Tag Archives: writing

“Oh, Adam…”

Stockton,_California__Weeding_celery_field_on_industrialized_ranch_in_the_Delta_region,_prior_to_ev_______-_NARA_-_537592

We’ve started a new chapter in our lives around here.  We have moved Connor to the big bed – no backing out this time.  Today, I spent 3 1/2 hours trying to get him to stay in bed and take a nap.  During that time, alone, he woke up his baby brother from his nap twice.  Suffice it to say I’ve had better days.

As I was washing dishes tonight, I was lamenting how stressful this day has been, and after bouncing around dozens of thoughts and nearly letting the tears flow a few times, I was reminded of a story I heard at some point as a kid.  It’s about a farmer and his farm hand, and I thought I would relay it here for you to read.  Just something to ponder on as you go through your day.

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There was once a poor farm hand who worked for a rich land owner.  The farm hand had worked hard his entire life on other men’s lands, growing their crops, and, inevitably, growing their bank accounts.  Through all of his work, however, he was never able to get ahead.  He just barely scraped by, unable to provide any more than the absolute necessities for his family, and sometimes not even that.  As the years passed, his hands grew more calloused, his back more stooped, his feet and legs more sore.  His employer, however, was able to buy more land, hire more farm hands, and spend more time inside his recently upgraded and enlarged home.  The farm hand was in the fields day in and day out, from sun up to sun down, and in every kind of weather.  He was weary.

One particularly hot summer day, as he sat in the shade of an old oak tree eating his meager lunch of left-over mashed potato cakes and water, he conversed with his fellow farm hands.  One of the younger men, a newly-wed, talked of his big plans to save as much of his paltry wages as he could and eventually buy his own piece of land – to become his own man.  The poor farm hand remembered having those same thoughts a good twenty years before, and at once, he felt sorry for his young co-worker and resentful at his own lot in life.

Lunch ended, and as the man headed back to the field with his canvas bag slung diagonally across his chest to pick more green beans among the buzzing wasps, he began to ponder why he had to work so hard for so little.  The thoughts consumed his mind as he worked for the rest of the day.  At long last, he came to the conclusion that it was simply because life is not fair.  Why is life not fair, he lamented in his mind as he walked the mile to his two-room house, crowded with him, his wife, and their four children.  It was a thought that he turned over and over for the next several days.  He was finally forced to admit that life was not fair because there was sin in the world.  Life-long Sunday school lessons had taught him that sin had entered the world through the act of one man and his wife several millennia before he was born.

Once the man had reached that conclusion, a new mantra was constantly on his lips as he worked:  “Oh, Adam!  Oh, Adam!  Oh, Adam!”  With each whack of his hoe to a weed, “Oh, Adam!”  With each pull of a vegetable from a vine, “Oh, Adam!”  With each slice of his spade into the earth, “Oh, Adam!”

After a few weeks, the land owner heard the man’s mantra.  The foreman said he didn’t know what the man meant by it but that he had noticed the man saying it.  After several more days, the land owner called the man to his office and asked him why he was saying “Oh, Adam!”  The man felt a bit sheepish for a moment, but then, noticing the land owners austere office space with fresh paint, plush rugs, a book-lined wall, an ornate, hand-crafted desk, and other trappings of great wealth brought about by his own poor, work-worn hands, he felt that old resentment and bitterness rise up.  He told the land owner of all the hard work that he did each day and how he never was able to get even, let alone ahead in life.  He complained of how he worked in the dead heat of summer and the bone-chilling cold of winter and everything in between.  He complained of the pain that his body felt all day, each and every day.  And, at last, he told the land owner of how he had reached the conclusion that if only Adam hadn’t sinned in the Garden, then he would not be working his life away for nothing all these thousands of years later.

The land owner studied the farm hand in silence for several minutes.  Finally, he said, “When you get here in the morning, I want you to come meet me on the porch first thing.  I will speak to the foreman, so do not delay in meeting with me.  I think I have a solution for your problem, but I will need the rest of the day to prepare it.  Now, please, go finish out your work day.”  The farm hand agreed to the land owner’s vague plan and went back to work.  The next morning, he did just as he was told and met the land owner on the porch of the house.  The land owner was sitting on a plush armchair with a small spindly table sitting beside it.  On the table, there was a plain wooden box, a pitcher of sweet tea, and an empty glass.  The land owner stood as the man came up the porch steps and greeted him with a handshake.  “Come, let me explain my plan,” he said.

