Friday, June 20, 2014

To Do lists

1. Write out to-do list for today.
2. Write blog on to-do list
Do you all live on to-do lists like I do?   How many do you write in a week? Recently, as we were leaving for a trip, I started freaking out and frantically searching through my bags trying to find the trip prep to-do list.  You know those moments, where you feel like your world is going to fall apart because you may forget to do one thing on there?   No matter how much I looked, it was gone.  Mentally I started looking thinking through the list, trying to remember if there was anything left on there.  I left for the trip with a feeling of unsettledness, worried I had forgotten something.
I love to-do lists!  But not because I always need another project, but it puts my mind at ease when I can see it on paper.  Shh, don't tell people this, but you know that back section of the bulletin where it says to write notes on the sermon? Yah, I usually fill it with my to-do list during the first minutes of worship.  Before you judge me, let me tell you it actually helps me worship.  For some reason, my brain loves having a hundred browser tabs open all the time.  You know the saying, how men think in boxes so they can just shut the box and put it away.  Well, my husband says I have a 100 internet browser tabs open all the time.  And I have to constantly think on them for fear I'l forget them.  Somehow, when I make a to-do list, it puts my mind at ease and I can let it go.  (insert Frozen song) If the paper has all my ideas on it, I don't have to remember it anymore.  My brain can move on knowing my trusty list has it covered.  :-)
Yes, I know in theory, that life will continue just fine if I don't get it all done.  That someone will call to remind me if I'm not there to meet them. That I'll remember it later, or I'll get an email reminder.  Or perhaps I'll forget it because it really wasn't that important to start with.  My motives wrestle within me in writing them. 

Part of me writes them in the hopes of becoming....everything.   Remember that post about being enough?  I want to be good at maintaining contact with people, have beautiful gardens, read books, be hospitable, organized, put together, etc, etc, etc.  So I make desperate lists in the hopes that it will help be come what I am not. That I will be...enough.  But, the dream doesn't work.  There's not magic in writing it down that makes it happen.  I'm still  

The other part of me writes it down out of a knowledge that what I prioritize, I do.  You can tell by the dust on my shelves, but the lack of dishes in my sink, that I view clean dishes as more important than clean shelves.  Or the rows of tiny seedlings, but the lack of home-cooked meals that nothing else matters when gardening season happens. :-)  Some day I'd like to read the book, Say Good-bye to Survival Mode written by Crystal Paine.  It details her journey towards prioritizing the many things that call for our attention.  When I pick the top 5 things for the day and do them, there is a marvelous sense of accomplishment in crossing them off the list!  It also means, I don't have to worry about the other items for they aren't the priority. 
Prioritizing is the key, I think, to finding that balance.  Not based on what the world or I value.  But what does Jesus say?  Waking up each morning and saying: 'Good morning, Lord, here are all the lists of things I thought maybe we should do. But what would you like to do today? What are your priorities?'.  Then comes the feeling of both accomplishment and peace as together (the Lord and I) do the things on His list. 

Lord, help me to value the things you do.  To see priorities as you do, and not to get caught up in trying to be enough.  

You know that list that I anxiously searched for before my trip?  Yah, I found it yesterday. There were only two things left on the list to do.  But it turns out life happened just fine without them.  :-) 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From the worm's perspective....

From his perspective, he was accomplishing his goal. He was a real "earth mover", ground shaker, go getter.  From his perspective, he was changing his world.   Things moved when he came.  Pathways were carved, and new environments created.  Plants around him flourished, and he was created with a special role in God's creation.  

From my perspective?   He was just an earthworm, struggling to pull a plant seed into the dirt.  He was one of many earthworms I've come across in my gardening adventures.  And he treasured an annoying little weed that didn't belong in my garden.  He was so tiny you wouldn't have seen him unless you were weeding in his turf.

It was all about perspective.   Mine was vastly different than his.  The only reason he stood out to me from the many other earthworms that day, was his intense focus on his job.  He desperately wanted that bit of plant to come into the dirt.  He moved it so intently back and forth. When you look close enough, you can see two parts of the worm, perhaps his head and tail working together?

Often from my perspective, someone else's goal seems meaningless.  They are one of many.  There are many plant parts out there, why does this one matter?  And to someone else, I am probably the same as that earthworm....intently focused on moving my plant seed back and forth.  A plant seed that probably annoys some people. :-)

But to the Lord? He sees all the earthworms (both the real ones and us too!) :-).  He understands each perspective, each value, and each goal.  He doesn't ridicule the intense focus on my spot in the garden, rather he encourages new growth and perseverance.

