Monday, October 13, 2014

Life in a Glass Jar.






It seemed like it would be forever when we planted them:
pruning, watching for worms, fertilizing.



Sometimes, when things take time, prayer, work with no instant rewards,
you start to feel like giving up,

 like there will never be rewards that amount to anything.




Some things just don't tell you what they will become someday,
that they actually are progressing in the quiet days and passing seasons as you work patiently at them.


Sometimes I feel that way about my children, when the moments seem long and hard and there is so much we see that still needs work; 
sometimes I feel that way with housework,
sometimes with striving toward personal goals that seem impossible and so far away to reach.


 The daily plod dims the joy of the finish line;


but it is there,...


it really is,

if we do not quit.



 It is funny to think that a simple treasure,
 steeped in the lessons of life: struggle, work, prayer, patience and then joy...
can be tucked away for winter in a little glass jar.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Fish Tale.



It was decided: he would take Levi fishing.


 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~









My farmer lives a busy life: full time job by day, farming by evening and weekend and any space in between.

This life prevents much of anything in the way of vacations or excess "play."

It does have some great benefits, too,
if you are a home-body, like lots of animals, enjoy gardening, love tractors and tending to the crops of the different seasons,
and find ways to ignore the things that aren't getting done as quickly as you hoped.

Even doing the simple things people do with their kids can get lost in the busyness of a farm life:
riding bikes, taking trips, playing catch, going fishing...

my farmer used to love fishing when he was a boy.

I could tell it kind of hurt him that Levi has been fishing several times with an uncle that comes by to take him, but never with his dad.

Today was an overcast day with an occasional sprinkle of rain,
a day that field farming tends to slow down and wait til tomorrow.
It was decided that today would be the day of a fishing trip.

I heard the attic door open and the Farmer made his way up the crowded steps of stuff waiting to go up there to be put away
(that never seems to get done).

He found his tackle box in his personal 4' x 4' section of the attic.

He dug his poles out from the shed and tested their structure, making note of what he needed to purchase at the store to get things ready.
After looking online at some local fishing spots, he prepared to head out to pick a few last minute things up as well as a license for himself.


"There are fish in our pond, you know," we told him.



The fishing uncle had given us some fish from his trips with Levi,
and the kids had enjoyed watching them swim away to freedom in our pond.
For several years, they had set a few free each time they'd come back from their fishing trips,
some smaller, some bigger.

A few weeks back as I went up to check on the grape arbor and gather the eggs from the chickens' nesting boxes, I had stopped to look at my pink water lilies in the pond.
I noticed a large number of fish, large and small, looking out from the water at me.  
 

Still, the waters of other fishing spots seemed to promise the "big catch."

Once everything was in order, we all piled into the truck
(because we all wanted to see the action.)




When we got to the big water, the excitement in the air was thick.
Fishing poles, bucket of worms, and tackle box were ready.

We watched as the lines went out...
 and the lines came in.

Nothing.

Fishing for an hour and not seeing one fish is pretty sad.

 

We weren't the only ones though.  The others fishing there were coming up with the same results.

A frustrated 11 year-old girl, a hungry 4 year-old girl, and a weary, disappointed 7 year-old boy soon lost interest in fishing in a dark watery world where nothing was happening:...
at least when they fish in the kiddie pool at home with their toy fishing poles, they can see the primary colored little fish that they are supposed to catch bobbing around, waiting to be snatched up by the magnet on the ends of their poles...
even if they don't stick very well.


The Farmer wanted to catch something.
  I could see it really was bugging him that nobody had caught anything, so he kept insisting we just watch while he fished,
(which is not easily doable with the crew I have already mentioned,
especially since the mother who is solely responsible for being the enforcer of cajoling the waning audience's attention had long since lost interest in the fishing expedition herself).


Eventually, the Farmer saw the need to abandon the idea and we all piled back into the truck,
disappointed
and hungry.

As I entered the kitchen on our return to the farm, I dug out the chicken pieces I had cut up earlier for our meal and then
pulled up Pinterest on the computer to find the recipe I had chosen.
 I started chopping the onions and put the water on to boil when Violet came banging through the back door
.
"Daddy needs your help outside RIGHT NOW!
He stuck his finger with one of the fishing hooks and can't get it out."

