Thursday, September 30, 2010

fresh flowers for today

Epic Fail or Gift of Grace?
a fresh flower original
by Lani Wiens, copyright September 2010

When things go wrong we tend to just see the wrong and not look at the evidence that God is there with us in the midst of the nasty circumstance. This week I had the opportunity to 'see' God's hand of comfort with me in the midst of an epic fail of a day. It was so obvious I couldn't miss it, read on...

Tuesday started out like any other day when we're heading into the city. We'd scheduled several appointments and were starting out early. We hoped to have a little time in between to do some treasure hunting at second hand stores but mostly our day was pretty sewn up. The highlight was going to be seeing my niece's brand new baby for the first time, we were pretty excited to get started on the day. The night before the three youngest went to grandma's for a sleepover so that the men could get out to the field early and they wouldn't have to wake up so early. We got going right on time and everything seemed great.

As I drove I inquired of the Lord as to which road to take in. Would I have enough time to drop off the grain sample before the first appointment or not? I felt strongly to head that way first which took me into the south end of the city rather than the west end...which would prove to be the second piece of God's comfort for the upcoming events of the day. I easily found the broker's office and dropped off the sample and headed to our first appointment. I was just coming off the overpass onto the freeway when I felt a little wobble in the back end of the van. I had time to think, "Oh no, not again", remembering my tire blow-out earlier in the summer, before we felt a big thump and I realized I had problems. I was able to steer to the side of the on-ramp and jumped out to see what the issue was. Well, it wasn't a flat tire, I didn't have a tire at all, nor a wheel for that matter, the parts of it were scattered through the intersection - pieces of brakes, the hubcap and tire were no longer with us.

I got out my CAA card and cell phone and made a call for a tow truck while the two kids I had with me carefully gathered up the pieces in between traffic. While I was waiting on the phone a vehicle stopped and a fellow got out. This guy stuck with me through the whole ordeal - Jay, my personal good samaritan. He 'happened' to work at the Ford dealership in the service department, which just 'happened' to be across from where we were - he wasn't working that day. So while I was on the phone arranging the tow truck he arranged for the service guys to prepare for us and got a loaner vehicle set up. He then proceeded to stick with me directing traffic around our disabled van and offering comfort and support. His reason, "I would hope that someone would do the same for my wife and kids in a similar situation." This young man also 'happened' to have grown up in the neighbouring town. His wife just a little further away, but their youth group used to hang out with the youth group from here when she was younger which we now pastor. Small world.

After the tow truck hooked us up, Jay and his wife drove us to the garage and introduced us to the manager and made sure we were taken care of before they headed off to the rest of their day. The garage treated me with respect and care like I have rarely experienced in a garage setting.

We were finally off on our day, or so we thought, with a rental vehicle (paid for by the garage) and went to the dentist. We were there for a few hours and then headed over to a nearby store to look around a little. We were going through the check-out when we got the call from the garage that the fix would definitely keep us in the city over night. Fortunately, the younger children already had their overnight things at my mom's so staying another night wouldn't be a problem - the first piece of intervention on our behalf by my great bit God. In the meantime my sister-in-law walked into the store. We stopped to chat for a bit and in the midst of that chat my oldest daughter suddenly collapsed to the floor. She had fainted, most likely from the dental work, but gave us rather a good scare. Her brother thought she was dead - proving to himself and to her that he really does love her. While we waited for the paramedics to show up, my sister-in-law was there with us offering comfort and support. She had just 'happened' to come into the store to kill a little time before her doctor's appointment.

After scraping ourselves off the floor and dealing with the paramedics who declared her fit to carry on, the three of us went on with our day...again. We did manage to see our delightful new relative which was absolutely the high point of the day. Around supper time we headed over to some friends with whom we'd arranged care and feeding. After supper the kids headed over to the nearby park to play for a bit. We were enjoying a cup of tea when the girls came running in at high speed and talking even faster...something about a fight and someone getting beat up...Darcy headed out immediately to see what was going on while Holly and I tried to decipher the girls' high speed talking. By the time we figured out what they were trying to tell us Darcy had come back in with the boys. Chris was visibly shaken and crying. Apparently, an older girl in the park had 'asked him out'. When he refused she got mad and started trash talking him, the girl she was with picked up a shovel and made advances toward my son and he stopped her before she could do any damage, of course they didn't like that, and an older brother was called in... wisely, the four of them high-tailed it out of there before anything else happened. My motherly instincts wanted to give hugs and kisses but my wise, manly friend, who 'happened' to have decided to stay home that evening instead of attending a coffee time, seemed to know that the comfort my son needed at the time was the fellowship of guys cheering for a hockey team...who knew. My daughter got to realize that she loves her brother and demonstrated the same level of concern for him that he had offered to her earlier that day.

I had called another friend to see if we could do a last minute crash at her house. For the last three days she had been praying for me and was totally prepared for my call. God knew I'd need the calmness of her presence and home at the end of this day and He had it all ready for me.

The God of all comfort provided me with hands on help for every situation in this incredibly weird day of nasty events. On the outside looking in it was an epic fail of a day, costing us time and money that we couldn't afford, yet I have never felt so well-cared for in such a stressful situation as I did on Tuesday. I'm confident that the comfort I have received will be passed on to someone else one day. God is in the midst of our trials whether or not we recognize it at the time. I didn't fall apart or even shed a tear throughout all of that, just felt the peace and care that passes human understanding. When we picked up the van the service manager assured me several times that it was safe to go home. I needed to hear that. He explained everything to me in a kind way with no condescension whatsoever.

