{re}fresh

Tag: harvest

Out with the Old

by Rob Dunne

flickr.com/photos/nevilleslens/14534754156/in/photolis_CC BY NC ND 2.0

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

My wife Kellie and I recently undertook a DIY project…painting our kitchen cabinets. It was, by far, our most ambitious home improvement project to date. Truthfully, it is not for the faint of heart.

The first step was to remove the doors, drawers and all of the hardware. Next, we removed the contents of the cabinets or covered the insides with plastic. Of all the steps, this was the most difficult in my opinion. Both of us used an electric hand sander and the dust went everywhere! After sanding, you use a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.

In addition to the cabinet frame, there were twenty-one doors and seven drawers. We put two coats of primer and two coats of paint on all of it. Once they were all dry, the hinges and new hardware was placed back on everything. Lastly, the doors were hung and the drawers slid back in to place. In the end, our kitchen got a much needed facelift and Kellie and I are quite pleased with the results. However, it was a lot of work!

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Harvesting a surprise

by Rob Dunne

Image by Toni Verdu CarboFlickr.com_629236570_31721a3ebd_CC BY-ND 2.0

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

One of the most rewarding aspects of youth ministry I’ve experienced, was short term mission trips. To date, I have traveled to Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala and Uganda.  These overseas trips were particularly powerful because the students experienced how difficult life was outside of the United States. They realized just how good they had it back home!

Admittedly, students occasionally made poor choices. There were times when I wondered if my efforts were for naught.

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Tilled and Sown

by juste buzas

Image by Untilled Soybean Board_Flickr-com_9622771985_21fe5db2fe_CC BY-ND 2.0

Years ago, before I had given my heart to Christ, my life looked like a desert plain where the soil was hardened by the heat of the sun.  Through rebellion and strife, I was responsible for the fruitlessness and decay of my life.  Even so, God was always there.  In His sovereignty, God waited until I came to the end of myself that brought me to my knees.

Kneeling in the desert of my own desolation, unable to stand, parched and spent, I reached out to my loving Father and begged for mercy and escape.

God, in His compassion, met me in the field of my deficiency, stayed with me there in the parched land of my need.  It was there that the Lord began teaching me His ways. He showed me my desolate self against the mirror of His abounding holiness. He opened my eyes to my wandering places, exposed my hidden places of hurt and trespass and revealed where my resisted His love.

It was there, dry and broken, that I understood God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  It was there that He taught me how to be loved:

“For behold, I am for you and I will turn to you; and you shall be tilled and sown.”  (Ezekiel 36:9)

Tilled and sown.  Oh!  God does not leave us in the desert for long.  No.  He tills away our sorrow and our sin.  He turns our lives over…from old into new.  In our willingness for the work of His hand, God is faithful to till and to sow.  He plants His Word deep within our hearts.  He satisfies our thirst.  We become like a newly planted field that is watered by the rain of God’s presence and bathed in the glory of His light.  His seed of grace and goodness is planted deep within our hearts, and our lives are adorned with the fruitfulness of His righteousness.

Lessons in the Vine

by Dawn Aldrich

Grape Harvest Gouveia Vineyard, Wallingford, CT
Image by Peter Aldrich

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 (NIV)

In the early morning sun, grapes hung fragrant, ripe and heavy from the vine.  The vineyard buzzed with activity from both man and bee as we harvested our community’s first autumn crop. I met the challenge cheerfully, anticipating time spent outdoors tending the vines alongside my husband and neighbors.


Conversations in the field were as plentiful as the grapes. Some were boisterous and jolly, awaiting the end-of-harvest drinks shared in celebration. Others were soft spoken and patient as they taught their little ones the proper way to cut the fruit from the vine.

There was so much going on around me but the more grapes I harvested the more I found my spirit contemplating the lessons in the vine.

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Sowing Seed

by Rob Dunne

Image by Brianna Privett_Flickr.com_2284232743_d7a58a1f2d__CC BY-ND 2.0

“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty and some a hundred.” Mark 4:20

During summer break in college, I got a job building tennis courts. One of the many facets to building a tennis court was surrounding it with a chain link fence. Every post requires a fairly deep hole. To achieve this, you must use a variety of tools.

To say that this was labor intensive is an understatement. You start out using a post hole digger. Once you get past the first foot or so of soil, you encounter rocks. The deeper you go, the bigger they get. Occasionally, you hit a boulder. We would try to work them out with a steel digging bar. If they were particularly big, we busted out the jackhammer. Either way, we got them out of the ground.

Jesus shared a parable about sowing seed and how it thrives in good ground. He explains that the sower is someone who shares the Word of God (the seed) with others. It lands on four types of ground; the wayside, stony ground, among thorns and good ground.

