Walk, Don't Run

"Why me, God?" Tevya anguished as he looked upward. (from Fiddler on the Roof)

Who has not asked that question? Sometimes jokingly, but all of us at one time or another question God earnestly within our heart. Day upon day, blessing upon blessing goes by and we are satisfied and happy. Then, with one phone call or email, a simple sentence can turn our world upside down.I've been given many blessings from God. I take them and run. How far can you run at a sprinter's pace? I dream of what blessings will evolve into. I make plans around them. I try to make them grow into something more than they may be intended for. At other times, life runs it's course and something happens to shake it up at no fault of my own.

I have had a constant conversation with myself and God over a certain phone call the other day. I am mad at myself for getting depressed over something that I have no control over. Why, just yesterday I found the cutest shop in a quaint town nearby and couldn't even enjoy it! I get so excited about anything autumn, yet wanted to cry over pumpkin displays and the coolest retro fabric tea towels. This morning I had to force myself to garden. Now I have to force myself to write, finish an illustration and then fix dinner and be cordial.
The palette for "A Happy Birthday...What's Age Got to Do With It?"

I argue with myself. "Life stinks."
"How dare you say something like that when you've been given so much."
"I don't like the unknown, and today I do not know what tomorrow may bring."
"You know that God has always steered you the right direction. Life has gotten sweeter each time you've gone through something like this. Be still and listen to God."
"But what if..."
"Why would you question God? How many times does He have to show you that He is in control?"
"Ahhhh. There it is. I always want to be in control; in control of every situation, and, truth be known, even for what God has planned for me."I am glad God's Word is written on my heart. The more I learn of our Father and His Son, the more I want to know. I've learned that you can't read a passage too many times, as God has different things to say through the same words depending on what He wants you to hear. Writing for Christian publications has helped strengthen that. Now, I need to take that and run with it! I will keep my focus on God.

I don' think there is anyone that hasn't gotten depressed at one time or another and had to force themselves out of it. It's that ugly part of human nature. First, you force yourself out of bed and do the mundane chores. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself wanting to transplant some seedlings as I forced myself to water the garden after I flushed the phrase "what's the use" out of my head. And, as much as I love to paint, I know I will find joy when I force myself to finish that illustration of a birthday party this afternoon. Just writing about it makes me want to get out the paint.
Today I will walk, not run, and enjoy the moment. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know what I have right now and know that it is good. Thank you, God, for your grace, patience and loving hugs!

The First Unofficial Day

Yesterday I almost tripped over pumpkin vines crowding the garden path as I rushed to deliver the bushel of ripe tomatoes to the waiting sink of cool water. The heady aroma of jalapenos and cumin was a homey greeting as I crossed the threshold. Weary from standing all day in the heat of a steamy kitchen with only a break to pick produce under the hot sun, there was no respite from preserving the harvest until the last simmering salsa was placed in mason jars and sealed in a boiling water bath.
How can I complain when we have so much? The pantry is full of berry preserves, canned fruits and pickles and the chest freezer neatly packed with blueberries, beans, corn and soon, pumpkin. Neighbors and the church produce table have seen the benefits of the garden, too. We will eat well this next year.
Yet, as I wipe my brow on the stained floursack towel tied around my waist, I find myself mumbling, “I just can’t peel one more tomato.”

Well, I picked, peeled, cooked and canned from before dawn to dusk. Begrudgingly, at first, until at last I viewed dozens of sparkling jars that neatly lined the countertops as they cooled; jars with a bit of summer sealed inside that we would appreciate on snowy winter days.

For years I had wished for a time such as this, a time to pick and preserve the garden. Too many harvest seasons have seen produce spoil on the vine for lack of time. This year was different. I was given a break from work contracts directly during the peak of harvest. I know I should joyfully thank God for this opportunity. I feel guilty for the secret, complaining thoughts that I have.

At last, dinner was cooked, served and the dishes cleared. It was time to take Callie the dog for her nightly walk and then finally relax with the magazine that was delivered earlier in the day. The stroll always ended at the gardens and orchard where a mental note of tomorrow’s chores was made. “I better not see any ripe tomatoes!”

Sparse, heavy drops bounced off sun-scorched leaves, creating plumes of dust where they first hit the dirt path. Could this be rain? Just one day short of a record dry spell, it felt odd to accept the umbrella that my husband took off of the back porch hook as we started our after-dinner walk. Rain-freshened air, the only type you can get after a drought-ridden summer, refreshed my body to forget the labors I complained about earlier.

“I hope this doesn’t split the tomatoes,” my husband mentioned as we turned back the covers of the bed. I gave a shrewd smile, then gleaned fall decorating ideas from the magazine as I listened joyfully to the soft, steady rain. The melodious drip-drop of sparse but heavy droplets hitting the dogwood tree outside our open window continued to serenade us through our sleep.

Maybe it was my imagination, but overnight every living thing became vibrant and happy. As the tomatoes slowed their pace, the pumpkins quickened theirs to foretell the coming season. Could it really happen that fast? One day? The cool ocean mist that clung to the top of the Doug Fir trees on the hill was the deciding factor. I grabbed my sweater with enthusiasm.

This is it, the first unofficial day of autumn!