"What!?!  What do you mean he can't get it out?  I've got food cooking here.  What am I going to do if he can't get it out?  I'm not good at those kinds of things!  I don't do too well with blood..." I rattled on as if making her understand would somehow change the situation.

I turned the water off on the stove and set the knife down, wiping my hands and wondering what in the world I was going to do and how I was going to look at the finger without screaming and fainting.
I headed up to the pond and could see him there,  face engrossed in the pliers he had in one hand, pulling at his other hand.

  This was not looking very hopeful.


"What happened?" I asked.  

"It was a big one.  I caught a big fish in the pond.  Levi was reeling it in, but it was big and swimming toward the cattails and I didn't want it to break the line with the hook in it's mouth, so I reeled it in.  I was having trouble getting it off the hook.  It was maybe 14" long and pretty strong.  I put it in the water to try to get the hook out and keep him alive while I tried, and he thrashed when I got him in the water and stuck the other side of the hook into my finger.  He kept thrashing, I kept trying to get him off and when he got off, that hook was buried in my finger."
As he told the story, I could feel my stomach tightening and my eyebrows scrunching on my forehead from imaging the painful scene.
 He held the finger up for me to see:
half the hook had disappeared into his finger.  

I suddenly felt very queasy and had to turn around and walk away to get control of the world that seemed to suddenly be spinning.


"Well, thanks for the help," he said.
"I've been trying to get this thing out of my hand for a while now, and I just can't get it to budge at all."

Honestly, hearing that surely didn't help me.

"Ooowwweee-ooooo, what are we going to do?" I squealed and fretted.
I tried to look at it, and felt my head spin again.

I knew I had to do something, but this wasn't what I am good at....
at all.

I am not nursing material,
not even good at putting on bandaids.

I told him I was going to get the teething gel to help numb it up while we worked on it.
Good ol' teething gel: 
see, that represents the sufficiency of my nursing skills.

I ran into the house and flew to the computer and typed in
"How to get a fish hook out of a finger," because I was just hoping there would be some kind of internet secret that would make this all go away...
quickly:

 "Repeat these words while handing teething gel to husband: 'hook begone,'
and hook will instantly leave embedded finger."


Nope.

Clicking on a link called something "the art of manliness", I was taken to drawn images of a fish hook sticking out of a finger and the best way to remove it.

"Okay," I panted, "I can handle this black and white sketching where there isn't any blood,
no puckering flesh on the helpless hand."

I yelled out the door for him to come inside and look at the pictures on the Internet.

He mumbled something more about the wonderful help I was and meandered down toward the house, eyes still looking at the finger that was unwilling to cooperate with our good intentions.

I pointed to the computer screen as he looked and then ran into the bathroom to get some dental floss (it said to use string to help pull out while pushing down on the tail end of the hook. 
String, when your brain is spinning out of control, comes out as dental floss.)

We worked together,
 but nothing was budging,
his hands were shaking, and I was ready to do what I do so effectively when trauma strikes my heart with fear:
bawl until somehow it could be fixed without my having to watch any more of the horror of it.

"I'll call my dad," I finally decided.  He was a medic in the army, so whenever medical issues come up and my Farmer isn't around, he's always the one I call to come remedy the situation.

"He's a half hour away," my Farmer reasoned.  "Am I supposed to sit here and have this thing sticking in me til he gets here?"


  I didn't care about the details, I just wanted help, so I picked up the phone and poked in the numbers.

The phone rang twice with no answer.

Then I heard from the bathroom,
"I got it out."

Oh, how wonderful those words.

Do you have any idea?
The sun came out again.
I could hear the kids voices outside again.
The dogs was barking, but I didn't mind.
"You got it?  How did you do it?"
I grabbed a cup and put some Epsom's salt into it and got some hot water heating.

"I just pulled it out," he replied.

That was plenty of enough detail for me.

As he soaked his finger and told me about the size of the fish and how he didn't want it to die,
I suddenly saw the humor of it.

We'd gone to "the fishing spot" and spent a long hour watching the still water;
we came home and he threw the line into our back yard pond just for fun;
 he catches such a big fish that it returns the hook to his own finger
as he worries about it dying before it gets off the hook because of the loss it would be to our little pond.


Sometimes, living on a farm, you can start to let yourself feel stuck with the invisible "ball and chain" of responsibilities, the many faces that look to you for food and water each day;
and then hearing of others' adventures abroad can seem grand, alluring, glittering with "better."