As they walked toward the chair, the land owner said, “I have decided that since you are having so much pain and discomfort from the conditions of your work, that I will allow you earn your pay by simply sitting in this chair each day, all day, enjoying some tea, reading books, taking naps, whatever relaxing activity you wish.  You may have the chair moved from the porch to inside the parlor if the weather does not suit you, and at lunch, you will be welcome to eat what my house servants eat.  They have instructions to bring it to you for you to eat from your chair or you may go eat in the kitchen with them, if you please.  I will also have my driver come pick you up each morning and take you back home each evening.  And as an added bonus, I am even doubling your pay.”

The farm hand could hardly believe his ears.  It was a dream come true, to earn money and not work.  To rest, to eat, to be out of the weather, to do nothing and earn twice what all his hard work earned him.  “What is the catch?” he asked his boss.

“Catch?  There is no catch.  There is a condition, however,” answered the land owner.  “You see this box here on the table?”

The man nodded.  “Yes, sir.”

“You must not ever open it, under any circumstances.”  The land owner looked the farm hand in the eye.  “I will know if you do.  And, if you do open the box, everything will go as it was before:  You will come to work and go home on your own.  You will work in the fields, bringing your own lunch.  Your pay will return to its normal rate.  And you will never again utter the phrase, ‘Oh, Adam!’  Do you agree to my terms?”

“How long will you allow me these luxuries?” asked the farm hand.

“For as long as you keep the box closed,” answered the land owner.  “Are you in agreement?”

The farm hand studied the land owner.  The man was known to be honest, a tough employer, but honest, and he seemed to be playing no tricks now.  He slowly held out his hand and agreed.  One signed contract later, and the farm hand was sipping sweet tea on the land owner’s porch.  He leaned back in the chair, closed his eyes, and said to himself, “Finally, my ship has come in.  I’ll sit on this porch the rest of my life.  Not open a box…Ha!  How could I fail?”

The first week of his new “duties” was a cinch.  He hardly thought of the box on the table.  No matter where he had his chair placed for the day, the little table and box followed.  He enjoyed warm, filling lunches from the kitchen staff each day and was never short on tea or even cold water or hot coffee, if he preferred.  He read the newspaper each day, enjoyed naps, and even made a list of what all he would do with all the money he had coming to him.  His wife was suspicious of this development in his job, but she would be convinced of his good fortune with time.  He couldn’t blame her hesitation; life had been hard for a long time.  Each day, the land owner would stop by for a few minutes and visit with man, making small talk and asking him how he was enjoying his new life.  The man had no complaints.

The second week, the man found himself feeling a bit bored from time to time, but he just started bringing books to read and blank paper to write. This kept his mind busy for a couple of months.  And he hardly ever thought about the box that sat beside him day after day.  However, he eventually became bored with reading, and he turned to writing.  He sat an entire morning, one day, trying to come up with an idea to write about with no success.  However, when his lunch was brought to him, the box caught his eye.  I could write a story about what is in the box, he thought.

Soon, the box was consuming his thoughts.  He would write page after page, each day, on stories about the box and its mysterious contents.  Each day was a different story:  a box of money, a box of jewels, a box of love letters, a box of the land owner’s will, a box of human hair and finger nail clippings, even a story about a box of air.  The man would hold the box, feeling its weight, his fingers detailing every bump, groove, and smooth surface of the box.  He would gently shake it, put his ear to it, even sniff it.  Before long, he had abandoned his stories and spent his days inspecting and thinking about the box.  He wanted to know what was in the box.  It became all he thought about.  He dreamt of the box.  He spoke of nearly nothing except the box.  He could get no hints from the land owner of its contents, only reminders that if it were to be opened, he would know.

