Tall and sedate, the highest branches were bare on one side, while golden yellow banners hung sparsely on the other. Fall winds blew brisk, swirling leaves, dry and brown, across the grass. The ravine sloped gently on one side but steeply in the other direction. The Boyne wove it's way east like a ribbon at the bottom of the valley. I found my way here to pray a while and salvage what was left of the day.
The week had limped, me with a cold and scratchy throat, and a clogged main floor washroom that caused untold inconvenience. I post-poned my meetings with my Heavenly Father at 5:00 a.m. until cold's clutch released its hold on my energy. I am still waiting for restored health and those special morning times.
In fact, for most of the week I didn't get up to meet with my Heavenly Father in the quiet house of sleeping children. Instead I stayed in bed until the twins joined me, usually just before 6:00 a.m. We snuggled and nestled in folds of comforters in the pre-dawn dark. One cuddled close, the other reached for my hair to twirl while he tucked his silky head under my chin. The time is sweet and precious and I am grateful for this little furlough. The gentle ease into the day together was good too.
However, by Saturday the quiet morning time of renewing my mind before Him and exchanging His thoughts for mine and the filling of His love, were sorely missed. My intentions of finding another hour in the day for gentle communion never materialised. Snatched moments, although important and necessary, didn't satisfy the thirst of my parched soul. I struggled with abiding in Him, therefore I feared I was bearing little fruit. Distractions these days are many and my morning time is a mainstay for my faith.
So here I was late Saturday afternoon, soul-weary, physically depleted, and emotionally fragile, needing a time alone with Him in a quiet place. It was the twins birthday. I wanted to be cheerful and loving as we celebrated this milestone as a family. The preparations were ready in one sense. We had made a cake with whipped cream and graham crumb roads, construction vehicles and a Tonka Mighty Construction Worker stood on a whipped cream dirt-pile. It sat in the fridge waiting for birthday dinner. Presents were wrapped and placed neatly on top of the piano. The children were dressed in excitement, their eyes bright with anticipation. The camera's batteries were charging ready for the special celebration.
Still my heart sagged, tinged with resentment for efforts put forth alone and for another Saturday that blended into every other day, all looking the same in chock-full busyness. Desire screamed at me for solitude, rest, and reflective time or escape from routine rhythms of chores and sameness. Yet my feelings were at war with truth of righteous thoughts. I have had some breaks and refreshment on other Saturdays and have some times set apart for rest. To resent causes bitterness. It is sin. I can choose a slower pace and less extra-curricular for the children, allowing more space for some healthy personal pursuits. I knew I needed to find some hooks of gratefulness to replace those of self-pity. I knew I needed to ponder and find the joy of the Lord which would be my strength. So far, I battled through the day warring reckless feelings with quiet truth. So far feelings had run amuck and I was doing a poor job of preaching to myself.
For this reason, I chose to take ten minutes to go to the south side of the Boyne River and park awhile on my way to pick up the family's pizza for the night's dinner. I chided myself for my lack of cheer. This is one in a handful of times per year we have take-out and I was grieved by such an ungrateful heart as mine on this factor alone.
So in the grey sky and the empty honk of geese passing overhead, in the rushing wind I sat in the still, warm suburban. My eyes feasted on the beauty of bark and tree and autumn's unfurling glory. I watched a scampering squirrel trail on a tree branch, his tail curved in a gentle wispy arch. In the purity of nature itself, I sought purity for my heart, soiled from missed opportunity of praise.
I called on my Father and asked for His help. I knew I wanted my children to remember my smile and the joy within reflected in my eyes. His joy. After all, the Lord loves a cheerful giver and so far I gave begrudgingly to preparations of this birthday celebration. The ten minutes passed quickly but in Him I found strength for a heartfelt smile and a heart prepared for celebration with those I love deepest on this earth.
It wasn't until much later in the day when all the children were hunkered down for the night and the days' chores were done that I confessed the sin in my heart - resentment, selfishness, and pride. It was then too, that I looked up the verse that the Lord lay on my heart in my ten minute reprieve feasting on nature and seeking Him.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For He will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick: Who can understand it? I, the Lord search the heart, I test the mind,..." Jeremiah 17:7-10 NASV
Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy in which we celebrated the third birthday of these two little boys You blessed us with. Thank you for the cake that was made and the preparations done. Thank you for the quiet place by the river where You impressed upon me what was important. Lord restore the resentment with gratitude. Replace my pride with the humility of Jesus. Jesus, He who chose to wash the feet of His disciples. May I have a heart to serve these you gave to me with no less desire.
Lord Jesus, may I learn the trust You speak of when You spoke to Jeremiah. May my heart and mind, body, and soul trust in You fully so in a time of drought I will still bear fruit. Lord may my heart not turn to the right or to the left but rejoice in all You've given me. May I serve here with a cheerful smile and a grateful heart.