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Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

zinniacrown
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” ~ Galatians 6:9

I was in the garden with my half-hearted tomato plants, the whole-hearted cucumbers, gracefully quiet chard sitting quietly between the two, admiring the turtle-paced eggplant slowly but surely contributing enough – and coming to terms that one may be enough.

The chocolate mint is sneaking its way back in, but, then, it is a good place to be – this back yard garden. The bees and butterflies agree, but they don’t notice the chocolate mint. They’re much more interesting in the zinnias.

The zinnias at each end of the raised beds sway in the breeze, smile up at the sun, burst into yellows, pinks, reds, oranges – and a lot of whites his year. The zinnias despite their raucous petals, rays, discs and stigmas and, seemingly, breezy behavior – they always teach me something. Or maybe it’s really God teaching me through the zinnias.

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I’ve been thinking about this circle of life, this growing older, roles changing as needs change of both my children and older family members. In the process, I’ve been thinking about what 75, 85, 95 will look like on me. Not the petal part of aging, but the seed-planting part and harvest part – how the condition of the soul shows itself – either in waspish and testy ways, cheery and good-humored, bitterness or sweet savory, lost or found.

When my petals have fallen away, and all that remains of me as I sit on my front porch wrapped in a blue sweater are a few soul seeds left to be brushed or blown off, I want those soul seeds to be
joy-of-the-lord seeds
faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hope-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen kind of seeds
gentle seeds of God’s amazing love that go
soul deep
encouraging, spirit-lifting,
hands-raised high seeds
helping my neighbor seeds
holistic generosity of spirit seeds
delivered with hands and heart wide-open
so that when all is said and done,
all has been spent that could be spent
but for the crown no one noticed
in the days of petals and youth
the crown of whose I am.

Cultivating a cheerful heart given to smiling and laughing, a hope-and-faith heart, a daughter-of-the-king heart – I need to diligently cultivate that now. So, if you see me driving down the road with a crazy smile on my face, I’m practicing for 90!

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” ~ Psalm 126:5-6

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Christ’s nails and crown
in dogwood petals can be found

Yahweh in treetops tall and fallen twigs
Holy Praise in limbs raised high
in forest, cowpaths, roadside, and gardens
beneath a God-designed sky

In rain come down, washing away
dirt and grime, a Holy Spirit Baptism
immersing. seeping deep to grow
roots to bloom and in the blooming
reseed

Doves on a wire, robins and sparrows
amidst mocking birds and jays
twigs, leaves and feathers in nests,
calling, sunrise to sundown
“Precious! Precious! Are you to Elohim”
precious down to a every whisker and tendril

Water dripping into cisterns, barrels and birdbaths
just like tears and their stories
collected in God-made
bottles and books
drip drip dripping and in the dripping remind
to not forget
that He doesn’t

Seeds and Seasons,
winter and fall, death, dying, darkness and challenge
spring and summer, rebirth, reseeding, hope and faith
That sometimes, like hydrangeas replanted,
we don’t see the saving evidence in the wait
of a prayer sent out
taking a longer turn of time than we’d like

tulipcup_edited-1Even the bitter cold of a winter ice storm
breaking electric lines
removing security’s warmth
followed by snow
covering roads unable to bring help in
or allowing initiative to find a way out
because sometime God wants us in our helplessness
to trust Him
let Him

A bitter cold where even left-overs
like the brittle samara house of a tulip poplar
resembling a golden chalice, the Holy Grail,
holds redemption’s message
reminding of salvation walking
sitting down, breaking bread
passing around the cup
of the new covenant
born out of the pure sacrifice
of God made man
pouring out his life
in saving grace
for every man, woman
every boy and girl
a cuppa salvation
offered to every
you and me

Messages designed before
Adam and Even
these messages a loving God wrote
for you and me
dogwood_edited-1

“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28)

“He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you'” (Luke 22: 20).

Salvation – “the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation” – 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own (2 Cor 5: 14-15)

Thanks to Jennifer Dukes Lee who wrote about the Yahwehs all around!It as enriched my walk about time!

 

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butterflybushc2ccdd_edited-1“When you work from faith, either you will step forward onto something solid, or you will be given wings” (Carolyn Weber, Surprised by Oxford)

Wordless for about 4 weeks, except for these words: “I’m doing a new thing in you” – waves and waves of new things, pushing me through new door after new door.

