Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

There is a Time for Everything August 18, 2009


I have been struggling with this blog for awhile because I’m not posting with the same focus I had when I first started to write here.  When I first started this blog I was in a period of immediate, deep grief over the illness and then loss of my mom to cancer.  Along with that came the wonderful gift of gardening — something she had loved and I had just found — to carry me through some very, very hard days.  All of this poured into and fed the growth of my faith and a period of discovery about both myself and, more importantly, my God.

Solomon (not the Beetles) had his heart set in solid truth when he wrote Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I think that this is part of why I’ve felt very unfocused in my writing here recently.  I have entered a new season of life.

This is not to say that grief is gone — I can’t think of a day that goes by without some thought or longing to be with my mom in heaven, worshipping our Creator.  Time has a way, though, of softening sharp edges and the Spirit has a way of using Christ’s redeeming power to take every sorrow and draw from it joy.  As this process has happened I have slowly shifted my focus to other needful things:  my marriage, my son, my home…

As a result, the gardening posts will likely be fewer (though I do have a new plot to sink my hands into at this late part of the growing season), my posts about my mother likely farther in between (though my life with her informs every part of life after her going home).  You’ll hear me talking dollars more than any girl who hates even thinking about money ought, and struggling through the fast-paced adventures of raising my little boy.  You’ll likely hear about a lot of apologies made to my husbad, though I hope those become fewer, too (out of peace, clearly, rather than a hardening of heart).  Cooking?  Well, I’ll never stop talking about that.  And my Savior?  As the old hymn tells us, “Lord I need thee every hour.”  And I do.

But yes, my focus has changed.  And having said just that, I feel more free to post the things I’m dealing with now.  I hope it’s interesting and helpful to you — because it’s interesting and helpful to me.  Indeed, there is a time for everything.

 

What Food Can Make Real for Us July 4, 2009


As I sat in our kitchen one day about two years ago, feeding my one-year-old son his lunch and eating my own, I began to think about food and how much I hoped that my son would grow up with a taste for foods from all over the world.  That led me to thinking that I just wanted him to know about all the different groups of people in the world, to understand what a great, diverse, and colorful place this world is. I want him to know how these things point to the greatness, creativity and glory of God, who has “measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,” and “with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens. Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,” and “weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance.”  (Isaiah 40:12)

I grew up in a home of daily devotions around the dinner table during which my father would often pull out our copy of Operation World and allow my brothers and me to pick any country we liked.  Dad would read to us about the country, we would talk about any missionaries our family knew who might live there, and then we would pray together for the people and needs there.  On our kitchen wall we had a gigantic world map which was bordered on all four sides with pictures of loved ones and missionaries for whom my family prayed throughout the years.  Pins marked on the map the location of each person or family and I spent many hours in front of them considering the faces, work, and lives represented in each one.  I wish I could say that I sat patiently through our devotions and obediently and hungrily absorbed the things Dad was trying to teach us, but I’d be lying.  However, those Operation World lessons caught my attention and something about the thought of these different lands and different cultures excited me and made a lasting connection in my mind.

Along with devotions around the table, my mother served us many delicious meals there.  Often they were the favorites served at just about any table across our country then and now, but my mom also occasionally served us foods from other countries or with biblical significance.  One that I still serve in my home now was Jacob’s Pottage.  I can’t stir those lentils and rice, pour the lemon-paprika dressing that accompanies it, or take a delicious bite without thinking about Esau coming home ravenous from hunting, and understanding just a little bit, how he could have sold his birthright to his brother for the sake of that simple meal.  Something about the food brings the story close to home for me and I still remember giggling with delight when Mom told me that this meal we were eating could be very like the one in the Bible from so long ago.  It was history on the table right in front of me!  It made the story seem real and possible, rather than like some story from the past in some far away land with no connection to me and my life here.

And so, sitting with my son as he gleefully consumed fist-fulls of broccoli and cottage cheese, I pondered how to go about making those same connections for him.  A desire I have had since the moment I knew I was pregnant with him was to impart an understanding and love for the greatness of God and the love He holds for all of His people of every shape and size, every color and hue, and from every country.  I want the connections to be strong, the lessons to be colorful and interesting, and for him to appreciate and value the importance of the work that missionaries do in the world.  I believe that this is a desire with which any believing parent can identify.

