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gardenliliesSome of my best thinking happens in my garden. Today’s thought?

God created man and put him to live in a garden. Ever since falling out of the garden, mankind has tried to recreate that garden in their own backyards, maybe wondering if they did, that God in the evenings would come walk through that garden with them, and the world be made right again.

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“Through the heartfelt mercies
[forgiveness, compassion, favor, blessing]
of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace” (Luke 1: 78-79)

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“Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life!
Don’t be frightened like that.
Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee,
and that I’ll meet them there”
(Matthew 28:10)

A little over a month ago, I was hospitalized for bi-lateral pneumonia. I’d been misdiagnosed for over a week. There are only a few times in my life, when I look back, where remembrance is misted in darkness and pain. The first was the week after the crash c-section when my 4th son was born (which caused me to work closely with the doctor when the 5th was born regarding pain management) – and the second was the 6 days before I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

Most of those 5 days were spent on the couch. I couldn’t breath without coughing, and, since I couldn’t breath without coughing, I couldn’t talk.

The day before I went into the hospital, my youngest son said, “Just one word, Mom – say just one word, and I’ll snuggle on the couch with you for two minutes. Two Minutes!”

I sat there on the couch, knowing what that one word would cost me physically, not wanting to say that one word, but wanting a hug from my son so much more than the pain and discomfort.

I finally got that one word out. I don’t remember what it was. I just remember my saucy son saying, “Oh, Dude! I didn’t see that coming.”

Then I wanted to laugh. He tried to back out of the agreement. Fortune smiled on him; Because I couldn’t talk, the lecture on the importance of keeping an agreement was left unspoken.

My husband, who has said before that if I’m not talking, I must be in distress, was wanting the sign language to stop. He missed the words, too.

That they missed the words surprised me – warmed me, too.

When I was admitted to the hospital, I had a high fever, 3/4 of my lungs were filled, and my blood pressure was 85/45. My family practitioner said that I would have been in ICU if I’d been admitted 2 days later.

I was only in for 2 days, but it took me two weeks to rebuild strength to walk around the block once. It took me 4 weeks to pull out my camera. It’s taken 6 weeks for the words to come, though there’s so many things I’ve wanted to share and say.

It’s soccer season for my two youngest – and so, instead of writing, I’ve been rebuilding strength, finding home under the mess that accumulated in all this, and stepping fully back into all those roles within my family – but always looking for the blessings – even when I was sick, on the couch. I was looking for those love letters God sends in the daily.

The Easter season was unstructured – and I found my Holy Week starting Easter Weekend – and lasting through the next week. We spent long Easter weekend in a cabin, with 5 out of 4 sons and our newest daughter-in-law. She cooked the most delicious French Toast for breakfast!

I went on a 4 mile hike that day – and the boys – well, they were tag-teaming walking behind me, like they thought they were going to lose me. There’s nothing more irritating than someone who thinks you can’t do something, so I found myself somewhat warmly bemused.

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I had my camera with me – and kept encouraging them to go on, telling them that I enjoyed just taking photos and doing this hike at my own pace – but they had none of that! I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of collies – and I was the one sheep they were in charge of! I guess this is one way sons hug.

Later we drove to Clingman’s Dome – a 6,643 foot elevation. No sunshine. Just a heavy, wet mist, like the clouds had fallen out of the sky onto the mountain and spilled everywhere. The boys and my husband walked the half a mile to the lookout. I took 5 steps – and felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest – so I stayed back, took photos – and discovered the blessing in the chilled mist. There are the beautiful things in sweet blessings to be vintaged in the overcast moments, even in unlikely things like moss and algae growing on a tree.

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At the cabin, in a swing, I listened to the voices of children playing at other cabins I couldn’t see, listened to the buzz of plump bumblebees looking to bore holes, clouds like smoke on the mountains, the hollow knock knock knock of the wood pecker, cardinal calls, tree frogs emerging to sing their night-time jazz, and steeped myself in the resurrection story.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna (Joanna, wife of Chuza, a steward in Herod’s household, who had been healed by Jesus), Salome (the wife of Zebedee, mother of James and John, possible the sister of Mary) – these women set out early Sunday morning to Christ’s tomb. Instead of finding hopelessness and death, they find resurrection hope.

Jesus tells them,

Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life!
Don’t be frightened like that.
Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee,
and that I’ll meet them there” (Matthew 28:10).

“Meet me in Galilee” was like a song I couldn’t get out of my head.

Meet me in Galilee
those who came to the tomb were told.

Meet me in Galilee
he said – and tell our friends

Meet me in Galilee
Don’t despair – all is not lost – it’s all been won

Meet me in Galilee
there is so much more

Meet me in Galilee
it’s just the beginning.

Meet me in Galilee is where he is,
and anytime I draw close, he is there.

He meets me in the overcast moments, whether I’m bent over coughing my insides out, whether I’m shivering on the side of a soccer field, or too weak to climb higher on a misty mountain.