Three and a half months after signing the contract with the land owner, the farm hand had had enough.  He sat on the porch in his arm chair with the box on his lap for the umpteenth time and said to himself, “Just one peak.  The boss will never know.”  He glanced up and down the porch.  He looked out to the fields behind the house.  No one was around.  No one was watching.  He lifted the box up to his face and very slowly eased up the hinged lid a tiny crack.  It was too dark to see inside, so he lifted the lid further and further.  He had it half-way open when suddenly his nose was accosted by a large monarch butterfly escaping from the box.  He immediately dropped the box and lunged toward the butterfly, but it was fast.  It flew to the ceiling of the porch.  The man jumped to catch it.  It fluttered frantically towards the open air beyond the porch.  The man made one last dive towards it, his fingers missing it by inches, and doing a painful belly flop onto ground just past the porch.

The land owner heard the ruckus and came rushing out to check on the man.  The man was winded and stiff, but unhurt, unless you counted his ego.  Once the land owner was satisfied the man was okay, he turned to see the empty box on the porch floor.  “Hmm…I see you opened the box.  It would seem you’re no better than Adam was all those years ago in the Garden.  Your crew is in the western fields.  Get your hoe from the shed and see your foreman for your assignment.”  The land owner reentered the house without looking back, and the farm hand got to his feet and slowly trudged to the tool shed.  Never again did the farm hand complain of his lot in life or blame Adam for how unfair his life felt.

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I did embellish this story some.  I have no idea who originally came up with it, nor do I remember who told it to me.  I just find it useful for keeping perspective.

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Ode To Odors

I’ve always heard about a woman’s nose going haywire during pregnancy, and I always believed it.  But now that I’m experiencing it, it’s a whole new ball game.  Living in an older house in a lower-lying area, rains tend to bring smells that I’ve never really liked.  Now those smells have taken on a whole new intensity, and the past two days have been not so fun, to say the least.  In response to my nose’s response to all things foul-odored, I wrote this little poem.  It’s not my best, but I just had to get my frustration off my chest, or nose, as the case may be.

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“Ode To Odors”

Odors, aromas,

Scents, and smells

Oh the things

The nose knows.

Who knew the nose

Could know so much more

When your belly

Has held a baby

For a mere nine weeks?

Oh the odors

I’ve become

Accustomed to.

The hand towel,

Kitchen rag,

And dampness from the rain.

The smell on my hand

From the scrunchy

In my hair.

The trash in the can

While the lid is on.

The boiled egg scent

Lingering on the lip

Of my water bottle.

Oh the odors

I’ve become

Accustomed to.

I’ve employed the powers

Of baking soda,

Vinegar, and fresh spring air.

I’ve questioned my Honey

On what his nose knows.

I find I’m alone

In my nasal warfare.

It must be

That I’m smelling for two.

Oh for the odors to end

Soon.

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The Back Yard “Fence”

This was, essentially, the fence in our back yard, except that until this afternoon, it was all standing.  Leaning severely, but standing.  Then the wind blew, and this happened.  My husband and I have been waiting for this fence to come down for quite some time, and now part of it finally has.  You see, we would have taken care of it, but we rent our little home, and our landlord said he would take it down soon after we moved in.  That was in September.  Yeah, we gave up hope on that months ago, but we also didn’t have much inclination to do anything with it (for several reasons), except wait for it to fall.  Therefore, we try to advise people not to park near it, and we don’t either.  So other than the fence, no harm was done today.

Well, once it fell, we had to do something.  Being the not-so-industrial-inclined people that we are, pretty much the only tools we had for the job were two cheap, wimpy hammers and our own ingenuity.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my husband dearly – truly I do – and he does have an engineering degree, but sometimes he just doesn’t think these type of jobs through.  I don’t have any kind of engineering anything, but my dad is a great carpenter.  He basically built a two-story house around a single-wide trailer while I was growing up.  (In fact, it’s still an on-going project.)  But I’ve helped him out with several little things and kinda have a sense of how structures are built.  (That’s not to say that you want me to draw up the blue prints for your next project – don’t get me wrong.)  Anyhow, there we were, two stubborn, aggravated people, with a wimpy  hammer each, trying to tear apart part of a “fence” that has had several patch-work attempts at securing it a little better over the years.  Sometimes with screws, sometimes with nails, sometimes with two-by-fours, sometimes with nothing better than your basic stick.  It was not pretty, to say the least.

