Thoughts From The Backyard

Posted by Amy Evelyn Oden , Thursday, April 30, 2015 11:51 AM

While Grandpa had Vianne for the day and Oliver was kindly taking a nap, I grabbed hold of a few moments to dust off my inner writer...

We are in the second house of our marriage where we get to have rose bushes; I am a rose lover and this has long been a dream.  However, I really have very little idea how or time to care for them (especially while I am caring for two children concurrently) so I am doing my best to apply a few tips from my mom, who always has lovely rose bushes.  

We have four different bushes in our flower beds.  One seems to grow without hardly any help, another only occasionally produces a blossom and the leaves always look a bit sickly, the third is a miniature rose that Vianne has claimed as her own and currently has four beautiful deep red blooms, and the last is this all over winding crazy bush that stays pretty low to the ground with far reaching arms and flowers all over that wither very quickly.

The latter, I noticed before leaving town for two weeks, had some non-rose-bush leaves cropping up within it.  Weeds or not weeds?  Probably weeds, I concluded, or untidy at any rate and should be pulled when I am in the mood which is not right now.

Upon returning from my travels, however, I found a fun and pleasant surprise.  Those unidentified leaves bloomed into this beautiful orange and white lily (or something). 

I can never do the work of yard-tending without the spiritual analogies jumping me.  I always think of the plant and gardening metaphors in the Bible; how God prunes us; how the plants grew on different types of soil.  And likewise this lily spoke to me of God's work.
I would have likely, defending the roses that I prefer, pulled out this lily before I knew what it was and discarded it (procrastination, for the win! ;-) ).  This was the rose bush’s space and this sprout was an intruder.  But now here it is and it is this delightful, beautiful addition to the other plants that makes me smile whenever I see it.  

At first, it was peeking out through a mass of rose bush arms...

but just now I took a few minutes and cut back the roses to give this surprise guest her own space.

And it made me think of all my plans over the years and how I’ve often fallen in love with them and defended them, when they were all my own and not God’s.  The men I “loved” who were not to be my husband.  The ministry ideas I had which never produced lasting fruit.  The projects I pored over which sit half-finished in a box somewhere.  

So many times, while I was tending my beloved roses, He was growing this entirely other amazing flower, and I so often didn’t recognize it at first because I had already determined what the work was supposed to look like.  I had imagined the wedding; I had envisioned the success; I had dreamed up the transformed lives impacted by my creativity.  

And in the unwieldy mass of all these crazy branches, God plants and makes thrive these flowers that at first look like weeds, like unwelcome threats to what we already have going on.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

I can’t know how many of these “new things” I have overlooked or perhaps even weeded out in the past, but today I take pause for a moment to pray that from now on I have the wisdom to cut back the roses and make space for the surprise lily.


Oliver's Thirty-Sixth Week

Posted by Amy Evelyn Oden , Thursday, April 16, 2015 9:29 PM

This boy is pulling up on anything & everything that will hold him these days, and making his way along edges of couches & tables & things.  I swear, I'll blink and he'll be on the other side of the room, exploring some new corner or shelf!

He seems to have become aware of the word "no" this week, because he moans when it's said to him, when he's trying to pull the lamp over or chew on a computer cord or put a small object in his mouth or let us know in what other ways our house is not entirely prepared for a mobile baby.

This week, Oliver had his first Easter and celebrated Vianne's birthday - and between those two events, not a lot of other pictures were taken...

Helping Sister cook :-)

 Can you stand this smile??!
 Holding hands :-D

Easter 2015

Posted by Amy Evelyn Oden , Wednesday, April 15, 2015 6:38 PM

We love Easter around our house!  Such a special time to think about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and also the birth of Vianne Rose early on an Easter morning.  I decided to make Oliver a little vest since I was continuing the tradition of making Vianne's dress.  It was fun to create both (although a bit complicated with a baby, and a toddler wanting to "help" with everything...).

 Vianne picked out the cute fabric!

I was happy to have them done a whole week early so that I could focus on things like cleaning the house and buying ham.  We got a fun package in the mail from Mom G./Grandma Gustafson, including this dancing bunny & chick...
 We started off the weekend by spontaneously buying a new table (which we've needed for years, and especially since we've been hosting Easter & Thanksgiving) that was perfect and on sale at IKEA.  Vianne helped Daddy put it together!

 Saturday morning we had our "annual" (this is the second time) backyard Easter egg hunt (Oliver should be able to join in next year!)...

 Love how this one came out with a halo...she is a little angel after all!
 Checking out what's inside these eggs
 as Daddy & Little Brother look on
 Hmmm...these don't taste as good as I would've thought...
 Next, we colored some eggs, too - Vianne's first time!  She was very into this!
 Drawing some designs
 Oliver finds this whole process very amusing

 The finished eggs!
 Then on Sunday morning, we got all dressed up for church...our handsome little guy...
 ...and our sweet Easter baby-girl

 She actually kept the bow in for the entirety of our outing - an Easter miracle :-)!

 Back home for lunch with the Odens...some snapshots while the ham was cooking :-)

 Vianne got a chocolate bunny appetizer
 Pile on Grandpa!

 Our new table all decorated - so much room!!

 Some fun Easter Pez from Uncle Jon
 Trying her first colored egg
 After lunch, some gifts from Granma

A happy celebration & a relaxing afternoon together!