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.

Monday, April 20, 2015

just a cuppa

Thank you to all of you that stuck with me through lent as I wrote and processed the prayer of St. Ephrem.  It was one of the best lents I have had in a long time, and I think all that writing was good for me to carry the prayer around with me all day. 

So now I am considering what is my writing to be about without the wise words of St. Ephrem to guide me. 

The baby is sleeping through the night now.  I mean like 12 hrs straight sleeping. And I suddenly dont have the dying craving need for caffeine in the afternoon.  I feel like cleaning, like organizing, like getting stuff done on my to do list. 

But I still need to take a moment.  I still need to sit, to reflect, to get keep a little holy space in the middle of my day. 

So I put the kids down for rest time and I make my little cup of tea and I sit.  I check email, I click on totally stupid links from facebook, I find very useful ideas on pinterest.    But the best thing is I just sit and am here to think for just a big and rest.

And I need to write. 

I don't know what the topic will be, but I need to take some time and put down on paper (or screen) the thoughts, ideas and memories swirling in my mind. 

So I will come back here with more writing.  Maybe you will be here reading. 

I am open to suggestions.  Stories, meditations, musings?  Let me know in the comments and maybe it will kick me into my next writing goal.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

for Thou art holy, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

So we have come full circle.  I have walked through the words of this prayer and confronted my own sins and weaknesses.  I have seen the places I am tempted and come up short.  I have asked to be washed clean and forgiven.

And now we look again at the One we have been praying to.  That "Lord and Master" that we referenced way back at the beginning.  And we see that He is not only Lord of my life, right now in the nitty gritty of being a mom in 2015.  We see a glimpse of the eternal.

He is holy, set apart, unlike us but we get glimpses of His goodness in us.  And who God is- is forever.  As one of my kids used to say "No beginning and no end. "

My sloth, despair, lust of power, etc.  will come and go.  I will have struggles and then victory and one day I will go to another place where those things don't really matter.

But God, He is everlasting, without end. 

And tonight we will see Him do what we can't fathom.  We will see him conquer death. 

All these sins that pull us away from him and taint our view of the world, He will overcome them all.  He will trample them down.  He will show that there is no darkness He cannot overcome. 

When we go to church in the dark and wait for the light, we will remember this journey.  As I have prayed, I have been changed.  I am open to receive the Light, the Life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

And not to judge my brother

This line gets snickers from my boys because they have their own seasons of squabbles.  And isn't that really what we all struggle with?  Seeing the fault in others, who are really our kindred? 
This is usually the monologue running in my head:
Wow, has he gained weight.
Her kids are so wild.
She is always complaining.
He is just strange, what's wrong with him?
and on and on and on

What if I had a heart that did not judge and only saw with eyes of love?

Not that all my negative judgements would turn to positive ones--- what if I just received and accepted others as they are.  Without putting a stamp of good or bad on anything about them? 

It sounds impossible.

That's why we are praying for God to do it in us.

Because, like the phrase "you can't choose your family", we don't choose who is on this earth with us. God has made each one of them and put us together in this big global family.  There is the imprint of God on each one of us, can we take the judgemental blinders off so we can see the truth, see the light in each one? 

Help me, oh God, to not judge my brother.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Yea, oh Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin

To see my own sin.  To look in the mirror of my heart and see what is there. 

I can rationalize the things I do or don't do.  I can come up with a million reasons why it is OK for me to do what I know I shouldn't.

I often get in the trap of berating myself.  Sometimes my mental dialogue never lets me off the hook for anything.

I am really good at denial and self-loathing. 

What I am not good at is what I am praying for in this prayer.

I am praying for sight.  I am praying to see. 

And thats why St. Isaac brought back the refrain of "Lord and King".  It takes someone greater than me to help me see.  To heal my blindness that makes me either ignore my sins and faults or wallow in them.

I just need to see.  I need to have the blindfold pulled off and see with honest vision the mess of my heart. 

And thats what confession is.  I bring the bad and the ugly to God. 

And He takes care of it.