I had the most lovely visit from a dear friend today. Tiana is an AMAZING woman, and I was so excited to learn that she was going to be spending a couple of weeks in the area, and even more excited when she arranged a visit. Her visit was such an encouragement to me. Tiana is the type of woman who steps into a room and dramatically enhances its warmth and beauty just by being in it. She is quick to see God's hand in her life, and in mine as well, and she simply encouraged me in my ministry and calling here in this land called Michigan. Even though we're really not that far away from family and friends, the reality of daily living and family life often allows months, sometimes years even, to go by without seeing people that are precious to me. I do often feel isolated, and sometimes I hear Satan whispering in my ear that I'm all alone. I know in my heart that's a lie, and rebuke it as so.
Even so, I can be quite vulnerable to loneliness if I'm not careful. Tiana told me about her parents' ministry in Alaska where she was born, grew up and still calls home, and I felt God ministering to my heart as I learned of the long-term commitment they've made to the people there and how even though they have been there for over thirty years (I think), the fruit of their ministry is not glamorous or completely obvious to the whole world. It's the same kind of fruit we're growing here, the kind that takes much labor and commitment and may seem very small or even invisible. But God sees, and He has never promised those who sow seeds that they will get to count the fruit and feel a sense of satisfaction at its abundance.
Sometimes the one who plants the seeds never sees one piece of fruit with her own eyes.
I choose today to stop wasting time looking for fruit and I commit to obedience in the task that God has set before me of planting seeds.
On a less philosophical note, I was cleaning off my entertainment center today and I came across a home video of baby Seth, only two days old, and two familiar, adorable little boys. Why do they have to grow up so fast? In most of the video Caleb, who was five, and Gabe, just a little guy of three years, were dressed up in all different kinds of costumes. They were so darn cute. And Seth was just this squishy, squeaky bundle of pinkness, grimacing and grunting like newborns do. Even though I would give just about anything to hold my children as babies just one more time, I love, love, love watching my kids grow and develop into the people that God created them to be and discovering gifts and talents that continue to amaze me.
For instance, my boys, once so small and sweet and gentle-spirited, have mastered the most challenging skill of arm farts. Really. I know, you're as amazed as I am, but it's true. This is a recent discovery, and it far outshines any academic or developmental accomplishments in their short lives thus far, at least as far as they are concerned. I laughed and laughed till tears poured out of my eyes as the three of them took off their shirts and produced a concert for me. Seth still can't make the coveted "pth pth pth pth" sound, so he just flapped his arms like a naked little bird. Then, here was the best part, the band members all paused and preceded to try to teach Seth the tricks of making it happen. Here's a snippit of that conversation heard backstage:
Gabe: "Seth, you just have to SQUEEEEEEEEEZE your armpit like this."
Seth: "I tan't do it!"
Gabe: "Just SQUEEEEEEEEEEZE."
Seth: "I tan't do it!"
Caleb: "Sometimes I have to blow on my hand like this. And then SQUEEEEEEEEEZE."
Seth, after two puffs on his little hand and more flapping, "I tan't do it!"
Gabe: "Sometimes it hurts when you SQUEEEEEEEEZE, but that's what you have to do."
And they were so gentle in their instruction, but the show must go on, and they continued their music.
It was funny...until I noticed Lily trying to take off her shirt so she could try. Call me a chauvinist, but instantly I saw this vision of her 15 years in the future. In it, she is wearing a pale blue silk top with lovely, tiny flowers embroidered around the collar, a pair of comfortable jeans and cute, strappy sandles with heels not too high. Her hair is pulled up sylishly. She is the picture of feminine beauty, and she is out on date, her first date with a fabulous, godly man, whose intentions are pure. This could be the One, the future father of my grandchildren, if she plays her cards right. They are both extremely nervous. She thinks maybe if she makes him laugh it would break the ice a little. In a moment of really bad judgement, she remembers the laughter of her brothers, and she thrusts her perfectly manicured hand under her armpit and says, "Listen to this." He never asks her out again.
I said, "No, Lily. Girls don't need to make that sound." She said, "Oh. Ok." But I think she's secretly been practicing in her room when I think she's asleep.