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One Word 2017: Harvest

by Dawn Aldrich

Winter Apple by Justin LaBerge Flickr.com_15932703399_6966b1480b_CC BY-ND 2.0

Winter Apple by Justin LaBerge
Flickr.com_15932703399_6966b1480b_CC BY-ND 2.0

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fileds! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35b

The New Year approaches without pause; a natural course marked by a wintry blanket tucked in around the corners of a slumbering earth.

While silence falls outside, one word swirls like the wind inside my mind: harvest. A strange word, I think, for a snow-fallen day. But, there it is. Unshakable. Stubborn. Lingering. It’s an answer to my annual question, “What’s my one word for the new year, Lord?”

“Harvest,” He replies.

Like every season, it’s an appointed time; one that can be marked on the calendar. But, unlike the growing season, it’s a very limited time marked by urgency and the flurry of hardworking hands. For if the ripened fruits are not harvested before winter, the fruits will die and many will grow hungry. Harvest work must be done NOW. There is no “later”.  Read the rest of this entry »

In Drought or Rain

by Dawn Aldrich

Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants… Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Leaving the January New England cold, we flew west to “sunny” California. In a land experiencing drought for almost five years, we looked forward to some spring-like weather—sunny skies and warm temps. But, shortly after we landed, overcast skies and cool, damp breezes became the norm. Eventually, heavy fog set in and monsoon down pours dampened our plans.

We tried not to complain because California was so parched. After a couple of tough traveling days, the rains slowed and the skies brightened long enough to reveal California’s need and all its glory.

We found the need driving north to Yosemite where hundreds of thousands of acres of blackened, fire damaged land and trees stood as evidence. This barren land lay parched and black, crying out for a deep drink of heaven’s rain.

California Drought 2 2015

Reservoirs that once ran high along the banks, sat shrunken as though a giant had taken too deep a sip from his oversized straw, leaving but the dregs at the bottom of his glass.

California drought 2015

But there was hope, as we traveled through Napa Valley and along the northern shore. California’s glory sang through glistening pruned vineyards, new green pastures, grazing herds, and crops harvested for market around every corner.

Cali Green Hills

 

NappaValleyRainbow_DawnAldrich2016

Such a drastic difference—these two experiences—it made me think how much like our lives this represented. Our souls may experience years of drought, thirsting after heaven’s rain, and yet none comes. But, through it all, we learn the importance of faith in God, community, and family—how being more dependent on God and one another is actually the better way to live. We become humbled during the drought years until our hearts are ready to drink in God’s blessings.

And when God’s blessings rain down upon a ready heart, God’s glory becomes evident because good fruit appears—fruit, that when harvested, with nourish many.

Preparing to cross over to the Promised Land, God gave Moses a song for Israel. Here it is in part from Deuteronomy 32:2, 37, 39 (NIV):

Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants…

They are not idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess…

See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life…

Where do you find yourself today? Drought or Rain? Do not curse either, as one prepares your heart to receive God’s teaching and the other prepares your heart for harvest. While in drought, ask God, “What is it that you want to teach me? What do you want to be for me during this time?” While it’s raining, give thanks, celebrate and humbly remember God as the source of the blessings.

A Simpler Time

by ivyjonah

cottageAll creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:27-28

A friend found it hard to explain what made our getaway destination, The Little Stone Cottage, such a magical place and she was right.

It was a feast for the eyes taking in the everyday life in the Heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country—from watching farmers plowing, driving horse-drawn buggies,  or  a youngster speeding along on his bike sized scooter—we were catapulted back in time to simpler living that abound with God’s beauty.

Arriving at the cottage, rockers beckoned us to take a seat on the front porch framed by a cornucopia of vivid flowering plants. We inhaled the beauty, cognizant that loving hands prepared the display. Entering the living area soft music and an autumn tinged potpourri awakened our senses. It took a minute to take it all in, but by the time our eyes reunited we felt overwhelmingly welcomed.

Stretching his legs, my husband settled on the sofa, weary from the long drive, but I felt more adventurous.

A red rose petal path caught my eye. “Red rose petals?” I thought. “This certainly was not the Holiday Inn.” What seemed simultaneously romantic and silly I followed this velvety trail as it wound its way in a heart-shaped end atop our bedspread. The nuance of romance was palatable.

On the private deck was a hot tub for relaxation, overlooking an area with a small pond and a swing. With a light breeze on my face, I closed my eyes for a moment and I was again a young girl, swinging freely without a care in the world.

Everything from the décor, the library of books, the well thought out amenities made The Little Stone Cottage was a place that encapsulated the joys and celebration of our marriage covenant. We felt pampered and rejuvenated.

This is a holy place as it honors the marriage covenant for all couples, no matter what season of life their marriage finds them.  As a planting of the Lord set within the hearts of a Mennonite, it safely plants the seeds of recommitted love that hold the hope for a bountiful harvest of blessings for each couple.

