Category Archives: watering

Productive Stillness

I seize a moment when the clouds part and sun shines to run outside to the strawberry patch. The ground, softened by days of rain, offers up its weeds with no resistance, though an occasional tiny berry is mixed in and sacrificed to their twisted, choking growth.

Extracting myself from the tasks at hand inside is a challenge, but sunshine, fresh air, and moist soil draw me to the present, and white flowers beckon me to notice them. I stop and breathe, accepting the invitation to a bit of productive stillness.

strawberry plants

This is where it started, the inspiration to write for a blog outside of my own, in the strawberry patch. Each year reminds me of that. That, and a number of other things, like the fact that the strawberries were planted by my firstborn when she was still a teenager at home, and the first plants came from my dear friend’s yard before her life took a traumatic turn, exiling her from that home and yard.

There is a fence around the strawberries now. It is a nod to trying to keep the dog from trampling them, but it’s not working very well. Dewey has no problem in leaping with excitement over the low barrier if one of his doggie friends happens to be passing by or if he feels a need to defend his turf.

strawberry patch

It is so imperfect, the place that calls me back each year, rising from the ashes, defying proper gardening techniques. Each year I think, I’ll do better at tending this patch and putting it to bed when the season ends. Then I don’t do better. Each year strawberry grace meets me again.

I don’t know what this year’s yield will be or when we will eat our first shortcake or if there will be an attempt at jam. That remains to be seen. What I do know is that today I was met in the strawberry patch with kindness and grace and hope.

Mother’s Day Planter 2016

Each year for the past several I have filled my mom’s outdoor planter for Mother’s Day. Here is this year’s planting process and result.

I cleared all of the old growth and dead leaves, including two snapdragon volunteers from last year, out of the pot.

I cleared all of the old growth and dead leaves, including two snapdragon volunteers from last year, out of the pot.

I planted a tall spikey plant in the middle for height.

I planted a tall spikey plant in the middle for height.

Three red geraniums were planted around the spike.

Three red geraniums were planted around the spike.

The two yellow snapdragons were returned to the pot. We shall see how they do!

The two yellow snapdragons were returned to the pot. We shall see how they do!

Two trailing plants with blue flowers were placed on each side of the pot to spill over the edges as they grow.

Two trailing plants with blue flowers were placed on each side of the pot to spill over the edges as they grow.

Some trailing ivy and vines were placed around the edges to grow and spill over the side of the pot.

Some trailing ivy and vines were placed around the edges to grow and spill over the side of the pot.

A small surprise from last year was re-placed in the midst of the plants with the reminder to bloom.

A small surprise from last year was re-placed in the midst of the plants with the reminder to bloom.

This is the view from above.

This is the view from above.

It is always fun to choose plants each year, to design the arrangement, and to watch the flowers bloom and grow all season.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are one-of-a-kind, and I love you so much.

Start

It’s God’s glory to conceal things,
then we get to figure them out.
This can cause one to wonder
Just what is this life all about?

As dross is removed from the silver
Before a vessel is made,
So trials may press on a heart,
Before glory can be displayed.

But often these trials and pressings
Bring with them wounding and pain.
It’s tempting to want to give answers
To think the complex can be plain.

The way to approach is in silence.
In holding a sacred space
For the one who is hurting and broken
And feeling confused in this place.

Then a wise word may be spoken,
To carefully water the heart.
For those confused, who don’t know what to do,
This is a good place to start.

~for those who wonder from Proverbs 25~

Counselor

O cast a vessel down deeply
into the well of my heart.
Help me to draw out my purpose.
To know the best place to start.

Many a vow spoken rashly
has caught my soul in a snare
It’s hard upon further reflection
to know what to process and share.

There’s a searching deep in my spirit.
It’s the lamp of the Lord seeking out
all the painful misunderstood places ~
all the hurt and the fear and the doubt.

So I’m plowing my heart- ground in autumn,
I’m keeping aloof from the strife.
I’m longing and waiting to harvest
The fruit that will come from my life.

In youth we are given our glory,
our strength that is taken away.
In old age we’re given our splendor,
The hair on our head that is gray.

Thank you for sitting with wisdom
For seeing through evil’s disguise
For waiting with me as I wait for the Lord
For helping to open my eyes.

~thoughts for a counselor from Proverbs 20~

Son

When you defer hope, it is hard.
You don’t see results right away.
It sickens the heart,
and it dampens the eyes,
and the heaviness seems here to stay.

But listen, my son,
Please be wise.
Hear instruction and carefully heed
the words that remind you to keep pressing on,
to be honest about what you need.

Little by little advance.
Push through the pain and the strife.
One day you will see
your desire fulfilled.
It will be like a tree of life.

Be diligent in what you do,
and your soul will be richly supplied.
And the sweetness and good
and the wisdom you gain
Will be worth all the tears you have cried.

~thoughts for a Son from Proverbs 13~

Reset Switch

I visited my sister last week. Laptop tucked away in my bag, I was certain that there would be time to blog. To write. To process. To think.

There was. In a way. Just not in the way that I expected. I didn’t come home with piles of posts and tons of clarity. I didn’t curl up on the back deck with coffee or wine and my laptop. Only with people.

Isn’t that the way that it is, yet I continue to fight against the flow. The unexpected.

It’s exhausting.

So processing looked more like long walks alone on the footpaths through her neighborhood. It looked like 20 minutes in the hammock together before a teen needed attention. It looked like face-down on a massage table drifting off to sleep as the deep tissue in my body was kneaded into oblivion.