I am sure that they are fantastic memory creators, these adventures around the world;
no doubt about it!

But magnificence and memorable adventures don't have to be far...
they could be a stone's throw from your back door,
a few steps from your everyday path,
a hand stretched to touch yours across your own table
(even if that hand is stretching across wanting a hook to be removed from it).



"I think that's enough fishing for a while,"
I teased my farmer as I headed up to the barn to do the farm chores while he soaked his sore finger.
"It might be too dangerous to fish in that pond out there."

I smiled even though I wasn't sure he was too agreeable to the humor at the moment.


We'd created a story we all would keep:
a lasting memory filled with sites, sounds, predicaments, drama, pain, laughter,
and a big fish.



My farmer must not have thought it was too bad either.
He's been up fishing at the pond nearly every evening that he can spare a moment since.








"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich,
and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 10:22



Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Reason for Disappointment Summed up in One Word.



"You know why it bothered you, don't you?"
my friend asked.

Her voice on the phone promised an answer,
one I was curious to hear.
Had she come upon some secret that I had missed til now?




"Expectations," she said.
"You had expectations of what would happen;
you expected it to be different."

It was so simple,

too simple,
and definitely not what I wanted to hear.

Blame would be much more comforting;
pity would offer temporary condolence;
but disappointed expectations?

"If you don't expect anything,
you won't ever be disappointed."
I could feel the conflicting humor in her truth.
It was what I needed to hear and as a true friend, she knew that.
It woke me from my self and stirred my thoughts.


It is the way of expectations.


Violet put 30 eggs under the duck who was feeling broody and had decided to nest.

It hadn't started out that way.
There had been a dozen or so,
but she wanted more ducklings and chickens and saw the sitting duck as an opportunity for more.

Nothing hatched.
All of the eggs had to be thrown out because double-decker eggs in a nest cannot get the proper attention, heat, humidity that they need;
or so found out that momma duck, spread as wide as she could get herself to go
with no tiny chirping to reward her patience.

Violet expected that more would be better,
the apple didn't fall far from her mother's tree;

but contentment with enough is far better than the emptiness of unnecessary more.



I sent a book to a literary agent.
I had written and rewritten it 2 dozen times til I thought it was good.
I had spent months working on a few possible illustrations for it,
hoping they were good enough.



I have heard the stories, taken to heart the warnings of rejections,
but when my answer,
 "Not unique enough,"
 came for something I had put so much of my heart into,
the expectation crashed hard;
the hurt and tears were more than I expected...
because I had expected rejection,
but just not the intensity of the pain of it.

 





Two years ago I made the garden and planted a few of them.
Two years I have watched them, watered them, weeded them, spread their trailing vines to increase their numbers.




We had a few samplings last season, but the increase of flowers and drooping green fruit this year has not gone unnoticed.
Daily I visit that small patch of garden,
admiring the growing fruit that those plants have in their possibilities.




Not to have expectations would be to take the soul out of the work.
All of it has been done to cater to great expectations.
I don't expect a crop failure, but it very well could come.
The chipmunks may come back;
the squirrels may decide to tear out the bushes in search of whatever it is they recklessly decide to dig for;
the chickens may discover the taste of juicy redness;
my 4 year old (who seems to be going through a stage of terrorizing my expectations) may execute her sense of undercover mischief and gobble up the whole patch when it sits just nearing it's prime.



I know the answer I hear on the phone is right.
I know I have to give my expectations to God and take whatever comes,
good or bad.
I know that trials increase faith,
that rejections and disappointments can be the stepping stones to better attempts,
modified goals,
sweeter fruit.



I am just hoping that this patch will avoid calamity and bring fullness of joy:
 because sometimes expectations are fulfilled,
and those times are sweet happiness.


 Deep inside, when the issues are weighed, the truth is:
without occasional disappointed expectations,
the hatching of a dozen ducklings wouldn't seem enough,
the long-awaited title across the front of a book wouldn't be as graciously humbling,
the berries from an anticipated patch wouldn't taste as sweet,
gratitude wouldn't have a chance to blossom...

because isn't that the way we seem to work?

It certainly seems to be the way I do.


I'll tell you for sure when I eat some strawberry shortcake,
because like it or not,
I just can't seem to keep those juicy red fruits out of my dreams.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mini Miracle on the Shelf.


