10 November 2008

Forget the Nap: Give Me a Preacher's Yardwork Afternoon and I'll Be Just Peachy!

“…it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3.13-14

I spent yesterday doing a lot of stuff. Of course, the morning was taken with worship and being with you all, which is always a great gift to me. Before that, though, I made a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon and we four enjoyed a nice Sunday morning meal together before going to our separate churches for work. The afternoon was one of those times I’ve come to treasure, also. First, the girls slept while I read the Sunday editions of the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register. Then I headed to the backyard for a few hours of raking, vacuuming up and mulching leaves. The air was crisp and clear, and our neighbor had fired up his woodstove, so the tang of woodsmoke spiced the air with a delicious, familiar and beloved autumn scent. After the girls woke up from their naps (they take my preacher’s nap for me), we went off to the market to buy the week’s groceries, then returned home and had rice and stir-fry for supper. After finally getting the girls washed and down for bed, Kristin and I took in a few of our TV shows on the DVR before turning in ourselves.

The afore-mentioned yard, just prior to mulching the leaves.

I remember thinking how nice it is to have a small yard while I was raking yesterday. Our house in Minnesota had a HUGE yard, at least an acre, with several cottonwood trees to shed leaves, branches and fluff all year long. As you can imagine, fall clean-up was a pain. Even when we borrowed our neighbor’s riding mower and pull-behind leaf vacuum, it took a long time to get that yard prepped for winter. Here in Ames, though, I can do it in a weekend, and do a better job of it than I did in Minnesota. I don’t mind the yard work; I actually enjoy it quite a lot. It’s a real treat to have a hobby where you can see the results of your work as soon as you’re done. But if we had a bigger yard, it would require a lot more work, and I’m not sure I’d want that right now; I’ve got enough to care for already.

The writer of Ecclesiastes talks about labor and work and reward and pleasure throughout the entire book, and not always with the sunniest outlook. But whoever the writer was,

he/she came to the conclusion that labor is good, that we should tend to the simple things in our lives and take pleasure in them. After a week of voting, celebrating/mourning the results, and looking ahead to the massive crises that lie before us, it’s good for us to be reminded that we need to care for our immediate environment, also. Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot do great things; only small things with great love.” Whatever your task may be this week, do it well, friends, and take pleasure in it, and remember that the eternal is held in God’s hands, not yours – we are stewards of this creation, not its masters, and we would do well to remember that God has entrusted the ministry of everyday life to us, and it is good.

Above and below: The "good things" over which I am called to care - about the best thing God could have given me. :-)


  1. you look pretty darn happy and with good reason!

    my labor as of late... cooking. walking mochajava in the rain (that won't go away!) and preparing for funerals... ah yes... little every day things that add up to holy moments.

  2. Glad the vacuum helps. We went from 37 bags to 13 when we used it. =)

    You can still tell that your daughter and our N are related. Funny!