Thursday, June 28, 2007


Dear hubby and I planted lots of grass seed a month ago in a particularly big, barren spot on the side yard. Well, I'm thinking the seed was that cheap stuff that had weeds mixed in because far more weeds grew in that spot than grass! Since you can't throw weed killer onto tender new blades of grass, I tackled the problem in my own way; in the heat of the day I went out and started pulling. Some of those nasty weeds were the kind that spread way out, making it difficult to find the root, others were so thick and hearty, making it impossible to grab hold of the whole thing, and those remaining were just so darned deeply rooted and tough that it would've taken Goliath-strength to yank them out. (Those were the ones I saved for hubby.) Lack of sun, water, and too many weeds are the worst enemies, the biggest detriment, to growing tall, thick, healthy grass.Made me think about we Christians--and the newer, baby ones in particular.Our enemy, Satan, is our greatest foe. He reminds us of those deep-rooted sins that once overtook us, prevented us from growing; he tries to convince us they are too hard to eliminate. When the weeds of life squeeze in around us--unrighteous anger, impatience, lack of compassion, gossip, worldly habits and behaviors, dishonesty, and the list goes on--our spiritual growth ceases to exist. Sin does that, chokes the spiritual life right out of us. The only way to extract sin from your life is to acknowledge you have a problem. (In the case of my grass, I looked out the window and saw it plain as day--too many weeds impeded the seeds from taking root. It was time for taking action.) It's the same with sin. In order to take action, you must turn the matter over to the Lord Jesus; give Him complete control. Only He has the "muscle" needed to rid you of those strong, flourishing, ugly sins. It doesn't happen by sitting around and doing nothing. If you want to maintain a healthy Christian life, you must be proactive. I'm not saying "good deeds" will earn you a ticket into Heaven; I'm saying get out of that easy chair and realize your need for God, acknowledge your sin, and then trust Him for His healing, saving strength. We serve a generous, loving, forgiving, grace-filled God. He knows exactly what's required to live a healthy Christian life, free of choking weeds. There are three basic requirements for growing healthy grass: Ensure plenty of sun, water daily, provide fertile, well-fed soil. I suppose one could also say to guarantee a strong, healthy Christian life, do three basic things. Make the Son the center of your life, water your spiritual life with daily periods of prayer, and fertilize that life with the food of God's Holy Word. As my grass starts to regrow and thicken, we'll toss on some weed-killer. Strong grass can withstand the poisonous killer, just as strong Christians can withstand the attacks of the enemy.The important thing is--don't sit around and do nothing. My grass never would have grown had we not squelched the power of the almighty weed.Extinguish the power of the enemy by living your life wholeheartedly and proactively for Christ. Only He has the strength and might to prevent an enemy invasion!
--- Sharlene MacLaren

Saturday, June 16, 2007

...Memories of Daddy...

A little girl will go to just about any length to please her daddy. At least I did. As far back as I can remember my father loved to fish. I can’t say I ever inherited his penchant for casting out a line in the wee hours of the morning and staring at still, glistening waters for hours on end, sitting on a narrow boat seat, listening to the groans of bullfrogs, while waiting for the tiniest tug at the end of a pole. But I tagged along anyway for the sake of Daddy’s company. And his company was priceless. The memory of it stands out even now like diamonds on black velvet, clear, shimmery, untainted.

“You wanna go fishing in the mornin’?” Dad would ask just before bedtime.

With only a second’s hesitation, I would answer, “Sure!” The truth was I wasn’t thrilled about waking up before dawn, but if it meant spending precious time with the man I most admired, then my answer never required much forethought.

The soft rap on the door came at precisely five o’clock. “Wake up, sleepy head. Fish are jumpin’.”

Quickly wiping sleep from my eyes, I’d roll out from under thick covers and peek past the sheer curtain to find a full moon, its reflection dancing across still waters, a thin layer of fog hovering over the glassy surface. At the water’s edge, our little wooden rowboat lay in wait—a somewhat unreliable old vessel dubbed Maybe Baby by my brother some years before. Maybe it would stay afloat, maybe not. It had been known to spring the occasional leak.

