rogue sunflower

Warning: A long and boring read...just had to get it out of my head and work it out in writing.

I love this time of year, seeing the field abuzz with the action of machinery, harvesting crops of abundance after the greens have turned to shades of gold and yellow. Among others, the sunflowers stay out longer than the rest.
I drive past a field of sunflowers every day and observe their turning, and you know me...every day I tend to think through the parallels of life in the nature I observe.
Every summer it is beautiful to watch the fields of sunflowers, once they have their flower heads, follow the sun. Row upon even row (extremely even since the arrival of GPS in the farming world) all rising and facing east in the morning and slowly turning west throughout the day. True worship of the sun. Like a big church. Together with proper moisture and I'm sure some fertilizer that worship produces growth of abundance of seed in each flower head. So efficient.

But what then...?

The contrast between a sunflowers natural existence and the impressive sown rows upon rows has inspired a lot of thought in me.
These farmed sunflowers need desperate help at this stage. They are finishing their journey and are not even able to turn their heads to the sun any longer...their heads are too full. They have done their job well, rising, praising and growing like clock-work. Now, it is necessary for them to be harvested drastically. With big machines.
If they were to continue on their natural path they would eventually drop their seeds where they stand. What would this look like...? I imagine a big old mess for the farmer. Too many seeds in one place, they could never properly germinate the next year like this either.
In nature, their population is much more dispersed, their natural seed harvest is conducive to efficient volunteer germination the following spring. If proper soil conditions were available, natural sunflowers could fill a field too and on their own, with proper spacing to continue the trend for years to come, I am sure, without any help from a farmer. They might not make the farmer as much money...and the seeds might not have amount of calories and fat as their commercial siblings but they would probably be self sustaining and beautifully random and individually unique.
I have noticed that some of the farmers' sunflowers seeds do escape into the fringes. When the farmer grows potatoes in the same field next year you MAY see the stark contrast of a few lonely sunflowers growing in the corners because they survived from the year before.
I have read that farmers worry about these rouge sunflowers at this stage because given a year or so in the fringe they sometimes start to build up a resistance to different chemicals and then if sunflowers are planted in that field again they may blend with these rogues and also become resistant. Good, genetically altered seed trying to be more 'natural'...not a good thing if you want to make money and get fat off your crop.

OH...parallels that trap me. They all fall short eventually but I am drawn to them.

My thoughts were directed into a deeper understanding of what God wants for his people and his church.

I am currently reading a book called 'Pagan Christianity' (by Frank Viola and George Barna) that, for the first time, offers me hope that I am not the only one that thinks something is not right with the current way we are doing things. I know I eventually need to temper my thoughts and continue on with their next book 'Reimagining Church' but for now...I'm a rogue.

Not that people spend a lot of time thinking about us (well, other than you mom!) but I wonder sometimes if people wonder if Tim and I are change junkies.
If you take the time to ask us for the WHOLE big story you will have to admit that it ISN'T us who chooses the change. Change FINDS us.
We are in the second week of school and Tim just found out yesterday that he has lost his job in our school. He is being transferred (fortunately) to another school in the division. I'll still be working there, but he'll be elsewhere. Crazy hey?
I feel like I've lost track of what lesson God is trying to teach us. I typically and usually try to equate life lessons to something in nature. Drawing a parallel between something natural and the 'unnatural' feeling situation I am in seems to give me comfort. It makes it seem more possible that God meant it that way and that it is not just a random 'happening'.
Lately, I've been drawn to a possible parallel of our lives to the mysterious moving rocks that baffle observers in Death Valley, Arizona (in the Racetrack Playa). (You'll have to google pictures yourself, I am too scared to breach blogger rules by posting a picture...I don't want to possibly have this blog sent to oblivion like my last one!)
I've been enjoying the comedy and complexity of this phenomenon.
I could list all the amusing parallels I've found but you go ahead and have fun with that yourself. They are pretty self explanatory, and besides it will give you something to do right now. Have fun!