It came in a game box...




at the Good Will.





 Not only does it have dinosaurs,
but it has tar pits for conquered pieces
and volcanic mountains and ledges for the "king" pieces to sit on.




Somewhere in the back of my mind,
I know that God knows his favorite games,
his favorite creatures,
his hard work he had done to earn the reward of getting to choose one thing from the charity store
for all those plants he had helped me pot up and move in the yard.

I know all this in my mind,
but in the busyness of life, 
I forget that God would care about those details.
I could almost imagine God arranging the circumstances of that game being packed up in some home where it was no longer wanted,
the mother clearing out to make more room.
I can see it being driven to the store amid a pile of other board games, 
an old soccer ball lamp,
some t-shirts and sweatshirts that had suddenly grown too small.

I can see it in my mind being carried in by the workers and piled into a bin where it would sit for a few hours, or maybe days.
Finally, it would get a price and be rolled out into the store,
set on the shelf.

Perhaps an angel had kept an eye on it,
making sure no other curious little fingers might thwart its chosen destination.




 "They are actually allosaurus dinosaurs, not T-rex dinosaurs, Mom,
because they have three fingers."




I sometimes wonder if God and His angels watch from heaven at these little amazing gifts
and smile in anticipation...

a happy boy,
an amazed mom.


Somehow, I think the Good Will might be God's place of mini miracles...

or at least 
maybe it is the mini-miracle market
for the thrifty.


The game brings a smile to his face as he hops over a not-so-well-thought-out move of my dinosaur,
and he sloshes him into his tar pit.


 I am thankful
and hope that my bags of cast-offs might make mini-miracles for others as well.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Mess in the Cupboard and What it Taught Me about Home-schooling.



I opened the craft cupboard door to look for an envelope for a card and accidentally tipped a small box on the shelf.  Little slips of paper tipped out.  I picked one up and read it.



They were from an activity we had done for school some time back:
little bits of memories.


 Home-schooling can seem so frustrating at times: the things that are great about it are also what make it hard.




When you home school, your kids are with you in your own home environment all the time.  This means that your kids are always with you...not much time alone unless you can manage to sneak down the stairs in the morning without them hearing you, or you can try to keep your eyes open after they have gone to bed for enough time to read more than 3 sentences from a book for your own enjoyment before you feel your head drop from dozing off.

When your kids are home all the time, it means that your home gets that many more hours of full time use, full time wear on the walls and furniture, full time messes being made, full time "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty," and full time sharing of toys that aren't any easier to share when it is the same people wanting to borrow them.

 It means full time memories to be made: good and bad.


When you home-school, it means you are the one mainly responsible for your children's learning, for their steps toward achievements and successes, and the heavy weight of what may seem to be failure when they just can't seem to get the knowledge you think they should have gotten after the repetitive teaching you have given them.

It means you can't blame anybody but yourself; and, strangely enough, you realize that education diligently put forth has no room for blame because each child is different.



It means that when people say that your child's handwriting is sloppy, even after you have corrected her for her cursive o's and a's enough times you start to dream about it; it means when you have said, "'I' before 'E' except after 'C'," and she still spells friend "freind"; it means when you hear that somebody has said that they have met a lot of "dumb" home-schooled kids, that you will fight to not take those things personally, knowing that people who have never struggled to help a child learn will not understand the patience that is sometimes required in teaching without crushing a child's spirit.

It means you will come to understand that knowledge puffs the head that thinks he is superior, but learning how to learn and learning to love the search for true knowledge and the path to wisdom is what is more important.   Embracing education is finding one's area of excellence and using it for the glory of God and the good of man, even when it occasionally means being wrong or randomly requires spell-check.


 Homeschooling means you are the primary source of providing knowledge, but also the guardian of care, understanding, the ear to listen, the eyes to watch for needs, the heart that can stir or squelch adventure.


 Home-schooling is a heavy task, very full, not to be taken lightly...


 ..it is a gift from God but only if we pursue it with dutiful determination, disciplined direction, diligent dissection, daring dramatization.




 You will see the joy of searching and finding;
               you will see the light go on in their eyes;
                          you will be the one they run to to share those sentences that catch their curiosity and burn in them that sudden love of learning...



 even if that moment doesn't come until years into the process.


