Weeks of water and wonder

God’s been on a mission around here lately. He’s been answering some prayers and watering my plants–and everyone else’s!–with abandon…for days and days.

As He’s done so, that low place in the driveway filled up and made a spectacularly large birdbath delighting me and the birds who have taken full advantage. The hard Georgia ground has softened up to accept a few more new plants so I could take advantage of a break in the downpour and finally get around to planting some iris rhizomes that were gifted to me at the beginning of April. (Yes. April! I know. Blessings on you, Cyndi, and please thank Will, again, for his patience about returning his bucket!) Though I won’t see anything from them this year, they’re already holding a promise for the Spring–and isn’t it just like God to use something we normally complain about to help us become more pliable and full of beauty for the future?!

As we’ve watched the waters fill up buckets and overflow rain gauges, God has also filled up our home with guests and laughter. He sent us out to minister to others and helped us enjoy seeing that adding margin to our own lives can actually become a blessing to those around us, as well.

Our guests have been delightful and nourished us much like the rain has blessed our plants. We’ve seen some incredible growth in both plants and relationships–and both are beautiful. I’ve lost count of the number of hydrangeas arrangements have left this place to find new homes and, hopefully, give cheer in their new locations.

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It seems that nature has used this rain to fullest advantage…and now we have a new, though unplanted crop being enjoyed by our local squirrels. Although their abundant presence in our yard often annoys me as I work to stay ahead of planted nuts growing into trees in all sorts of odd places, I laughed to see how the squirrels have nibbled all around the edges of a string of mushrooms all lined up like a buffet. I guess God thought He would provide for those guests, as well.

As I wandered through the yard this afternoon, I couldn’t help be be reminded how blessed we all are and along the way, I found a few more things to share. For those of you still asking after Grace, I’ve included a picture of her below. She’s showing out these days…just like God.

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does next…and to home-grown tomato sandwiches and a caprese salad or twelve, as well. In the meantime…

Grace and Peace!

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Scented

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You don’t even have to round the corner to smell it; it almost assaults your senses as soon as you step out on to the small back porch. Confederate jasmine run amok…a neighbor’s gift to the previous owners untrimmed and unmitigated in the slightest for the four years or so that we’ve lived here.

It was tidy once, but no longer. It has taken over the small trellis meant to support it, reached on up for the branches of the maple tree at the corner, wound its way over to the roof…and…I’ll have to do something about it this year. I caught a few tendrils trying to reach in through the crack of a window sill casing.

Beautiful, abundant, breathtaking in both scent and beauty…and intrusive…or trying to be, anyway.

I love the scent of this beautiful invader but, to tell the absolute truth, when caught in the right wind, it can be downright overcoming. It will almost smother you with the goodness of it–some kind of aromatic cross between gardenias and honeysuckle and all here within reach and easy viewing.

It reminds me of something Paul wrote to the church at Corinth long ago, when he said,

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NIV)

I see this flowering vine and I’m reminded that as followers of Christ we, too, are called to be abundant in our production and reach those around us in ways that they can’t avoid noticing because we’re just that different. We’re supposed to “smell different” from those in the world…and act that way, too…because we’re called to BE DIFFERENT from the world.

Some people will love us for it and some will hate us. Others will just be annoyed. The one thing we shouldn’t be, though, is easily ignored. We are to put Christ on full display in our lives and turn Him lose to take over everything in His way. Another thing we shouldn’t be is so full of our own goodness that we fail to be approachable or willing to share our Jesus with those who may not look like it, but so desperately need Him.

In a world where it seems every news cycle is full to the brim with the latest misdeeds of those we should be able to trust, this is a hard thing. Who IS equal to the task? Certainly not me. Not on my own, anyway. Not you, either, I’d suspect. We’re often too full of ourselves and yet too aware of all of our own misdeeds…and that’s part of our problem. If we belong  to God and have asked for His forgiveness, we ought to be bold enough to celebrate the forgiveness–sweet, overwhelming, totally invasive forgiveness–that comes by asking the One who never sinned to cover ours. Once those have been covered, we need to make the choice to celebrate the Forgiver in no uncertain terms and live our lives in ways that honor and glorify Him. It may seem a little too corny for some in our “sophisticated” society, but I believe Chuck Swindoll had it down when he said,

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”

I love that quote and had it on my office wall for years to remind me that each interaction–whether patient or staff member, phone call or personal encounter–was an opportunity to live that out…and in so doing, live out what Christ had called me (and YOU!) to do for Him.

I want to be pleasing in His sight and I want to be an aroma of Christ before God. That will require both submission and pruning…and a willingness to let Him sort out which one is needed when and who needs to hear about His work in my life next. My job is to be available for either, let Him scent the air, and give Him free reign to make me equal to the task.

Grace and Peace!

Found objects

I was really blessed this past week to have friends who stopped by and wandered around the yard with me. There’s always something else to do when you have a yard and mine is total proof of that statement! The autumn and end of last year was supposed to be a time of clean-up and prep for Spring, but that didn’t happen–at all!–so I’ve had plenty of tasks to keep me busy this Spring. Along the way, I’ve “found” several new delights.

IMG_20180428_133626944_HDRThe hydrangeas in the back that only gave me three blooms in season last year suddenly started blooming like mad in late December and continued right up through the first hard frost, so I never got them trimmed back. Right now they are loaded with blooms on the old wood and it is entirely possible that they may take over my house before the summer ends.

There are blueberries on almost every bush and I spotted some blackberries blooming near the edge of the woods. My newly planted herbs and tomatoes are setting up nicely and I am ever so glad to have the debris piles burned back…and now, started over!

