Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Shepherdess Contemplates Happiness and Other Things

"I cannot help everyone, but I can help someone.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
I can do no great thing, 
Only small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

And so, dreams do come true. I am learning to be a shepherdess. In more ways than I had imagined. Entrusted into my care are two little flocks, one made of goats, the other of children.  Quite unexpectedly the Lord has given me a new task, and I want to do it well. O, I want to do it well! I want a heart that is teachable and conformable and good. And where can I find that heart except by leaning on the breast of my Saviour? The true Good Shepherd, the one who has said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
Rest...sweet rest.
That's what I'm enjoying. Warm sun, warm soil in my hands. Fresh herbs, lettuce, seeds. Those tiny miracles. Year after year, it's always wonderful. A little seed, carefully planted, watered, watched. Hope is there, we share the miracle. Little grubby fingers pull up worms, drop the seeds, cover them up. And the handy-work of God is ever before us. How perfectly He has made all these things work together, the soil, the sun, the rain, giving life to a plant, so that we can be nourished. So these little bodies can grow healthy and strong. Strong little legs to run barefoot all summer. Tanned little faces and strong white teethe. Beauty all around me and sweet rest.

And what would any of this be if I did not know and believe that God is good and faithful? 
So, even though my flock of children has grown to ten for a time, my heart is at rest and my mind is full of the peaceful, contemplative thoughts that usually accompany making things grow.  
My goat's pen borders the back of my garden fence and that makes me happy. The baby goats are Pepper and Posy. The run and jump and do all sorts of entertaining tricks. They even dance along on their hind legs sometimes. They nibble our clothes and hair and nuzzle our necks. The mama is Emerald. She was a little shy at first. Every morning, I would go and sit in her house on a straw bale and have my coffee. I wanted her to know that I am her shepherdess. Milking took a little getting used to. Moses and Annika are my fellow farmers. Our aim was pretty bad at first, we had some funny happenings out there. But we have gotten the hang of it now.
What is a mother but a nourisher of life? In the womb, at the breast, through the toddler years, trying to make wise choices. Wholesome things, like fruit and cheese, oatmeal with butter and cream and berries on top. Giving them a palate that desires good things. Lots of fresh air and stories. 
I am glad that I have the opportunity to provide fresh milk and cheeses and eggs for my little flock. Salads laden with tender herbs and lettuces. Somehow it seems that the more I am able to be a part of the circle of life that sustains their little lives, the more my heart is turned towards them and my calling as a keeper of my home. O, and I want my heart to be turned towards my home and family! I know that life on this earth is short, like a vapor, like a shadow, like a dream that is past.  
Someday, if the Lord wills, I will be old and full of days. I want to be able to look back on all these years, these golden years of my life, and say like the Apostle Paul, "I have fought a good fight." 
I don't want to waste these fleeting days on selfish pursuits and things that have no eternal value. 
It's easy to be peaceful and happy in the summertime. 
Happiness.......that elusive idol. Sometimes, I wonder if in our modern world, we're not just a mad throng of humanity, chasing after the idol of personal happiness. The things people do to be "happy" now a days are frightening. You know what I mean? Like when people are willing to sacrifice their faith, marriages, the security of their children's lives at the alter of their happiness? I've thought a lot about that lately, since we got back from our trip. I can honestly say that it has been hard for me to be happy here in the Midwest, so it's made me wonder. What is happiness? How important is it? How dependent is our happiness on circumstances that are out of our control?    
Are we able to possess peace and faith and continue to grow in goodness without necessarily being happy?
Here's a couple verses about happiness, 
"Happy is the man whom God correcteth; despise not therefore the chastening of the Lord." Job 5:17
"Happy is the man that has his quiver full of (children), they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemy in the gate." Psalm 127:5
"Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." Psalm 144:15
"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of truth resteth upon you." 1 Peter 4:14
Hmmmm.....sounds like God's ideas of  happiness are a bit different than mine! But I know that our thoughts cannot be like God's, unless we renew our mind with the reading of the Word. To me, happiness might mean living in a beautiful place, with Starbucks right down the road, and beautiful parks to enjoy. And not having to try to make friends because I have lots of established friendships, not having to get out of my comfort zone too much. Not staying home so much. Did I mention natural beauty and abundant grocery stores right down the road? Yikes! I'm reminding myself of the children of Israel when they complained to Moses in the wilderness, saying they'd rather go back to slavery, and onions and leeks (and I'm sure all the wealth and beauty of the Nile River valley) than struggle on to the promised land.
I don't want to be one who turns back and is lost in the wilderness! I want to continue on to the promised land. The land that flows with milk and honey, where there is no night, neither sorrow nor sighing, for there is no death there! I want to live as a pilgrim and stranger on earth, who is in search of a city who's builder and maker is God.
 Heaven will be a wonderful place!

We sang this song in church on Sunday and it was so comforting to my heart! 

Be Still My Soul

Katharina von Schlegel

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently thy cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul:
thy best, thy heavenly friend,
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake;
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul:
The waves and winds still know,
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on;
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrows forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul:
When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

 Yes, be still, my soul!


  1. True happiness, Em. Contentment . Godliness. Great gain!

  2. Missing your sweet conversation, gentle answers, and yummy "baby loves". Prayers all is well on the Prairie.