Sunday, September 03, 2017

Trusting God in the Way Too Much

At 4:00 this morning I suddenly had a desperate sense that our hedge was dying. And I needed to save it. NOW. I almost couldn't get back to sleep, I was that desperate.

So I got up at 7:00 and started a sprinkler, which reached about 5% of the hedge, but it helped my conscience feel better, until I gave the hose a yank to move it and popped the end right off the faucet, and that was the end of saving hedge lives today.

The hedge is dying because the weather has been just WAY TOO MUCH--too hot and too dry. I mean, here it's September and we haven't had any fall rains.  Also, they keep predicting 100-degree weather, but it never quite reaches the predicted heights because the air is full of smoke from a dozen forest fires. The smoke hangs thick in this valley, looking like fog but with an ominous feel and none of fog's moisture and coolness.

The sun hangs hot in a distant sky and casts a strange pink light on the world. 

The air is bad for everyone, but for those of us with asthma, it's horrible.

Last winter, the weather was also TOO MUCH. It rained and rained and rained. We seldom saw the sun. I longed for a day of sunshine like it was a far-from-home child. The world was chilled and dark and wet and miserable.

And now we are overwhelmed with sunshine and warmth and dry weather, and we long for a good rain to put out the fires and clear the air.

It makes me wonder about gratitude, about contentment, and about needing good things in just the right quantities, neither more nor less.

And about trusting God for the quantities He sends.

The reason I neglected the hedge was because my summer, especially August, was just WAY TOO MUCH.  

I love having people around me, but I also desperately need time alone. I need action and things to do--they give me goals and purpose. But if there's too much going on, the connections in my brain start shorting out. Wires unplug and sparks zap as I try to think ahead to the next meal or Sunday's lesson I need to teach.

It quickly feels like TOO MUCH.

And yet, a few days of leisure with no deadlines and few people, and I get fidgety and restless and lonely.

Can I trust God for the quantities he sends?

So--August. My 100-year-old dad was here, his fourth summer in Oregon. That was such a privilege, going berry picking with him and seeing him interact with his grandchildren. It didn't seem like such a privilege when I kept bumping into him at 6:30 a.m. as he was shuffling around the kitchen in his pajamas, making hot water with prune juice, and I was also shuffling around the kitchen, wanting to make tea, and we both needed the electric kettle at the same time.

My nephew Austin, my sister Margaret's son, came --oh happy day-- to work on my writing cabin. That was wonderful as well, but it meant a lot of cooking and keeping groceries on hand to feed a hardworking teenager.

The last two weeks of August were quite simply insane. And absolutely wonderful.

Matt flew in from Washington, DC, to be here for the eclipse. We all went to Paul's sister Rosie's house and camped there in the totality zone. It was simply a miraculous day, which I plan to write about in my newspaper column.

On the Friday after the eclipse, a lot of hard work and giddy expectation came together as my long-awaited cabin got hauled to the site by the creek and a big crane lifted it up and set it on the concrete pillars Paul and his nephew Keith had prepared.

I was overwhelmed. A longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Matt left on Saturday. I always miss him when he goes. Then my sister Rebecca and her husband came on Monday.  It is always refreshing to have them around. On Wednesday, Rebecca and Rod took Dad and Austin to the airport early in the morning, and Austin escorted Dad safely back to Minnesota.

On Wednesday evening, Amy came home to stay after 3 1/2 years in Thailand.

Rebecca and Rod left for a visit to friends in Medford, then returned, then left for a few weeks in the Seattle area.

There was a great shuffling of belongings with all this, and switching of bedrooms, and stripping of beds, and moving of furniture, and washing of sheets.

It was all blessed and wonderful, but it was all just very much. I thought a day with no one talking to me would be just about right, but we have three daughters in the house now, and they have the most fascinating conversations that I always want to be in on.

Ben, who has moved to Corvallis, came home for the weekend. He said, "I saw how hot it was supposed to get, and I thought, 'Even the servants in my father's house have air conditioning.'"

So with all that action, the hedge never got watered. But I managed to keep the chickens alive.

People like to say that ridiculous phrase, "God won't give you more than you can handle," as though it's actually a Bible verse, whenever life feels like Too Much.

Like that will make it all do-able and better.