Sometimes all married couples  need to return to a simpler time in their relationship—away from life’s distractions where they can relax, rejuvenate, and recommit themselves to one another and their relationship to the Lord—no matter what season they find themselves. The Little Stone Cottage was just one place we found to do just that–a place where we were reminded of the simpler ways–God’s ways.

Lord, thank you for planting the vision for such a lovely ministry to married couples within this couple. Bless the marriages represented in our readership, represented by The Little Stone Cottage and renew our covenants not only with one another, but with you as Lord of our marriages and family. May there be a great harvest and renewal within the families as we seek to honor you in our marriages. Amen.

To learn more about Linda, please visit our Contributors page.

Enjoy Your Season

by Julie

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“Be still and Know I am God” Psalm 46:10

Most people love this time of year. The air turns cool and crisp as the colors on the trees transform into the bold colors of Fall. We break out our scarves and head to our small town fairs. Kids are back in school and everyday routines start-up again. Everyone rejoices because once again Starbucks begins to sell pumpkin spice everything. Now I enjoy the autumn season as much as the next New Englander, but I must say that it has taken me some time to that point. In my eyes fall is beautiful, but a constant reminder that summer is over and the frigid cold of winter was soon on it’s way.

How often do we do that in our faith journey? We try so hard to stay where we are because it’s comfortable and familiar. We focus on a season that has since passed that we can miss what the Lord has for us next. To go beyond that we begin to focus on a season that has not yet arrived and miss the one that we are in.

It’s not always easy to move on from something that seems so good. It might even be more difficult to embrace the new place you’re in if you dread what’s next. As believers we have the opportunity to be one hundred percent at peace where God has us right now. We remain thankful for what He is done in the past, rest in the knowledge that He has more in store for us, and have confidence that He remains with us now and forevermore.

Maybe for you this season is all about change. Embrace it. It could be about letting go of something so good for something better. Trust Him. Whatever it is for you, be encouraged to enjoy where He has you.

To learn more about Julie, please visit our Contributors page.

Faith Takes Time and Other Frustrations

by Mike McKinniss

I’m no farmer.  It’s from the sterile displays at Stop & Shop I get my fruits and vegetables.  I understand in theory that my tomatoes come from a tiny seed, which shoots up a long twisty vine, which eventually produces tiny green bulbs that expand into larger green fruit, which in time turns red and juicy and delicious.  And all of this happens over the course of five or six months, from spring into the late summer and early fall.

I get that in theory.  But when I want a tomato for BLT’s, all I do is hop in my car, drive a mile and a half up the street, and grab my fill of plump ‘maters in the produce section of the grocery.  I’m back home within 20 minutes.  And I can do this any time of year.  In the sweltering heat of August or in the icy misery of February, I can still claim my ripe tomatoes.  How this is even a possibility I neither know nor care to investigate.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand: Abraham’s agonizingly long faith journey.  In Genesis 12, Abraham hears God telling him that he will become a great nation (v. 2).  This implies that he will possess (1) a sizable tract of land on which to house this nation, (2) a good deal of wealth with which to run this nation, and (3) innumerable descendants to populate the nation.  All Abraham has to do (at first) is leave his homeland and head toward the foreign place that God will show him (Gen. 12:1).

Abraham obeys in faith and begins his journey.

It seems as though the wealth part of the promise came fairly quickly to Abraham, since he’s already quite rich as the next chapter begins (Gen. 13:2).  But several years into the journey he remains both childless and deed-less.  In fact, by the time Abraham dies, the wealth is still nearly all that he has.

Genesis 25:7 reports that Abraham lived to the age of 175, which means he lived a full 100 years after God promised to make him into a great nation.  To that date, however, Abraham had just one son that counted (Abraham had eight sons in all, but sent seven away from his household.  See Gen. 21:14; 25:6.) and a small plot of land he purchased in order to bury his beloved Sarah (Gen. 23:17-20).  That’s it.

This all seems to me a far cry from the original promise given to Abraham and potentially demoralizing.  Ugh!

Why am I so frustrated by Abraham’s eternal journey of faith?  Because: Stop & Shop.

Any other fool from any other time in the history of the world would know, as in experience, the painfully slow and mysterious process of planting, done in the spring, and (wait for it…) harvesting, done so much very later in the fall.  That’s right, it takes months and months to grow tomatoes, not 20 minutes.  All vegetables and fruits (and for that matter hunting and fishing) take time.  Lots and lots of time.

Faith is no different.  Faith gets planted with a promise from the Lord and a positive step of obedience in response.  But night and day, whether you sleep or get up, the seed sprouts and grows, though you do not know how.  Seemingly “all by itself the soil produces grain–first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:28).  And then eventually, rest assured, a harvest will come.

To be sure, you may not end up being the one eating the fruit of your own faithful actions, but someone will.  Someone is going to benefit from your seeds of faith.  It just may take a while.

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