I’ve separated spider’s knots, transplanted a peony into a sunnier place, gone deep into Samson’s story, sat long and listened much to my two home-boys and their friends, been Surprised by Oxford – and in the surprise fallen in love with the imprint of our Lord in the classics more than when I was in graduate school.

“The mind is its own place, and can make
a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n” (John Milton, Paradise Lost).

How did I miss what Milton was saying when I was 22/23 years old? – that what you speak and what you think are what you get?

How is it I didn’t recognize how much faith and understanding was in Milton’s heart? Was it that I didn’t really pay attention to what the words were saying – what the words really meant? -or was I so busy being appalled by professors diminishing the faith of classical writers that I missed the faith of what they were really saying?

“‘Many of the Romantics knew  much of Milton by heart – how can you study these writers if you do not know what was in their hearts as they themselves wrote?’ Then he added, thoughtfully, ‘ While you are at it, I also suggest that you memorize the first few chapters of Genesis. So you know what was in Milton’s heart, too'” (Weber).

Some 30 years later, I find myself wanting go back – and learn anew, learn better and deeper.

In between being surprised by this delightful book, I’m still processing Deidre Rigg’s Jumping Tandem retreat, meeting  face-to-face blogging friends who have encouraged me heart-to-heart for the last few years. Attending the retreat was a stretching process in itself – stretching myself to walk outside my comfort zone – through the airport, so many states away from my family where I found warmth, caring and encouragement every step of the way. I remembered the 20-something in me, young, married – traveling with my husband to a glass-class in Holland, the fearlessly confident me who boarded a train for a day-trip to Belgium to visit a Carmelite cloister while my husband learned about glass-making. I remembered visiting historic places – undaunted about traveling to unknown places alone. 28 years of mothering these 5 sons – and two still at home, while it stretched others parts of me, left other parts of me un-worked. That weekend, I was stretched – and it was good.

I went on an afternoon photography walk with Laura Boggess, sat long and talked much with Brandee Shafer, Car-pooled from the airport with Dolly Lee, Amanda Hill, Tammy Belau. Maybe it’s the mothering in me – having carted around so many kids in my car so many years, so many rich conversations – but car-pooling with these women made me feel right at home.

I hung out with Elizabeth Stewart, Marilyn Yocum from my hometown, Linda Gibbs, Diane Bailey – and Christy Mac-Rodriguez, who didn’t really believe my luggage would arrive by 3 a.m., but sat with my on the porch in those awesome rockers and talked to me until mid-night.

I don’t think anyone really believe my luggage would show up any time soon – but after listening to Joel Olsteen on the radio for about 7 to 9 hours worth of driving to Louisville to read my books to elementary school children, visiting with my aunt – and flying out of Louisville because there weren’t any available in Nashville – I was optimistic, hopeful, full of faith – and at 2:55 a.m. that Friday night, after flight cancellations and new flights booked – the luggage arrived!

Lisha Epperson was part of this stretching. I was hesitant to walk through the doors of her dance session at the Jumping Tandem retreat, yet, it was the one session I knew I would deeply regret missing if I did not. Maybe it’s this fearless confidence I’m working on this year – listening to God’s promptings of what He wants me to do – and so I did – even though I hadn’t danced since I was seven. At seven, though, I didn’t realize I could dance for God.

I took my 52-year-old, apple-shaped, out-of-shape self – and reached way down deep inside to pull out the little girl who once loved to dance until someone told her dance classes had stolen her grace, and how someone had once told the girl developing in me “what’s up front” is what really counts – not the brain, not the heart, not the humor, not the me, just the physically endowed, girl-quality of mammary glands – and so I grew bent over, trying to hide the superficial, so wanting to be valued for the inside-stuff because that was where the most important part of me was.

I took my 52-year-old self a few weeks ago – into praise dancing with you Lisha– and danced for God – reaching high, bending low – stretching to awakeness. Lisha led us all in gentle, God-lifting encouragement, creating an environment that allowed me to retrieve something I’d misplaced long ago – and I was able to stretch deep, pull it back to me, and with ballerina hands turning, arms rising, palms outward, giving, reaching to offer whatever I have to offer to a loving Father, Lisha taught me, also, palms turning heart-ward to pull close what He gives . Lisha brought grace to brokenness – and that brokenness became grace – maybe not to the world’s eyes, but to His eyes.