Homeschooling teaches your children to learn even when it is hard and it feels like work;
it teaches you your own weaknesses and strengths,  and uncomfortably at times,
where you need work.


Above all, home schooling can be successful to the Christian only if we make the center of it what God's credentials demand:


5"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
 Deutoronomy 6
Of course, these verses apply to all of us influencing the lives of children, not just in school, but in each moment of our lives.



Sometimes in our zeal to pass on knowledge, we forget that although every date might not be remembered and spelling errors will surface, those little shards of memories we make along the way can be the glue that makes an education the gift that lasts beyond a lifetime...

it can etch into the soul of the person they are becoming.



As I closed the cupboard door, I smiled at the thought that a memory had been made that somebody had not wanted to forget by hiding them in the cupboard...a little stash of papers.  Yes, it was a little unexpected mess, but it was one that was worth it.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Choose: Right or Wrong?



One could hear him before see him.

His voice rose above the green grass,
songs of beauty and inspired words.

Seated under the tree, his eyes scanned the horizon and despite the songs he sang,
he was alerted by any nearing footsteps.


His ear was trained, his eyes sharp.

Everyday, he walked the quiet steps out into the fields, his gentleness assuring the newborn lamb he carried on his shoulder.

Who would think he, this patient boy who daily spent his hours with the carefully numbered sheep of his father's flock,
would become a king?




Even Samuel was surprised when his older, more mature and experienced brothers were passed over.

How could this be right?

Clearly, the choice of men would be different;
but God doesn't see as men do.

God sees the inner workings of the heart.
The kind patient care of sheep and contented daily maintenance of the job assigned him was a character quality worthy of a strong leader.

David's songs of praise showed a heart of thanksgiving,
even during the menial task of caring for animals who trusted his voice,
while not understanding the words of his songs
or appreciating the beauty of his melodious Psalms.

Is this a man we would naturally choose for a king?

God's choices are right,
in His time.



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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pros and Cons of a Dragon.



I am an intercessor here on the farm.

I didn't realize it until I was reading the other day.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~




Levi wanted a bearded dragon for his birthday.
It is one of those things that he wouldn't stopped asking for for months.


My sister had some little lizards when we were kids, and we enjoyed them so much.
They were easy to care for and it was fun to catch flies and moths and watch them attack them and gobble them up.  I know he can relate to this because the boy has spent countless hours catching bugs and feeding them to the spiders he finds hanging about in nests around the farm.

I asked him to catch bugs for the 5 baby ducklings we had in a pen in the basement this past summer,
and he was at it for over an hour.  When he finally quit, I asked if he'd fed them many.
"I could only find about 20 bugs each," he responded.

So I know that keeping a reptile fed will not be a task he will ignore.



We got the kids kittens a few years back.
Lillie and Violet both have their cats, but his disappeared when we got the puppy.
I think a neighbor with a calmer household may have adopted him;
at least, that is what I tell Levi when he is upset that his cat never came home.




"Everybody has their own pets except me," he mentions.


It is true that we have plenty of animal choices around here,
but his older sister tends to dote on those so much, 
they all see her as their leader.

When I tell him he has all those spiders as pets,
he tells me he can't hold them,
and I remember the tears he shed when his favorite spider up in the barn did not come out of his spiraling web to eat one day.

Spiders don't exactly have long pet lives.

I knew he wanted to have a creature of his own,
and as much as he draws dragons and dinosaurs and any other reptilian creature,
a beardy would be perfect for him.

I didn't tell my farmer.
I thought and read about them for weeks.
Honestly, I couldn't decide for myself.

Did I want to invest in the care of another creature?
Sure, it would be his pet and he would have to take care of it,
but I know that I have to be the overseer and make sure it gets done.

The initial cost is also one that is a bit more than a toy and once spent,
I want to make sure that that investment is taken care of.

Being a mother means overseeing everything,
even the things that they 'should' know to do:
dog water checker,
beta fish feed monitor,
duck-chaser limiter,
peep pen sanitizer,
cat/dog flea controller/monthly scheduler,
donkey hoof checker,
old arthritic dog lifter/protector from rougher young dog,
and general manager of any other creature that happens to pass through
(like the 'squashed' butterfly they found on the driveway that recovered in the jar on the table for a week and then, to our amazement, flew away after a drink of sugary water.)

