Saturday, June 27, 2015

Covered with the Glory of the Gardener

I've been focused on me way too much lately. Oh, not in the selfish way of neglecting others needs! I continue to meet my responsibilities head on and pour out. My pouring looks more like the trickle coming from the end of my hose when it has a kink in it. 

In my last post, I shared a bit of my wilderness journey through life. Years ago when I read the Bible, I did so with a kink of sorts. I always saw correction leaning towards condemnation; my missing the mark rather than the mark itself. Roots of this skewed perspective grew from generations of critical, hidden women in my family and were nurtured by a works oriented church, which meant well but fell short in grace.

We have had a rainy, cold spring here in northern Maine. The beautiful blossoms on my geraniums are long gone. Every time I look out my kitchen window, my eyes inevitably land on this struggling pot. Yet when I take the time to venture outside and around the corner of the house, gorgeous deep red dahlias delight me! I don't know how they are thriving in this weather.

As I read through my 1988 journal, I noticed something besides the struggle. Scripture verses filled the pages, alive with the voice of God and his grace. Although my circumstances and emotions demanded my attention then, God's grace had taken root and no matter the weather, his love saw the beauty in me I couldn't see. God's eternal eyes saw what I would become. 

God is not an annual gardener. He is in it for the long haul.

In Isaiah 61, He calls me his "oak, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."

I cannot see this glory today. Like Adam and Eve when they sinned, they saw their nakedness as the glory fell away. 

But God covered them with skins from the first blood sacrifice.

He covered me too with his own blood and clothed me with his glory.

Every year my gardening skills progress and my perennials claim more space, creating reoccurring beauty. What I need are eyes to see the progress, not how far I've yet to go.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Imperfect Life

I'm not perfect.

If trying could make one perfect, I'd get an A+. I tried until I fell down again and again from weariness, always falling short.

I tried to be a good daughter to avoid conflict with my step-dad. I tried to make my mom happy.

Then I got married. Surely my husband would mend the rips and tears in my soul.

He didn't.
He couldn't.
He wasn't perfect either, although closer than me.
I tried to make him fill me up. I begged and nagged, pleaded and criticized. To no avail.

My husband wasn't God and God wouldn't let him be.

My church and my children became my heart's focus. How I longed for their approval! I worked hard and expected a lot, too much. Too much from them, too much from me.

I lived in the wilderness of expecting too much from myself and never being enough.

Why is all this coming up now? Vacation season is upon us when we will all be together - children, grandchildren, dogs, and rainy days at camp.

Words spoken by my children over the years ring in the ears of my memory. Words pointing out my cracks, my failures, my shame born from wishing I could have been different then.

Yesterday I read words penned by my own hand in a journal 27 years ago. Those words revealed the struggles of a young woman attempting to mold young lives when she herself was broken.

Jamie Buckingham was one of my favorite authors back then. He penned these words and I wrote them in my journal decades ago.

"There are certain wilderness lessons that cannot be learned in the rush of life...only in the slow process of trudging...they must be learned slowly. They must be walked out through the experience of time."

I feel like I spent most of my life trudging in the wilderness. Progress was a slow process.

"To bypass the wilderness is to bypass God." JB

In those plodding years I met and grew to know God, one imperfect step at a time.

The thing is, He knew me inside and out and yet He wanted to be with me.

To be continued:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

All "Present" and Accounted For

Staying on track requires intention, practice and listening.

Getting off track occurs with weariness, busyness, and subtle rationalization.

I continued to write my intentions, slight morning pages, and empty check-ins. To be honest, I spent more time this week on social media than in prayer. My Bible reading was sparse and my writing practice took a back seat to busyness. Even my Wednesday blogpost fell by the wayside.

We all have responsibilities we have to fulfill. Mine took over my week.The thing is- none of them were big!

The little things can drain us dry when nothing is filling us up.

I noticed I was in trouble on Thursday when I went for my first massage in months and exhaustion flattened me afterwards. I found myself constantly on Facebook and for this gal, that's not normal. I'm not even a big FB fan!

My emotional energy had taken a serious dip.

In my email Friday, the Faith Barista shared a guest post from Claire Diaz-Ortiz about The Present Principle. The post brought me face to face with my weariness. I needed to make a change.

I  pulled out Angie Smith's Bible study Seamless and spent time reading familiar passages in Genesis, amazed at the new discoveries waiting for me. Hubby and I made a quick trip to the camper and back on Friday and Saturday. I kept my nose buried in my Kindle reading a wonderful series of books by Stephanie Grace Whitson. (If you're interested look on Amazon for Walks the Fire, Soaring Eagle and Redbird.)

