Tag Archive: chores


There’s Always Something!

That’s how I feel this morning when thinking about why I didn’t get blog posts up for the last couple of weeks. There’s always something, such as the major(very good, very happy) distraction that was Carey’s graduation festivities. We spent two days up in Newberg for a symposium, hooding, and commencement, plus other assorted activities. Given that the drive itself is an hour one way, yeah, that took some time. I do have to say it’s a beautiful drive – orchards, vineyards, old farmhouses, clover fields, woods. The sunset pouring over the coastal range into the valley on the way home Thursday didn’t hurt anything, either!

Besides the graduation, we’ve had sporadic internet unavailability. I think maybe (I hope, I hope!) that got fixed. For maybe the last two months, we’ve randomly lost internet connection. I’ve blown so much time trying to troubleshoot it, and we’ve had three techs come out, too. The first replaced the modem, which seemed to help for a while. It didn’t solve everything. The visit from the second tech didn’t make any appreciable improvement. We still had some trouble, so I replaced the router, which also seemed to help, but we still had periods of outage and horrible slowness. We actually started logging it. We recorded time, duration, speed tests, what people were doing, what the modem showed, and all sorts of info. When the third tech visited, that log helped my mom tell him what issues we were having, and he found a mostly broken wire in the ISP’s box. He fixed that, and (crosses fingers) things have been okay so far.

Another culprit has been the weather. It’s been unseasonably warm. Early May, it was about 85F! It’s also been windy. Bits of the trees have been blown off all over. I saw dust being ripped off the ground and tossed everywhere. The weather feels a lot more like late June or early July than last April and early May. The sunshine has meant we’ve all spent more time outside. It’s been a mixed blessing. Who doesn’t love sunshine and blue skies and green grass more than rain and drizzle and chill while you’re out doing chores? It’s meant Kimberly’s ball games are getting played instead of rained out and missed. It’s meant hot dog roasts and park picnics and other fun stuff. But it’s confusing. It really shouldn’t be this warm and especially not this dry this soon. We aren’t ready. I’ve got a couple of piles to burn, and I can’t do it with the wind picking up pieces of stuff and throwing it places. There are already wildfires in central Oregon. We really ought to have another month or two of spring rains. I hope it does cool off some and start doing some gentle raining.

This past week, it’s been birthdays and Mother’s Day and (unfortunately) back pain. Mom and I both have birthdays. The birthdays were fairly low key, but that was nice. Neither Mom nor I really like a huge amount of fuss, generally speaking. Just a little fuss is good.

I hope to return to a more normal posting schedule next, but we’ll see. Can’t promise a thing. After all, there’s always something! 😉

Luke 11 and Blackberries

There’s an interesting passage in Luke 11. It says:

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

It reminds me of blackberries. Yeah, blackberries – I’ve got this (super fun, sorta) project that I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been carefully grubbing up blackberries and their roots.

Himalayan blackberries love it here in the Willamette Valley. They aren’t native plants, which means that they don’t have terribly effective competition. Given half a chance, they reproduce faster than rabbits. They’ve become a real problem in some of my mom’s pastureland. Most of one field has a low covering of the stalks, the edges sporting snagged wisps of wool waving the sheep flock’s surrender.

There are many methods that could be used to clear the field, to sweep clean the house. Spraying it with an herbicide like Crossbow is pretty popular and probably one of the easiest methods. Herbicides can be effective, but there are possible drawbacks. You can kill off plants you want to keep or leave behind poisonous residues. Hacking, leveling with large equipment, and burning are other methods, none of which are terribly effective and all of which have cons. You see, blackberries have roots, highly resilient, life loving, strive to survive roots. Those roots don’t much care if you hack off all of the shoots above ground. Whatever. They’ll just wait until you’re not looking and put up some more. Death by flames? Haha. Most of those roots will survive just fine. Use large machines to gouge those roots up? YES!!!…. Maybe not so much. Some will die, sure, but some will just get uprooted, reburied, and start – you guessed it – putting up shoots. Those shoots won’t even have any competition but for the other weeds, ‘cause large machinery is nondiscriminatory and digs up everything. Too bad the sheep wanted to eat that grass, huh? It’ll look like you swept the ground clean, but those berry roots are just biding their time, waiting to shoot up and reproduce.

I suppose this is why we’ve found the laborious method of grubbing up blackberries by hand to be the most effective. I get rid most of the roots, and I don’t completely thrash the other plants nearby. Much of the grass is still there, and especially this time of year, it doesn’t waste any time creeping into the empty space. Root removal by Rebekah helps evict those wicked berries and preserves and encourages other plant growth. If all I did was try to clean out the canes, even if I managed to kill off the roots, if I don’t fill the space with something else, those berries will be right back in there growing like mad.

