Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Gardener's Wife

I have been a gardener's wife for almost 10 years now.  The seasons have taken on new meaning as planting, sowing, harvesting have become common practices in our household.  I have fallen in love with the idea and the reality of growing food, of eating out of our own backyard and living as much as possible off our small plot of land.  And while so much of it has been commonplace and no longer quite as thrilling.............there is a moment that retains just as much excitement and anticipation as it did the first time.

Each year begins with the seeds.  They are planted with care, away from the extremes of the outdoors.  They are babied and cared for because we expect so much of them later.  We are careful - watering them with droppers and shielding them from too much cold, too much sun, too much of anything that can overwhelm them or hinder their growth.

Outside we break ground.  The soil is tossed about and the rocks are thrown about in an attempt to prepare the ground for our precious seeds.  

Joe watches the weather, watches the conditions and one day it is determined it's time.  It's time for the seedlings to go in.  They have grown with their time inside, being cared for and gently raised up from the seeds they once were.

And so out we go and gently the seedlings go in.

We dig small holes, filling them with water and oh so gently they are laid in the earth.  We fill in the holes, pat down the earth and walk away.

And there is this moment where you have to wonder if they will take to their new environment, to their new surroundings and if they will survive on their own.

For although you will be back to water them and pluck the biggest weeds that surround them, that care they knew before they were planted in the out of doors is gone.  They are to survive on their own.

And so the moment that still brings a thrill to me, that still generates whoops and shouts from us all at the Codispoti house is that moment when you look outside, when you enter into the garden gates and you see the first sign of fruit, the first sign of life that has sprung forth from what was once a seed.  That.  That is the moment that retains just as much excitement and anticipation as it did the first time.

It takes a great deal of faith and trust to walk away, to let what you so gently cared for go on it's own and trust that fruit will be generated.  

But that's the thrill.

That's the excitement.

Knowing you did all you could and having to wait, it's out of your hands and in the hands of the One who ultimately controls the seasons, the planting and new life.

And what a thrill it is when you see all that a small seed is capable of, you remember the tiny little seeds that spilled out into your hands and into the dirt.  You remember the seedlings that sprang from your love and care and attention.  And it seems incredulous to me that from those tiny seeds came rows and rows of bounty, spilling forth from the earth.  It seems, each season, a fulfillment of a promise.  It never grows old or commonplace, that time is always accompanied by a bit of awe and wonder.

And so I ask.........are you in a season of careful cultivation or of walking away? 

Are you witnessing signs of new life, growth or enjoying the bounty of your labor?  

Or are you just beginning to sow seeds?

Monday, October 21, 2013

What Matters

Sometimes you can get caught up in so many things, so many people and you forget.

You forget what makes your heart beat stronger, what joy looks like, what causes you relax into life.

You just get caught up.

Sometimes I worry that our children don't know, can't realize how much we love them, how much we treasure who they are and work to ensure that they know that home is a safe and loving place.  I count the minutes that we are away from them or working or preparing as minutes lost, at times.  It's hard to find the balance as a mom who once spent every minute with her children as they move on and into lives at school and at dance and soccer and having lives of their own, lived out in their imaginations as they play school and store and all manner of things.  And I they know?

And last night, after many long weekends and many  nights filled with activity and a roller coaster of a weekend, I found myself in bed with my three babes.  We curled up, cuddled up amid the blankets and the pillows........and my heart beat stronger, I remembered what joy looked like and I relaxed into my life.

And better yet I got to hear the words of my girl.

And I thought............they know.

This is what Fia chose to read last night at bed.  It's a story she wrote in school where they had to write about a time you had fun at an outdoor place.

"What makes me happy is seeing my family in the backyard.  We hear screaming alot.  Me and my family sleep outside in a tent.  Reading with mom is fun in the backyard.  I love to swing underneath the monkey bars.  My mom and I like to do homework in the backyard.  Me and my sister and brother play in the treefort outside.  It is fun at home with my family.  Everyone loves to see my grades and Nicos grades.  We like to watch the birds and listen to the birds.  It is exciting outside with my brother and sister.  I help my mom with the strawberry jam and planting with Dad and picking carrots.  Rassberrys blueberries tomatoes and beans.  Friends come over and we love to play and climb on the treefort and swing on the tire swing.  It is fun in the backyard."

Oh my girl.  After a summer spent outside and on the go - trips to camp, amusement parks, family vacations and more - this is what you write about.  And I think, yes.  Me too, my girl, me too.  Home is always the best place, the happiest place.

Thank you for reminding me what matters.

