Harvest Time

a wheel barrel full of fun !!!

I love this time of year and I love working outside. For many years we have collected pine needles on the campus of WCU to mulch our flower beds. We used to pile our four children in the back of the pick-up and drive to several parking lots on campus where our four children would help Phil and I rake up the pine needles that had recently fallen. The key was to rake them up before they had been driven over very much so that the needles were easy to rake up. We would fill the bed of the pick-up and then the kids would ride on top of them back to our house. (Before you have horrific visions of kids bouncing out of the back of the truck onto pavement – you must know that we lived adjacent to the campus and the furthest parking lot was within a mile, two at the most)

When our children were young this was a great adventure. It was fun to ride in the back of the truck on a pile of sweet-smelling pine needles. As they grew older and became teenagers – this chore lost its lustre. They didn’t want their peers to see them raking pine needles on campus or, heaven forbid! riding in the back of a pick-up! Appearing cool begins to win over the wind whipping through your hair while bouncing around on a soft bed of pine needles.

That is one of the best parts of having grandchildren. I can do some of those activities I first did with our children and the grandchildren now think it’s FUN! Notice what our grandsons are riding on in the wheelbarrow. Yes – those are pine needles from WCU. Phil and I now go get them ourselves and it is a ten-mile drive for us since we moved from Cullowhee. But there is no better mulch for our hydrangeas and azaleas then white pine needles! We’ll “harvest” those pine needles next week.

Phil has harvested all the sweet corn and we blanched it, cut it off the cob, and froze it. We are still getting a few tomatoes until we have a frost, and Phil has dug potatoes. This was not the best garden we have ever had, but the beans and corn did especially well. Our squash and cucumbers did poorly, but we did enjoy the few that we had. The good aspect of gardening is enjoying the “fruits” of our (Phil’s) labor, eating, sharing, and putting up the fruits and vegetables. There is NOTHING better to eat in my estimation than vine ripened tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob. No wonder God said “It was good” after He made those plants!

Now that the garden is all but finished for this season, we could look back with regret on the vegetables that did not do well, or we can savor the blessings of the vegetables we enjoyed eating  – and the ones in the cellar waiting to be eaten this winter.

I believe that God looks on us and the “fruit” we bear in that way. Galatians 5: 22, 23  lists the results of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

Just as our garden has a good harvest for certain vegetables one year and less the next, our lives face similar situations at times. Last year a groundhog ate every green bean plant so we had no fresh beans to eat or can. Yet we had the best cucumbers ever! This year Phil foiled the ground-hog (don’t ask how) and we had the best beans we have ever grown. The cucumbers, sadly, were a sorry lot.

Sometimes we have peace in our lives, other times our joy may be abundant. We may feel that our patience is GONE, but we still feel love for those little ones with sticky fingers and runny noses. In our garden we work to achieve optimum results each year, but there are often (furry) things beyond our control. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. We can’t control all the circumstances of our lives, but we can seek to bear God’s fruit and nurture its growth. We can be thankful for each fruit that we manifest in our lives and seek to improve where we know we fall short. God is faithful to do ” immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20.

Cracked Pots

It has been one of those weeks where I have been hit with the same message from three different sources. You think I better pay attention?!!

#1      My Honors Art III class is working on pottery. They are making ceramic pots and learning the properties and limitations of clay. I tell them clay is very forgiving, you can mold, re-mold, and even crush it and start all over again. Yet once you commit to a shape or design, you must follow certain rules to ensure successful completion of your project. Last week two students didn’t follow the “rule of thumb”. This rule states that no part of the form can be thicker than your thumb without providing a vent to let trapped air escape. Two students added clay to their pottery while forming and created areas that were thicker than their thumbs. Both of these pots blew up in the kiln while firing. These two students had been very successful making pottery that has been entered in several art shows, yet they had become a bit complacent and thought they knew what they were doing. Message for me – God is very patient, forgiving, and gentle. Yet at some point I am held accountable for following His Word. Past accomplishments aside – I must walk with God faithfully each day so I don’t become a “cracked pot.” 

#2       We attended a Sunday service with our two daughters and their families yesterday. There was a potter’s wheel in the foyer of the church building as we entered, with a bisque fired (first firing) pot from which part of the bottom was blown off.  The pastor preached from Jeremiah 18:1-12  on “In the Potter’s Hand”. The part of his message which spoke to me was in verses 1-4.

18:1  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Pastor Thompson stated that God is the potter, we are the clay. He shared something I teach my students  – 75% of successful pottery is in the preparation of the clay. Message for me – God is at work forming me  – and every time I resist His effort, I make it harder on myself because God has to “re-shape and re-mold” me. Otherwise I will be a cracked pot.

# 3   The calligraphy calendar my sister-in-law Renee’ gave me has this verse for October 2nd  –

                            Isaiah 64:8    Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.  
Message for me – as a loving Father, God wants the best for me. God does not form cracked pots.

As I have reflected on the three ways that I have been confronted with the reality of God at work  – creating me to be the vessel He wants so I can accomplish the purpose He has for me – I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for me.

God doesn’t give up, as I have been known to do when a piece of pottery isn’t formed the way I want. As our Father, God will continue working on us until we become the unique vessel, the work of His hands, that He planned. Then we will be able to pour out His Glory!