21 November 2010

God's doing good things in the darkness

Several nights ago I remembered my poinsettia.

It was a gift to me a year ago after Daniel’s dad’s wedding. The day after Thanksgiving to be exact.

It was one of two at the front of the church for Daddy and Daryl’s very beautiful Christmas wedding. Please take it home with you, they’d said.
It was a huge, gorgeous poinsettia. It even survived the trip from Ohio to Pennsylvania in the back of our Suburban. In the cold. Nestled among suitcases.

And I enjoyed it all through Christmas.

Fast forward six months.

It spent the entire summer on my front porch. It was watered. Not very regularly, I must admit. For part of the summer I was even red-neck enough to let it sit on the porch below the air conditioner sticking out of my dining room window and let the condensation drip into the pot. Lazy woman’s watering can.

You get the picture. I kind of wanted it to live, but I really didn’t give it too much attention. It even survived the mini-tornado whose high winds removed everything from the front porch.

When it started getting cold I decided to bring it inside. It was still big and leafy and green. Not looking very Christmasy at all. But I’d heard somewhere that it needs to be in a dark place.

Ah ha! The basement dungeon we’ve got would be just the place. I took it down and watered it well.

And promptly forgot about it.

I’d meant to check on it every week and water it. You know, check in on it and see how it was faring. Didn’t happen. For me it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”

Until that night I mentioned several days ago. Oh no! I’d forgotten all about that poinsettia! By now I was kind of hoping that somehow I’d be able to coax it into blooming. For Christmas.

Today I remembered to check on that poor, forgotten plant, deep in the hidden recesses of my basement.

And there he stood. Tall. Green. Not wilting a bit. With a few whitish leaves on the top and a few just starting to turn red.

I was shocked, to say the very least.

Something was going on. There. In the dark.

In the dark and damp of my basement, the poinsettia retained moisture in its soil that light and warm air would have stolen from it. And somehow, the darkness is causing changes in its leaves. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a blooming poinsettia for Christmas.

What is God doing in your darkness?

It’s far too easy for me to curse the darkness. I want bright sunny days. Beautiful breezes. Warmth. Light. Fresh air.

But in my dark and damp God is keeping my soil from drying out too quickly. I water it regularly with tears. And He knows that deep inside the heart of the plant, darkness is necessary to produce the most beautiful blooms.

Is my basement a lovely place? Nope. The part of the basement where I put the poinsettia is pitch black and has a gravel floor. It’s a little damp. I don’t love to go there. It’s not a good place for many things.

But it’s a good place for my poinsettia.

But not for long. Only for a period of time.

Then, up he comes. Back to the sunlight. Back to the warmth of my home. Back to the pedestal where he can sit and be admired. Hopefully sporting beautiful blooms.

Remember, your darkness won’t be forever. God’s only keeping you there so your roots can drink deeply. And so the darkness can cause you to bloom.

I’m wanting to rest in my dark place and let God do His stuff. Care to join me?

04 November 2010

Preparing a place. . .

We’re getting a room ready for Daniel’s grandma. She spent several weeks with us last winter and we’re preparing for her coming again this winter. She doesn’t like to be alone in her little house and since no family members are close to her, she comes to us.

Last year she climbed the stairs to our sparest of spare rooms. This year her hips are bothering her. She wonders what the cancer is doing in her body. It’s a slow-growing type, but still enough to cause worries.

The progress on the room continues. The room used to be an office for Daniel and I. My desk was moved to the school room. Daniel will use his laptop wherever he likes. (But that’s normal.) He’s also in the process of building several tall bookshelves to accommodate our tremendous library.

We tore off old wallpaper. We patched walls. We sanded. We painted. There is trim that needs to be painted. Trim that needs to be hung. A door to be stained. Carpet to be cleaned. A bed and dresser to be moved into the room. Curtains to be located. (I’ve shopped, but haven’t found the right ones yet.)

The shepherd’s staff is stuck into the flower bed below her window. It’s waiting for the bird feeder to be hung. I need to clean the window. The light fixture needs to be dusted.

Did I mention we’re preparing?

And then several days ago I began to wonder. Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for me.

We’ve sure had a great deal of fun getting Mammaw’s room ready for her. We’ve dreamed up things we’re sure she’ll enjoy. A bird feeder so she can watch birds. Books on the shelves. Ones we think she might love to read. A comfy recliner where she can sit. A bed with flannel sheets and a nice thick comforter. Homey. Cozy. Welcoming. Inviting. Restful. Peaceful. Warm.

And Jesus is getting a place ready for me.