And this morning my heart is beating stronger, joy is in place and I am beginning to relax back into life.

Thank you, Lord, for these children that you have given to me.  They remind me every day not to look down on anyone because they are young.  It is through them that you speak so clearly to my heart.

Breathing deep and feeling grateful today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What if He Does?

I was reading Daniel this morning........and as always I am bowled over by the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  I mean you expect miraculous things to happen in the Bible, you sort of become immune to all the fantastical things that happen because IT'S THE BIBLE.  I grew up knowing the stories of Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the whale, a baby born from a virgin......all things I believe to be true and actually to have happened but, still, you become used to such things after awhile.

But I have never become "used" to the faith of these three men.

"Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchhadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
            - Daniel 3:16-18

Doesn't that just take your breath away?

BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT...............

They refused to worship false gods, false images.  They refused to defend themselves.

They accepted whatever was going to happen to them.

They were thrown into the blazing furnace..........

And lived.


What they thought would happen, did indeed happen.

Which led my thoughts to which is scarier?

When He does deliver or when He doesn't?

There are times when you would give anything for the deliverance and we have all been in situations like that - sickness, disease, longing for marriage/children/fulfillment and you think PLEASE GOD, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME and you want nothing more than to be rescued, to be saved from the hurts of this world.

And then there are other times...............

Times when you see a certain path, a certain way that things could go and may small faithful steps can lead to bigger things and bolder things and you think...........MAYBE?  Ummm, well MAYBE you could deliver on this promise, this picture that you allowed me to glimpse?

Or maybe we will just chalk this up to a fantastical vision that is just my imagination running amok because, I mean, for real,'s just me.  You  Little old housewife, mom, loves to cook and be in my kitchen me?  The one who still feels like throwing up every time I have to speak in front of people whether it be 2 people or 100, yeah, you can just NOT deliver on this, ok?  I will STILL have faith, God, even if you do fact, I will make sure that my faith is greater if you do not.  How's that for a deal?

Or not.

I have learned over the past few years not to dismiss the fantastical, the miraculous, the unimaginable.  I have learned to focus not on the ark but the man.  To look at Jonah running away and fearing the task before him instead focusing in on the incredulousness of the whale swallowing a man.    The Bible is made up of people, regular, ordinary, everyday people with an extraordinary God.........and sometimes they had extraordinary faith but also sometimes they were just scared and reluctant and not knowing what to do.

I get that.

But I also get that it's not about me and it's not about what I can do but what God can do.  And the other night I sat in bed and I caught a glimpse of what might or might not be what the future might hold and it slammed me back against the bed.  My mind was racing and all the while I was thinking, no, no, no way.  No.  That is so not going to happen.  No.  NO.  Oh my gosh.

My breathing picked up, my heart was racing and I started to race through the logistics, the hows, the whys, the when, the no way is this possible or even likely and we would have to do this and this and this and, seriously, WHO ARE WE?

And then I stopped.

It's not mine to know how or why or when or even if..........I will have faith if He doesn't but I will have  faith even when or if He does.

In the mean time.............I will take the small faithful steps as they come, looking to Him for guidance and reassurance and living each day as it comes..............

and quietly, secretly, half hoping HE DOES.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My boy.

I fall into bed and fall asleep, holding the book I meant to read.........sleep overcomes the desire to read and the clock reads 7:30 and I am gone.

And so I wake just a few hours later, wide awake........thanks to my 4 hour nap that was supposed to be a full night's sleep but ended up being a nap that ended with wide eyes in the middle of the night.  How I came to be this person that mimics a baby's sleep patterns I do not know.

Oh, that's right.  I have kids.

And so the morning came, after another few hours sleep.......I heard the running feet of my darling little one.  Always the first to wake, always running, always looking for momma.

She crawls on my lap for a moment and then asks for light and books.  We have read 101 Dalmatians now every morning...........if the movie ever seems long, the book seems longer :)  But I have wised up over the years and I condense the first time reading a book, rather than trying to do it the third or fourth time through when they realize there are missing words.

The others come stumbling out and it's a mess of breakfast, fast cuddles, calls to dress and brush teeth and get in the car.

I am tired already.

And even though there are no kids home today there are tables of apples to be made into sauce, a dinner to cook, a village to prep for, cheese to make and all various sorts of thing that are better done when no one is at home.

And I want to enjoy my relaxing day in the kitchen - cooking and canning and prepping - but I am tired.

And the weekends have been fun but long and the calendar is chock full of appointments and people and meetings and lists and I think that I just want to take a breather and not do anything.

