Prune Me, O Lord

Raffaello Sorbi Pruning the roses

Yard work occupies much of our time these days, trying to make up for the years when we neglected the garden because of homeschooling or babies or travel. I meant to prune our roses in February or March but it just didn’t work out. And now I need to do it before things get out of hand, even though it’s later in the season than is desirable.

It’s fortunate that my Master Gardener isn’t anything like me. He knows exactly the right time to prune, and He does it without hesitation or apology.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” – John 15:1-8, RSVCE

He has the vision, though I’m not always ready for what He wants to do with me. I get attached to my branches. Look, Lord, I even grew a few blossoms and fruits. With my limited view, I see some of these branches drooping or even dead, but the comfort of the familiar makes me want things to stay the way they are.

I sometimes look around at all the plants around me and try to direct Him, how about that one, Lord, don’t You think *he* needs pruning? How about You work on him first? It’s always easier to say that than to look at myself. But we don’t all get pruned at the same time, and it’s my turn. As He is the Master Gardener, He is also the Vine. He knows when and how to give me the nourishment I need, so that I’m able to produce greater fruit.

Pruning hurts, and so I dread pruning time. Every season, I whine, why does this process have to happen again?  Could we put it off ’til next season? Sometimes I refuse to submit to His pruning, only to find that I’m not being as fruitful as I should be.

From year to year, and especially in the dead of winter, I don’t know how spring will be. Only He knows how much rain or sun is coming. All I can think of when being pruned is the agonizing wait for regrowth to happen. I forget that in response, the courage and humility I found difficult to summon up in the beginning, regrow in even greater abundance.

Ultimately, I want to be disease-free, to bear fruit, to be beautiful. I want the end result, but I shy away from the pain of His pruning shears.

I may not have a clear picture of God’s plans for Me, but I do have a clear picture of Who my God is. And I’ve been through enough to know that although I can achieve some semblance of beauty on my own, it takes the Master’s Hand to produce something glorious and worthy of His gaze.

Nino’s Favorite Books, August 2012 Edition

Watch Me Hop is geared more for younger kids, I think, although at 3 Nino still enjoys moving it back and forth to see the pictures move. The book features “lenticular technology” which is a really fun phrase to teach toddlers who can’t quite say their Ls and Rs yet. The book also reminds Nino of “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and he’ll often launch into a recitation of that after we read the book. 😀

Yena doesn’t like this book, as she thinks it gross, which is normal for a 10-year-old girl, I suppose. I don’t like flies either, but for some strange reason, this book really appeals to me. The clever rhymes, the alliterations, the splatter art which I remember to be loads of fun at age 8. What a creative way to teach the alphabet, and for older readers, color in language as well (so many punchy verbs!).

Flicka, Ricka and Dicka books are such a pleasure to read, if only to say “Flicka, Ricka and Dicka” over and over. This one tells about the girls’ entry into farming, market selling, and goal setting. A great way to teach delayed gratification to the youngsters, and to extol the virtues of patience and hard work. Since we have been busy working on the yard to make it more productive in terms of food, this was such a timely book to introduce to my little one. He has certainly enjoyed putting around with me in the garden, digging dirt, planting seeds, playing with the bugs, and seeing and eating the harvest. Great book for the entire growing season!

Turtle Splash is great for both Math and Science with a young one. Combination collage and watercolors, the vibrant images really hold the attention of youngsters. Excellent art tie-up at the back of the book using leaves, and your little one will find great ideas for its use because the author already demonstrates how to use them in the book’s pages. Learn to countdown from 10 to 1 in style!

Turtle in the Sea is another book on sea turtles that we’ve been reading the past few months (honestly, I’m tired of it now but you don’t say no to reading it to a 3-year-old). Jim Arnosky just has a way of presenting natural history to kids without sounding condescending and cutesy. Very nice intro to the life cycle of amphibians. Oh wait, they’re reptiles. Right?

This isn’t really a book I would buy, but you never know what would appeal to your toddler and what won’t. I suppose he liked this because of the tactile features. It’s a bit too silly for me, and I’m not into this type of cartoonish art.

Beautiful book!! Deeply satisfying to read to my little boy. Sparks the imagination, and I find myself oohing and aahing at the majesty of God’s creation as depicted between these pages.

Nino’s Favorites, July Edition

These are some of the books that we’ve been reading and reading since spring. I considered posting others that he liked but weren’t as good and to put my “Not Recommended” notes on them, but thought it might be more productive to post books here that are KEEPERS.

Celebrates the dad-child relationship especially at this age. Dad’s all about fun! And going fast and faster! Great fun for kids, very imaginative. Loved reading this aloud, softly at first and then going into a crescendo.

Heee…. the mishap-prone child. Yena expressed concern that we were reading this to Nino; she was afraid it would put it into his head that he’s nothing but trouble. I say very astute for her age. As for Nino, I have no such concerns because I read the book to him with the spirit that kids make mistakes and get into trouble, yes, but messes can also be fixed. Trying and failing aren’t necessarily bad things.

Nino’s been on a turtle kick, so I’ll be posting several more turtle books. It all started with The Voyage of Turtle Rex and snowballed from there.

This one is more about origami than about pirates, but what a clever way to tell a story *and* remember how to make an origami boat and then shirt. Adorable.

A simplified retelling of the original. I’m not too enamored of this type of art, where the outlines and colors are bold and vibrant (I prefer soft and muted) — but Nino loves this book. In fact he loves it so much he took the scissors and cut several pages into little bits — so I had to get a replacement for the library. Sigh.

Sigh. Yes, this is one of those books that just makes you say that. Lovely, lovely illustrations and simple words, lots of details here and there in the pages that invite one to look, observe, enjoy. This is definitely one of those books we’ll be reading and rereading in spring.

This is one perfect book for my little boy. It’s sooo boy and so typical and fuels his natural interest for dragons and knights and swords and castles. Nino just gets lost in this book. The book is designed to fill the mind with imaginings, good ones. And then the ending, the parents, the child, the trust, the love…. what else could you ask for in a book?

Rabbits

…. are really only lovely and adorable in books.

In real life, they are mean things that deserve to be put in paella.

Yesterday, I had 6 beautiful, unopened crocus buds. We were looking forward to taking pictures and sketching them this morning.

Today, I have 3 crocus blooms, and 3 bitten-off purple stumps. I am not amused. Maybe there’s a lesson out there somewhere that incorporates art, science and revenge. Maybe I’ll put cayenne pepper in the crocuses. Maybe I’ll put a picture of Mr. McGregor, large and menacing, beside those crocuses. Or maybe I’ll put a picture of the Fierce, Bad Rabbit with its tail cut off as a warning sign.