I’d struggle into the same pair of pants I’d shed the night before, throw on a wrinkled sweatshirt, and step into my dirty sneakers. Then stifling a yawn because I didn’t want my grogginess to show, I’d march into the kitchen with purpose. Daddy rewarded me with one of those crooked grins he was famous for and pointed to the door. “Ready?” he’d ask in a whisper so as not to wake the rest of the household. I’d nod.

And off we’d go.

Ah, those crisp summer mornings when the dewy grass tickled my bare ankles as we trudged silently down the hill, the stillness of early morning interrupted only by the sporadic whimper of slowly waking jays and robins. Oh, the uncomplicated perfection.

With a pail, my father would empty out an inch or two of water from the bottom of Maybe Baby. Rainwater? Or that pesky leak? No matter, nothing would keep us from rowing out to the middle of the lake where the biggest catches swirled about, hungry and restless. Some mornings we would share the middle seat, each taking an oar, rowing in perfect rhythm. Other mornings I’d sit in the front, eyes cast downward, mesmerized by the tiny wake created by the boat’s steady course and the tireless squeak of one rusty oar socket.

“How’s this?” he would ask, dropping anchor a couple hundred yards from shore.

“Do you think the fish will bite?” I’d ask, my voice sounding somehow foreign as it echoed over waters smooth as glass.

A knowing grin creased his face. “It’s a good place to start.” I knew that meant we would move on in another 20 minutes if necessary. Fish congregate in tepid pools, he’d taught me. It’s a matter of finding those beds of warmth.

I learned a lot from my dad on those early morning outings, things that had nothing to do with fishing, but everything to do with life and love and laughter. For one thing, he showed me that patience is an art form; it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes practice and persistence and something called long-suffering. “If you want to catch the big one,” he’d murmur softly, “you have to wait it out, hang in there.” I suspect now he wasn’t only referring to a 10-pound bass. Much of life calls for resilience and flat out determination, which doesn’t come easily—unless you’ve worked at it.

I learned that a fine sense of humor is like hot honey on a biscuit; it melts a body clear to the bone. Oh, how our laughter pierced the silence of dawn, rousing numbers of birds and other wildlife, not to mention those poor lake residents longing for one more hour of sleep. As much as my father wanted to catch the big one, and knew the importance of quiet persistence, he never passed up the opportunity to inspire a giggle. I was his number one fan, and he took great pride in maintaining that first place spot.

I learned that perseverance pays. Sitting for long hours in a rickety boat doesn’t reap many benefits until you feel that first little tug. There’s nothing quite like it, even for a novice such as myself. You’re shifting on the boat seat, heavy-eyed and fidgety, staring in the distance at a motionless bobber, when suddenly you feel it, that gentle pull on the end of your line. At first, you wonder if you imagined it until your pole starts to dip and bend and you feel your line go taut. “I got one!” you shout, the adrenaline bursting at the seams. “It’s a big one!” Yes, perseverance pays big dividends.

My daddy trained me that it is the simple things in life that satisfy us, that true wealth is not so much about possessions as it is about position -- your position with God, family, friends, and neighbors. Maybe Baby was no yacht, but I would give anything to sit on her wobbly seat once more, run my hand across her rough-hewn texture, and watch the tiny ripples she created as she glided across moon-kissed waters.

Daddy taught me many things, but one thing stands out above the rest – love flows from silence as well as laughter. We could sit for long moments without murmuring a sound. And from that silence surged a comforting knowledge; love is not always about doing or even saying, but being. There is a certainty every child hungers after and that is simply to know he or she is loved without condition.

My father’s generation promoted a staunchness that went beyond sentiment; thus, he wasn’t overly generous with his hugs and kisses, but, oh, how he loved me unreservedly. He would have laid his life down for me. I know it. I’ll always know it. The memory is crystal clear.

Like diamonds on black velvet.