Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Golden Days

It’s my favorite time of the year. Golden September. And we just finished my favorite summertime task... canning peaches.

How clearly I remember our first peach canning extravaganza! 15 years ago, in the wide kitchen of the Michigan farmhouse we called home. Undoubtedly, it would have been easier for Mother to have sent us out to play on the sweeping lawn, while she and my aunt tried their hands at canning. But no, she let us all roll up our sleeves and “help”.
Help we did. We helped to make the biggest mess the kitchen had ever seen. Peach juice dripping down arms and running off elbows. Pits and peels in piles. The floor was soon covered with peach slime. Our solution? We trooped over to the mudroom and came back with our rubber boots on. What fun we had sliding around until Mother (shortly) brought the mop into view!
I recall the memories every year since, and shake my head. How did she do it? How could she thank us so sincerely when the job was done and lead us to feel that the golden jars were as much a product of our work as hers?

She did it because she saw men and women in the making. She knew that before competence must come patient training. She knew by faith that investing time and bearing with inconvenience and giving warm encouragement would bind our hearts to hers. And she was right.
So now we can peaches without slime on the floor, juice from head to foot, broken jars and time waste. We still have great fun!
But more importantly, she has our hearts for keeps. It’s because of the peach canning days 15 years ago and countless words, actions, prayers and experiences before and since, that I can lay my head on her heart and talk my heart out for an hour, as I did the other night. I hear her steady heartbeat. I know that heart loves me. When she opens her mouth and gives me counsel, I’m poised and ready to listen (even if it’s “hard”).
And so there is much to thank heaven for in these golden days. Happy memories. Late summer sweetness of freshly blanched peaches. Faithful mothers. And so much more.
If it is ever my turn to guide sticky fingers and plant grateful kisses on rosy cheeks, I will consider it my joy and privilege. God has given me a beautiful example.
“Her children arise up and call her blessed...” Proverbs 31:28
P.S. Reminiscent of old days, I had to spill half a boiling cauldron of apple juice on the floor at the very outset of our project this year. In spite of a hasty mopping, the floor did remain tacky until the end of the day. Everyone was gracious and we had a good laugh over it!

Canning at 3 am. A trick that probably won't be repeated, if we go by the reviews...

Master peach washer & blancher, back at work

Found after missing in action for a few minutes (maybe around 5:30 or so?)
Golden September

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Some time ago Joshua and I were sent out to respond to a 911 call for a fainting spell. Since our house is about 10 minutes closer to where the patient was located than the ambulance barn, we responded directly to the directions dispatch gave us. The rest of the crew would bring the ambulance and meet us at scene. We headed out with the usual prayer that we could be a blessing to our patient...

Some minutes later we arrived at the recreational area where our patient was alleged to be. What greeted our eyes was only saw the peaceful relaxation of a summer evening: some reading, some playing their guitars, eating supper, or something similar. Now what? Dispatch has no better information for us. Huh... Nothing else to do but to search for the patient.

Joshua headed out on foot and I followed in the car. He went to every party in the campground and asked something like this: "Excuse me Ma'am, did someone in your party call 911?" They would respond characteristically: startled eyes, and a worried denial. On to the next group. "Excuse me Sir, did someone in your party call 911?" It went on for a while...

(Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence. Someone calls
911 frantic and frightened, and gives adrenaline-filled, ambiguous
directions. Out here in our little, frontier community, we don't have a way to track the location of 911 calls. As a result, despite dispatch's best efforts, it is not overly rare to have difficulty finding our patients.)

Finally we receive updated information on our patient's location: a group camping spot, where a family reunion is going on. We drive there. One glance says this is indeed the spot. We find the typical tense atmosphere, the nervous faces. The crowd points us to a RV. I step in with Joshua close behind me with the jump bag.

"Hi there!" I smiled down into frightened eyes on the couch. "What's your name?" They replied. "____, I'm Natasha. Would you mind if I take your pulse?" I dropped to my knees while reaching for their wrist with a blue-gloved hand. The assessment went on with the additional help of the ambulance crew who soon joined us.

The patient really was fine and in the end refused transport. Half an hour later, assessment over and necessary documentation complete, we stepped back out of the RV. My heart warmed as I watched the worry and fear melt out of the family members faces under our reassurances.

By the time we were ready to leave, 50 or so of them were in the full swings of their evening meal, worry gone and joy of a family reunion returned. As we drove by their pavilion on our way out, they all stopped their proceedings and discussion. 50 hands started waving. 50 faces burst into beautiful smiles. 50 voices chorused out, "Thaaank yoooou!!!"

And two voices replied with smiles, "You're welcome!" So very welcome, indeed.

It made my day. Why? Because I had done something so heroic? Certainly not. The patient would have been just fine without our help that evening. Because they were thankful. Leaving home right when I had been anticipating sitting down for family time; being interrupted right in the middle of cooking the next day's breakfast; incorrect dispatch information and searching a recreational area over for the patient; any inconvenience at all, was paid back by two heartfelt words. The glow it left in my heart made me think...

God has gone on a massive rescue mission to save us from death. He has done something so heroic. If He hadn't come, we wouldn't be fine; if fact, we would have no chance at survival. And now, God "watches for some return of gratitude from us, as the mother watches for the smile of recognition from her beloved child."* He deserves it so much, after all. Why don't we make God's day when it is so within our power to do so, by letting our voices chorus in praise to Him for His rescue mission on our behalf?

Thankfulness, my friends, is a beautiful thing. It makes a gift so much more worth giving...

Let's thank the Rescuer.

*Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 84
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