Last evening my husband and I were returning from the store, and one of the lambs was outside of the fence. So we went back home, and I grabbed my boots and a rope and went to see if I could get the lamb back inside the pasture. I borrowed a kid on the way since I can’t run any more, and the kids father and another brother followed us out to the field. This is just a few minutes from our neighborhood. These aren’t my sheep, mind you, but the owner is an older fellow who is having some health problems.
When I arrived at the pasture, the lamb was already back inside the fence and a huge gaping hole in the rusty old poorly maintained fence made it obvious where he had escaped. I thought about how vital boundaries are in our marriages, for our health, and in so many ways. Many of us live in marriages where the fences are not always well-maintained. That can look like so many different things. Emotional neglect, love anorexia was a terms I think someone used, lack of intimacy, anger issues, the list goes on. In our marriage, sometimes we go too long without spending quality time together. Now and then, I think it was less lonely being single. I can do something about this by finding ways to connect with my husband. However just as the farmer needs to maintain his fences, marriage takes work. The sheep don’t get out so often when the when the fences are maintained properly.
As I was fixing the fence last night with some rope, bungee cord and leather, I thought about what kinds of things our marriage needs right now. Some of the things that reassure and comfort my husband include having a clean kitchen, keeping up with housework, and having order in the house. Sometimes these things are hard to achieve for me because of my health as multiple sclerosis progresses. But I felt like it was a gentle reminder last evening to me that our marriage will benefit from finding creative solutions to the challenges we face. I don’t know for sure what the future holds, and I can only do my part. But I do know that God speaks to me as one of His beloved lambs, and His word strengthens and encourages me. I’m reminded to look to the shepherd for all of my needs. One version of Psalm 23 says, the Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need. In Christ, I don’t have to look at the things that are lacking in my life and be discouraged, I can look to Him for fulfillment and unconditional love. May He bless you today.
Today I saw my neurologist. She was wonderful, her caring evident as she tried to adjust my mask so my glasses wouldn’t fog up. We talked about recent months, and it felt more like having tea with a friend than a doctor’s visit. But we still accomplished the necessary business at hand–my ongoing care as I live with the challenges of multiple sclerosis. She feels the progression is now secondary progressive and has been for awhile. That means that the nature of the deterioration is no longer due to lesions in the brain and spinal cord as much as it is damage to the axons and dendrites in nerves. As a result, the MS medication I’m on may not be very effective. Really, there isn’t a lot that can be done about it at this point…that is, in human terms. God can sustain me day by day just as He always has. She prescribed a ramp for the front door, so we can use our flex spending account if needed as we improve accessibility for my power chair in this home. She wrote a note saying a mobility service dog would be beneficial so I can get on some lists for a future dog to join my team. We compared notes about hot flashes that disturb our sleep and she told me that she uses a fan clipped to her headboard. We laughed together, empathized, and talked about dogs and husbands, and the common ground we share in this season of our lives. I left with a smile as she said I had brightened her day. She made my day pretty great as well. God, thank You for a caring neurologist and such sweet moments in the midst of this journey with MS. Thank you for Kathy, who so kindly drove me to the appointment and then stopped for produce at some great stores in Corvallis afterwards. Her fellowship blessed me. Life in this pandemic is made sweeter by time with her and others. Vicky biked over with her two adorable children and some donuts for Jerry and me. I sent her home with violas and yellow and purple flowers will grace her yard as a result.
We live in a neighborhood with lots of gang activity. A gang of little girls, all quite young, like to knock on our door in the evenings lately. Their voices and smiles have become familiar. Their eyes sparkle with hope and expectancy. “Do you need any help?” I have tried to give them something to do in the area I’m landscaping out front, so they’ve planted many a succulent in recent days, often with the warmth of community and joy reflecting in their young eyes. When I answered that I was quite tired tonight, so maybe not, their sweet freckled faces fell in disappointment. The littlest one’s dimpled smile didn’t appear as usual.
“Oh, okay, I can show you girls where you can plant some succulents.” Their bicycles were already parked by the newly landscaped area next to our driveway. The sweet voices of little girls echoed in the cool evening air as they each grabbed a succulent start from the bigger planter and found a spot to poke a hole with their finger like I had shown them before. Then they carefully poked the root into that hole and patted the cold black soil around it, tucking the chicken and hens into the soil that will nurture life. One girl smiled brightly and said, “When you come out in the morning, you’ll find all of these small ones planted for you.” She looked so proud to be helping and others cast knowing looks.
In time these succulents will spread, and the pandemic will be behind us. Life will take over where only weeds once invaded the dirt and bark dust. The girls will remember these shared moments of joy and purpose when they ride their bikes past our place. I’ll smile, too. The red dirt rocks I brought from our farm near Silverton will remind me of generations of Swiss immigrants farming the hill country together. Memories of working side by side as a family on the farm that Kuenzis have farmed for 102 years and counting will come flooding back when I see those rocks. The discarded utility sink I brought from my grandparent’s farm house will have succulents hanging over the side, and a clematis climbing forth and blossoming later this summer. Those memories of my Swiss heritage and being part of a hard working farm family will belong to me. But this small garden will belong to our neighborhood, planted together by a gang of kids and some adults who also volunteered (or earned a bit), enjoying the wonder of working side by side to create beauty that endures.
we live one day at a time…and handle life as best as we can. yesterday I returned to my roots. i drove around our three family farms, saw the barns and grass seed cleaner of my childhood. i touched the rocks that i had picked up as a kid, in the fields with my dad and family, and brought some home. i remembered who i am and what matters most to me. i am so thankful for our farm heritage and that this beautiful land remains in the family. i visited with cousins and a bee keeper who was my classmate. i remembered my 4-H steers as i looked in the barn. i remembered running the grass seed cleaner into the night. memories came flooding back, many of them wonderful, joyful times of hard work and being together as a family. of hauling straw and delivering it to the fairgrounds for a dollar a bale. we would throw the straw into each stall over the top of the doors. we were industrious, working hard to make a living. catching crawdads in the stream on a sunny day. frogging in the neighbors pond. root beer floats with the montagues, or riding their sow or one of the cows. playing cowboys and indians and leaving a hostage tied up to a tree for awhile. sending food up into the big tree by rope. jumping from the haymow with grain bags for parachutes. grinding our own wheat and helping mom bake bread and churn butter. hard times, too. trusing God in deeper ways, learning about His grace and love, His power. Memories. Fields of vivid green–new life. Riding my horse with Katie through the fields down in the draw, going so fast our hair trailed behind us. Loving life and freedom.
This evening, I drove just a little ways from our place as the sun began to set. I pulled to the side of a gravel road and got out. With a corn field nearby, I looked out across the blueberry field to the west as the setting sun lit up the clouds. I smiled as I saw the flock of sheep coming across the pasture to join me. I think they were hoping I’d feed them. Together we watched God bring the day to a beautiful conclusion. Thank You, Abba Father for the gift of this day.
Today I enjoyed driving over to our family farm in the Silverton area. As I left our house, a hot air ballon flew overhead. Four more were floating up from their launch area as I drove through town. I spent time with my friend, Julie, and her puppy before heading over to the farm. I took Helen to the Oregon Gardens for lunch before driving back home. I stopped and took pictures of a large vineyard near Mom and Arie’s place. We live in such a beautiful area.
We finished off our day celebrating with Steve and Katrina, who recently turned 60, so we celebrated their 120 years of life. Jerry and I are so thankful God brought us to this community a little over a year ago. We love the area and our friends here. We also feel so thankful for our family, too.