That’s why the story in Luke reminds me of blackberries. I’ve never had any lasting success in keeping a field clear of berries without introducing something positive (plants, animals, etc.) to help control their persistent encroachment attempts. Likewise, I’ve never had any lasting success in my life in overcoming bad habits, repenting of sin, or being delivered of any sort of wickedness if the process stops there. Can’t leave the space empty. It leaves room for all of that junk and then some to make itself right back at home.

The Absolute Nuisance of Love

Picture, if you will, the great finger of God, stabbing His points for emphasis. “The greatest commandment,” with a dramatic sigh for the stupidity of one young human, “is to love Me with all that you are. You say you don’t know what that means or what love is.” An impatient statement follows, “Silly girl, it’s all spelled out in I Corinthians 13. To love me, you” an emphatic stab of His finger at me “must be patient. You” another stab “must be kind. You may not” point, point, point “envy or boast, and there will be no dishonor, selfishness, or flammable tempers on your part. I most certainly do not want to hear about any wrongs that may have been done to you, either. You can’t keep those records. You better be rejoicing with the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. Let me know when you get it all down.”

This bit. It rankled. I did not like it, not one bit, no sirree! I don’t like being spoken to like this, dismissively being told what I needed to do to make myself at least somewhat acceptable, but this is God we are discussing. However vast my resentment, some part of me recognized that if anybody had the right to talk to me like that, it would be Him, so I tried swallowing my pride and tried to do all of this stuff. I tried to be kind and patient, especially with my (annoying, obnoxious, pestiferous) younger siblings. I failed more than I succeeded, but I did keep trying, and I even humbled myself enough to ask or sometimes demand that God help me with this impossible task.

I did not approach this labor wholeheartedly. All the while, that resentment of God’s highhandedness kept rumbling. I was annoyed by it all. “I must be patient. I must be kind. I must not be boastful,” I would snarkily repeat to myself, under my breath. “What the heck does all the crap mean, anyways, God? I don’t know. I can’t figure it out.” Please, my friends, do not underestimate the value of snarky prayers or confessions. God hears even them. All I could do with love was try, and the trying made me angry and insecure, because it exposed how completely I failed. I could not even talk to God about love consistently with any love (or civility) on my part. I was not patient, nor was I kind, nor did I treat God with honor. Once in a while, some of that would appear, but it was not a consistent experience for me. I just kept trying and kept looking for opportunities to keep trying. I’m stubborn, and I do not give up easily. Still, I treated love like a huge pain in my butt. I felt it was a nuisance. I did not believe that love was a good thing. I only cared about it because I believed it was what God demanded of me, and I was trying to make Him happy.

God hears and answers even snarky prayers, people. One day, I was in the kitchen, making something for lunch. Nobody else was around, something that was a rare event with my many younger siblings (I had five at that point), and while I was cooking, I was thinking. Cooking involves lots of fairly mindless tasks, and performing fairly mindless tasks has been a soothing thing for me for a long time. I accomplish something, my hands are busy and thus not distracting me, and my mind settles down for a good think. So I was thinking, and because I had love on the brain (love had gotten under my skin. I was so irritated by it!), I was thinking about it and God’s ridiculous demands. My mind was traveling its (by now) well worn path of resentment and shame.

But suddenly, I had this moment of revelation. It was so cool. Out of nowhere inside me, I realized that I was reading I Corinthians 13 all wrong, and that I was more right than I knew in complaining that I didn’t understand love. I thought – believed, really – that I Corinthians 13 was there to point how messed up I was. It is not. It can serve that function of conviction, yes, and it did for me, but that is not its most crucial message.

You see, my friends, what I realized is that God is love. Not only that, but at just the right time, while we were still powerless, while we were still sinners and making terrible messes, God demonstrated his love for us through the death of His Son, of Himself, of Christ. God was NOT saying, “Bekah, you have to live out I Corinthians 13 to get me to care about you.” I had misunderstood completely. He was saying, “I Corinthians 13 is there to explain how I treat you, because I AM love, and I’ve already commended that love to you. I already love you. I am patient. I am kind. I do not boast, and I am not selfish.”

My jaw dropped. It was not a demand, an imposition over which I had every right to be angry, a great nuisance to make me sweat and toil and suffer. It was an explanation, an offer, something which I’d already been given. I had been so wrong, and yet He was so gracious. My jaw just dropped in awe at the amazing awesomeness that is the love of God.