Saturday afternoon I enjoyed watching Lily swim and play, drinking in the warm sunshine, rare this spring.

Simple pleasures often hold precious treasures for us. 

Treasures like laughter, peace, rest, refreshing and appreciation.

When our practices lose meaning and we find ourselves turning elsewhere remaining empty, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate and make a few changes. Time to slow down, mark out a bit of solitude, and listen. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Week in Review

My irises are celebrating this gorgeous weekend! 

I spent the first two days of this week shopping with my granddaughter. We hit all the thrift stores hunting for first apartment needs.  My favorite purchase looked even cuter when Ken placed all her eclectic mugs on the shelves. This photo was taken in the store.

Lily and I squeezed in reading time. I loved her giggles when I read the Thanksgiving book with the sneaky coyote who stole the turkey. I know it's not Thanksgiving but any day with Lily is one to be thankful for!

               Back home it rained for three days, perfect for wearing sockfeet knit by my best friend.

Walking around the yard this morning, wondering are the ones on my left weeds or flowers? (I found out later they are flowers, too).

Celebrating more news. Check out my Fearless Lines post today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Woman I Am, According to God

The knitting pattern may as well been written in Greek. I couldn't see how to move into the next step of narrowing the heel. You Tube holds all the latest how-to methods but my pattern belonged to my best friend's grandmother and I could find nothing even close to it.

I'm a visual person. Show me how, let me try it and we're off to to success.  My friend, Pam, who lives hours away, attempted to describe the process via phone but I simply couldn't see it!

Several years ago, I attended a Women's Conference where the speaker made an unusual statement to me. She said when she looked at me, she saw faith all over me, which had never happened to her before. I mumbled a reply, but quickly dismissed her words, which sounded foreign to my ears. She must have the wrong woman.

My spirit, however, didn't banish her words so easily. God spoke to my heart one day and told me He wanted me to begin to see myself differently. 

"I want you to start saying these words."

I am a woman of faith, standing on victory ground, with weapons of righteousness in my right hand and my left, covered in the Blood of Jesus.

His words resounded inside of me with clarity but it's what He impressed upon me next that left me reeling.

And I want you to see it when you say it.

For a solid year, every day I closed my eyes and spoke the words, picturing myself as Jesus instructed.

Over time an amazing thing occurred. I started to believe the words I spoke and the inner image of myself changed little by little.

In years to come, when storms raged over my life and devastated my faith, the image kept its grasp on me. When all I could see was the fragility of my faith, God saw a totally different picture and He held me fast.

Hebrews 11:1 states that our "faith is the evidence of things unseen." By faith the men of old established a testimony. 

Bible faith looked like strength to me. I thought if I had Bible faith, I would sail through storms on the wings of peace. Instead my experience took me deeper into weakness, contradicting my human definitions of what it looked like to be a woman of faith.

I recalled one of  Beth Moore's teachings. 

In the kingdom of God, the way up is down.

As my weakness grew more evident, what I couldn't see were the roots growing deep into my relationship with a powerful, loving God. What I didn't understand is sometimes faith means not giving up, when everything in me is screaming for release. When I couldn't see God, He never lost sight of me.

What I couldn't see was the inner process,  God molding me into a woman of faith - His way.

When I couldn't make sense of the pattern, I learned to trust Christ himself, the designer and originator of my faith. He established His testimony in my life. 

 Daily surrender to His vision was building my faith.

What I couldn't see, He could.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Week in Review

Spring entered the County slowly, shivering and windy, but Sunday morning dawned glorious. I love Spring! Read more over on Fearless Lines today. 

The first week in June was not without life's challenges. I pressed hard into my spiritual practices, reading the scriptures and devotionals, prayer and writing morning pages in my journal. Getting out in the dirt, planting and babying my flowers is my greatest spiritual practice in Spring.

I admit to neglecting my daily visual journal, but I spent a couple hours thoroughly enjoying cutting and pasting images. I'm always amazed how the finished pages reflect my inner woman.

Yesterday Hubby and I spent much of our Saturday visiting yard sales. Our oldest granddaughter is moving into her own place and we were on a treasure hunt for her.

Sadly my book took a back seat to family issues. I managed an hour on my laptop before being called away; my intention this coming week is to set two days aside devoted to writing. 

I am excited about some new ventures this summer. I can't wait to share more with you later in the week. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Playing in My Visual Journal Tonight

I attempt to write a substantial blogpost on Sunday and Wednesday each week. Anything extra is a treat! Tonight the choice was tough - blog or work in my visual journal. Guess what won out?  Here's a peek in my creative corner before I dug out all my supplies.