Tuesday, May 26, 2015

lessons from the garden: grace for our limitations

I ran out of time.  Just not enough time to get it all in the ground.  I took the 15 minutes I had here and there and did what I could while keeping an eye on a toddler.  But still, there are sections of my garden that just don't have anything planted. 

And thats OK.

I was on the front porch the other day and noticed something coming up by one of the bushes.  It looked familiar.  It happens to us every year, stray pumpkin seeds from our jack o lanterns find their way into the ground and sprout.  Our front porch is north-facing and in constant shade, so they never grow there well.

I took those sprouts and planted them in one of the garden plots that was not going to get planted this year.

In my little 20 minute time frame, I had filled up that plot.  We may have pumpkins this year, and that wasn't even in the plan.

I spend a lot of mental energy grumbling about what I haven't gotten done.  I set goals for myself and then see myself fall short of them. 

Life is messy and there are so many things we can't predict or plan for.

But there is grace.

There are things planted by accident, seeds of providence that are laid in the ground of our hearts.  They sit there and grow without us even being aware of it.  Its all a gift.

God works the soil, He waters it.  He is the master gardener.

We just let Him work and are thankful for the fruit of His hands.

Forgive me, God for thinking that I make things happen.  It is all your work, all your grace and love that brings good things.  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lessons from the garden: saying no to good things

Ascension is this week, which means Pentecost is near.  An old Romanian woman once told me to have everything planted by Pentecost. *  Then someone asked this woman, "When is Pentecost?" and she replied "When everything is planted." 

A beautiful picture of the interwovenness of the church and our lives.

But its true, if you look at the seed catalogs, most things should be in the ground by beginning of June.  And I am at the point where I have just accepted that we will probably not get planted everything we wanted to this year.

And thats OK.

A few years ago, I was in a situation where I was very limited. There were just not many options in our life situation and that was so hard.  Especially when I felt our needs were not being met.

We are blessed to be in a fruitful time and place now, which presents another set of problems.  So much to do, so much to say yes to!  So many good things that can help us grow and learn!

But still we have the limit of time.

Just 24 hours, just 7 days, just 18 years with them at home.  We dont have more time to give than we have.  We just can't fit everything in.

In homeschooling, in church, in social events, in creative projects, there is always more to do than we have time for. 

So we say no to good things.  We may even say no to great things. 

We discern what is the best fit, the most profitable, the most edifying.  And we say no to everything else.

I will probably only have a few rows of green beans come up this year.  And thats ok.  We will enjoy what we have.  The lettuce may be sparse, but we will relish those salads that we do have.   

Its all a gift.  Thank you.

*(It actually may have been a Ukranian woman.  If I am stealing this story from Phylliska- sorry!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

lessons from the garden: bloom from your roots

And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
 Isaiah 58:11
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  Psalm 1:3
Several years ago I was on a personal retreat. I found a spot on my hike to sit by a stream and pray.  I came to these passages and I just cried.  I felt like the opposite of prosperous, well-watered garden. I felt dry deep in my bones. 

Our family was in a difficult place.  There were many burdens and griefs in my heart.  And I remember as I prayed I asked that these verses would be true for me.  That God would guide me and satisfy me and that He would bring fruit.  I was thirsty for Living Water.

This year the early spring weather was very strange.  The winter had record-breaking low temps.  The cold held on for a long long time. Then we had rain that flooded many homes.  I have noticed that my azaelea bushes are dead on the top two-thirds of the plant.  I can snap off the branches with my hand.  I wondered if they would come back at all. 

But then I noticed green leaves coming from the base.  And now there are flowers there too.  It looks pretty odd when you see them in the neighborhood.  Dead brown branches on top and vibrant pink and white blossoms on the bottoms. 

This shows me that there is life there.  The roots go deep and even when the cold is too much for some parts of the plant, there is a safe space where the life resides and can make it bloom again. 

As a mother, right now I am focused on my kids' roots.  I am working to instill the truth and love that they will need to draw upon for their whole lives.  They will have hard winters and terrible storms in life, and if they can have roots that go deep, they can make it.

This is also an admonition for me to continue to dig deep and make sure I stay rooted.  With whatever time I can, I must pray. I must read God's word.  I must soak in the worship at church.  My roots need to continue to thrive so that I may bear fruit.

As I see these strange bushes, I am reminded of seeing past what is on the surface. Last year, I dug up a bush that I thought had died.  As I dug, I found that the bush was actually alive and would have come back if I just pruned it and let it be.  I am so quick to judge others by what I see.  I make assumptions on the externals and neglect to trust that God is working on them and in them.  I see them as dead and give up on them, but God has the true vision to see them as they are. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

grab with one hand, release with the other

This weekend, we were in a sticky situation.  Other people's problems affecting us.  Unsure of what we were to do-  We talked about it.  We sat and felt the awkwardness.  We did other things, then we came back to talk some more.

We didn't give up until we were together in it. 

Because thats what matters.

Other people have problems.  We have problems.  But we can't fix other people's lives. 

We gotta be on the same team, the team that is cheering for health, wholeness, a return to God. 

 We are listening ears, shoulders to cry on, and meals delivered.  But at some point there is a place we cannot go.  A place where the pieces have to be put together by those who broke it. 

And we trust that God's love is bigger than any mess anyone can make.  We have faith that God's grace is stronger than the pain we have inflicted.  And we believe that there is not place too dark for God's light to penetrate. 

And we are together.