Monday, November 5, 2012

For When You Feel Unfruitful

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Hello, Friends! Anyone here? I've been gone so long I'm not sure I even belong here anymore. The demands of school and team assignments have prevented me from being here like I'd like to be, but my heart is still here even when my words are not. May I tiptoe back in and offer a little something?
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This is what California's Central Valley looked like in June 2010 when we took a family trip to Disneyland and points south. Green, lush, and every available acre growing crops to provide food for millions, maybe even for you. Tomatoes by the truckload were passing us down the length of I-5. As we ticked off the miles, we passed field after field of blackberries, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, grapes, beans, strawberries, melons, lettuce, rice, peppers, spinach, corn, and cotton.



Interspersed between the fields we saw orchard upon orchard of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, figs, olives, kiwi, lemons, plums, apples, cherries, peaches, and pomegranates. It was impossible to tell how many shades of green the eye could distinguish in all that growing glory.


A little over a month ago, in September of 2012, my family again drove south. I-5 was still straight and true, the Central Valley was still vast and wide . . . but no longer is it green. This is what much of it looks like today.


Irrigation canals are empty and bone-dry, and tumbleweeds are the only green as far as the eye can see. For this daughter of Iowa's black dirt that grows corn better than anyplace else on earth, and for this granddaughter of an Iowa farmer, all this death and dusty barrenness hit a very tender nerve inside me.


But it was the orchards that broke my heart.


Having lived in the beautiful orchard country of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, I was horrified at the sight of these once-fruitful trees now dead and grey, some of them ripped right out of the ground by big, efficient machines while we watched. 

Why?! You must be wondering too. Apparently there is a small fish, called the Delta Smelt, in the Sacramento River Delta that is adversely affected by the pumps that divert fresh river water to the Central Valley instead of letting it flow out into the Pacific Ocean. "Efforts to stave off its demise have at times reduced water deliveries to 25 million people and 2 million acres of farmland, magnifying the impact of the recent drought and forcing farmers to fallow fields" (Boxall, 2011, p. 1, para. 3). 

Do you know how desperately dry 2 million acres of farmland can get with no water? Can you imagine what it does to farmers and their livelihoods to be cut off from their source of water? They might more happily be cut off from their oxygen! Some of these people have been forced to watch their farmland turn to dust, land their families have owned and farmed for generations. Some of them have lost their land and homes entirely. Can you imagine how it feels to be told that you and your family and your friends are not as important as a fish smaller than your little finger? No matter how you feel about the ways people can and should interact with the environment, that has to feel pretty awful. How I pray for a solution that works for everyone!

I despise the politics of this situation, and I am tired of seeing grocery prices go up, and up, and up, but this is not a political post.

This post is about hearts, and lives, and livelihoods that have been turned to dust in a world full of uncertainty. This post is about dreams that can shrivel up and turn to stone when the only thing they need to come true has been cut off. This post is about people whose spirits are withered and wind-blown by the hot, harsh winds of struggle and sorrow.


Have you been there?

Are you there now?

I want you to know that like Hagar in the desert, God sees you!

I want you to know that like Moses in the Wilderness, God still has plans for you!

I want you to know that like Joseph in his long exile, God is still working for your good!


God will not let evil have the last word.

He WON'T!!

Hagar was rescued out of her impossible dilemma.

Moses became the great leader he was destined to become.

And Joseph's dreams came true while he simultaneously saved two nations through his godly leadership


No matter what it looks like,
no matter how it feels,
God is WITH you,
God is FOR you, and
God will COME THROUGH for you!

Listen to what Jesus said, to what He is still saying:

"'I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.'" John 15:5, 16 NIV




If you are in a season of drought, if you feel unproductive and unfruitful, if you feel like your dreams are dying in the glare of a too-hot sun, stay (or get) attached to the one True Vine. He doesn't need politicians to keep the water flowing--He has Living Water bubbling up from the Holy Spirit within, and there is no limit to what He can do!




Boxall, B. (2011, February 2). A small fish caught in a big fuss. L.A. Times. Retrieved from

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Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1822-1926 (September 30th through November 3rd)


