Thursday, May 17, 2012

Living for today....

I'm a planner.  Always have been.  I like to look at my calendar, schedule upcoming events, and enter them into my day planner & phone.  If I have extra time, I put them into my computer, too, for good measure. 

Mark and I had plans.  His meticulously-drawn plan for our move to Kansas was something to behold.  He started, at my urging, by purchasing 51 1/2 acres of home section pasture land, right next to the family farmhouse, a few years back.  He studied range management, and began working on restoring the pasture from fescue back to beautiful native grasses.  He planted native grasses in one area, where we planned on building a home.  But he was most proud of the fact that, over the course of the years, as the fescue dwindled, the native grass that had been on the land for over a century was given new life, and sprung back into its former glory.

He worked with local conservation agencies to draw up a plan for a pond.  He had it dug just 2 1/2 years ago.  Kidney-shaped, about 2 acres in size when full, it has a peninsula built into it where we would put picnic tables and outdoor furniture.  The wild oats he ordered to have planted around its edge sat unopened in the local NRCS office at his death--a neighbor sowed those seeds last fall in his absence.

Now, he lies buried in his home church's cemetery, just a quarter mile from his plans and dreams.  That's the stark reality of life.  In my first outdoors column I quoted a Yiddish phrase, "Men plan and God laughs"....

Life's not fair.  Things don't turn out the way "we" plan.  I don't think God laughed at our plans.  I just think things happen outside of our control.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  And on a rare occasion, as in our case, the rug gets yanked out from under you, causing a re-evaluation of everything you love and hold dear.

I bought a new Bible.  I am in love with it.  Thanks to my Bible app, YouVersion, I've been able to read countless translations of scriptures.  The translation that speaks most to me, at this particular time in my life, is The Message.  Translated from the original Greek and Hebrew by Eugene H. Peterson, a minister, teacher, it is not intended to replace any other translation or the many excellent study Bibles available.  It is first and foremost a reading Bible.  He wanted to simply get people to read the Bible, to reach those who think the Bible is "un-readable" or too obtuse. 

It reads like a novel.  A non-fiction novel, if you will.  It's in plain language, and my 10 and 8 year old love to hear me read to them out of it.  That alone was well worth the price I paid for it. 

Last night, A.J. was having trouble falling asleep, so I read aloud to him my daily devotional and Bible passage, while he was snuggled into my bed.   I could tell he wanted more, so I turned to the book of James, where Mark's dear friend Steve found scripture that described him at his eulogy: 


"Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom?  Here's what you do.  Live well, live wisely, live humbly.  It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.  Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom.  Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom.  Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom.  It's the furthest thing from wisdom--it's animal cunning, devilish conniving.  Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the other's throats. 


Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.  It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."    
 James 3:13-18, The Message 

And as he got sleepier, I glanced down at the same page from which I'd been reading:
"And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, 'Today--at the latest, tomorrow--we're off to such and such a city for the year.  We're going to start a business and make a lot of money.'  You don't know the first thing about tomorrow.  You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.  Instead, make it a habit to say, 'If the Master wills it, and we're still alive, we'll do this or that'." 
 James 4:13-15, The Message
Live for today.  No one has the promise of tomorrow.  As I listen to my wind chimes, creating beautiful music on my back porch, while birds sing and the sun peeks through the tree branches, I realize that today is enough for me. 

I can't worry about my acreage in Kansas, my pond, or where my family will be 2, 3, or even 5 years down the road.  God will take care of the planning.  He'll work out the details, and when the time comes to do whatever He wants for me and my sons, I'll know it.  I trust Him.

Mark wasn't brash in making his plans.  He wanted what was best for his family, all the while, being true to himself and to his God.  I take comfort in the fact that even though he is no longer on this side of heaven, some of his best years were spent making the dreams he had for that land in Kansas reality. 

There was no place he'd rather have been than tromping around that pasture, his pasture, cutting thistles and young cottonwoods, deciding what fish to stock in his pond.  And in the process he made unforgettable memories for both his sons and for me. 
I can still picture him, as clear as day, cutting cottonwood trees with one mighty swipe of his 6 foot long hoe.  Sweat dripping off his brow, smiling from ear to ear, so darn handsome in a plain white t-shirt and faded out Levis and boots.  He likened being on the farm to being at a stripped-down spa, where good hard work, healthy food, and no cable tv was the norm. 

There's no other place quite like it, that's for sure.  The boys and I will be there in some capacity in the future, but again, I'm depending on God to figure all of that out.
Mother's Day, Wichita Falls TX, May 13,2012

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy today.  You should, too.
  
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Christmas, 2012

Christmas, 2012