But I am one of those people that it seems like there are things dangling over me even when I am still and I think of all that needs to be accomplished - my own little mobile of tasks, spinning over my head.

And so are my thoughts on the way to school........when I should be praying with my kids and looking forward to my day of silence.........

And from the back I hear Nico........Mom?  Mom?  You know what?

No, what buddy?

I think that our tree fort should be a family tree fort.  Because that's where all my memories know, me and Sierrah fighting with knives and jumping around.  That was fun.  We jumped all around.

And from Fia.........yeah, and where we put on our show at village?

And from me..........oh and what about the talent shows that we've done?

And from us all there came a stream of memories surrounding the fort that was built by a man who loves his family and had great visions of the summers to come, with children filling the backyard.

We all helped, huh?  Daddy built it and we helped and painted?

And when we made the pulley?

And what about when we hung decorations?

And the plays we put on with JJ and Caris, when we made the elves?

And so we joined together and remembered.

Fia suggested we make notes and signs to hang on the fort, where we write our memories so that we can keep them there to remember.

And then I remembered.

I remembered that I love this life.  I love these children, so much so that it squeezes my heart tight and wrings from me all those anxieties and lists and tiredness.  My heart instead is filled with memories and love and the sweetness of a child's words.  A child who makes poetry with his thoughts and ideas, his tenderness evident beneath all the punches and forever movement that comes with being a boy.

How fortunate I am that I forgot to pray because God met me in the moment with my children - hearing my heart, not needing the words.

If you are tired today, if you are run down and feeling worn out - not having the words to speak but needing the relief that comes with prayer, with being loved, with being heard..........look for the ways that God is hearing your heart.  Listen to the words of children.  See the the evidence of His creation surrounding you.  Take a moment and see all the miraculous ways you are blessed, notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.  I pray that your eyes are opened and your ears can hear because He is there, always He is there..........He meets us in the tired, weary moments........when we don't even realize that we are seeking the peace that comes only from Him.

Love you all.

Thanks for sharing in the place where so many of my memories are found........

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Changing the Question


Sometimes I feel like a two year old.


My impulses drive my life, at times.  So many of them are under control until they are not.  Some are hidden.  Some are not.


I hate that life seems like a list of rules that grow longer each year as our lives pass quickly before us and we are older, our bodies and lives reflecting the years that are passing.  Our actions seem to have more noticeable consequences attached to them as the years go by.


Exactly.........why not me?  And I hear a voice saying..........well, you can.  You know that, right?  You can do all that, buy that, eat that, drink that, have that.  Go ahead.

"Everything is permissible for me - but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me - but I will not be mastered by anything"
                         - 1 Corinthians 6:12-13




So the rules aren't really rules just because?



And in my mind there is this shift................and I have to think it's the shift that takes place in any child's mind when they realize that all those years their parents harassed them and made these "rules" and kept things out of their reach.........they were doing it out of love and not spite.  That part of growing up is learning to live in complete freedom, recognizing the boundaries that separate you from a life well-lived and life simply lived in the moment.  That boundaries are there to protect and enhance life not to keep out everything good and fun.

And for me food is the perfect example of this and has been a lifelong struggle.

I am a person that loves to look to the future and I love ideas and seeing the big picture but as I live out my life I am a very IN THE MOMENT type person.  Decision making is often done by looking to the next second, the next minute.  I am guided by emotions and can get carried away by the moment.  I have a hard time seeing the consequences of my actions and even when I do I can dismiss them in sight of my temporary satisfaction.  Instant gratification could be my middle name.

Can you see how this would hinder my relationship with food?

I am around food on a daily basis.  I cook, on average, 19-21 meals a week.  I am in the kitchen more than any other room in the house.......besides my bedroom......and even then some weeks I bet it is close.  I love food.

But for a long time I have had in my mind lists of rules concerning food.  What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat.  And I can get angry with the best of them about the unfairness of people being able to cram whatever they want down their throats and not see any evidence of it on their body.  I can feel shame at what I have eaten.  I can spend a lot of time thinking about food - what I want to eat, when I am going to eat, how much I am going to allow myself to eat.  It can be a battle, at times.

But this past week reading through 1 Corinthians I thought to myself..........oh my word, I have been asking the wrong dang questions!!!!  What is wrong with me?  Why have I allowed myself to be such a child about this?  Why have I not grown up, how could I have not recognized the freedom given to me?


Instead of WHY CAN'T I HAVE THIS? The question should be why do I WANT this?

I have the choice.

I have the freedom.

It is all permissible.

But it is not all beneficial.