30. 3 gifts shining
The early morning reflection off fresh water in the birdbath
  Hero Husband's example of perseverance, hard work, and excellence!
  A truly encouraging Q&A session with our pastor this morning--some of the best answers to tough questions I have ever heard, bar none!! So thankful God has placed us in this church!
1. 3 gifts orange
The True Orange (crystallized orange from this company) I put in my morning mocha
The so-gold-it's-orange lamp in our dining room that lights my early morning and late night reading
The pale orange froth on freshly blended orange juice
2. 3 gifts falling
The temperature (in a couple of days--I sure hope they're right about this!)
Moonlight from a big harvest moon
Old fears in the face of the beautiful truth
3. A gift caught, let go, mid-way
A few minutes of watching the birds in the birdbath, just soaking up the joy
A million little frustrations that aren't worth holding onto
Kids almost grown and still at home, mid-way between childhood and adulthood
4. 3 gifts reaped
The apples we're crunching
The fruit of our labor--homework=good grades, house work=a tidy(er) house
A crisper drawer full of produce
5. 3 gifts returned
Phone calls that moved a project forward
Hero Husband and Drummer Boy home from a fun evening out together
My car after they didn't fix it . . . yet. Lord please protect it from needing any more work!
6. 3 gifts redeemed
Time, in small bits and pieces gathered up and put to use so as not to waste any
Empty cans and bottles that we recycle into new things
The laptop computer that was no longer useful to Hero Husband, but that is perfect for me!
7. A gift baked, stirred, eaten
Potatoes, baked in the oven (not the microwave), just the way I like them
Peet's coffee with just a touch of milk
The ridiculously good Raspberry Truffle Cake Pop Drummer Boy brought home from Starbucks
8. 3 gifts prayed for
Hero Husband--for joy in the midst of these stressful days, and something better beyond them
Drummer Boy--for joy while he works toward, and waits for, his God-sized dreams
She So Sweet--for joy (and patience) while she waits to hear word about the new job she wants
9. 3 gifts praised for
That my Father's faithfulness is not predicated on mine 2 Timothy 2:13 NIV 
That He promises renewed strength for those who wait on Him Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
That He promises victory in Christ 1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV1984 
10. 3 hard eucharisteo
The upset I feel about how school (a really good thing) is preventing me from spending time on photography, my blog, and my company, and even impacting time with my family (also really good, important things)
How far I fall short of some lifelong goals--Father, how desperately I need Your help!
Both cars needing expensive work--Jehovah Jireh!
11. 3 gifts of change
New class 
New professor
New learning team
12. A gift small, smaller, smallest
Hummingbirds outside my window
Jet black bumblebees
Tiny new rosebuds on my miniature rose bush
13. 3 gifts read
The cookbook I finally found after thinking it was lost
Instructions that help me get it right the first time
David's story and God's heart in it
14. 3 gifts said
"Good job!"
"I love you, too!"
"I'm on my way home."
15. 3 gifts re-read
Psalm 25 that we are supposed to be memorizing (I wish I was better at this!)
Good quotes and things I need to remember while studying
David's story
16. 3 gifts burning
The sun, lighting our days and heating them up to summer-like temperatures (so ready for fall!)
My desire to be excellent in all I do (boy, do I have a long way to go!)
Hopefully calories!
17. 3 gifts ugly-beautiful
Snails
Scrub Jays--ugly personalities, beautiful birds
Having such a long way to go, but being on the way
18. A gift shared, saved, surrendered
Lunch at Chipotle with Hero Husband
My old favorite wallet, all fixed up with some lovely saddle soap
Expectations
19. 3 gifts unexpected
Bright green bug riding on the hood of my car
A pair of young deer  right up close
Friday night lights!! Way to go, Jalen!!!
20. 3 gifts unconventional
"Misplaced modifiers"--I'll misplace my modifiers if I want to!!
Online classrooms
Scrambled eggs with mustard--yum!
21. 3 gifts undervalued
Getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and intentional rest
Wedding vows--heartsick over how many people give up when things get hard
Freedom--may our country have the wisdom to preserve it
22. A gift silent, still, strong
Watching birds in the birdbath from indoors
The surface of the water when they're finished
El Shaddai
23. 3 gifts begun
This week's reading for my class
New team project
Planning for Thanksgiving (Hero Husband's family gathering at my house this year!)
24. 3 gifts accomplished
Cleaned out email inbox (it had ballooned to over 11,000 emails--yikes!!)
Fixed whatever was wrong with my Outlook
Reading this week's four chapters of my textbook, two electronic reserve readings, and an eBook in plenty of time to do the homework that goes with it!
25. 3 gifts enjoying
Old records by renowned pianist, Roger Williams, (who went to school with my Great Aunt Edie), given to me by my Uncle Craig.
Fairy tales, sci-fi tales, and the singing contests I simply cannot resist.
Flowers blooming in my new hanging basket outside my front door
26. 3 gifts extravagant
The iridescent emerald green on the hummingbirds outside my window
The robin's egg blue and marshmallow white of an October sky in California
The deep, rich shades of sable and mink that look back at me from the eyes of these three that I love so much!
27. A gift humbling, honoring, happy
Compliments from teammates
The gratitude I feel for our troops, for those I know and those I don't know, heroes all!
The PBR World Finals--Thank you, Chris Shivers for a career that will be an inspiration for generations to come!
28. 3 gifts in Christ
My dearest Friend
My gentle Shepherd
My majestic King
29. 3 gifts on time
A day off from school work!
Getting Drummer Boy to work
Finally getting to watch a football game with Hero Husband!
30. 3 gifts overjoyed
Happy to hear from friends who weathered Sandy's wrath and came through okay!
Those utterly unique shades of red and green and the glorious fragrance of British Columbian McIntosh apples in the store today!! They smell and taste like home!
The froth and juice of biting into one of them!!!
31. 3 gifts hallowed
The cool of the morning
The wonder of quietude
A drop of water hanging heavy from a rose petal
1. 3 gifts eaten
The single, perfect bite of a mini Milky Way Midnight
Homemade vegetable soup for lunch
Forbidden rice
2. 3 gifts worn
The cross around my neck that I never take off
A shade of lipstick I like
My red sweater that it's almost not too hot to wear (so ready for cool weather!)
3. 3 gifts that start with N
Nuts that make such a yummy, nutritious snack
Nikon =)
Name above all names!

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