Archive for June, 2013

Missing Dad

Seated at a booth in the local Mexican restaurant, Tom and I shared a meal with a young farm couple half our age.

We yacked about farming for a good while, but then the young man shared a story about his father–who is probably our age. The story concerned a snake and a gun. The young farmer smiled as he spoke fondly of his father.

My mind traveled back to a time with my daddy.

“Do you know what to do if I get bit by one of the snakes?” Dad asked my 10-year-old self.

I nodded even though I had no idea. I knew nothing bad could happen when I was with my father. Even when we hunted poisonous snakes in a quiet cornfield in Kansas. Not usually what a 4th grade girl and her dad did for an outing. But then, nothing my daddy did could be labeled normal.

I loved it, even though I was scared.

After we caught various kinds of snakes, we’d take them home and put them in fish aquariums in our back yard. (This made us extremely unpopular with our neighbors.) Dad used the specimens as he spoke to Boy Scout groups in the area. He’d handle the snakes and point out their beauty and strength, and the intricacies God used in creating them.

He loved nature and always took time to appreciate it and share it with his three daughters and anyone else who would listen. But he loved the Creator more than the creature and always gave God the credit.

I appreciate all of it now.

Ray Wert was an in-your-face kind of guy. Most people loved him, but some hated him. I admired him in the 4th grade, was embarrassed by him in high school, and tolerated him in college. As an adult, I realized his imperfections and often concentrated on them.

“You have a good father,” my mom would say when I complained.

Then he got sick. Lost both legs to diabetes while he lived with us. My out-of-the-box father became dependent on me.

That was hard.

Sometimes it was incredibly sad. Other times he annoyed me.

Last night as I sat across from the young couple, I missed him.

Today, it hurt even more.

I have some regrets of how I handled his care. Mostly, I regret not enjoying him those last few years.

Now, my father is with his Father.

Walking on two legs. Maybe talking to the Lord or one of His saints about God’s handiwork.

One day, I’ll see him again.

That makes me smile.

So do snakes.


New Growth

Miriam and I straddled white plastic planting beds, poking holes and popping seeds in as fast as our tired arms could muster. Clay-like, rocky soil lay just beneath the thin surface. After we finished one packet of seeds, we tromped to the old farmhouse and checked our diagram.

“What did we just plant?”

“Not sure. Was it the yellow crook, or the marigolds?”

“Let’s check the wall,” Miriam suggested.

“The Wall” is our backwards, upside-down diagram of the field. Instead of above and below, it is beside. Instead of back to front, it’s front to back. Needless to say, the wall was my invention–more confusing than helpful. Still, it was something.

I picked up a cucumber packet. “How should we grow these?” We went to YouTube.

We tromped back out to the field.

I practiced side-ways lunges as I plunked cucumber seeds into the holes.

“Really, Miriam, I can’t imagine anything would grow in this soil. In fact, it would be a miracle!”

God still does miracles. Our seeds sprouted. In spite of our ineptness and in spite of five million gallons of rain in five days.

Yesterday, Tom sauntered our to the field to check the irrigation lines in-between rain showers.

“Pauline, come quick! It’s growing! We’re farmers!”

We high-fived each other as we took in the sight. Tiny, green shoots sprouted out of clay-like, rocky soil.

It kind of reminded me of the time Tom and I sat in an auditorium of over 5000 as young people marched across a simple stage.

“Sarah Ray Hylton,” they called. “You are awarded a master’s degree in nutrition.”

Once, she and Micah were little seeds in our Hylton house. Our family soil was filled with rocks, and we had no experience. Yet God granted the growth–in spite of us.

Isn’t that just like Him? Taking our inadequacies and producing growth for His glory.

I’m glad.

And just like we had to keep Sarah and Micah alive, we need to keep those little seeds alive.



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Our First Day as Farmers

So it stopped raining long enough for us to start farming.

Now it’s raining again, but we do have stuff in the ground. Check out my Grit Magazine Blog: