.

I have been wanting a bee hive by my garden to help with pollination but I just have not been able to talk myself into the extra work a hive requires.  I have enough projects and things to do but I wanted one.  I found myself weakening.

Right now I have the best of both worlds. A customer brought me one of his hives.  All I have to do is check on the hive every couple of days and I have a hive of busy, active bees to observe.

I am so thrilled with the “squatter” hive.  I stood at a distance and watched as the hive was set up.  All seemed calm and peaceful.  I can handle this!

I waited one day before returning to the hive to check one my “warriors”.  I had been assured they don’t usually sting and that I could probably even lift the lid and look in.   With my camera in tow I stood 6-8 feet away and snapped a few pictures.  Then I just stood quietly and watched, minding my own “beesiness”.

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Suddenly I was attacked by one of the “calm” warriors.  He gave his life to show his dislike for me!!!  Instantly I heard the familiar ‘buzzing” sound and there were things moving around in my hair!   I immediately became a moving target, swinging  my arms like bats and swatting, smashing at the creepy, crawlers on my head.   You can only do so much when you have a camera in one hand.  Amazingly I only got stung once. When I looked in the mirror I saw the little rascal had left his stinger behind in my neck, which I gently pulled out.

I have learned lesson number one.  I should approach the hive from the side or back so they don’t think I am a “threat” and need to be dealt with in proper and timely fashion!

Today the beekeeper came and checked on his hive and put sugar water in the top feeder.  I stood at a “safer” distance and took pictures.  All was well in bee-land.  I did notice he had his smoker sitting on a nearby post!

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Wrestling With God

I was working in the garden this afternoon and thinking about several different  situations some of our family and friends are currently struggling with.  One young couple just lost their 11-month baby to a cruel disease, a family member is battling breast cancer, another young father has brain cancer with 12-18 months to live, another young  couple has just learned their little 5-month old daughter has a fatal genetic disease, and a  man tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.  Theses are hard and difficult struggles, illnesses, and situations.  In the midst of these each of these situations are hurting, suffering people-people I know and care about.  And this is just my small world.

I pray. Often I struggle with how to pray for situations and people.  Do I plead for a miracle? Do I ask God for healing when there doesn’t seem to be hope for one?  How do I have faith that can move mountains and yet yield to God’s sovereign and divine plan for my life and the lives of my friends?  Do I really believe God can do the impossible?  Does God ever change His mind? How can I know God’s will?  I wrestle.

I know we live in a sinful world. We all experience sickness, pain, and tragedy.  Someday the clock will stop for each one of us.  Sometimes I grab at faith and come up empty-handed.

I thought of Jacob.  He was faced with a frighting situation.  Years earlier he had “tricked” his brother and stole his brother’s birthright for a bowl of stew.  His brother, Esau, hated him fiercely and wanted to kill him. He fled for his life and for years lived in a foreign land where he accumulated a family and wealth.   Finally, he decided it was time to go back his homeland and father.  With his family, livestock and possessions in tow, he navigated by foot over miles and miles of dry, desolate, desert land.  And then he received word that his brother was coming to meet him with 400 men. He didn’t know if Esau was coming as friend or foe. Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.  That night he wrestled with God.  It says in Genesis 32: 28 “Your name shall no long be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  Jacob wrestled with God.  God touched Jacob and his hip was displaced.  He limped for the rest of his life.

I also thought of King David. His infant son became ill and was dying. God sent the prophet Nathan to warn David this was going to happen. He had committed a shameful act and committed adultery with his friend’s wife and then had his friend killed in battle  (II Samuel 11-12).  For seven days David pleaded with God to heal his son. He fasted and laid all night on the ground.  No one could comfort or reason with him. His grieving was so intense that his servants were afraid to tell him when his son died, worrying that he may do harm to himself. David became aware of them whispering and perceiving that the child had died asked them.  They took a deep breathe and told him the truth.

And then David did an amazing thing that stunned his friends. He got up off the ground, washed and anointed himself, put on clean clothes and went into the temple and worshiped.  Then he went to his house and requested food to eat.  The servants asked him, “What is this you are doing? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when he dies you get up and eat food.”   And David said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  David wrestled with God and then worshipped.

Jesus struggled in the garden before his death to accept the Father’s will for his life.  Alone and in deep agony of spirit He sweated drops of blood.   But then he prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Jesus wrestled with His Father and accepted the cross.

It is a good thing to wrestle with God.  We need to bring our problems, trials, illnesses, situations to Him. Often it is difficult to know the will of God.  Often we struggle to accept and understand what is happening. The struggle to discern, understand and accept can be a heart-wrenching ordeal.  Wrestling brings our burdens, desires, struggles, hopes, fears, and pain into the presence of an Almighty God for HIS attention and HIS touch. It is there I find hope, mercy, grace and sweet surrender.

I remember a time of deep wrestling for me.  Our son Greg was probably 6 months old. He had a genetic disease called Werdnig-Hoffman Disease (SMA Type 1).  He could not move his arms and legs or roll over. He could not even move his head from side to side.  I had a friend who kept saying, “If we just believe and pray enough, God can heal Greg.”  I believed in a God that healed and I believed in a God that did miracles.  I also knew that Greg had a fatal disease and there was no cure or survivors. He would not live to see his 1st birthday.  I wrestled with God.  It was a difficult faith dilemma that I struggled to come to peace with.

One day I laid Greg on the kitchen table and took my other two children along to the barn to get a jug of milk.  We were only gone a few minutes and Greg, alone in the house, was safe on the table-so I thought. After all he could not move-not one inch. When I walked in the door my heart about flipped out of my body.  Greg was laying on the floor, crying with his weak, pitiful cry, gasping for breathe. I picked him up and held him tight.  In that moment something very precious happened. I did not hear an audible voice but something spoke deep to my spirit.  I knew in that moment that God could heal Greg.  I also knew that He would not chose to do so. I will never know how Greg got on the floor (although I have my opinion) but I do know my wrestling was over.  I was free and at peace.

The wrestling of other people will not spare you from your own wrestling.   As I read and hear the stories of other people of faith it gives me courage.  When I pray for others, I ask for miracles.  I also ask for God’s presence, peace, wisdom and understanding.  In our wrestling, God comes near and dear and we, in some way like Jacob, David, and Jesus,  experience His touch.

Delightful June

Each season on the farm has it’s own “specialness” (spell check doesn’t like that word!) and delight.  June is very photogenic and once again with my camera in hand I tried to capture the uniqueness of the season.

This June has been especially nice with cooler temperatures and plenty of rain.  And yes, a storm or two thrown in.  We are in full swing of haymaking-in between the rain days.  Gene only has about 200 acres of hay to make in between everything else he has to do.  He has several weather channels he logs into and I think he is better able to discern the weather than the meteorologist!  He looks at the temperature, direction of wind, the weather patterns and the high and low pressure systems. He seldom misses his window of “hay opportunity”!

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You may wonder why he pulled across the windrow like that.  I stopped to look and I soon found out but I was so busy watching I didn’t get a picture of what happened.  Actually a movie would have been better!  The hill is steeper than it looks on the picture and when he dropped the bale it went rolling like a rubber ball down the hill.  He was placing it just right to roll where it needed to roll and not roll into his tractor and baler, pond or fence.

The neighbor across the fence was not so lucky!

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I know the Bible says, “Those that compare themselves among themselves are not wise”  (II Corinthians 10:12b) but we just couldn’t help but notice the farmer across the fence.  Two different men, two different balers, both seasoned farmers.

A closeup of the difference.

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Sometimes there is trouble in the field.  For some reason the latch on the lift gate did not close properly.  His monitor failed to show it. It wasn’t long before Gene had a bale he could not spit out of the baler.  The wrap will not spin onto the bale if the gate is up. When the wrap is not on, the bale will not come out.  I had gone out to the field at 7 PM on Saturday evening to check on him and this is what I found.

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Gene was trying to pull the hay out but it was not going well. Handful by handful on a tightly rolled bale is not good!!!  It was time to quit for the night.  This morning he was up and out early with a solution to his problem.  He took a solid fiberglass pole-probably 1-2 inch diameter and he sharpened one end to a point  and drove it through the bale. He then hooked chains to it-one on each side and pulled it out with the tractor.  We do not normally farm on Sundays but with last evenings foulup he went back to the hayfield after church and finished baling the hay. It is calling for rain tomorrow.

 (Note: This morning, Monday, we woke up to a nice drizzly rain.  We knew he had made the right decision. Hay that is already raked into a windrow is very difficult to work with and save if it gets rained on. If it is freshly cut you can usually salvage it.)

If you look around, the hay field can be a good place to take pictures.

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Buzzards love to peer over a freshly mowed field as there is often a rabbit, rat, or turkey that didn’t survive the mowing for them to eat.

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The neighbor’s tractor and rake.

Back at home sitting on my deck and drinking a cup of coffee I found some other critters to photograph.

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I had to take pictures of my flowers.

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The Dogwood Tree

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Hollyhocks

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The bees look the flowers.

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I love Daisies and used them as my main flower for my wedding 41 years ago.

I’m not sure if a garden is work or fun.  I guess it is really a mix of the two.  I love to garden and sometimes it is a challenge to keep up with. This year I am having a hard time with my lima beans. I planted, went back and filled in the gaps and today hoed up the 3 rows and replanted- again. I am not getting a stand!

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Last week I mowed off my strawberries. They are already sending out runners and really starting to fill back in. Now is the time to make sure ALL the weeds are removed because you can see them.!

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The squash bore is a terrible nuisance.  I started with 4 plants and am done to 2 with this one looking like it is on the way out. I haven’t even had any squash to eat yet. I have kept it dusted-until last night’s rain washed it off. I have not found any good, “bore-proof” solutions. It is frustrating as we love squash.  Any suggestions?  I have an idea I am going to do this evening. Stay posted!!!

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Pole Blue Lake Beans

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Burpless and Pickling Cucmbers-and we are eating!

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Incredible sweet corn pushing tassle and my Blue Lake bush beans.  It wouldn’t be long on the beans. I saw some little beans hanging on!

And so you see, June is simply delightful.

I

Loneliness

Loneliness is a desolate, windy path of potholes and snares.

Loneliness is a season of despair, fear and pity.

Loneliness is a brutal taskmaster as it distorts the truth and exaggerates the facts.

Loneliness is a time of sadness, pain, isolation and self-absorption.

Loneliness separates, isolates, traps and enslaves.

Loneliness is like quicksand, an ocean undercurrent, bog, pit, and dungeon.

Most of us at some time have crawled on the lonely path of loneliness.  There is no peace, joy, contentment, or light on this path.   Faith is weak, hope has despaired and the horizon is dark and stormy.

My most poignant season of loneliness occurred when we were experiencing the uncertainty of our newborn son’s health.  When our fourth child, Greg, was born we could not pronounce him healthy even though the doctors had given him a clean bill of health. Our second child had been born with a genetic disease that claimed her life at the tender age of 5 months.  When our third child, a daughter, was born her daddy declared her healthy.  That was that: no fear, no worries.  But with Greg it was different.  With Werdnig-Hoffman disease (SMA Type 1) the child can be born appearing healthy.  However, we carried the most acute form of disease, which meant by the time the child was six-weeks old the muscles would start to degenerate and life expectancy was less than one year. As we faced the uncertainty we didn’t know if God was preparing us for what laid ahead or Satan was binding us in fear.

My husband and I decided not to express our fears.  A clock began to tick; our season of loneliness began.  We would wait, hope, and worry. We would not bother any one else with our problem.  We would wait until “we knew” for certain the diagnoses.

One Sunday after church, I was standing alone in the hallway holding my baby and listening to the chatter of people visiting.  Deep loneliness washed over me. Sadness played its sorrowful tune. Fear sat on my shoulder and pity wagged a bony finger.

A few Sundays later we were ready and  our pastor shared our burden with the congregation.  The fellowship surrounded us with love, compassion, tears and prayers.  Greg Alan did have Werdnig-Hoffman disease (SMA Type 1).  Nothing was going to change that fact. But something happened that I will never forget.  Fear fled and pity evaporated.  My brothers and sisters became the loving arms of Jesus surrounding me. I was not alone.  I still had to walk a difficult path but there were now encouragers strolling beside me.  There were illuminated signposts showing the way and the potholes were covered in prayer. There were even flowers growing beside my path.

During a very lonely time Jeremiah cried out, “In dark places He (God) has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy.  Even when I cry out a call for help, He shuts out my prayer” Lamentations 3: 6-8.

Jeremiah was very lonely. He felt no one believed him and everyone was against him. He even felt shut out and abandoned by God.

Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle of God.  It was a mountaintop experience. God rained down fire on the alter in answer to Elijah’s fervent prayer.  A ferocious storm loomed on the horizon and Elijah pulled up his skirt and outran the chariot of King Ahab back to the city. When the wicked queen, Jezebel was told of the slaughter of her beloved priests of Baal she threatened to kill Elijah.  In panic Elijah ran for his life.  In fear he sat under a broom tree in the wilderness and self-pity became his sole mate.  In despair he prayed that the God of life would take his life.  Later God appeared to Elijah as he hid in a cave.  Elijah whined to God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of host; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword.  I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”  I Kings 19:14

Elijah distorted the truth and exaggerated the facts.  God told Elijah to get off his duff and get to work.  God also gently reminded Elijah that 7000 people in Israel had not bowed their knees to idols.  Elijah just thought he was alone! His fear, pity and despair trapped him in a self-absorbed pit.

Probably the most poignant and heart-wrenching picture of loneliness is that of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and later on the cross. In the garden his devoted disciples fell asleep when he needed them the most.  In fear and agony he sweated drops of blood.  On the cross he cried out in anguish, as he felt forsaken and deserted by God.

When you feel alone, think on these things:

  • Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
  • The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will thrust out the enemy from before you.  Deuteronomy 33:27
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. Psalms 23: 4
  • Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you.”  Isaiah 43:1-2a
  • But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Have you noticed that….

  • The windy path of loneliness is through a lush valley.
  • Spring follows the winter of despair.
  • If we abide in God’s word His truth will set us free. John 8:32
  • God desires to give us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).
  • Light dispels darkness.
  • Those who experience the presence of the living God soar like eagles.

Like Jeremiah I can say, “Through the Lord’s mercies I am not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are renewed every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23

Written February 15, 2004

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