That is going to be the goal of some of my upcoming posts over the next few months:  To give children food that nourishes their bodies, hearts and minds and that creates with each meal a picture of another place in this world.  I’d like to provide some recipes and information that brings into present focus the reality of the work missionary families are doing to spread the precious word of God around the world.  It is my hope that through this learning God will be glorified as our children begin to piece together an understanding of the greatness and mighty works of the God to whom we look for all things and to whom we owe all things.

Does this sound interesting to any of you at all?

 

No More Normal May 23, 2008


I think the thing that has been most deceptive in this experience is my thought that I was understanding the permanence of the loss of my mom, when really I didn’t get it at all.

When a loved one dies and when you are as involved and as close as I was to my mom and her illness and death, it’s very easy to think that you understand what is happening, that you get how serious it all is, that you get the “big” in “the big picture.” But the thing is, you are operating so far outside of life’s norms up until that point that you really have no idea. I remember laughing a couple of times, quite gallows in style this humor was, when one of us would say, “Well, when things get back to normal…” Somewhere we knew that “normal” was going to take on a whole new meaning. And acknowledging it made us feel safe from the vastness of its reality. We all felt, I think, like we’d already encountered it and dealt with it. Which is just a sign of how naive at least I really was.

The thing is, immediately before and after a loss, you never get a chance to forget that it’s happening. When all you think about every single day and waking moment is about that person’s death, you never have a moment when you forget it all enough to be surprised and hurt by its reality. While it seems stark and awful at the time it really is a mercy in its way, this constant knowledge of loss.

But now, now as things take on the semblance of normal again, as I learn my life as it is now, things seem the same and I’m lulled into a sense of living in the normal “before”. As work has begun again, as my house has needed to be cleaned in earnest, as we have set about the day-to-day again, I have begun to forget at times that she is gone. I will be driving and think, “oh gosh I forgot to tell mom that…” I will wake up in the morning and in that lull between sleep and awake will think, “I wonder what mom is doing today — maybe she’ll have time for pancakes…” And then it sets in. That today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that and on and on until it’s my turn to go home, too, she really will not be here.

It is not eloquent, my description of how this makes me feel: It makes me lonely, and it hurts, and I really, really, really miss my mom. For our family right now, there is no more normal.

 

An Introduction February 28, 2008

Filed under: garden,introduction — Mary @ 1:11 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been needing something to sink myself into for a while now. I used to sink into just writing alone but that takes too much mental capacity these days. Who has time to live through imaginary lives when my own takes so much energy?

Somewhere around the time my mother’s cancer returned I realized that what I needed was a garden. It sat there in my mind, this idea its own little germinating seed, pushing at me for action. (Did I really just make that analogy? I really hate myself for that.) And so I began a search for a garden plot because we have no yard space of our own. And finally, I got it. This week I got my plot against all odds when every list I was on predicted waits of not just months, but years. As of yesterday I am the proud lessee of about 100 square feet of weedy earth that I can call my own.

I have to explain that this won’t really be only a gardening blog. It won’t really be anything so defined. But this is the force pushing me right now: I need to grow something. While mentally fighting with cells that are growing out of control in my mother’s body — demolishing her liver, eating at her bones, looking for elsewhere to take root and destroy — I have a visceral need to plunge my hands into dirt, to plant seeds and to grow things that are good, real, natural, right. And for some reason these things I grow, they need to be food. I want to grow things that nourish and sustain. I have this really overblown image in my mind of biting into a carrot I’ve grown myself that, I tell you, literally brings tears to my eyes.

Yeah, I’m a sucker and an idealist. I know it. But man, I’m more excited than I can say about this thing. It’s fallen into my lap, an obvious gift and answer to prayer, and I’m going to give it all I’ve got.

I take possession tomorrow afternoon and I’ll arrive with toddler and camera in hand to chart the progress. This should be fun. So we’ll see where it goes while life goes along. I hope it’s interesting for you.

 

 
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