Monday, August 31, 2015

"And Now, Folks, for Our After-Dinner Entertainment..."

"I would really like for those two English walnut trees to be cut down soon," I announced at the dinner table this evening.  I was thinking that Dad might be able to arrange for Alex, the man who rents the gray house from Dad (and who conveniently happens to have a lawn-mowing and landscaping business), to cut down the trees sometime this fall.

"I can do that," Jeff surprised me by saying.

So he did!  :)
 Well, let me clarify: he started anyway, and got as far as he could before the chainsaw decided to quit working.
 My most pressing reason for wanting to get rid of these trees was because, a couple of nights ago, a large branch (seen above) broke off and fell--and without provocation!  It wasn't particularly windy that night, there was no storm, but that branch decided to fall anyway.  How dare it!  ;-)
 Besides that particular branch though, my list of reasons for cutting down these trees was fairly long:
1. There were a number of dead branches in them, not just the one that fell.
2. I was nervous about the kids playing under them--or even walking under them on their way up to feed the animals--because of the possibility of a branch falling just when someone was underneath (sounds bizarre, but it does happen).
3. Those trees lose their leaves really early in the fall.
4. The leaves never turn pretty colors; they just turn brown and fall off.
5. They gain their leaves really late in the spring.
6. I look at bare branches enough months of the year as it is; why do it for an extended period of time?
7. They haven't produced English walnuts (a kind of nut I truly love) in the 10 years since we've moved back here.
8. They were ugly.

I LOVE trees, but I am not at all hesitant to have them cut down when they've outlived their usefulness; then new ones can be planted, and the circle of life can continue.  :)
As soon as I heard Jeff's intentions for his after-dinner project, I abandoned my plan to clean up the kitchen right after supper and headed outside.  Watching someone with a chainsaw cut down huge limbs from a tree is highly entertaining (the suspense--WHEN will it finally fall?--and the danger, which my kids kept pointing out and I kept reassuring them about--will it land on Jeff? is this the last picture I'll ever take of him?); and since it doesn't happen every day around here, I didn't want to miss out by staying inside.

I had no idea in the world that Jeff would begin this project tonight (it's not the first time he's done something like this though) ;-), but I felt very loved that he took my request seriously and acted immediately.  Maybe tackling this project was his version of nesting before this baby is born??  ;-)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Births {Yes, Plural} :)

No, I didn't have the baby.

No, I didn't find out we're having twins.

But yes, this was a special day of birth--spiritual birth--for these two sons of mine who were baptized this afternoon!!  :)

Jeff has been doing some specific Bible studies with them this summer (of course, discussions about the Bible often come up spontaneously as we go about our days).  :)  We had originally thought that only Josiah would be getting baptized now, but David was so eager and so mature in his understanding of it all and so willing to do whatever it took that we realized there was no reason to hold him back.  :)

We chose to have the baptisms at Riven Rock Park, truly one of our favorite places on earth--and now, more than ever, it will be forever significant to us.  We were joined by a wonderful group of people from our church, as well as family and other friends--a "great cloud of witnesses" for these two young men as they took this very important step in their faith journey!  :)

I was so glad to have my parents there; and as an added bonus, Dad got to reconnect with another retired doctor that he's known for years.  :)

 There were signs warning us of bears being spotted in the area, but fortunately, none showed up while we were there today.  ;-)

 After we gathered in the picnic shelter, we walked down together to the only place in that stretch of river where there was deep enough water for a baptism!
 Earlier this year, there was MUCH more water flowing through here; but August has been dry (not uncommon for us), and the river is low.  But all it takes is one deeper area to make it work.  :)

 Jeff spoke a little (Moriah threw rocks) ;-), and then Julia, our pastor's wife, led us in singing "Down to the River to Pray," which was extra special for me because that's one of the songs in my playlist for labor.  :)

 Shav watched.  :)
 So did Mr. Fitch.  ;-)  (Although actually, I think he was more interested in looking the other way.  Maybe he saw a squirrel.)  ;-)
And then the threesome waded out into the deeper water.
 Did I mention yet that the water was quite cold, as it always is in this mountain stream?  ;-)

 Todd, our pastor, very kindly stayed near Moriah and kept an eye on her.  She's been to Riven Rock so many times that she's comfortable with moving around on these rocks, but it's still a really good idea to have someone ready to help her at a moment's notice.  I was grateful for Todd sensing this need and meeting it!
 Jeff asked the boys about their beliefs and their great confession...

 ...and then it was time for their participation in the death...
...and resurrection of Jesus!
 Their faces reflected the chilliness of the water.  :)
 Jeff's face reflected the joy of the event.  :)

 As they made their way back to dry land...
 ...we sang, accompanied by Abby on her trumpet, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus"...
 ...and "I've Been Redeemed."
 After a prayer by Todd, we hugged and congratulated the boys...
 ...chatted with each other...
 ...lingered a little bit...
 ...watched Tobin and some of the other kids go in the water (Tobin was determined to dunk himself) :)...
 ...and then headed back to the shelter...

 ...where we enjoyed a delicious potluck meal.
 We were so happy to share this time with so many kind people who support our sons and our whole family!
At that point, I put my camera away and simply relaxed and enjoyed myself the rest of the afternoon.  I stayed at the shelter, but it wasn't too long into the meal before the kids were done and ready to go back down to the river to play, although I don't have any pictures of that.  Interestingly, there was another group there that was having baptisms, so our kids delayed their playing to stand to the side and watch the baptisms.  When we set the date and I reserved the shelter, I had no idea another congregation would be doing the same thing as we were on that day!

Earlier in the day, I told Josiah and David that I thought it would be really special if their baby brother was born on this day, so they could share their spiritual birthday with his physical one.  :)  But here we are at the end of the day, and no baby to show for it.  ;-)  I guess he's holding out to have his own unique big day!  :)

I'm sure it goes without saying, but Jeff and I are so very proud of Josiah and David for the commitment they made today...and even more, so very humbled and grateful for the grace of God that He has poured out on them and on all of us.

This day goes in the treasure chest of my most precious memories.  :)