Lord, help me to value others as you do. To see from their eyes the things they value and treasure.  Thank you for seeing me as part of your creation.  You are the Master Gardener overseeing my little spot in your garden.  Help me to show the same diligence to each task (even if it's small) as the earthworm showed to that weed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tomato forest

Tomato forest

For months, I was eagerly anticipating a visit to family run greenhouse just across the state border. I heard stories of its flower varieties, hot pepper options, and luxurious plants. 
I excitedly watched their opening day updates on Facebook and perused the flower photos. This was it….the place where our garden dreams would be birthed. Excitedly, we drove there to peruse the options. 
It looked a little picked over when we got there, but we weren’t daunted. However, upon asking the employee where the vegetables were, we were met clouds of disappointment. “Um, we don’t have much, there’s hardly any back there. This is the lowest we’ve been ever.” 
There were no tomatoes, no peppers, only a few picked over vegetables. Turns out, people had bought plants, lost them in the sudden freeze, and then bought them again. This left no plants for those of us who had waited for warm weather to plant. Sadly, we turned around and drove back to town. Anxiously we visited Walmart and Menards, only to find them picked over with little left. Desperately, we drove to Lewis wondering…would we even have a garden?
Ahh, at last! The day was saved when we saw loads of tomato plants and herbs lining the shelves.  Out of desperate relief, my husband bought loads of them. Thinking…”since there’s a run on them we must get as many as we can!”.
It wasn’t until later when we realized just how many we bought. :-) I started planting…and planting…and planting… and soon our tomato/pepper garden was just a tomato garden with a couple squeezed in pepper plants. Out of relief for finally finding some plants, he had overbought….reacted out of fear. We had a tomato forest!  I figure we have 46 ish plants squeezed in. :-)
Isn’t that what we do often? When we are afraid? Afraid of not being noticed, afraid of not having enough to eat, enough money, enough shoes, enough beauty, enough approval? Afraid of not being loved? Just afraid….we are not enough…..
Out of fear, we grab on to whatever we can get, what ever crumbs, brief glimpses, shadows of what we fear we lack. And even if we have enough, we still grab for more out of fear we may run out. 
You see it in large and small ways… in people clutching to relationships though they know it’s unhealthy just because they “lack love”. Men chasing business plans as if chasing a dream of being ‘enough’. Women chasing this “revolutionary” beauty product (when will we run out of new varieties of mascara) or that “ground breaking” new fitness program to make them feel they are “enough”. 
Don’t get me wrong, business, makeup and fitness are not wrong objectives, just when they are what you ‘need’ to be ‘enough’.
The same as my tendency to order too much food when I’m super hungry, because I’m afraid I won’t have ‘enough’. Afraid to give away hardly worn clothes, because I may ‘need it some day’. 
Holding on tightly to any small note of appreciation because I fear I’m not ‘enough.” This fear of having ‘enough’ or being ‘enough’ can fill everything.
The Lord whispers gently….you are enough in me….I am enough for you. You don’t have to strive, you don’t have to run after that wisp of acceptance.
Come to me, my love for you is genuine, real, long-lasting, authentic….enough. You can rest. You can be.
“…my grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in weakness”. 2 Cor. 12:9
Lord, you are enough. More than enough. Thank you for that reminder…in my tomato forest.

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Forest

He knew....He knew and yet I questioned. I questioned his choice, his wisdom in planning out this place. I covet ...I covet large spaces with full sun. Not this tree filled corner lot. forest. One of my dear friends is blessed to buy the home of her dreams, with a large double lot attached full of long warm hours in the sun.  Last year, I planted numerous vegetables which provided a meager harvest. Our deck was transformed into a tomato jungle of 5 gallon bucket plants growing everywhere.
Still, with visions in my head of the garden we had in the country growing up, disappointment filled my heart. Why? Why were we given a yard filled with trees? 
Why couldn't you plan for us a yard full of long hours of basking in the warm sun? A yard that would cause any plant to thrive and produce like a Mother Earth newsletter dream garden.
Label it what you want, coveting, dissatisfaction, or discontentment. It's a lack of trust, of joy, of peace. It's a lack of .....Jesus.
Growing up in the country grew within me a love for open spaces, large gardens, and quiet places. When we first moved out there, we lived on a gravel country road away from the city. We protested the construction of a tar road feeling like it was a step away from our quiet country life. Moving into the city when I got married was the end of 16 years of quiet living. The Lord knew my aversion to loud places, to traffic jams, to suburban dwelling, to houses cut like cookie cutters, and to small crowded spaces.
So He gave me a nice double lot filled with 13 trees (well, it was 14 until the ice storm took one down last spring), in an old neighborhood. He gave me an oasis, a quiet spot in the middle of the city. 
My husband and I enjoy resting in the gazebo in the middle of the privacy fenced in flower garden during a rain storm, listening to the pitter-patter of rain drops and smelling the fresh rain cleansed air.

Yet, I covet. I long for open sun filled garden growing space, yet reject it whenever anyone suggests we cut down one of our trees. One day the Lord pointed out my lack of trust in His plan.
My heart was filled with ungratefulness in his doing and wishing he had given us something 'better'...also known as something I picked out. :-) 
Then I realized that ........He knew.  He knew that I needed a quiet tree filled yard to replace my country living. He knew that I would meet lovely neighbors who would become friends. He knew that the gazebo would provide a place of refuge, a welcoming spot in which to have long conversations with friends and family. 
He knew that since I couldn't have the sun garden I wanted, I would need to use the community garden and have the opportunity to invest in the people around there. 
He knew what was best and He had (as He always does) a higher plan for me than I had planned for my self.
For without this 'spot' (there's a funny Youtube video called 'Neature Walk' about 'enjoying your spot'), I wouldn't have the opportunity to meet my elderly neighbor, collect lilies from the people across the street, sip cool drinks with a friend and enjoy long conversations. 

He knew..... what was best for me. And it was,,,, my forest.