Beside the shed out back, there is a "holding pen" of sorts for the various irises my sister gave me a couple of years ago. Last year, the yellow and burgundy irises had multiplied enough that they were moved to their own spots in the yard. The iris pen is getting crowded again, and I'm hoping that next year I can relocate the beautiful pale blue ones and the ones with pink, ruffly edges. Eventually, we should have masses of irises blooming in every corner!
Out toodling in the yard yesterday afternoon, I noticed the iris pen was looking a bit weedy. It's not a large area and doesn't take long to clean out, so I headed over to begin pulling grass. But I was stopped in my tracks by....The Rooster.
Ben has two roosters who do excellent jobs of protecting their flock, even defending them against totally disinterested middle-aged women. I could see Ben further out by the fire pit. "Ben, your rooster is looking at me!" I yelled in distress.
"Just ignore him and he won't bother you," Ben called back.
Yeah, right. I tried ignoring, but Rommel kept eye-balling me and side-stepping ever closer. After about five minutes, I bolted for the house. The Rooster won.
But this morning, I got out early (like the little pig in The Three Little Pigs) and weeded my iris bed - before Ben had let the chickens out of their coop for the day. Working outside in the cool morning sunshine and fresh fall air, when everything was quiet and still, was so pleasant. The irises look great, and there will definitely be plenty to begin relocating them next spring.
All this to say...I can get un-nerved, intimidated, discomforted by such ridiculous things. People, I am not a small woman. I could stomp on that rooster and kill him, no problem. But he's got the bluff on me: come showdown time, I'm the one who folds. Rommel probably brags on the roost at night, "Hey, ladies, did you see me stare down that enormous lady by the shed? Yep, I'm definitely The Man!"
Which brings me to what I really wanted to write about.... I have a paying job for the first time in, oh, fifteen years, is it? Three mornings a week, I care for a precious newborn baby girl while her mother drives to Martin to finish her college education. Now, I am not rolling in the dough. This job pays enough to cover the girls' piano lessons, plus a little to offset our monthly grocery bill. But, as little money as it is, it's income, which means...
For the first time in many years, I get to give my own tithe! (You people who earn a regular paycheck and who get to give regularly to your church, I don't know if you can even appreciate how exciting this is for me. I feel like a kid in a candy shop come Sunday morning!) Anyway, after my first week of babysitting, I happily plopped my tiny ten-percent in the plate as it passed. But almost immediately, an awful shadow clouded my joy.
Like a rooster spotted out of the corner of my eye, up popped an ugly thought. As I passed the plate to the person sitting next to me, I thought, "What if they see how little I'm giving this morning?" My joy evaporated.
Yes, I know that was a stupid thought. Instead of gratitude for this job God has provided, I was busy comparing myself to others, to what they had, to what they could give. You can bet Sunday morning's sudden change of attitude led to much reflection over the ensuing week.
If joy is the litmus of the Gospel, then Sunday morning showed me I had lost sight of Christ's work on my behalf. Instead of looking at God and thanking Him for his abundant grace, I looked instead at my neighbor and slid into envy and thinking I didn't "measure up". I felt inadequate, like maybe if I had more and could give me, somehow that would make my joy secure.
What a lie.
I'm learning in this life...very s-l-o-w-l-y...that if my joy rests in anything besides Christ, it will not endure. But, if my joy and my security and my confidence are firmly grounded in Christ alone, they will not be shaken. Tested, maybe, but not undone. Amazing how I have to learn that same lesson over and over and over.
I am thankful God is a patient teacher, willing to return to that lesson again and again and again.
3 days ago