~ Dead Wood

It’s easy to look at the mess we’ve made as dead wood. Every year I have to cut the dead wood out of my Hydrangea. Every year there’s more. It’s a natural part of the life cycle of many woody shrubs and all trees. A certain percentage of the limbs and branches die off, and more grow in their place. Think of them as the equivalent of human hair. It doesn’t mean there is rot or disease, it’s just part of the process.

Now take that thought and apply it to the mess you’ve made of your attempts. Is your life (and possibly your home and office) filled with the clutter and refuse of attempts that went awry or projects that didn’t make it past the planning stage? Don’t beat yourself up! This is a normal part of the process of growth.

Rather than agonize over the failures, look at your mess as proof that you’re alive, trying new things, attempting to be and do more. Then get out the pruning shears and get rid of those things holding you back, reminding you of failure, and taking up valuable space in your life. Learn from God’s natural process. If you don’t cut out the dead wood, then the new can’t grow. There is no space, or light or air.

Breathe in those wonderful life-affirming verses that you love, and then tackle just one pruning job today. Nothing brings hope for the future like new spring green growth. Make room for it in your life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

“The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy.
I’ve come that (you) may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ISV

~ A Box of Joy

2015-09-02 15.21.58

This is my tiny box of joy, perfection in miniature.

If you were to make your own tiny box of joy, what would you put in it? I’ll show you the inside of mine next week.

Think about what makes you happy, gives you pleasure and delight. If you could carry it around in a box, would you embellish that box to honor the contents?

Think about your own box of joy. What are you thankful for? Give it a special place of honor so that each time you see it, you remember to thank God for the gift of delight.

I hope this inspires some creativity! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done something similar or if this causes you to start something new.

~ Worm Tubes and Shark’s Ear Drums

It's a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!
It’s a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!

Yesterday we visited an old friend who has a gem-rated seashell collection – over 8,000 pieces.

We held a worm tube from two miles down in the ocean, a sperm whale eardrum, and the most bizarre shrimp basket made of silica where a certain type of shrimp mate for life and live their entire lives stuck in the lacy basket, while their kids escape when they’re tiny, one “litter” after the other. Needless to say, the variety of the collection was amazing. All these things God made for the sheer joy of creation. Mountain ranges painted on the sides of shells that live on the floor of the ocean.

Why? For the fun of it.

Tell me again why people try to convince Christians that they don’t know what fun is? Hellooooo, with a Daddy as wild as ours? Who can know God? As His children, we actually can. What fun can top that?

“How countless are Your works, LORD!
In wisdom You have made them all;
the earth is full of Your creatures.
Here is the sea, vast and wide,
teeming with creatures beyond number —
living things both large and small.
There the ships move about,
and Leviathan, which You formed to play there.”
Psalms 104:24-26 ( Holman Christian Standard)

 

God Glimpses #25 – Don’t Despair!

GG_HD group shot

When you feel desperation, do you take a time-out?

Sometimes you need to sit yourself in a corner–give yourself time to think about things, and remember what you have to be grateful for.

The panic attack began when I wrote out a list of goals. Yep, you’ve been there. You throw everything on that sheet of paper. The must-do’s, the wanna-do’s, the other-people-think-I oughta do’s, the–you get the picture. Before you know it, the list is running onto a second sheet and you’re having a hard time breathing.

I’m a pastor’s wife, the VP of two non-profits, in charge of publicity for one, and have a host of responsibilities for the other, the mother of two sixteen year olds (ok, just for today, one turns seventeen tomorrow) and–that’s me in the garden hat in the picture–in charge of The Giving Garden.

About this time last year I was having a similar panic attack. We were telling everyone we were going to have a garden. I knew raised beds were the way to go, but knowledge and a sketch were all I had. That and the use of a small piece of ground beside a church building. If you’ve gardened, you know that dreaming won’t grow vegetables.

We made some phone calls, filled out some forms, and the next thing you knew, we had a team of Home Depot managers who donated, built and filled five raised beds and rototilled another two, and then gave us the shovels! (You can read about the first donated bed on our website.) By the end of summer we had a beautiful gate installed, flowers growing in the front bed, and so much produce that we had to get creative in ways to give it away. Considering we have a food pantry, that’s saying something, especially since no Zucchini were involved.

We had some wonderful people who volunteered, and some unbearably hot weather, which turned out to be a blessing, because, honestly, it kept us from working ourselves to death. The soil was so good that a little neglect didn’t make much difference. I think I fretted through much of the summer, and yet that garden was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m giving God the credit for every bit of it, because on my own it would have been like my own sorry attempts in my back yard.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to be overwhelmed on a regular basis. Every time, the cure is to remember those special moments when God has provided in the past, and the joys of sharing the good with friends, old and new.