After the last prayer, the last hug, I climbed on a plane to my hometown, then drove about 4 hours to where home is now – and without skipping a beat, stepped right back into a daily I’ve done for almost 29 years.

When I picked up the boys from school, the older of the two immediately had an allergic reaction – either to Mother Nature, a virus – or me. (Am I the only one who sees the humor from the coincidence in that? Surely, that kind of humor is not what finally-over-the-edge looks like?) It took 5 days for him to totally recover. Homecomings are never glitche-free, no matter how love-filled they are.

I am home, living in the regular of the daily – but there’s a thread of something new going on – a thread tangled Gd-intentionally up in this fearless confidence lesson He’s working on with me this year.

I’m not quite the same person who boarded the plane, though I’m living in the daily “same.”

There’s been no radical, immediate transformation. Just something happening breath by breath, as He draws me closer to where He’s leading me, showing me where the stones are, building faith for wings.

I suspect, though, what’s going on is all about the wings – and the faith required to use them!

“When you work from faith, either you will step forward onto something solid, or you will be given wings”(Weber, Surprised by Oxford)

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January 19, 2015: Winter is playing it’s games right now. The sun shines like Springtime. There’s no frost on the windshield in the mornings – and I find myself thinking of tomato and chard seeds . . . . but I’m waiting. The more it feels like Spring, closer comes the snow . . . . and I love snow flakes and snow days . . . . and so I wait with expectation of God’s grace in coming changes, like weather patterns, seasons and how time fills the daily.

January 30, 2013: I felt like I needed to say this again – for many reasons, inside and outside reasons.

January 3, 2013: The boys, they have been moaning – moaning over weather channels calling for snow and snow not coming. Tonight, the boys kept looking at the weather radar – hoping. Too big to put ice cubes down the toilet – they just plain, old-fashioned hoped, with a dose of moaning for garnish!

At 11 p.m., when my husband and I were locking up, turning lights down, he called me to look out the door: The Snow Trees had come. I danced. I twirled. I trotted upstairs, to shake each boy gently awake, point out their windows, announcing the arrival of The Snow Trees – and wrapped in their sleepiness, they had now joyful greeting for the snow trees.

Feb 1, 2013 – They didn’t even remember me announcing: The Snow Trees have Come! – but they were so happy they had come!
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Winter 2012

Winter is late.
The snow hasn’t come yet.
I am
waiting.

The Daffodils and lilies arrive
too early
not suspecting
Mother Nature trickery
in mercury messaged
invitation
and stems climb out
of  warm brown covers
turning their hope
to an unreliable sun
so vulnerable, so unprepared
for Winter coming late

Even Dogwood Blossoms
are deceived
with sun signs and
mercury tricks

Wouldn’t at least
the dogwood
know
with the story of our Savior
imprinted on the fibers
of its design,
that signs and seasons
are unreliable
time clocks
for announcing
jobs and tasks,
like blooming and snow fall,
seed time and salvation

Unlike winter
God is never
late

Unlike rising mercury in January
God does not deceive or lead
falsely

God is never
surprised
about disappointments and troubles
we find ourselves
in
He is never
late
to redeem us from
our rushings into places
not ready for us

or maybe
places and tasks
we are not
yet
ready for

Only we
are surprised,
disappointed,
our budding faith
nipped
by trusting sun signs
and mercury
instead of God Words
God Whisperings

God always plans
Time to grow
into
His plans
for our lives
seed time
and harvesting.

“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1: 7-8)

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brokenshells82“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)

Myrtle beach differs from the Gulf beaches: No Sandpipers, Rock Doves, Sanderlings, Laughing Gulls seen putting on morality plays at Myrtle Beach. . . .

No unbroken Sailor’s Ears, Heart Cockles, Spiny Jewel Boxes, Jingles and Butterfly Wings, Slippers and Scallops, Turkey or Sea Wings with which to decorate sand castles or fill jars.

However, Myrtle Beach this holiday was filled other things (34 of us this year), umbrella tents, grandparents, great-grandchildren and everyone in-between. The Gulf Beach is usually quieter, more intimate – with just the immediate family, those living in the nest – and that has dwindled from 5 to 3.