Kinda made me wonder what it’s taking for him to actually do that. I mean, consider that he spoke into existence our present earth, sun, moon and stars. Six days and we get oceans, skies, planets, pineapples, rabbits, earthworms, goldfish, green beans, eagles, hornets, alligators, anteaters, fleas, bamboo, palm trees.

And since he left his friends on earth and returned to his father some odd 2,000 years ago he’s been working on a “place” for me? Hmmm. Must be some kinda place.

I wonder if he ever feels the same giddy excitement I feel in getting a simple room ready for Mammaw. I’m pretty sure he does.

But Mammaw’s room isn’t ready just yet. We still need more time. There is more work yet to be done. But when the time is right, she’ll come. Daniel will go pick her up and bring her here himself.

Must mean Jesus is still working too. The “place” isn’t quite ready yet. The thing is, he wants me to be working while I wait for him.

Mammaw has things she wants to get done before she comes to our house. Paperwork to attend to. A doctor to see. She’s not just sitting around waiting for us to come for her.

I keep seeing things around me (and in me) I know he wants me to be working on.

How bout’ you? Do you think much about the “place” he’s preparing? Are you working until he comes for you?

09 October 2010

God likes white dishes

Or at least He wanted me to have some.

You see, I've been using this strange conglomeration of plates for several years now. So many of them have broken and the rest are chipped. And I've been ready to switch them out for something new. Or at least new to me.

I've shopped online. I drooled at IKEA. I even picked out the set of dishes I wanted. At IKEA.

But IKEA is far away from me. Very far. Too far to drive for dishes.

Today I felt compelled to visit yard sales the town nearest me. You must understand, I dearly love yard sales, but rarely do I make myself get up early on a Saturday morning to yard sale.

So off I went. On my drive out our 1/2 mile driveway I prayed and asked God for white dishes.

Immediately I thought, what are the chances of finding white dishes at a yard sale?!? No one is going to be selling white dishes at a yard sale. And Lord, son one also needs jeans.

Yard sale #1. I looked through bins of boys clothing. Stained and expensive. Then I walked toward the back of the yard. There on a small table were {drumroll, please} white dishes! Lots of white dishes. Twelve dinner plates. Twenty two luncheon plates. Twenty three bowls. Ten mugs. Yes, I know it's an odd assortment. But it was the white dishes I'd asked for. For ten bucks.

Yard sale #2 was where I found the 2 pair of nearly new Wrangler jeans for son one.

And now you know why I think God likes white dishes.

(Yes, I started this post several weeks ago and here it is finally. My sincere apologies to those sweet friends who keep checking back for something new. I wish I could tell you how much I'd love to blog every single day. But I'm not supermom. Maybe someday it will happen. For now, I'm a sometimes blogger. )

08 May 2010

{happy mother's day!}

Every year it's the age old question: What little gift can we give to the mothers at church?

There are the ordinary pens, bookmarks, lapel pins, mugs, etc. But what about something new and different.

What about a variety of herbs in cute and colorful little tin buckets? Mothers are very flavorful people you know. We add "spice" to the dull and otherwise boring lives of our families, right?
So, here they are. All dressed up and ready for Sunday.

Happy Mother's Day!!

01 May 2010

{He knows!}

“For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous. . .” Psalm 1:6 Amplified Bible

How grateful I am!! The Lord knows my way!!

And then I hear a little voice in my head asking, “How can you be so bold and conceited to think that you are righteous? You? Righteous? Look at who you are? Look at your past? Ok. Never mind the past??!! What about yesterday? What about how you responded to that child? You clearly messed up! You? Righteous? Funny joke.”

But I quickly recognize the accusing voice of my enemy. My God brings conviction. The enemy brings shame and condemnation. And those questions were clearly the latter.

Because now that I am “in Christ” there is “no condemnation!!” Romans 8:1

And I am righteous because Jesus gives me His “robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10

I am righteous. And the Lord knows my way.

Now that’s a settling, comforting, empowering thought for my Saturday!

29 April 2010

{about walking}

On my walk last night: freshly planted field on one side, freshly mown hayfield on the other and in the distance, golden edged clouds suspended in a pink sky as the orb of a sun slid below the horizon. It would have been idyllic if it wasn’t so cold with what felt like 40 mph wind trying to blow me over.

Ahhh. I love a beautiful sunset. Yes, yes. I know. Technically, it’s not a sunset. It’s an earthrise. But earthrise just doesn’t sound as good.

Imagine Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof singing, “Earthrise, earthset, earthrise, earthset, swiftly flow the days.” See. It just doesn’t sound the same.

