Posts Tagged ‘nurture’

home

October 27, 2011

I absolutely love the Switchfoot song This Is Home and could listen to it over and over. (Sometimes I do!) It touches something deep inside my heart. I mean, just the word ‘home’ unearths memories and feelings. It’s fraught with an immense gamut of emotions. It’s my guess that we all long to experience ‘home’ in the best sense of the word.

I think that’s why, especially over the holidays, we can get so emotionally conflicted. We find ourselves grieving at a time when everyone (it seems) is celebrating. We long for home while at the same time knowing ours wasn’t really a place of love or safety, or perhaps it was but we’ve moved across country or our parents are divorced or no longer living. We long for home to be static, to be permanent, yet it is neither of those.

Our hearts long for home regardless of our age or gender. Not necessarily our home, but a home to go home to, to be welcomed in with open arms and hugs and aromas of favorite foods made especially for us. We ache for a home that isn’t filled with anger and resentment, that isn’t pocked by emotional scars left by prior fights and arguments. If we do manage to go home, we tiptoe around to avoid setting off any land mines that might ruin another visit.

If that isn’t our experience, perhaps we wish our family was home long enough all at the same time to actually be together. We long for parents who aren’t so busy in their own worlds that they notice us, make time for us and value us. Maybe we yearn for what used to be but is no longer.

Inevitably, eventually our earthly home will be invaded by loss of some kind. Whether by growing up and moving out, job changes, aging parents, health issues, death or divorce, families change. Home changes. Nothing stays the same. If we could freeze a frame from our life to go home to it’d probably be a favorite Christmas or birthday or family meal of some kind that made us feel special.

my childhood home

Home is supposed to be a place where we are safe, accepted as we are, loved, cherished, nurtured, enveloped and valued. It’s supposed to be a place where our needs are met, our presence is enjoyed and our dreams are fueled and fulfilled. It’s supposed to be a haven, a refuge, a place of rest and refreshment and recuperation. In Isaiah 32:18 God says, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Doesn’t that sound incredible?! I think this is God’s ideal for our homes: to be places that are safe, secure, peaceful and restful. Ahhhhhhh. Home.

I don’t need to point out the discrepancies between the ideal and reality. And, despite all our best efforts to hold those longings at bay, to tell ourselves to be logical and analytical, we still find our hearts wistful.

We’re on the brink of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. We’ll be making or feeling the pressure to make trips back to the homes in which we were raised or to attend meals with family. These activities have the potential to be catalysts for reopening old wounds or creating new ones. This time of year inevitably focuses our attention on what we feel should have been yet isn’t and perhaps will never be. It yanks our hearts back to aching for Real Home.

The other day I came across these verses in the Bible. Psalm 90 verses 1-2. Moses was talking to God. “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”

The very next psalm begins this way: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Ps. 90:1-2.) Here’s a verse to hang onto as well, Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change.”

I have said before that the only thing in my life that never changes is the fact that nothing ever stays the same! But there is one other reality. God never changes. He is the same yesterday as He is today and as He will be tomorrow and forever. There is a home that is perfect and will never change!  That encourages me! God is my safe place. As I put my trust in Him, as I believe that He is my Ultimate Home, I will experience home even though my home of origin is no longer in existence. My parents and oldest brother have died. The home pictured above is inhabited by another family. I have memories but that’s all that remains of my childhood home. I know you can relate in some way yourself.

I have a little framed print that says, “Home is where your story begins.” I love that saying and I look at it pretty much every day. I love it because I think of my precious children, now adults.

Our home is where they found their beginning. It wasn’t a perfect one, although we tried and gave it our absolute best. But the beautiful reality is that word ‘begins’. Their stories began in our home, but they aren’t set in stone. The same is true for me. I had a good home, yet I suffer the effects of life begun in an imperfect one. But my story isn’t over either! It is still being written! And the best part of the story is that my home of origin is not my final home. God is my safe place, my Home. I am safe in Him. In Him I am secure, loved, cherished and nurtured.

Ultimately, heaven will be my final destination and it will be Home like God intended from the very beginning.

In the words of Switchfoot:

“Created for a place I’ve never known, this is home . . . I’ve got my heart set on what happens next . . . it’s not over yet  . . . Oh, this is home, now I’m finally where I belong, where I belong, yah this is home, I’ve been searching for a place of my own, now I know this is home. . .”

provision

September 1, 2010

I haven’t sat here on my couch looking out the picture window in quite some time. Since it’s a gray, off-and-on rainy kind of day, I’m not taking every spare minute to go outside and sit in the shade by our water feature. Instead, I’m grabbing the time, while the carpet cleaner is upstairs taking care of some dog-defiled spots, to work on computer-related details so I can observe bird life once more.

Oh-my-goodness! I’d forgotten what a busy place our little feeders and tree are! In the last 10 minutes there have been 3 female cardinals and a male, several black-capped chickadees, 3 gorgeous blue jays, a hairy woodpecker, miscellaneous finches and sparrows.

How’s a person supposed to get anything done? They are breathtaking! Here comes another woodpecker – different from the one a minute ago. Not as big and her head isn’t as squared. You learn to notice these things when you observe them over time.

Maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s that I’m a female, and a nurturer kind of person, but seeing these little feathered creatures visit and feed just does something in my heart. They flutter from perch to perch, vying for a spot and peck away to loosen and grab the seeds. They eat a while and fly off in an instant. You’d better not blink or you’ll think they just disappeared into thin air. Oh, wait, that’s pretty much what they do!

Their presence at the feeders is always a reminder to me of God and his provision. If he takes care of the birds, how much more will he take care of me?  I’m serious. I’m not just quoting a trite, oft-repeated Bible verse. God is mindful of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. He provides rain and sun and food for the creation he spoke into being, whether they know and love him or not. How much more is he aware of me and my needs; you and your needs?

I believe that God enjoys providing for us. That thought had never occurred to me until we started feeding the birds in our yard. We love putting seeds out and making sure there is an ample supply, especially when things get covered over with snow come winter. We take pleasure in being able to provide for these our little feathered friends.

There is something profound and mysterious about nurturing. I don’t want to get all weird or anything, but I remember feeding my children when they were babies, watching their eyes gaze into mine, their little fingers gripping one of my fingers tightly as they ravenously sucked as if they’d never been fed! I’d watch them drink and gulp and sometimes choke, until their furious pace slowed to one of contentment and peace. I will never forget the inexpressible joy I felt as I’d watch their faces as they ate. Oh, the hours I spent gazing at their beautiful, tender, innocent faces as I’d feed them. What a precious experience it is to be a mother.

Now that my kids are adults, meals together are less frequent.  I still experience joy when I can prepare a meal that we can savor together in an evening, discussing the day and life together, looking across the table into each others’ faces, exchanging glances and expressions and laughter.

Feeding birds is such a simple task. Eating a meal together is also a common and simple experience. Yet it is the act of feeding, of nurturing another, that can be a spiritual experience. I think it’s supposed to be.

If I enjoy feeding my family, and delight in caring for the birds, how much more does God find pleasure in feeding and providing for me as I look to him?

Sometimes our lives can be a flurry of activity, just like these birds. Seeing them stop and eat at the feeders we’ve hung brings us delight. They can’t express gratitude, they have no concept that their food is provided, yet my heart is still glad.

Probably most of humanity has no concept that God is their provider. Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought. Daily he keeps my heart beating, my lungs breathing and my mind working. I can’t do that on my own. He provides my life. He provides life and love and friends and beauty and food and so much more for me! Think about that – he provides for you too!

I know God is delighted to care for his creation. It’s his nature to nurture. I wonder how often God watches as he’s providing for me and I fail to express gratitude, yet he still provides. He doesn’t forget, he doesn’t withhold. He enjoys taking care of me. How much more he must be delighted when I remember to thank him for his provision.

joy in the kitchen

January 21, 2010

There is something very enjoyable about preparing food for people I love. Grant it, sometimes it’s a hassle and other times I’d really like to go out and eat because I’m just too tired to stand in the kitchen. I always have good intentions, but my schedule and/or energy-level don’t always coöperate. On those rare moments when I feel the desire and also have the time and energy to cook and stock up, it’s really satisfying.

Today was one of those days. Actually, yesterday and today. Okay, Monday, Tuesday and today! What’s gotten in to me?! I think I’m just incredibly tired of cooking on the fly, just subsisting, nothing more. I’m also weary of throwing away food that I never got around to fixing before it went bad. I’m really tired of that. Really really tired. Really.

When I see people on television who’d be thrilled to have some of that thrown-away food,  I feel remorse for not paying better attention to my refrigerator and not planning my time better. I abhor wasting food!

Recently I signed up to make a meal for a group of people on Tuesday, so I decided to prepare the meat on Monday to save time.  Since I was going to be making a grease-spattering mess, I figured it’d be a good use of time to prepare a large amount of the meat all at once and freeze it in meal-sized portions for those days when getting food on the table is a challenge, which is most of the time! So, that got the cooking adrenaline pumping! I sautéed chicken in olive oil, batches and batches, and cut it into cubes, reserving enough to feed my friends and still have 5 or 6 meal-size portions to pack into the freezer for later.  Ahhhhh – satisfaction. I’d spent nearly 2 hours just cooking chicken, but I got 7 meals out of the deal!

Tuesday, I spent the morning in my kitchen fixing a spinach salad and homemade fettuccine alfredo with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken. (Yum, if I do say so myself!) I baked some Hello Dollies for dessert and voila! Delivered it and left happily, knowing I’d blessed my friends and their taste buds.

Today I had two huge boxes of fresh spinach to cook as well as a nice supply of ground turkey that was on sale at the grocery.  It seems like it’s been so long since I’ve had more than an hour or two at home that I just couldn’t resist more ‘kitchen time’.  I browned the turkey and seasoned one half for spaghetti and the other for taco soup. Then I steamed mounds of spinach, grated cups of cheese and made 3 spinach and cheese tarts (quishes) – two to freeze and one for dinner. Now I have food for sharing and for pulling a meal together in a flash.

I’m not sure what it is that pleases me most about doing this. Some people hate to cook. I hate to iron.

I love creating food that I know my family savors. I enjoy turning raw materials into something warm and nourishing and delicious. I also relish being home, listening to music as I move around my pleasant kitchen, full of gratitude for the gift of life. Just being here to cook is a joy.

Fragrant aromas, warmth, textures, tastes, colors, conversation around the dinner table; nurturing the ones I love . . . for me, this is life at its best.