A Holiday for me, for me – whether it is a week, a day – or even a Holiminute – involves reading – reading a book over a sandwich at lunch, reading in-between conversation lines – or reading the love letters God leaves all around me – in the trees at home lifting their limbs up in praise, a cardinal darting out reminding me God’s with me, a pop-up rainstorm creating rivulets from tree roots to sidewalks outside my work window. I have learned to anticipate God’s messages in the daily, to expect them. God’s messages might not contain the answer to a prayer. It might not “fix” a challenge. God’s messages are often fellowship, part of an ongoing dialog, relationship-growing, a hug, encouragement – it is becoming what defines my day.

He is a faithful messenger – in the big and little messages.

brokenshells22cI looked for shells – but there were few whole ones to find. I looked for birds – but they had no interest in our beach with our umbrella city. I paddled in the ocean, watched it’s surface morning and night – trying to find His message.

The ocean clammed up – I couldn’t seem to pierce its cover to read its depths – yet, it called me – with its ever-changing shades from brilliant azure blue to blue cotton to white grey-sky-reflections all.

I’d sit at night on the porch, listening to the unrelenting wave crashes, watching white clouds in a black sky march silently like armies marching in-land under the cover of darkness, feet wrapped in clothe to silence their movement. When I woke, they’d slipped away.

Was this letter, the message in the sea too deep for me? Did it contain too big a message? It’s as though He wanted me to really want this message, like a child asking over and over to do the dishes the first time – because it was a task with responsibility and sacrifice.

I kept asking, waiting with expectation. The last day on the beach, He revealed the message. It wasn’t a cheer-leading message full of encouragement and, “You go, girl.”

The message about brought me to my knees.

The waves kept pushing shell pieces to the water’s edge– big and little shell pieces. Nobody wanted them. Most beachcombers had ceased to even search for there was so little hope of collecting whole shells. They only wanted the easy to find whole-shells. The waves, though,  kept pulling and hurling them into the beach – some shells recognizable, most not.

and there were so many pieces. . . .

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Each piece represented a broken soul
a broken soul desperate to be saved
though the soul didn’t know
it needed saving
didn’t know it could be made whole

The water, that Holy Spirit water,
kept tossing them on the beach
and when they’d slide back,
the water nudged them forward again,
sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully,
as if saying to those on the beach,
Hurry! Hurry! Come help save them”
as would cry the Captain of the Titanic
if he could have pulled his passengers ashore
one hand pushing shoreward, the other hand reaching
to save more
counting on the beachcombers
to revive and breathe life
into those which he strives
to save

Yet how does the broken fragments
of a soul
who doesn’t recognize
the force of the Holy Spirit
how do they know
this pushing to save is
a good thing, a better thing
because they don’t know, they slide back
because there’s no one to pick them up
because the beachcombers only see
Brokenness
Unredeemable brokenness

And God was saying, these broken pieces and parts of shells – all these represent the broken in the world, the broken a step away from you, in your community, in the world. I keep bringing them up for you to see, He says, for the world to see but my children just walk right by them, judging them beyond redemption, beyond wholeness – on your own shores.

I am overwhelmed
millions of shell slivers
shards, chips and chunks
how can I ever find all the right pieces
for them
if I cannot even find all the right pieces
for me

Unredeemable broken mess
if the fixing were left to me
that’s what it looks like
feels like
so many. . . so many broken to pieces

My soul-combing child, He said,
you just need to reach out
to pick them up
let your story be a letter
of introduction
show-casing my credentials
my credentials as
God Elohim, mighty and strong, who created you, is able to save you
Almighty God El Shaddai who wants to be all-sufficient to ALL your needs
Adonai, a worthy master over your destiny
who as Jehovah-Jireh foresees every challenge you will face, every choice, whether good or bad, and provides a way back home
where as Jehovah-Rophe  welcomes you,
wraps you in both his arms and heals your wounds,
both self-inflicted and inflicted by others
and as you heal in the shadow of His presence
Jehovah-M’Kaddesh will sanctify you, make you pure and whole in His sight
until, finally, you find peace in the presence of Jehovah-Shalom
the answer to a prayer fulfilled, made whole,
perfected with the mighty strength He put within you

just let the Holy Spirit push them to you
pick them up
all my soulcombers
pick them up
introduce them to me,
even if you think they ought to already
know me,
even if you think they don’t deserve
to know me
introduce me – that’s all I need you to do
introduce me-
so that I can make them whole

brokenshells1cI’m praying, friends, for God to show me how to live this message. I just know that the need to continue reaching in our communities is so important. So many don’t know God as a dear friend, a loving father, a knight in shining armor. So many want to save the easy to save – but God is calling me – to save the hard to save, the rebels, the ones that seems so broken and worthless – like the broken chips and shell shards on the beach. Won’t you pray with me, for our communities to make real connections, one-one-one story sharing connections where God-filled relationships are established, not fly-by relationships? Where introductions are made that build lasting relationships – because I think these youth and young adults want real relationship, need real relationship.