However, after about a half an hour of fussing, beating, yanking, pulling, dragging, and just flat savage-like yells of aggravation, we managed to accomplish two things:  a pile of old “fence” wood and an empty space where part of a “fence” once stood.

And we still made it to church on time!  😀

           

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The Shroud

I wrote this story and it’s companion poem in 2006.  Both of them are titled “The Shroud.”

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(STORY)

It’s Sunday morning – early Sunday morning.  So early, in fact, that the sun is just beginning to peak over the horizon.  It’s still dark in the west, even.  It’s a quiet morning, but not just any quiet.  Somewhat like an anticipating silence, as if it’s waiting on something – something big!  Something so huge that it will change everything that you’ve ever known!  It’s almost an excited quiet, and you resent that.  You resent that because you and your companions are walking toward the tomb of a man whose body you all are going to properly prepare for burial.  You think the quiet should be in mourning, such as you yourself are.

Suddenly, as you are walking along, carrying your tray of perfumes and oils, the earth beneath you begins to move!  It’s as if the ground has turned into the sea, and you are trying to walk on it!  It’s rolling and shaking.  It eventually knocks you to the ground, where your bottles of perfume and oil shatter, spilling the precious liquids.  Your companions are knocked down, too, each of you scraping your knees and hands on the rough and rocky ground beneath you.

Struggling, you finally manage to stand up and take a few shaky steps toward the tomb.  You have one thing on your mind:  Get to the tomb!  You have to know if this earthquake has caved in the final resting place of the greatest man you have ever known.

Then, just as you come to the last bend in the path to the tomb, the earth quits its quaking.  Everything stops and is silent once more.  Only this time the silence is full of joy, as if the anticipated event has occurred and the entire world is in awe of its happening.  Unconcerned with the world’s wonder and still desperate to know whether your beloved Savior’s body was crushed by falling rock, you frantically run around the final bend and into the clearing where the tomb is located.

Upon entering the clearing, the first thing you notice is the guards – they appear to be dead!  Fearful that they are and that you would be accused of their murder you rush to them to check for signs of life.  To your relief, you discover that they are simply knocked out.  As you let out a sigh, you hear a gasp behind you.  Quickly you turn and see your companions staring at the tomb – the open tomb.  You do not understand why the entrance is not being guarded by the enormous stone that had been placed there to keep The Brothers out.  Deciding that it must have been the earthquake that did it, you glance at your companions, and all of you silently decide to step inside the holy sepulcher.  As you hold each others’ hands, you all quietly and fearfully walk to the unguarded entrance.

It’s dark inside, and one by one, you and your companions enter the cave-like room.  A shock wave goes through you as you notice the white, radiant being inside.  Though you are in awe of his beauty, you tremble with fear.  Then, he begins to speak clearly yet softly.  “Fear not!  He that you seek is not here.”

At this you start.  You feel anger well up inside you.  “Where is He?” you demand.

The being calmly looks at you and answers, “He is risen, just as he said.  Now go and tell The Brothers they are to meet Him in Galilee.”

The beautiful being then vanishes as if he was never there to begin with.  You and your companions share a shocked look before you once more turn your attention to the tomb you are in.  You cannot help but think that you are dreaming, so you search the room for signs of the body.  It’s possible that it may have fallen off the stone shelf during the earthquake.  You look in all of the corners and around the floor, but to your dismay you find nothing.

Finally, you look back to the shelf where he was laid to rest, and that’s when you see it.  Its head piece folded and the rest lying out flat on the stone.  It was once white, but now, it is stained with dried blood.  You start to weep at the sight because you know it is a sign of His resurrection.  Closing your eyes, you silently thank God above that you only found His shroud.

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(POEM)

The blood-stained linen:

A stark reminder

Of His suffering and ridicule,

Of His ever-so-powerful death.

An outline of His body

No longer there.

An imprint of the life –

Of the death –

Of the greatest man

To ever walk the earth.

A picture of His pain

Left behind

Like the death

He defeated.

A proof of what once was

And no longer is.