If I had my way,
I'd be tempted to say,
"I have enough to do.  Look at this house!
Does it look like it needs another dirt-producing occupant?"






Somehow though, something deep inside of me calls out to me:
that little girl voice that I hear from days gone by,
"Daddy, can I please have some pet geese.
I promise I will take care of them."

Those days of watching him take the time to build that pen,
hours when he could have been sitting inside with his feet up enjoying his
"day off."

Those geese were my babies.
They needed to be let out every morning, fed, checked on.
They had to be penned every night so no harm would come to them.
 I loved those geese and they taught me more about life than any book could ever have done.  Wrapped in their care was my heart, and loving something you care for gives a perspective on life that lives inside of a person forever.

A real creature gives something that toys and books do not.

A creature chooses to love back.
It depends on you for it's life.
It has to build a trust in you that has to be earned,
even when it seems like the care is all coming from you,
unselfishly,
until that creature has decided that you are worth loving/trusting back,

even when that creature never says 'thank you.'


After weeks of reading, looking on Craigslist at the general costs,
stopping in the pet store to ask questions,
it was then that I presented the idea to the farmer.

I had done the research and aligned myself to the idea that a dragon is something worthwhile,
and yet, I still had to deal with the Farmer's possible rejection of it.
That can be hard, but I knew that if I have the facts lined up,
the cost,
the benefits,
the logistics,
the heart of our son.

 

I knew the case would fall on listening ears and be seriously contemplated.
And I know that those times my Farmer has said, "No," he has been right;
and I have been relieved of the frustration that was avoided.


The other morning, I was reading Romans 8,
and I came on these verses:



He does this same task for us,
in a grander, more serious scale:
the Holy Spirit.

We have an intercessor who sees the needs in our lives,
the trials,
the joys,
and He goes before God to plead for us.
God decides what is best for us.  God knows what will work out to good,
even if we cannot see it from our dim perspective.




Not only do we have God caring for us as Christians,
but He gives the Holy Spirit to work with us daily,
to confront the sin we daily fight with,
but also to plead with God on our behalf
to enjoy watching the blessings given,
to cry with us when our hearts feel like they are breaking,
to watch us learn and hear us when we give praise to God,
to share our prayers with us.



Those spiders in the barn may have more work ahead in their meal planning come spring.
There is a new creature in life that takes priority in this boy's heart,
and I am thankful for the reminder of God's great care for us.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Green Beans.



"Run downstairs and fetch me a can of green beans, please,
but be careful with it.  Those glass jars are slippery."

I hear the wooden stairs on the old stairway with each step she takes.
She comes back and sets the jar on the counter.
The olive colored green beans wave in the liquid they were placed in months ago,
when the night was still hot from the sun's diligence of the day.

I look out the window and the darkening sky still seems bright with the white flakes falling in it,
the white world it floats to.

Somewhere underneath those feet of snow is the brown dirt and the sleeping future of the coming summer.

Planting, harvest, enjoying the gifts of produce set aside for winter:
the cycle seems obvious as the pan heats on the stove.


It is obvious in the garden, not always so easily embraced in the moments of life.

Each moment is essential...
much work in each step until the harvest comes to fruition.


Galatians 6:9

I set the empty jar into the dishwasher,
knowing that it's emptiness will be viewed next when the sun is hot,
but I'll not think about that now...

"Let's eat."



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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Snow Dragon.


I could hear the cow bellowing up in the barn.


The snow was falling fast, flakes the size of dimes.
I thought of telling Violet to run up to the barn and check why there was so much mooing coming from the barn, but the bull, who seems to get larger and more rambunctious with each passing day made me think otherwise.  I decided I had better head to the barn in case he'd found a way out of his pen.

I checked the situation and realized it was just the mama cow that the farmer must have separated from her baby before he had left for work. As I started back toward the house,
the beautiful white world made me stop and stand in awe of God's simple but stunning canvas.

As I stood there, taking it all in,
I noticed a very large snowball sitting in the yard.
Not far away was the little boy who claimed he had made it,
"to see the biggest snowball I could make.
It just rolls and rolls and keeps getting bigger and bigger."

As I looked at him, I realized I had put him off a lot lately.

"Come do the microscope with me, Mom."
"Come play with the play dough with me."
"Come help me put my Christmas Lego set together, Mom."
"Come play battle ship or do a puzzle with me."
He always asked with such hopeful voice.

