Nothing like the warming days and sticky nights of summer to encourage us to slow down a bit and see all the blessing and chuckles the Lord has bestowed upon us.
My summer started with our church's annual Memorial Day Picnic, which despite the showers did not keep us from enjoying a cookout, remembering those in our armed services, and playing a vigorous and slippery soccer game. The next day I took off with Dave, Jack and Jared to the Banner of Truth Minister's Conference in PA. Three days of great discussions, fellowship, and buying books! Yet the highlight was the searching and masterful preaching. Alistair Begg's messages on "Persuasive Preaching" had us at times laughing uproariously (Can Reformed folk do that?) over his insights into Biblical characters even as he fired our hearts to be clear, authoritative and bold in our own preaching; Sinclair Ferguson had me in tears as the Holy Spirit applied his teaching on our union with Christ to sensitive areas in my own life. Thank you, Lord, for starting my summer this way.
A baby robin fell from a neighbor's tree and was adopted by my daughter. Emory researched on the internet how to care for it, learning to feed it sugar water with a syringe and, of all things, moistened cat food. He began chirping and opening his mouth when she came near, and we laughed because Emory's nickname has always been "Birdy." Over a period of a few weeks it went from being barely alive to being able to fly, of living in a cardboard box to having its own birdcage (donated by Emory's violin teacher).
However, this robin apparently was born with one deformed leg (perhaps the reason it was pushed out of its nest) and broke the other in its fall. So it had to flutter around quite a bit just to gets its balance. Various names were given to it, such as Squirt (don't ask) or Winchester, but it was eventually dubbed Mephibosheth for obvious reasons. Spiritual lessons were gained from Mephibosheth. He served as an object for a children's sermon: "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father...So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." Twice while caring for him outside he flew away and escaped, and was thought to be lost. Yet within an hour or so he was relocated and returned to his cage, begging for more cat food. The sparrow has her place of rest...Thine altars as my rest I sing, O Lord of hosts, My God, My King.
Rightly knowing Mephibosheth would be neglected by me when she went to Michigan with the children last week, Miriam took him with her. A wildlife enthusiast neighbor of her parents was going deep into the woods to release some box turtles he had raised, and offered to release Mephibosheth there as well. Despite a tearful protest or two, we concluded this would be in Mephibosheth's and our best interest. Just as his name sake enjoyed, what better place to sit at the King's table than the swamps of northern Michigan?
Ran across this this short poem from Robert Frost called Fragmentary Blue. Reminded me of Colossians 3:2, which encourages us to set our minds on heavenly things, not earthly ones.
Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?
Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.
Lizards have returned to our household. Hopefully Scooty and Sneaky will last longer than Spiffy, Squishy, Speedy and their other predecessors. But it will take some doing. Besides trying to keep them off exercise bikes and trees, sometimes they have to be saved from attempts of too much care. Yesterday Scooty was shedding his skin, and I had to admit he did look rather silly with it flopping about. Celia, abhorred by its looks, asked - no begged! - to please let her peel it off. Foreseeing that perhaps a leg or tail might come off with her attempts to peel the lizard, only telling her that it would be more fun to watch Scooty eat its skin convinced her to leave things well enough alone.
One of the things I dislike most is for people to ask me to smell something. Nine times out of ten it is to sniff something disgusting, such as whether the milk is spoiled or food has rotted in the frig. Usually it is Miriam that asks me, and I would much rather walk by faith than by smell in these situations. "Honey, I love you and utterly trust you that it stinks. Consider the length of my nose and how much bad smells especially pain me." So when Miriam called me to one of the closets and asked me to smell it, I knew it was not the odor of perfume or roses that would greet me. And was I correct! The sharp, acidic aroma brought to mind P.G. Wodehouse's description of the smell of Lord Emsworth's prized pig: "Emperess' rich bouquet." We concluded this rich bouquet must have been from the cat secretly urinating in the closet, and so we quickly ripped out the small piece of carpet that covered the floor and I took it out to the trash.
However, upon returning to the room Miriam asked me, to my utter dismay, to employ my nose once again. Seems that the aroma was wrongly labeled "Cat on the Closet Carpet." Instead, it should have born the tag "A Certain Son's Soccer Shoes." A shoe bin we had taken out of the closet to rip out the carpet had a pair of soccer shoes in it that were rain-soaked, sweaty, and smellariffic. But with every cloud of odor comes forth a rainbow. The floor underneath the carpet proved to be hardwood, so a certain son is helping us refinish it today.