Faith – What Happened Next

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! My paint dried perfectly, and I no longer have black stripes, spots, or other marks decorating my skin. Having placed the endcap on my counter, the set of shelves is now comfortably placed and stocked at the end of the counter. I’ve got a wine bottle rack I purchased at Ikea that I’d like to get installed next. I’m not sure that’s going to happen today, though. Mom and Stephanie are headed out of town for an Oregon FFA event. Stephanie is campaigning to be elected as a state officer, and here’s hoping that she gets it! Vote for Stephanie! Anyway, that means I’ve got Kimberly and Kalyn here to help me this afternoon, and I have to do things like feed the little monsters so that they don’t really turn into monsters. We’re going to make some dinner and brownies (*Shhh! Don’t tell Carey! It’s a surprise!) and, with any luck, have a grand time working and laughing together.

Moving along to write what promises to be another lengthy post, mostly because I yammer on about what I’m doing at home to help ground myself, I was writing about the solid beginning of my faith. I’d like to continue that story today. It’s one I’ve told many times to many different people, so chances are that you’ve heard it, but it’s a pretty standard part of my introduction. I tell it because I want people to know that it’s important to me, and I tell it because remembering where I came from and how I got here is good for me. Why do I think the way that I do? Why do I see life as I do? Why do I believe and live the way that I do? A good part of those whys come from the experiences I’ve had and the choices that I’ve made in my past. Nearly twenty years ago, I chose to become the person I am today, and every day since then, my choices, however deliberately or carelessly made, have supported or undermined that choice. My story is not about what happened to me. My story is about what I have done, and I have done it because God is real and is true to His Word and Himself.

What did I choose? I chose to admit that I didn’t know. I chose to admit that I wanted more than I could get on my own. I chose to seek. I chose faith. At the time, I don’t think I would have called it faith. I was angry, I was frightened, and I didn’t like at all that what I’d thought was true was without substance, so I rounded on the void of the great unknown and defiantly begged for more. But it was faith. Angry and desperate it may have been, but the very desire I had to know if God was for real or just more crap was evidence of something beyond me, of something beyond this world, of eternity at work unseen. I had to know, and I challenged God to prove it by changing my life. I didn’t want Him to make my life all better and give me everything I ever wanted. No, I wanted something a lot more difficult. I wanted an internal makeover. I wanted to Him to change who I was inside and make me a person who authentically and demonstrably belonged to Him. I wanted reformation, renewal, transformation!!! of my soul. If that didn’t happen, I was going to call Him a liar (which He would be, because He makes a lot of promises about new life in His Word) and move on.

It began simply. I admitted that I didn’t have what I needed and couldn’t get it myself. I asked God for help. I dug more deeply into the Bible with an eye to learn what should be present in my life and what I should expect of God and myself. I meditated on it while I was working and about my day. I would ask God what something meant and to bring clarity and understanding. I was convicted, and the cycle would begin again, where I was admitting that I didn’t have what I needed. I had a lot to learn.

See, I knew how to behave well. I did a pretty good job of being a good girl, but it was a layer. It didn’t go all the way through me, and I behaved because I was made to and generally because of fear or a desire to show off. I was all about the performance. I knew the verses, I had the grades, perfect attendance was mine, and I was a “good” kid. But what I didn’t know, what put my performance to utter shame, was, in a word, love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (courtesy of Bible Gateway)

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Do you know what this means? It means that what I can do and what I can know is so much garbage without love. It doesn’t matter how perfectly or powerfully I perform, it is noise without meaning. It does not make me a better person. I am still the same nothing I was before the performance, and the bottom line is that I have gained nothing. Love is that essential. Do you know what this did to my self-esteem? Bad things, let me tell you – I felt pretty worthless, which made made me more angry and desperate and inclined to scream at God. Fortunately, this is not the end of my story.

It’s just the end of this post. 😀

 

Almost. Funny story at the end.

 

* I have this sneaky streak, which won’t surprise most anyone who knows me. Last night at dinner, I wanted to make sure that the rottentots had plenty to be excited over today. I pulled them in close and said in a confidential manner, “Can you keep a secret? You can’t tell Carey!” Their eyes got big, and they assured me of their ability to keep it quiet. “Okay,” I told them. “We’re going to make brownies for dessert. Won’t that be good? Don’t you think Carey will like that?” They got all kinds of excited, Kimberly told me we should have them with ice cream, and they solemnly promised not to spoil the surprise for Carey.

Here’s the deal, though 😀 : Carey came home last night after they went to bed, and she didn’t see them this morning before they left for school. Barring something unusual, I knew last night they wouldn’t see her to spoil the surprise! They get to be excited about knowing a secret, Carey gets a chocolate surprise, and I get to sit back and snicker over how well I managed all that.