Left lying on a stone shelf

In an open tomb.

For what need has a living man

Of burial cloths?

Why should it leave the place

Where He no longer lies?

His pain is over,

And His death is ended.

His shroud –

Left in that tomb to show

He is risen, just as He said.

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The Tree

I had intended to post this poem yesterday, but I was having to edit it before I posted it.  Needless to say, that took a bit longer than I anticipated.  Editing anything can be difficult, and poetry seems to rank among the highest on the difficult scale.  I originally wrote this poem in 2004, just a couple of months before high school graduation.  When I pulled it out of my poem folder yesterday, I really liked the ideas going through it, but I knew it was going to need some help.  I just didn’t realize that about half-way through, the poem would cease to cooperate with me.  However, today is a new day, and I was able to complete it.

As I said in an earlier post, I really enjoy Easter.  As a Christian, it is the single most important day in history and the most worthy of celebrating.  It even surpasses the birth of Christ, which I realize that He could not have died had He never been born, but His dying on the cross for no fault of His own, to bring sinners (as we all are) salvation…Nothing can top that.  I’m not trying to downplay His death and ressurrection, either.  It was an act of infinite grace (for which I am eternally grateful) and unsurpassed glory.

I hope that this poem speaks to your heart (very clearly, considering it’s recent metamorphosis).  And I  hope that it will remind you of the sacrifice that Jesus made on Golgotha’s hill all those years ago.

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“The Tree”

There stood a tall tree,

Humiliated and bare.

Only two stark branches

Stretched out on each side.

Splintered and raw,

Stained crimson red,

Perched high on the hill

Where criminals died.

He was “King of the Jews”

Is what the sign said

And he had hung on that tree

Till he breathed his last breath.

Six hours of torture,

“It is finished,” he said.

He gave up the ghost.

He was gone; he was dead.

The scars on his hands

And the scars on his feet

From being nailed on that tree:

Proof of the grace

He bestowed upon us.

Though its duty is done,

The mark the tree left

Will never fade from

The memory of time.

He had died on that tree

But death could not keep him.

For again he lives!

Rejoice! 

Rejoice! 

Hallelujah!

To God alone be the glory!

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power forever and ever!  Amen.” –Revelation 1:5b-6 (NIV)

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Walking Barefoot Down a Gravel Road

This is a poem I wrote for a special lady in June of 2006.  She helped me through a difficult time.  May God bless you with someone who will walk barefoot down the gravel roads of life with you.

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Small, sharp rocks

Against bare, uncallused feet.

Rocks that poke,

That cut,

That bruise.

Uncaring little stones

Not meant for

The soles of feet.

As I walked barefoot

Down that gravel road,

You came to my side.

Without much thought

And without any mention,

You slipped off

The shoes you wore,

Undaunted by the pain

Of your mission.

Side-by-side

We walked barefoot

Down that gravel road.

You eased my pain

By sharing it,

Even when

You didn’t have to.

Thank you.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” -Galations 6:10 (NIV)

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Life Is a River

This picture curtesy of http://www.wackyowl.com.

This is a poem I wrote pointing out that no matter what happens in life, God is in control of it.  When we trust His control, even in the hard times, we will always come out better on the other end, even that other end takes us all the way to Heaven.  But Heaven is only for those who are born again in Christ.  I pray that if you are not among us in Christ, you will listen and respond to God’s call.

I wrote this on April 13, 2008.  I graduated from college a month later, so I knew change was well underway.

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Revelation 4:11 (NIV) “You are worthy, our Lord and God, / to receive glory and honor and power, / for you created all things, / and by your will they were created / and have their being.”

Life Is a River

Life is a river.

When heavy rains come,

It overflows the banks.

When weeks on end

Are cloudless and dry,

It flows low.

There are currents

That’ll suck a person under.

There are placid parts

Calm enough to swim in.

At times it flows slow.

At times it flows fast.

Some years there are

Fish a’plenty.

Some years there isn’t.

The water of the river

Is a circulation

Of the water of the world.

Ever moving.

Ever changing.

Always in God’s control.

Life is a river.

Ever moving.

Ever changing.

Always in God’s control.

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“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

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