I had turned him away with, "I'm too busy right now.  I have to get my work done.
Ask your sisters."

The guilt suddenly hit me as I watched him playing
alone
in the snow.
 

I knew he would love for me to build a snowman with him,
something I had never made time to make with him yet.


I squatted in the snow and formed the distantly familiar shape of the snowball and began rolling it through the snow.
This snow was perfect for snowmen, heavy and sticky, but not wet.

By the time I had reached near where he was at,
I had to tell him to come help me.

"Let's build something," I said.

"Do you mean a snowman?" he asked, eyes sparkling.

"Well, kind of.  Let's build something better."


 
We rolled the two snowballs together.
He ran inside to recharge with fresh, dry mittens while I started piling the snow onto the two snowballs. 

 



 I hoped it would be taking shape by the time he got back,
and it was.



"A snow dragon!" he smiled when he got back outside.



We worked together and eventually the girls came out and worked with us for a while.





When the girls left to go fix some hot chocolate and scrounge up lunch,
I stayed out with Levi.


I remembered back to when I was a child and my neighbor friend's mom had built a magnificent snow creature.  I watched her start it and work on shaping and then creating the details of it.

I remember feeling overwhelmed at how much time she was spending on it,
how she stuck with it until it was done several hours later.
I remember feeling like I could never do something so huge and incredible like that.


"I'm tired, Mom.  This is really hard work.  I could use some help over here,"
he was packing snow around the tail, making it look rounded, as I had just shown him."

"Everything that is worth doing in life is going to be work at some time, Levi.
Just stick with it and before you know it, the job will be done."

"But it is so much to do.  It is so big.  We'll never get done."
Discouragement was setting in.
 
 

"Don't look at the whole dragon.  Just look at that little section of the tail you are working on.
It looks too hard and too much when you think about all that is left to do."

It wasn't too long before I heard, "I need some help over here.  I can't do this,"
he wanted to give up.

"Levi, if I have to stop and help you, the section that I am working on will not get done.
My helping you will mean my work doesn't get done.
Do the best you can.  I know you can do it."

As we continued to move through the snow and work on sections, we talked and complimented each others work. 

"Does this tongue look okay, Levi."

"No, it doesn't look like a tongue, how about making some fire,"
he answered.

"Fire?  How am I going to make fire out of snow?"

As things progressed, I could see his discouragement phase had passed.
The creature was really starting to look better
and the end was not too far away to see.


"We just need to make some claws on the front paw and add some wings,
and we'll be done," he sounded excited now.

"Perhaps when we finish, I can send a picture of our dragon in to the news."
As I told him this, his eyes lit up.

"You mean, we can be famous?" he asked.

I laughed, "Yes, famous for our snow dragon."

"But what if other people see what we have made and want to copy us?"
he looked worried that our dragon would become a creature on everybody's front lawn and not special just to us.

I laughed, "I don't think everybody is going to go outside and build a snow dragon like ours, Levi,
but even if they did, it is a fun thing to share."

I could see him thinking and reconsidering that it might not be so bad to see snow dragons on every front lawn as we drove down the street.


As we patted our dragon to a finish, the joy in Levi's face was priceless:

"Take my picture with my dragon, now, Mom.
We did a great job on it, didn't we?"
he scanned his snow pet as he stepped up beside it.


That creature took several hours of the day out in a snowstorm.
 Doubtless, it will disappear within a week or two.
  Back in the house, the dishes are still in the sink,
 the wet laundry is still in the washer,
my list of  things "to-do" still has nothing "done" on it;
but somehow, I feel like those hours were ones that will be of so much more value than having my list done.  My little boy and I realized the value of sticking to hard work;
of not quitting, even when the job seems too big to conquer;
the joy of seeing a job completed;
the fun of working together and being helpful,
the boost that encouragement gives,
how to give and take criticism without too much offense
(even though my fire still does not look like fire);
and
figuring out a way to make things happen.




It is dark now, and I just saw Levi slip his coat on and disappear out the door.

"Where is he going?" my farmer asked.
"He's going to visit his dragon," I responded.


The dragon may be made of snow,
but I'm pretty sure the memory and the lessons we both learned won't melt with it.


(Our Snow Dragon with Levi's favorite Bible verses).