Processing was remembering with someone who was there with me and listening to what my unexpected tearbursts were trying to say. It was viewing redemption in those strange places, small spaces. It was texting an adult daughter with a tough memory of us and being open to her response.

How did we survive 14? DID we survive 14?

Because being around fourteen triggers fourteen. Fourteen was hard. Is hard.

Processing involved riding a roller coaster with fourteen and breathing through the twists and turns and upside-down loops and remembering that I am held securely. It was pushing through my own discomfort to love, because love remains close through the hard and uncomfortable.

Processing was the newsflash that I should probably not do one of those tough mud races, because I barely survived a muddy hike. It was being curious about why I felt so stuck and overwhelmed. It was gratefulness for a teen who could drive home from the excursion with me curled up in the backseat crying.

A week ago I sat with my sister in her master bath, pulling out cleaner from under the sink to scrub the tub so that she could soak a sore foot. She had experienced minor surgery and was recovering from that with a house full of family. We were trying to care for her.

As I sprayed and scrubbed, her voice spoke out tentatively, Sooo, I have someone who comes and cleans the house for me. She will be here tomorrow.

Tearburst.

Yes. I burst into tears at that revelation.

Curious.

That’s great! (Because it really is. She has the ability to bless someone with a job and to bless herself with the knowledge that once a week her house will be clean and the pillows on the couches lined up at attention.)

We talked about it. The feelings. The tears. The hard in both of our lives. The graces we give to ourselves.

Sure enough, Wednesday morning came, and with it a smiling, cheerful woman, cleaning caddy in hand. Steve and I crossed paths with her while exiting the house to take the younger bunch to the movies. When we returned the house was lemony-fresh, the reset switch pressed for another week.

I smiled and breathed in the goodness and grace.

Hopeful Hibiscus

Hibiscus, you bloom;

hibiscus

one small orange flower, inviting me to examine more closely for buds.

bud

Sure enough, there they are.

budding

Tiny. Hopeful. Growing.

Your leaves aren’t pretty.

They aren’t lush and full.

I’ve seen you look better.

I’ve seen you look worse.

You’ve weathered a lot.

Winter was hard.

But you escaped brush pile and were given a new home.

transplanting

Returning to life, I find you now growing, and in your growth you invite me to hope.

IMG_3514

Yellow Leaves

Even the hibiscus is stressed these days. The beautiful, full Easter hibiscus is dropping its yellowing leaves. It’s opening its beautiful blooms. It’s living in hibiscus tension.

A quick online search tells me hibiscus stress is fairly common. The trick is to figure out the source of the stress and then fix it. Sounds easy enough, except that it’s not.

It is either too much or not enough of just about anything that a plant could need. Sunlight. Water. Plant food. Temperature. Each hibiscus is unique. The gardener gets to figure out what causes the leaves to stop yellowing. Once that happens, she knows it’s on the road to recovery.

Figure out the source of the stress and then fix it.

If only it were that easy.

My leaves are feeling pretty yellow right now. They are looking droopy and dropping. I am tired. There is much stress. There’s too much and not enough of many things.

It’s the last day of April. I feel myself holding these final hours tightly, because once they’re gone, that means it’s May, the month of many transitions. Endings. Beginnings.

Holding tightly isn’t the answer. My head knows that. I’m struggling to trust the gardener with my yellow leaves.

photo (2)

Seeking the Quiet

She arrived on my porch today, joining her sisters Grateful and Angel of Hope on the mantle. Their backdrop is an antique windowpane from China, the candle a gift from a friend. My sense of decor leans toward the sentimental rather than the stylish.

Offering up a Prayer of Peace, her clothing is delicately etched with doves. She is beautiful and precious.

A gift from a heart-sister from My Journey Continues, I felt overwhelmed and loved when I opened the box and made the connection.

It has been a hard week. I have not sought quiet. I have longed for quiet. I remember I need quiet. And time. And space. And love.

Love made an appearance on my porch today, and I opened my heart and received it.

Thank you, Dear One. You know exactly who you are.

 

Harvest and Healing and an Invitation

I planted the seeds, believing the words that in due season I would reap if I fainted not.

And I fainted often and struggled to go on and kept planting.

Those early mothering years were all about solutions from books and formulas and word of mouth and measuring up.

And more planting.

I wanted to hear well done my faithful servant not depart from me, I never knew you and in order to do that, I needed to work hard. It’s what I had been taught.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

And kept planting. Year after year, child after child, relationship after relationship.

And times were dry. So dry.

It had to look good. My life. Good fruit. So I stapled it on.

Above reproach so as not to blaspheme Christ.

I tried to keep up and keep going, but I couldn’t, and when that day came I fell hard into the arms of grace where it was whispered to me enough.

My yoke is easy; my burden is light.

Not just for everyone else. For me, too.

Then it happened.

I took up the easy yoke and light burden and a gentle, healing rain began to fall on hard, packed soil. Those planted seeds, lying dormant for years, began to sprout and spring up and push out of the ground and grow into something.

Real fruit. Harvest.

The rain began to fall at a Michael Card concert over 10 years ago. He had a guest, Andrew Peterson, who sang this song…

It spoke directly to the place where I was in my heart.

I Invite you to take time and space to listen and to check in with your own heart. Wherever it is, in sorrow or joy, know that you are not alone.

Because we all get lost sometimes.