I spent an hour in the Burpee Seed aisle at Menards today. For me, it was a little slice of heaven. For my daughter, it was just short of purgatory.

My love for this time of year started early in my life. Each March my dad set up a table and lights in the basement and planted flower seeds. Marigolds, impatiens, and zinnias are what I remember the most, and are still what he supplies to all our local extended family. Once I took markers and drew flowers on the rough wood 1x2s that edged the table. My childish script can still be seen in his workshop “Planting, Dad and Me.” This was high entertainment. The fresh smell of the dirt. The sound of it sprinkling onto newspaper laid out to catch overflow from the planters. Dirty hands crunching up last year’s marigold blossom heads into individual seeds. Time with my papa.

Early on in our marriage, Matt got me a set of two grow lights, a board, and frames to make a platform. It only holds about four flats of plants, but so much life fits in there. It also makes a convenient salad bar for our cat, so we set up the Spring Preview in a small storage closet in the basement. There’s just enough room for a folding chair in there, so sometimes I escape from the busyness around the house to go sit and look at the flowers and vegetables growing. To breathe in the quiet and the vibrant shades of green.

In some ways it’s the best part of the growing season. My heart is full of perfect dreams as I plant seeds and plan. In my head, everything grows well. No bugs, disease, hail storms, or plant cussedness disturb my contentedness. Everything blooms beautifully and produces deliciously.

In reality, this oasis of perfection cannot last long. The plants themselves long to spread their roots in the earth and stretch out their branches in space and sunshine. They will not fully flower or bear fruit on my little table in my basement. I can give them an excellent start on their lives, but I cannot fulfill what they were made to be within the confines of my closet.

So too it is with my children. I plant in them the seeds of the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23a). I teach them to know the Lord and to trust Him with their lives. I water and care for them, loving (or trying to remember to sit down amidst my busyness, and love) this time of perfect dreams and the vibrant shades of their childhood. Because one day will come when our little home will be too small for the big stuff God put in their hearts.

Rain+Dirt=Mud, Mud+Kids=A Beautiful Mess!

Today after church and lunch we had a terrific downpour. The rain came down in absolute buckets for several minutes. After a while the downpour eased but the rain continued. Now, if any of you have been to Hogar de Vida before everyone will tell you shortly upon arriving that Costa Rican children melt in the rain. Whenever it rains the tias quickly bring the children inside. Well, I think we managed to break about every Costa Rican childcare custom this afternoon. We definitely proved that ninos norteamericanos (North American kids) do NOT melt in the rain. They have an absolutely fabulous time and get EXTREMELY MESSY! The kids romped in the puddles, plopped in the mud and twirled to their hearts content. Thankfully our cabins are behind all of the houses the tias and children stay in so we didn’t offend our hosts with their antics.

At one point Eliana was crying out ‘Ayudame!’ (help me!). She managed to get into mud so deep and thick that her shoe was stuck in the mud. I told her to slip off her shoe and then reach in to pull her shoe out of the mud with her hand but, she only managed to lose both shoes in the puddle. Elijah came to the rescue, reached in and pulled out both of her shoes! (At this point daddy has to insert how very proud he is of his boy!)

After the mud baths we (of course) took pictures! I then carried the kids directly to the shower. Kris hosed off the kids while I hosed off the shoes and clothes. Being hard working kids after clean up they devoured Jello and cookies!

It is the Glory of God to create such Life in small things like playing in the mud. We have our plans and our rules. They keep us on a straight path, but there are brief windows where God calls us to step off the road, take a break and savor His creation. They are a time to let go, watch and release yourself into His Joy. They are special because they are not part of the everyday. If we played in the mud everyday it would lose the joy and become routine. There are moments that Our Father gives to us just for that time. We can’t recreate them. We can’t force the pieces back the way we want them and do it over again. We can take Joy in what He has given to us and keep the memory of His Love for us as His precious Sons and Daughters. Thank you God for this memory. Thank you Father for reminding us of your Love for us. Thank you that You came to us, chose us and pursue us as Your precious children. In Your Holy Name. Amen.

(P.S. Thank you God for cameras! Please enjoy the pictures)

Testing the waters….

Getting Wetter…

Oh Just Get Wet!

Why do we have umbrellas anyway?

‘We Are Friends’ (and Really, Really Messy!)