I love to think back to all the places I’ve walked.

Walks with Dad after school in Sidney, Ohio. (If you need to know, it’s because I was often in trouble after a homeschool day with Mom. Mom and Dad have always claimed Dr. Dobson’s book “The Strong-willed Child” was written about me.)

Early morning prayer walks with Dad on dusty Sandy Lake roads in Ontario.

Walks with friends all over Red Lake, Ontario. Walks to Jim’s Bakery. Walks to the dock to just sit and enjoy the water.

Walks in Oak Brook, Illinois. Again, many times with friends.

A walk in Taipei, Taiwan with my cousin Eli when he was only three. To the supermarket for groceries. Other walks in Taiwan with Uncle Nate and Auntie Chris to see the sights.

Walks to schools and orphanages, to and from the Metro, in and around the city of Moscow, Russia. A walk through Red Square. And also, the “stairs of death”: too many steps to count going down into a Metro station somewhere in the city.

Walking with my husband as newlyweds to the Hobe Sound beach in Hobe Sound, Florida during our first year of marriage. Hot, humid evenings. With sand fleas.

A walk in downtown Seoul, Korea when we overnighted there en route to the Philippines the first time. Enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of a huge Asian city.

In the Philippines after a helicopter ride into a village high in the mountains, I walked out. For 10 hours. Downhill. My knees shudder when they remember.

Then there were the walks at the Northwoods. U.P., Michigan. Walks to the Gatehouse and back. Walks around Wolf Lake. Walks with friends.

Walks in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania with one, two, three little girls on our way to the park for slides and swings.

Walks in Smalltown, Michigan down trails specially mown in the grass through the back field and through the woods.

A walk in the Philippines with my husband early one morning. Birds singing. Horns honking. Trikes passing. People hard at work and the sun is barely up. Roosters crowing. Children waving.

Walks in Smalltown, Pennsylvania. Down the hill. Over the railroad tracks to the Juniata River.

And now, walks on the farm. Walks down my driveway in between fields. Two mile walks and I’ve only walked to the mailbox and back twice.

I’ve walked and prayed. I’ve walked and cried. I’ve had to stop sometimes because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see. I’ve walked and been so full of joy and hope I felt like bursting. I’ve walked and dreamed. I’ve walked and wondered what’s next. I’ve walked and not ever wanted to leave.

And I find that in all the various seasons of life Jesus has been walking with me. He’s always there. Constant. Steady. Loving. Understanding the things I can’t put into words. My unseen walking partner.

What have been your most memorable walks? With whom and where?

25 April 2010

Sequins sparkled. Rich fabrics fairly glowed. Palms outstretched showed henna patterns. Bare feet moved swiftly. Eyes darted from side to side. Necks followed eyes. And I knew the tiny, beautiful, dark-skinned girls were telling a story with their dance.

Last Saturday our family took a field trip day and attended Global Fest at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) for several hours of ethnic foods, handcrafts and native dances. (Oh dear. That just sounded like we ate for several hours. We didn’t. We watched people. A lot. And we did sample the Indian butter chicken, Chinese dumplings and sushi.)

It wasn’t only the Indian girls doing ethnic dances. There were Filipino children as well with long pieces of bamboo, some tapping the wood in time with the music and others jumping quickly to keep their feet from getting pinched between the sticks. Hispanic men and women played traditional instruments. There was much foot stomping and twirling and clapping when the Irish clog dancers were on stage. I think I even tapped my feet once or twice. Ok. I confess. I really didn’t hold still the whole time. They were amazing.

Nother’ confession: I love cultures. I don’t mind being in the midst of places I don’t fit. I love watching. I enjoy trying new foods. I love meeting people from other continents. I enjoy conversations about why they believe what they believe. I love learning about their traditions and why they do what they do.

Maybe it’s just a little, teeny taste of Heaven.

Maybe there will be Indian Christians there with traditional costumes and dances, retelling the story of Jesus. Maybe we will eat Indian butter chicken and Chinese dumplings and sushi. And apple pie.

And rejoice and celebrate together with people of every tongue and tribe and nation. . .

22 April 2010

Rhubarb Dream Dessert

1 c. flour
5 T. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened

Mix ingredients together and press into a 9 x 9 in. ungreased pan and bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking mix together the following:

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
2 c. finely chopped fresh rhubarb
2 eggs, beaten

Pour onto baked crust and bake at 350˚ for 35 minutes. Great served with whipped cream or ice cream.