And for much too long I have been a child......... staring at the boundaries that have been given not recognizing the freedom I have been granted.

For the past week I have been making decisions based on how will this feel, what will this look like 2 days from now, a week from now?  Will my temporary pleasure outweigh the long term consequences?

And weirdly enough the answer is no.

And then I look at whatever decision is before me......and almost in disbelief........think why do I WANT this?

I don't.

I want the temporary relief that it provides but when I think about the long range effects....I think no way.

And this attitude, this changing of the question from WHY CAN'T I? to WHY DO I WANT TO?, this shift can apply to so many decisions in life.  It's amazing the capacity we have to do harm to ourselves, to our lives because we WANT and we don't recognize that we deserve MORE than temporary, superficial pleasure that serves to do more damage than it serves to deliver pleasure.

"Lord, you have assigned to me my portion and cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
                          - Psalms 16:5-6

And so I ask..........where are your boundary lines?

Where do you need to ask the question WHY DO I WANT THAT rather than WHY CAN'T I HAVE THAT?

Where do you need to recognize the freedom presented by the boundary lines rather than constantly pushing against them - allowing yourself to be mastered by something that is permissible but not beneficial?

And will you make the shift?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

People Not Projects

I've been on a sermon kick again - listening to the words of those wiser or, at least, braver than I.

It's a good thing for me to do - to fill my head with uplifting, encouraging words, words that lead me to think and grow and listen more carefully.

I love being challenged.

I love hearing voices of those I know.  Sometimes it makes me laugh to hear their public self knowing what I know about their private self.

And as I walked and listened this past week I was reminded.

I was reminded that my call is to love people - to walk alongside, to build up, to get to know, to invite along, to simply love.

So often our agenda is one of.....let me help, let me change, let me make better, I want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Now none of those are bad things and Lord knows we all could use a little help, a little change and some betterment.

But if that is your goal..........what does that say about the person you are suppose to be loving?


To me it says that I am a project.  I am something to be worked on - someone is going to step back, stare me down, make some judgements and then make improvements.

Then I will be all good and new and BETTER.

THEN I can join or be part of or be different.

It says to me that I am something to be fixed.

It says that I am something that can be finished.  Done.  Crossed off.


OR.................You can love.

You can walk alongside, you can listen, you can ask questions, have dinner, play with their kids, call, text, e-mail, see the person they are, the person they want to be.................and do so without expectation.


You mean I can do all that stuff and pour into and invest and love and lay down my life and time and energy and may make a difference..........or it may not?

Ummmm.............that sucks.

Yep.  Yep, it does.

But here's the thing......people aren't projects and they don't have an end date, a completion rate or a set of tasks that need to be complete and then you are DONE.

You are never done with people.

And people are messy and complicated and will need to be pulled up, lifted up, encouraged and love in a myriad of ways..........every. single. day.

And you know what?

Chances are you aren't going to be offered a little mini-me to pour are going to be offered someone to love that needs love.


You don't get to choose.

It's the neighbor who doesn't like you.

It's the super annoying mom with the even more annoying kid.

It's the person the next office, room, cubicle over that grates on your every last nerve.

It's the person who thinks THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF YOU IN EVERY WAY.

It's the family who seems to be the antithesis of who you want your family to be.

And listen........I am saying this to me.   I know that I am just as guilty as anyone else of wanting to choose who I love and who I pour into and who I have into my house.

I want to choose.


Too bad.

You are called to love.

You are not called to easy.

You are not called to simple.

You are not called to a life lived alone.

You are called to a life of discipleship.

And guess what else?

It's a lot easier to live a life of projects and not people.

It's a lot easier to fill our time with lists and projects and tasks and say LOOK AT ME.  I AM SO AWESOME BECAUSE I CAN COMPLETE ALL THIS STUFF.  I love a room that's been cleaned, a meal that's been cooked, a curriculum written, a village planned, a good deed done, an event planned.  I love those things because they are done and over and I can point to a job well done.

The reality, though, is that all those things are just things and they are good things and I love that I get to do them and they lead me to relationships and people but they are not the sum total of what I believe my ministry ministry is people.

My ministry is being carried out in parks and houses of other people and over the phone and through e-mails and coffee and prayer and time spent being present even when no one else is looking and it doesn't fit on an agenda.

And it's something that I need to be reminded of every day.

My tendency is towards tasks.

My tendency is towards completion.

My tendency is towards easy.

My tendency is towards simple.

My tendency is towards projects.

But my calling?

My calling to to love.

My calling is to the complexity of relationships.

My calling is to people.

Join me?