John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
I wake at 5 am, head down the stairs and get the coffee going. I love the quiet of the early morning and the stillness that comes with watching the sunrise. I grab my bible and daily devotional and sit down with my fresh brew to study. I know the time may be short or long, depending on the waking habits of my 1- and 3-year-old children. By 6 am, I am making my way round to make sure my two teenagers are getting moving. Arranging breakfast for everyone, while checking email and listening to a podcast. I make my way outside to feed and water my flock, aka the chickens. I love the bustle of the morning as everyone gets rolling into their day. Everyone is excited this morning as we are embarking on our June summer tradition, strawberry picking.
I recall that first year we started the tradition so vividly. The baby was only 2 months old, nestled in the snuggly on my chest with her tiny white sunbonnet. My then 22-month-old son was ecstatic to run up and down each strawberry row, picking the juiciest strawberries he could find and sporting a strawberry juice goatee while my 13-year-old son chased him, trying hopelessly to yield a harvest. My 16-year-old daughter and I enjoyed pleasant conversation across the row, the warmth of the June sun glinting off our shoulders. It was one of those promising early days of summer, just a few soft clouds floating overhead. The smiles we captured in our pictures were real, those of pure joy in enjoying each other’s company and the beautiful day we had been given. The drive home from that country farm, the little one’s slept, and the big ones laughed and joked with one another, while my daughter made plans to go picking again with some friends the next day.
For us, the harvest was only the beginning…those berries would be washed and then the myriad of delectable wonders would be produced in our kitchen. Strawberry chips and fruit leather in the dehydrator, strawberry jam to be canned and enjoyed all year through and of course, strawberry shortcake for days.
An evening of laughter with my children, red fingers from processing strawberries and that smell in our kitchen, a picture of perfection for me. On my refrigerator, I have a magnet that says, “God Has Called You to this work”, mothering, nurturing, caring for my young and providing these experiences for their memories. My daily reminder of the blessings I have and even on those days when the world appears in chaos with four children…I know that I am fulfilling the greatest calling I have ever been given. Having all of my children together is a perfect day for me as my oldest will graduate in May and head off to college and my teen son will start driving, I recognize how very precious this time is. Makes me value and prioritize my time with the little ones even more.
As I sit this cold, snowy February afternoon, I can almost smell the strawberry jam boiling on the stove, I think I will head to the cellar and grab a jar to enjoy on some toast now.