I am NOT one to get attached to animals. Really. I never have been. My mom will tell you I was a doll playing, friend loving regular little girl when I was young and yet I never developed a love for animals like some of my other friends. I was always allergic to cats and my sister made me fear dogs (she may not even know this story and will be surprised by the comment). came to surprise me how much I have grown attached to our little dog Benny.
Benny was 9 when he came to live with us. He had not been around people much because his life started out in a whirlwind of celebrity. He was born as a registered Miniature Pinscher (his little tattoo proved it) and right away, we understand, he was groomed for doing shows. He then moved on to breeding and was in demand for much of his life.
He came to us shortly after his 'magic' wore off. In fact, they were going to put him down because he was not of 'use' anymore. A friend of ours ran a rescue operation for dogs such as this and we decided to babysit him one weekend to see if he was friendly with children.
He never left.
Until yesterday.
Benny developed a terribly aggressive cyst on his head that ruptured within a week. He was in a little bit of pain. His heart rate was erratic and so was his breathing a bit. We knew we wouldn't be able to financially do what it took to bring him back to health in his already 11th year of life.
I was surprised that I cried, yet glad that I did. Glad to know that he left his little paw print of love on our hearts so much. Glad that he won't be easily forgotten.
Bye Bye Benny.

you can't go back

Have you ever heard the expression 'you can't go back' in regards to moving back to a place you've lived before. I am starting to understand the truth in this. I don't know if it is because people assume you are picking up where you left off the last time and too much has changed or what...but it is very difficult. A lot HAS changed and we weren't here for the change, we were busy trying to settle in somewhere else.
No one's fault. It is what it is.
I am so thankful that the place where I feel most 'at home' is just right beside my man. No matter where we are.
I don't think we will ever be done moving. Maybe we are moving junkies. Gypsies of a certain kind. OH...don't worry, we are staying put right now, mostly for our kids. We have noticed though, that we always WANT to move.
We already have plans to hit the open road with a nice hybrid camper as soon as the kids are out of school. Sell all our earthly belonging...(in other words donate all our stuff to the sally-ann) and just see the sights and visit old friends we've left in our wake.
I used to think this was a selfish endeavor without any higher purpose or calling.
I am now convinced that your higher calling comes no matter where you are and where you choose to go and be. I think that is the lesson I've learned from all our moves. It shouldn't surprise me that since we asked God to take our lives and use us as He sees fit that He actually would do it, no matter where we are.
Some decisions He leaves up to us and we just need to make them, instead of wondering around looking for an arrow in the sky. Enjoy life. Be where you want to be, do what you want to do. Oh, I can hear my ancestors rolling over in their graves with that last sentence. We would choose to go to Sodom and Gomorrah if we weren't careful, they would say.
Well...I am sure...that....
'Those of us who are mature, should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.' Philippians 3:15
He will guide you, through your choices, through your desires. He will use you. You will know.
I trust this. It's not a super spiritual revelation. It a surrendering. A listening. A knowing. A confidence. A faith.
It is true.

It has been just like I said. Easy going. I am actually getting a tad bored already and it has only been a week.
This weekend was very nice though. Mom came for a visit. We went to see the fireworks on Canada Day. I got a new camera! Old friends from Manitoba popped by for supper on their way through to BC. We also went out to Olferts for a nice evening visit. All in all it was a really nice weekend.
Off to bake banana bread.


I've done a pretty good job of assuring our new neighbors that we are a normal family that they can be happy to call their neighbor...until Friday. We came home from work on Friday and George and Dot were outside putzing in their yard and when we parked I got out and gave out a huge WHOO HOO to the sky.
Hubster and I both work at a school and Friday was our last day. We get the WHOLE summer off together. It is SUCH a treasure. Two months of bliss. No more commuting forty minutes there every morning at 7 am and arriving home around 5 pm. No more fighting with the kids every morning just to get them up before we leave.
I am sure it will only take a day or two before reality crashes down and the kids get bored and the mess of having us all home at the same time will get tedious. I am okay with that.
We have gone for a walk every morning so far. Bike rides after supper. Took my camera out after that to just take photos of grass. Swimming at the little outside town pool. Swatting mosquitos. It is Monday and I think we will drive to the big city to go grocery shopping and get out of the heat. Tomorrow maybe we will drive to the little lake/swamp beach in the neighboring town, again, to stay cool. We'll take wieners and wood and call it a day.
Then we have our trip (see three posts down).
Lazy days.
Won't last long.
In the spirit of my father I must mention that the days just started getting shorter again the other day, June 21.
Cherish them, even if the kids do drive me nuts.