{reflections on Earth Day}

“The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it.”
Psalm 24:1

Earth Day is a big deal. Shouldn’t we all go plant a tree or something? Or perhaps recycle those cans in the garage?

Those aren’t bad things. Not at all. I’m just here to remind us Who the earth really belongs to. It’s not ours. Not really. It’s God’s.

He’s the Maker. And when you create something, it’s usually yours.

He did bless the first people and tell them to “fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth. And God said, See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the land and every tree. ..” Genesis 1:28-29

The Amplified Bible throws in that explanation-- “using all its vast resources in the service of God and man.” We are supposed to live here.

Yes, I know. God didn’t give Adam a plastic fork and spoon to use and Eve didn’t use disposable diapers for Cain and Abel.

But God knew even before He created earth that we’d get to this place. Computers. Plastic everything. Aluminum cans that certainly aren’t biodegradable. Disposable diaper. Soles of shoes sitting in a landfill somewhere. The used up school bus sitting in the bottom of that lake.

God knew. And He lets us keep right on going. Because He knows there is an end. The ultimate “global warming” is coming.

And, get this, He actually has plans already laid for a New Earth. Imagine that. Now that will be something. I can’t wait.

Until then, I will try to take care of what He’s given me. I will reuse whenever possible. I will recycle as much as possible. And I will reduce if at all possible.

Because this earth where I live, it’s not really mine. It’s His.

Happy the-earth-belongs-to-the-Lord Day!!!

17 April 2010

It ain't happnen

Yes, I know. The teacher in me is screaming, “You shouldn't say that!!!” But I just did. So there.

And it really isn’t happening. We’re not going to Mexico. In fact, last week was the week we “should” have been there. But knowing and understanding very well that our thoughts and plans and timing aren’t always God’s, we let it rest.

The needs at the orphanage changed from what we’d anticipated earlier on in the planning stages. And then the team we were working with slowly disintegrated. Not in a bad way. God just directed people to do different things.

And so we wait. But we’re not waiting and sitting on our hands. Passport forms for the entire family are filled out, pictures taken, waiting on my desk for a day to take them in (so someone can look at our kids and verify that indeed they are our children).

Getting passports for the kids is like preparing for rain. There are no trips planned. There clearly isn’t money to galavant off across the planet. No one has invited us to join them in what God is doing on the other side of the world. But it’s ok!

God knows where we live! And He is working right here. There are absolutely BEAUTIFUL things He is doing in our family. We are growing in grace and love and understanding. We are learning things about how He wants us to live.

In the last 5 years there have been several attempts to involve our family in overseas missions. Some we have pursued. Others have been invitations that have come to us. And every time, God closes the door. Every time.

I’ve asked “why” more times than I can count. I’ve looked for answers for why I even have the desire to go in the first place. What on earth is God up to?

God knows. We’re in a good place. We’re part of an incredible church! We have amazing friends! We’re dreaming about the places God wants to take us as a congregation of believers.

Thanks for being part of our circle of friends. Friends who ask what God is doing, who care about where we are, who are excited with us about our journey with Jesus.

And for now, overseas ain’t happnen.

16 January 2010

Hobb(it)s bound for Mexico!

I'm re-posting a letter I recently shared on facebook (for those of you not part of the world of fb).

Friends and family,
We're excited! Jesus is inviting us to join Him in a ministry to orphans, as well as humanitarian outreach to squatters living near the orphanage. We'll also be doing some construction on a building on the orphanage grounds.

Daniel and I have been privileged to be involved in God's work around the world at various times in our lives, both as singles and as a couple. This however is the first time God has flung open the doors to our whole family. Being the third-culture-kid I am, I've longed for years to introduce our children to another culture (outside the various cultures we've enjoyed here in the U.S.). It seems that now is the time!

We'd love to invite you to join with us in prayer and financial needs as God prompts you. We have no doubt that what God orders, He also pays for.

Pray for God to bring together the entire team of people who need to be part of this endeavor.

Ask God to bring together the prayer support we'll need before, during and after the trip.

And if God asks you to give, well, give and rejoice! :o)

My passport needs to be renewed and the children all need passports. Tack that cost onto the cost of the trip itself and we're looking at $5150. If you want to give and need a tax deductible receipt you can make your check out to Palmyra United Zion Church.

Otherwise, you can send checks to Daniel Hobbs.

Checks can be mailed to Daniel and Carol Hobbs. (Call me if you need an address!)

We'll try to keep notes coming to let you know the status of the trip as God brings the team together.

Thanks for sharing in our joy!! Blessings, Carol-- for the rest of the Hobb(it)s
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