Once you’ve thanked God for his provision, you’re in a better place to choose peace over desperation. He will provide not only the wherewithall, but the whowithall. Find a friend or two to help you get your priorities in place. Then start pruning. What’s going to matter in a thousand years? What’s important now? What’s a wanna, or a wish? How will it impact your family? See, you’re feeling more hopeful already!

God Glimpses #23 – Indecision vs. God’s Design

coffee table apron
my coffee table

Do you love design? I know I do. No mid-century modern for me. No thanks! Oh, I know those of you who love those sleek lines will claim that is what makes it design.

To me that’s like saying a single note is the equivalent of a symphony.

Give me ornate carvings, layered paintings, embellished quilts. Oh, yes, I agree that the eye needs a place to rest. I understand that, and plan for that. Even my walls have blank expanses, and I’m an artist.

The point of sensory overload is different for everyone.

At this moment, I’m so overwhelmed I’m not capable of much more than running screaming into the sunset. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m incapable of making good decisions, incapable of true creativity, incapable of being the person I want people to see, or hear. I seek a hole to hide in until the input stops. And that doesn’t work all that well, because I take me in there. Never mind all the outside influences, I’m too complex.

I’m so grateful that the God who created everything–in layers, with ornate design, with embellishments that serve no purpose but to delight the eye–is not overwhelmed, does not suffer from sensory overload.

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. ”   James 1:5-8

These are perhaps the most complex verses in the Bible. An intertwining mass of circular reasoning to those who don’t get it. Most of us don’t get it. I don’t get it. Too often.

The verses before make it clear that the topic is the testing of our faith through trials, and that testing leads to endurance, maturity, completeness. I suppose it’s no wonder that God doesn’t make that wisdom we’re asking for clear every time. Would it be a test of faith if we knew the answer for sure?

So the test is this–can we believe that he’s given us wisdom–have the guts to act on what we think is the answer? Sometimes that still, small voice is teeny. Sometimes we know we’re hearing God say, “You know what to do” but we doubt ourselves and our ability to hear God, because we’ve ignored him too often, hidden in our holes too easily, delayed the inevitable.

So we don’t trust ourselves, and we float on the sea of indecision, in a boat named “Unanswered Prayers.”

I don’t know about you, but I suffer from motion-sickness.

God Glimpses #22 – Architectural Disaster or Design?

unfinished building

What is this architect thinking? Can you see the odd-shaped hole in the roof, and the cut-out down through the three floors? And what’s with that missing corner of the roof on the back side?

God Glimpse! God is my architect. Those are his plans, his blocks and stones, his mortar, his shingles. It’s not my place to wonder why there’s a hole in my roof letting in the rain. It’s my job to stand in place, trust him, and prepare myself to shelter those who come to see what God has done with me.

God Glimpses #19 – Seeds of Hope

sycamore seed balls

Yesterday’s post dealt with hope deferred. When I took this photo, the sky was a beautiful blue, just begging me to look up.

Sycamore seeds. Fascinating textured globes of promise. In my minds eye they are broken all over the driveway, as they will be soon. They’re smashed from the impact of falling, squashed by tires, blown into fluff bits, and floating in the wind in tiny segments. They’re everywhere! They’re landing in my flower beds, in the lawn, heading for the soccer field across the street . . . if they make it past the hedge of trees.

“Just DO it” reverberates from yesterday.

“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.”  Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)

 

God Glimpses #18 – Hope Deferred

snow on flower pots

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” All winter long I’ve been ignoring these flower pots on my back porch, pretending the watering can doesn’t exist, pushing down dreams of spring green.

This morning, (after not one flake of predicted snow fell from the so-called snow storm earlier in the week,) I woke to find this not-so-sugar coating still falling from a sky that should have been blue.

(Shoot the weather men and women, please!)

We have no control over the weather. We can justifiably feel sick at the thought of another cold day with even the emerging crocuses looking frozen and miserable.

But do we defer our own hope? What dreams and goals do you have that could be achieved if you would just DO instead of dream . . . or wish . . . or pretend to hope. I don’t know about you, but I’m great at setting goals, not so great at remembering to look at them by mid-week.

DOers get things done. It’s that simple. Spend less time planning, and more time DOing. That’s my God Glimpse for today, folks. He sprinkled frosting on my misery and reminded me to look up (. . . and then go DO.)