Dreadful heat.
Why must I always be such a contrarian? Even my body doesn't like what everyone else seems to long for.
After weeks of GLORIOUS rain and overcast weather (okay the rains fell at tad in excess, even for me) with beautiful temperatures hovering right around the 20 mark...the weather turns HOT.
I am happy the farmers are getting sun on their crops and that things are drying up. I really am. I just need some clouds for my eyes and a reprieve from the sweat extracting qualities of the sun.
I am glad for you all who love this. Love your day. I will try to love mine with my feet in a bowl of ice water, sitting right in front of the air conditioner. ahhh.

You know what I find fascinating? Children, boys in particular, who have the ability to listen incredibly well even when their body looks like it is not. I wish they were created with little bulbs on their ears/brains to help us know when they are actually registering information.
You know what I else I find amazing (and a little frustrating)? Many teachers don't recognize the pearl they have in this ability. There are times when I wonder if we have gone back in time to the days of 'finishing school' where we insist that kids maintain 'appropriate' (what is that anyways?) postures. I have actually watched a young boy sit and hold on to his chair tightly with his hands and STARE intently at his legs because he was trying SOOOO hard to maintain the desired posture. I tried to engage with him mentally to see if he was attending to the teacher and he was totally lost (a few moments earlier I had asked him a question, while he was sprawled all over the floor and he was TOTALLY on the mark...because he is one of the ones with that amazing super power!)
Consider this; the Minister of Education here in Alberta is trying to implement some changes in the area of student needs:

“The work ahead marks an incredible shift in the way we educate all of our children,” said Dave Hancock, Minister of Education. “An educational culture that values the unique gifts of each and every child, and a new approach to service delivery will enable us to better integrate and tailor supports to the needs of our children and youth, so that every student can achieve success.”

I personally wish that we could just start with just a 'small shift' by considering our ability to tolerate and respect the needs like this boy has. Is it hurting the other students or the teacher(and I am not just referring to wounding their traditional ego)? May we respect the other students and ask them if it is impeding their learning to let their classmate have a little 'wiggle' room? You may be surprised at their tolerant nature, they certainly didn't learn that from us now, did they?

This is what summer holidays looks like in my mind right now...SO close...a distant faded longing until we reach those mountains. (those are in fact the mountains at the entrance to the Crowsnest pass)
We have our trip all planned out. One beautiful week in Radium. Lots of walking and relaxing and quality time with some our dearest friends and family. Browsing shops in Invermere. Farmer's Market on Friday in Radium. Sushi at THAT place. Day trip to Kimberly to that German Store and Beer. Day Trip to Banff, despite how commercialized it has become. Hot Springs and Pleiades hour of bliss. Fresh BC Fruit. Evening strolls along Lake Invermere.Antique Shops. The Radium Ice Cream shop.
A week will not be enough! sigh.

bathroom reality

Usually when I see graffiti on a bathroom wall I expect to see crude humor, phone numbers, initials in hearts...that kind of thing, right?
Well today I saw this:

Guilt is what I always feel
But that doesn't change the path I am on.

We currently live in a unique community where, sadly, many (not all, by any means) of our young people are drowning in a culture and 'religion' of hopelessness. Grace is a foreign term. I could write heaps and heaps about the faulty exegesis in their religion...but I'll leave that apologetic rant to someone else.
Could you imagine though, trying to find courage to face the day when every morning you wake up wondering if today is the day you are going to hell? You've spent your young life being given random lists of 'sins' and told that if you falter...there is no hope. You are done for.
You are also taught to not place value in monetary things. A lucrative job. A higher education. Seeing the world and all its beauty. The pursuit of these things is often viewed as dangerous and evil. It is feared that these things may take the place that God should take in your life. That would leave almost anybody living in a constant state of guilt.
I believe this way of thinking originated with the good intention of keeping people from making poor choices. Keep them from being greedy. Keep them from neglecting family. The 'list of damnable sins' was there to remind children to always be good.