This morning, safely home and in my own place my husband showed me something he had found on the ground, one of the studs from the wheel. My wheel was already compromised from the moment I left the yard yet it held together until I was in a place where it could safely come off without injury to anyone. God knew I hate dealing with garages so he provided someone to make the decision for me. He knew all that would happen in the moments and times that it would and went ahead of me. My God is good.

Safety Tip: When having your tires replaced make sure the garage uses a torque wrench and not an impact wrench to tighten the nuts. Overtightening the nuts puts too much stress on the studs and they will sheer off causing you to lose your wheel several weeks after the tire change, which is what happened to me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Flower of Jesus

A Flower of Jesus
by Lani Wiens (copyright 2010)
a fresh flowers original

Last night during our family Bible reading/prayer time a flower popped up!!! It seems like I haven't had one for so long I almost didn't know what to do with it, then I remembered, WRITE IT DOWN. Share it for the encouragement of others.

My six year old is still in the process of learning to read but loves trying out his skills during our family time. While we're praying he has been using scripture to pray, reading a prayer or psalm out of his special Bible. Unfortunately, he doesn't always slow down to sound out each word and makes a few mistakes. The other night we had a host of heavenly animals proclaiming Jesus' birth to the shepherds instead of angels. They begin and end the same so I can see how he could have made the mistake. It made me smile...the picture of camels, cows and horses dancing and singing in the sky. It would have been quite a sight!

Last night's slip up made me ponder, however, and I've been pondering until I had something to share here. "Help us be flowers of Jesus, " he read. 'Flowers of Jesus' instead of 'followers', I didn't bother correcting him, even though his sister snickered. Let's ponder flowers for a moment. We spend tons of money to beautify our yards and communities with these fragile, delicate plants that don't give us anything in return - or do they?

Flowers give us pause, they draw us to themselves. Our spirits are lifted by drinking in the beauty of flowers. As we come closer and are enveloped by their scent we are filled with peace and joy. There is a sense of satisfaction and rest that accompanies flowers. We give flowers to those who are sick to cheer them. We decorate with flowers to celebrate special events like weddings, birthdays and babies. We use flowers to bring comfort to those who mourn. And we plant and cultivate flowers for the sheer beauty of it.

Have you ever been drawn in by an artificial flower? They are a lovely, long-lasting representation of the real thing but there is no scent, no life in them. While they look pretty on the outside, there is nothing of substance on the inside. We quickly move on feeling disappointed and foolish. I pray that I am not disappointing to those looking for the beauty of Jesus and I'm the one they come to examine.

Followers of Jesus are asked to weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice. We are to point seekers to the way of the cross. We give off the scent of Christ, bringing life to those who want it. We bring with us compassion and strength to those who need it. We are to reflect the glory of God the Father. That job description is not that different from flowers is it?

I think I want to be a 'Flower of Jesus'. I want to bring beauty, peace and joy to those who see me, I want to have the scent of the Father on me bringing comfort to those who mourn and calmness to those who stop near to see if I'm real. 'Beauty is God's gift to us to fill in the trenches of pain.' I read that somewhere once and it has stuck with me. There is a reason for beauty in this world, we need to stop and drink it in to refresh our spirits and revive us. I want to reflect the beauty of the Father to all who happen to see me.

Today, be a 'Flower of Jesus' to someone. Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The New Jacket

My cousin and I sewed these jackets this week for our little girls! They are so cute. Little plug for Fresh Squeezed Fabrics on Etsy where we purchased our supplies!!

We love them and the girls do, too!! The pattern is the Uptown Girl reversible jacket.

grace notes for today (893)

881. a good night's sleep
882. warbling voices singing with me this morning around the table..."You are the Everlasting God..."
883. sewing with friends
884. passages, stages of life that are complete
885. 500+ pounds of honey harvested
886. dark red tomatoes, dehydrated and stored for winter use
887. assignments marked and assigned
889. understanding and love in the eyes of children as we explain the plan to heal the rejected and heartbroken among us
890. threads of healing
891. words not spoken, a victory over my wayward tongue
892. faith rising up while rain falls down on our unharvested fields
893. helping hands

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I realized today that I am a failure. It's true and apparently it's okay. I can't do a single thing on my own. I was brought face to face with that reality as my husband preached this morning. I can't do anything unless Christ is at work in me. Unfortunately for me and all those around me I too often forget to surrender my frailty to Him. The words on the page say that He has it all under control and I need to surrender the whole thing to Him. I'm good with question is how do I then live?

As a parent how do I discipline in the reality that I'm not in control of the situation?
As a leader in the church how do I plan and pursue ministry ideas?
As a wife, how do I love my husband the way he needs to be loved?
How do I go about surrendering my gifts, talents, ideas and dreams to the one who created them all in the first place?

I'm not sure how the surrender process looks. I'd be okay with simply not getting up in the morning and letting the Lord make lunches and clean and the 1000 other things on my to do list every day but I'm pretty sure that is NOT how it goes.

I'm truly at a loss here...I desperately want to surrender, to let Him have control, to get rid of my nasty self and let the fruit of the Spirit show up, I'm just having trouble getting her to lay down and die.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September 1 thankfulness (880)

863. Cherries
864. Apricots
865. Apples
866. Beans
867. Peaches
868. Plums
869. Honey
870. Strawberries
870.5 Peppers

These are the things we have put in our storehouse so far this year. So much work but so satisfying to see it sitting on the shelves in my cold room.

I am also thankful for...

871. The first painful days of school being done.
872. A more organized start to this year's homeschooling.
873. A more peaceful countenance on my eldest son as he is back at home this year.
874. My nephew - the massage therapist.
875. New routines.
876. My massage cushions.
877. Encouraging words and phone calls.
878. My parents being near by again.
879. The community in which I live.
880. Finding the right curriculum for my kids.