Memories

Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 
Mark 14:9 NIV

Memories have been on my mind as we traveled 1400 miles to visit the community where we were married 50 years ago. Driving back into the Ozarks after so long was bittersweet with a mixture of nostalgia and regrets. The beauty of gently rolling hills they call mountains, the remoteness and the simplicity surround a person. But roads have been moved, landmarks changed and the town was barely recognizable. Then I recalled that what was most precious of all was neither the beauty of nature nor the local culture but the kindness and joys of friends and neighbors. Just as Jesus said of Mary, “What she has done will be remembered and her story retold.” Then I was comforted in the arms of the one who holds my memories and my heart that nothing is lost in God’s story of our lives. He remains and His love is more faithful and unchanging than the changing landscape of our world. I hope you enjoy these photos of our anniversary journey

Good-bye Doug

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 NKJV

When the news came last week that Doug had been in a bad accident on the farm, I wondered if this might be his last. The week that he survived gave us all some time, not only to pray for him and his family but to remember this simple man’s kindness, loyalty to his friends and willingness to help. Doug didn’t read much. Besides repair manuals, the only books I think he ever read were the Boy Scout manual and the Bible. All his life, Doug had struggled with learning. His slight speech impediment also made it difficult for those who were not friends to understand all he said. But at 6 AM on Sunday mornings when the church furnace didn’t come on, Doug got the call. When someone’s car broke down and they couldn’t afford to take it to the garage, he fixed it at his house. Over the thirty plus years we knew him, Doug had rewired two of our homes, and replaced most of the plumbing in one. Doug also helped take care of the farm I managed. When the pipes leaked, the irrigation wouldn’t come on or the fields needed mowing, Doug was there.

But age wasn’t kind with our friend and after a few accidents falling asleep at the wheel, heart surgery and a fire that took out his big garage, Doug was hurting. But just as always, he assured me that he could cut the fields one more year, once he got the old tractor running again and bought 100 gallons of diesel at the crazy high prices of 2022. Then came the phone call that Doug was in intensive care, with nine broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Throughout the last week we all prayed that God would work a miracle and bring him back one more time. But it was not to be. Jesus had made other arrangements for our friend. He had a schedule to keep with the almighty and a home prepared by grace that would never need the furnace serviced. There would be fields to walk through, but never mowed. There is fresh living water that doesn’t run through pipes that freeze up in winter and a place prepared at a table.

No, my friend wasn’t perfect, but he had put His faith in a Savior who was. Despite his failings, he kept hoping to get his kids pointed back in the right direction or help out any neighbor he could. I can hardly believe I can’t call him up today or send him a thank you note for whatever work he had done lately at the farm. Goodbye Doug. May the Lord watch over us both until we meet in that city where there will be no more night, neither tears nor suffering. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for letting us have such a wonderful faithful gentle friend who will be sorely missed.

Spring Planting

Spring Planting – The Farmer

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:3-8 ESV

During the winter I used to scan through seed catalogues and plan for spring planting. Then on a blank sheet of paper I would draw the garden and decide where to put the cucumbers and squash and tomato plants. Jesus tells a story of a farmer who like me had decided what seed to plant, where to plant it and the exact day to put them in the soil. He left his house with a bag of the precious seed to begin his day’s work. As he started up the hard path some seed spilled out and as it bounced on the hard ground the birds began to follow him and gobble them up. Once he arrived, he tried to evenly spread the seeds in the furrows but even though the plowed field looked beautiful and clean, underneath the surface there were hidden rocks in some places and thorn and thistle seeds in others.

The same story happens every Sunday in our churches. We all hear the same sermon, but the message has different results depending on how we listen. But our problem is not with the farmer or the seed! The difference at harvest time comes from how our field has been prepared. Before we hear even one more sermon maybe our prayer should be, “Oh Lord prepare my heart!”