I suppose it's easier than coming alongside someone who is wrestling with the reality that she dearly loves all the people in her life but doesn't have the brain power to keep up with them all, and who feels guilty for being overwhelmed when the tsunami of stuff in her life is all positive--sunshine and family and writing cabins and grapes from the vines--rather than sickness and loss and disaster.

So the hedge didn't get watered, and it looks awful, and I feel bad about that.

But I had conversations with all the people, and they all had places to rest their heads, and food to eat.

"My grace is sufficient for thee," the Bible says. "For my strength is made perfect in weakness."

It must have a divine purpose, this sense of not being enough. And it takes a lot of trust--more than I usually possess--to be ok with all the blessings that never seem to arrive in the perfect manageable quantities at the perfect time.

Meanwhile, it is Sunday evening. The house is quiet except for Paul getting a snack just now. The air conditioner is filtering out the smoke. No one is talking. My brain wires are reconnecting.

I am thankful for these moments of Rest.

This week, I need to write an article for the paper and finish editing my new book. People are coming by to pick grapes, Uncle Milford merits a visit, church camp is this weekend, and I need to rearrange the sewing room that we turned into a bedroom for my dad.

And I need to fix the hose, water the hedge, and trust God for a good purpose in the quantities of everything He sends my way.


  1. I absolutely love these words of yours.i feel as if you pulled the words right out of my heart. Can i trust God for the quantities he sends? I shall be over here on the east coast mulling those thoughts around in my head.

  2. I so enjoy your newspaper articles. I was so happy when I came across your post today just what I needed before the day gets hectic.

  3. I'm glad someone else thinks that phrase "God won't give you more than you can handle" is ridiculous. Of course he gives us more than we can handle so that we will turn to Him for help! With Him we can do just about anything, even when it feels too much, too overwhelming, too hard, etc. His grace is sufficient! And He loves helping His children! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings, I think you speak for many of us! We just moved into a huge house that needs tons of work that once done will give us a fabulous home. In the meantime I'm overwhelmed, easily discouraged and facing deadlines that seem impossible to meet. As I took time to read in the scriptures this morning I was reminded of His love and knew He would come to my aid if I seek, ask and knock. Thanks again and again for sharing, it lifts my heart and feels like a blessing from my Father through a sweet sister.

  4. "It makes me wonder about gratitude, about contentment, and about needing good things in just the right quantities, neither more nor less." Yes, I've had these same thoughts. As if we think we know what we need more than our Father!?!!
    And that "God won't give you more than you can handle." phrase. That just raises a red flag of false doctrine every time I hear it!! Wherever do we get that? I guess from the same place that we know our needs better than He does. 🤔
    Praying a prayer for you today that you would have some "come away and rest awhile" time. 💜

    1. You're so right, that the issue here is thinking we know better than our Father! Hadn't thought of it in those terms.

  5. You prove that the insane and wonderful can co-exist and live in the midst of God's mysterious grace! ��

  6. I was delighted to read that your nephew Austin came to work on your writing cabin. You wrote: "On Friday after the eclipse, a lot of hard work and giddy expectation came together as my long-awaited cabin got hauled to the site by the creek and a big crane lifted it up and set it on the concrete pillars Paul and his nephew Keith had prepared." I am so happy for you! Remembering back to previous posts, there have been many hurdles to jump in the process of making this cabin a reality! Now you
    have jumped another one. As I've said before, I am so looking forward to seeing pictures of this
    cabin in the process of the finishing and decorating--then with you in it! Aren't nephews wonderful?
    Most of all, though, I know you're praising God for His goodness and His provision.

    1. Yes, we have wonderful nephews and a very good and generous God.

  7. Actually, it rained on August 13. I remember, because we were doing the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City and I was so afraid that the rain was going to keep people away. First time in all the years we've been doing the Festival (since 1988) that we've had hours of rain on a festival day.

    So I don't think the problem isn't that there hasn't been any rain. It's the smoke! Different sources have 50% to 90% of wildfires being caused by humans. We are so busy not letting anyone tell us what to do any more that we can't use common sense when we go out in the woods. "No fires or fireworks?'s only against the law if I get caught..." :(

  8. We've heard a million times that we need to trust God, but this goes another necessary level--to trust Him for the quantities that are lopsided. Thanks for putting this to words!

  9. Dear Dorcas, Facebook recommended your column about the eclipse (fantastic story and experience!) and this story resonates with my summer as well...full and wonderful and chaotic and twirly. I identify and agree with your stories. Thank you for speaking to my heart! Truly, Christina