But what then about the absence of grace? What about no forgiveness? What about thwarting hope for a future (here and after)?

I cannot take on a whole culture of people.

I am however, called and able to be a witness. To extend forgiveness. To extend grace. To show evidence of the hope I have. I am pretty darn blessed to be working in an elementary school where I have opportunity to do this every day. Funny always provide you with opportunities to extend grace and forgiveness...LOL!

Now, I just wish I would have been brave and rebellious enough to take my lipstick out of my purse and scrawl 'JESUS SAVES' (good old fashioned 'christian graffiti style) over the quote I read!

I really have not cried. I am thankful, I am sure.
Oma is where she has wanted to be for years. Whole, walking hand in hand with Opa. Meeting Amy and little Holly for the first time. Watching Gordon (with his heavy crown) reunite with Connie and Juney. Hearing Willy's laugh. Catching Lena's smile. Katelyn's youth and beauty more radiant now than we she left us.
I miss you all, but I know you don't ache for us.
No more imagining for these family and friends of mine. What it will be like when we come face to face.
Thankful for that peace. The one that passes understanding.
Enjoy Oma.

Settling in again. There is no such thing. At least not in my world.
I think that has been the life lesson of it all. In the past I have been prone to be a creature of habit...content to enjoy the familiarities. I have been a soft and spongy puffball of tolerance.
Well...yippy kai AY!!! I have had some mighty burly burrs in my saddle that have kept me trotting uncomfortably for a while now.
I hope that some day all this transient, life altering chaos will turn me into a stalwart and leathery weathered frontier woman (ok...I am no Elizabeth Bradshaw).
I am no longer scared to face the challenges.
The people we've met and the interactions we've encountered have strengthened me. I have had to truly define for myself what I believe, sometimes that has meant changing what I used to believe. In some situations I have embraced those changes to the point of almost being a genuine contrarian...well, almost.
I NEVER in the past would have even chanced have interactions with someone who might challenge my way of thinking. I am a middle child for Pete's sake...are you crazy...we keep the peace at all costs...even our OWN dignity...LOL!
So bring on the storms, I say. They just strengthen my roots and help me stand stronger!

May I please have a moment of your time?

I think I have convinced two of the gentlemen that I work with today that I am trying my best to raise disrespectful, inconsiderate children.
I only had a few short moments to try and explain my aversion to teaching my children to rotely request, apologize or show respect and concern for others by the 'magic' words out 'please'...'sorry' and 'bless you'.
I really do NOT have a problem with those words and I do NOT chide my children if they use them and come to discover for themselves that they CAN hold great power (especially when it comes to manipulating the responses of their more traditional elders...wink,wink).
Words are just words. THIS is what I DO teach my children. The spirit in which the words we say mean SOOO much more. The spirit in which we say nothing at all means very much as well. Sometimes our spirits come through in our body language...or our tone. It may just even come in a lilt.
The general population comes to understand these subtleties fairly easily. When our son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism I realized very quickly that I had to learn how to teach him these...they did not come naturally.
So. If my son comes to me and asked in the politest tone...with the utmost of respect if he may have something. I concede. I KNOW he is being respectful. No magic words needed. Why shame him with not remembering a silly word when it was hard enough for him to even ask in the first place.
AND. When another child says 'SORRY' with that certain 'harrumph' that only a perturbed 'I will not be shaken' teenager can give... I do not accept it. It was clearly NOT given in a tone that is genuine. A genuine sorry can be 'felt'.
When that same son comes back an hour later, after stewing over the issue and asks humbly if he can help with the dishes (without re uttering the word 'sorry')I pull him in and whisper 'I forgive you', because now I 'feel' it.
Even when someone sneezes. I feel 'blessed' when someone hands me the tissue box, with obvious care in their eye. No words needed.
What I DO teach my children is that some people need us to utter magic words because they don't know us. They don't understand possibly what each others genuine spirits feel like. We can't expect that of everyone. I teach them though that we should try our best to 'hear' what others around us are saying even when they are saying nothing at all.

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