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pinkdogwoodThe boys, from the biggest to the smallest, roll their eyes, sigh: “You’ve told this story before, Mom.”

. . . and I tell it again, whether it’s the story of the day they were born, that 97 one earned on his Sophomore research paper, that I’d coached him through on a Mother’s Day in 2009 – when he did not want to give the detail, use the 3-step-method-of citation, put topic statements on all his inside-paragraphs

or the mystery of the missing turtle head

or the “You’re a cake” lecture

or how one 5 year old brother tried to evangelize his 3 year old brother one evening when he didn’t want to say his bed-time prayers

or how the oldest brother prayed for a baby brother for 3 years – and in the sixth grade, wrote about how when God answers prayers, He answers them abundantly

“I know the story, Mom,” each moans as I tell it for the gazillionth time.

But sometimes, we need to hear the stories, over and over and over . . . until the truth in the story, the soul of the story sinks in. It’s like that with our stories – and His stories.

Because He’s told the story since the beginning of creation

Through all creation.

“Have you not been paying attention?
    Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
    Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?” (Isaiah 40:21)

How the earth is reborn in the spring, grows, drops seeds to the earth, and dies for 3 months under the harsh cold – and rises again on a spring day.

How the moon grows to its fullness, wanes and disappears, to be reborn.

The story in the petals of a dogwood of a crucifixion to save us all

Since the beginning of time

Creation has told the story of rebirth, of being made new

Of giving ourselves away like the seeds circled within the fading petals of a sunflower

whitedogwood

 He tells the story over and over and over

The story is being told all around

Since the first day of creation

it flies, burrows,

creeps and runs

nests and sits

erupts, sheds and falls

feeds, heals and refreshes

Because sometimes for a story to sink in

Like a seed into the soil

To reach deep and take root

The story from creation to salvation

the crucifixion to the resurrection

is told told over and over

In every possible way.

The whole earth isn’t just full of His glory

it tells the stories of His glory

over

and over

and over. . . . as many tellings and re-tellings and it takes. . . until the truth of the story, the soul of the story sinks in.

My stories might not be as good as His stories – but I hope those stories tell of His glory. I hope that one day, my boys will really hear what I am saying – and see that I am pointing the way to Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory”
(Isaiah 6:3)

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springredbud_edited-1“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Spring, like morning reaching red-bud blossom tops, has come. After grey sky days spraying mists, spilling water from clouds too full, the sun came out, splashing colors across my world.

The dove sat on the electric lines, the robins, sparrows, mockingbirds, cardinals, tanagers, jays and blue birds are opening up nests, calling across the yard to each other – and the cat, Miss Kitty, stretches in the sunshine, watching, welcoming.

Sadie sniffs the moles waking up, moving under the grass – digging a golf course in our back yard.

The peonies purple stalks, lavender spider’s knots, volunteer pansies, irises and lilies are stretching upward, past the almost spent buttercups.

Like winter promises spring, storms promise blue skies, challenges promise refreshing. Saturday, as the rain washed clean my schedule, I thought how beautiful the Sunday skies would be – washed clean through to blue and white.

Challenges do that, from gentle mistings to torrential power-washings designed to wash or break off what doesn’t belong, potentially revealing more of who He designed us to be – one stormy challenge at a time.

After spending so many months introspective, inward, inside, wrapped in blankets, hibernating from the cold winter,  I’m ready, ready to give up my wish for snow (it always missed us). I’m like that with challenges sometimes – they become so familiar that I’m not always ready to let go when it’s time.

It’s time now to let this winter go. I’m throwing open my doors and windows, cleaning off the porch, scratching away dead leaf quilts that covered flower beds.

Spring has woken with a joy-comes-in-the-morning vibrance. I am eager to greet it – aren’t you?

 

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