He meets me in the wait of a prayer sent out, in a good-news moment, in the freeze of a teen grump, even the pile of unmatched socks.

He meets me in my gracelessness, when I’m steeped in a give-up minute, when I’ve lost my direction (not my faith – just the direction).

Not only does he meet me, but he encourages me that there is so much more in this journey – so much more to this living with him in it that will amaze me, humble me, fire me up with his love for me, a love that needs to be shared and given to others.

Meet me in Galilee, he says. Friend, won’t you meet him in Galilee, too.

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Springbloom_edited-1“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

Shaddai promised a new thing – something that would burst out! However, His children couldn’t see this new thing. They could only see barren branches like a tree at the winter’s end. Sometimes we can’t even see this new thing. We can’t take our eyes off the empty branches of a broken winter of ourselves.

Shaddai, though,  promised a new thing:

The God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
They lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles: (Isaiah 43:16-17)

That’s what Israel expected – God delivering them like He did Israel out of slavery – God saving Israel and destroying their enemies, those who kept them in bondage, treated them poorly. They expected God to do something grande like the parting of the Red Sea, the swallowing destruction of Egypt’s power and glory. They would be insiders to the world’s success.

They expected a king like Solomon, like King David to lead them into prosperity and security – grande chariots, rich vineyards, wealth and security, power and glory. God would still be in the temple, behind the curtain, the law still the only way to Him.

“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history” (Isaiah 43: 18)

Oh, this is hard. The hardest lesson in letting go of me and letting God is the realization that my expectations of what God can do, how He can lift me out, or even be present in my life are limited by my knowledge – by what I know, by even what the experts know.

Shaddai, the great I Am, the creator, the God who sees us, who provides, –  said He was going to do a new thing –

. . . and, He did – He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to make a way for us – every you and me – straight into the throne room as children of God – and the temple veil was rent in half – God was no longer contained in the Ark of the Covenant – but was released to be with us right where we are.

The God who walked with Adam and Eve in the evenings, the same God who sat outside Abraham’s tent and star-gazed with Him, the God who loved Jacob enough to wrestle with him made a way for us to have that same intimacy.

Springtime reminds us of this new thing, year after year – in the death of winter and resurrection of life in Spring. Look around and rejoice – at the new thing God did – for you and for me!

This week as we walk the story of Christ’s death and resurrection look around you – this redemption story was designed before even man was created. The story itself is imprinted in nature.
“Be alert, be present.
I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out!
Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

Don’t you?

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Four seed packets of zinnias, 3 seeds per pellet in seed trays – I’m planning ahead for zinnia blooms in May. Thyme, Sage, Italian Parsley, Tarragon, Marjoram, Sage and Basil – 3 seeds per tray, too. They’re all sprouting, except for the Old German’s in their tray. They’re holding out.

I can count on seed-time and harvest. I can trust in my planning – and I love planning. Planning averts failure; ergo planning creates success – right?

I read book endings first, so I know how the plot unfolds as I go. I love planning vacations, holidays and the daily – all planned with buffer time for the unexpected. I plan contingency plans for the contingency plans.

I try to pre-destine the daily not accounting for the free-will asserting itself – or nature’s plans, or even God’s plans. The only thing I am sure of in this planning is that my plan is predestined to not go as planned.

I didn’t plan for one boy throwing up at 4:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning – or the nasty bug flowing and ebbing over the next 5 days.  I didn’t plan for another boy catching the same bug 48 hours later, two days behind the other. Is chaos a plan?

Challenges have shown up un-invited into what should have been a seamless year, with a fall-out that affecting my boys in unplanned ways.

I didn’t plan for that.

Life throwing up unplanned, unpleasant things? “Not in my plans!” I assert, not considering I am man, fallible man. How can imperfect humanity create a perfect plan?

My plans are but pencil sketches on onion paper to God’s plans. He’s planned for every intersection crossing with other plans, like my husband’s, my boyss and everyone else’s whose path I cross in the daily. His contingencies out-contingency mine.

5-Minute Stop

I’m a terrible passenger (just ask my boys who are now have their licenses) in this God-designed journey.  Still gasping at some of the curves. Still saying, “Do you see that?” Still trying to slam on my air brakes. Sometimes my breath just gets caught in my chest, and I wonder if I’ll survive – but I am learning to let God drive this ride.

So when the boys throw up, and cry, “I’m hungry . . . . I don’t want Italian ices anymore” – and I stand firm on the soft, liquid diet until tummies settle down, I’m learning to embrace the plan change – and find God in it – not the sickness – but the silver lining of it.

When the boys come home,worn out, not 100%, frustrated with the make-up exams and unexpected, unplanned for chaos in the daily, and spill frustration like a sticky soda canknocked over into the day. . . . I settle into God – and after I settle into God, I make chocolate dipped pretzels with KitKat and M&M dust – because some days need extra-special, unplanned cooking – and unplanned time with God.

“We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
    but God’s purpose prevails” (Proverbs 19:21)

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