IMG_20180502_170042955_HDRAs we wandered around to the front, my friend Jaybrena was entertained to see that I had decorated my front porch with an old iron floor grate. She said she had done her best to avoid those as a child and we laughed at how it had gone from something slightly scary to becoming an item of interest. I guess that’s the case with a lot of things in life. The more we grow, the more we know…and it’s always fun to see something in a different light and give it a new purpose, right?

IMG_20180503_193438992I think my favorite surprise out in the yard right now has to be the daffodils blooming–late, but beautifully!–out under a tree I can see from my kitchen window. The bulbs were a gift from my friend Audrey and intended to brighten my winter, but they never bloomed inside–or even sprouted greenery!  I honestly wasn’t certain if I was planting them or just burying them earlier this spring! Look at them now, though! They’re showing out and reminding me that my schedule isn’t God’s and that waiting on Him is always worth it.

If you’re waiting on something special today, I want to remind you to stick with it and not lose hope! God is on the move whether or not it seems evident to us and He loves you very much.

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

In the meantime, do your part as well. Look for the good things, try to find a new way to use something you already own, and don’t forget hope even if you have to plant/bury those things that appear dead to you…you just might be in for the surprise of your life to see what beauty God can bring from them. As always, the following verse makes for a good plan while you wait:

“Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.” Hosea 12:6

Imagine that! God has a plan…and it’s for your good!

Grace and Peace!

Softened ground

web-close-upWe got a lot of rain today. It seemed to come in “spurts” as though a bucket was being upturned right over my house. Although the weather forecasters had it wrong today, since they assured me in their “hour by hour” app that it would be quite clear during most of the day, I’m quite sure God knew exactly what He was doing. As for me, I did errands and a little bit of weed-pulling in between the showers.

I’ve been working on clearing out the flower beds in the back. Kind of like me, it’s a work in process. I stop and pull a few weeds as I go back and forth to do other tasks. Some days the clean-out seems to go rather quickly and other days, it seems the weeds will win.

Today was a quick day for weed removal. Although the rain kept me off the lawn mower and out of the deepest parts of the yard, it softened up the ground in the flower beds and made pulling up the small trees (thank you very much, squirrels!–not!) and errant grasses with a mostly easy pull and just a little mud on the hands. Occasionally messy, but effective.

I laughed as I thought about how that can also be used to describe my own spiritual journey at times: occasionally messy, but effective. The messy part happens mainly when I forget that the dark and stormy days also serve their purpose and I rail at God for pulling at me where I’m already comfortable and settled. While I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets excited about those days of difficulty and frustration, they can serve to soften the ground and allow God to pull out some of those more deeply rooted things that would take over if allowed to grow unchecked and unremoved.

Things like pride, self-sufficiency, and a desire to be in control all sound like good things in our culture…right up until they get in the way of God growing some of His fruits of the Spirit. In His great mercy, I’ve seen God send some hard things my way to soften the ground so He can root out those uglier/harder things to make way for attributes that are more pleasing in His sight. To be sure, some of those good things often still appear to be in their seed form while others are beginning to show a little more promise.

Waiting on some of those good/God-things to grow is a lifelong process. The trick is to make use of the softened ground and make the most of the rainy days. They’re sent for more than just making things grow; they’re also good for rooting things out.

Here’s to knowing the difference and being willing to do the work. God always knows what we need.

“If you have a willing attitude and obey, then you will again eat the good crops of the land.” Isaiah 1:19

Grace and Peace!

Grace update #1

So many of you have been kind to ask after our little smoke tree that suffered, as my friend AJ says, “aggressive pruning” at the hands of the roadside cleanup crew earlier this year. Thank you for your concern.

I am happy to report that Grace seems to be working hard to recover as you can see below. I am even happier to say that the lesson of grace continues to be a daily reminder as I look out my kitchen window each day. I do hope it sticks.

Perhaps as Grace the tree grows so will grace the practice…in each of us.

“…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

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Have a  marvelous  weekend!

Grace and peace!

Promise of Spring

Today is the first official day of Spring and the temperature where I live in Georgia was already up to 70 degrees by the time I left Bible Study. The forsythia, Japanese magnolia, and daffodils have already bloomed and gone, and the “Great Yellow Death” (aka “pollen invasion”) seems to have arrived in full force. (My big red truck has a decidedly orange cast as the colors meld across the expanse of the hood.)

Last night, the sky was filled with God’s own version of fireworks complete with thundering booms and, afterward,  torrential rain and a little hail–and, thankfully, no tornadoes near us. Today, we woke to slushy ground and mildly cleaner surfaces marred only by mini-rivers of the pollen where the rivulets of water had already retreated. All of this occurred in preparation for what we are told will be temperatures near freezing later tonight. In fact, a friend in Tennessee just texted the following:  “Spitting snow here. Not kidding.” We’re in the same planting zone.

Welcome to Spring in the South!

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I tried to let my cat out to enjoy the screened-in porch out back earlier today, but he took one whiff of the pollen and decided that was plenty for him. (LOL) It feels a little like a world gone mad, and yet on the walk out to the truck this morning, I stopped to check out the roses (yes! I already have rose buds on both of the new roses!), tried to decide about when and where to plant some new veggies, and noticed a few other things, as well. From the tightly closed roses, peony, and clematis buds to the

IMG_20180320_084312698first few sprays of dogwood and Spanish lavender blooms just in time to celebrate Easter, I was reminded of a promise God gave us way back at the very beginning:

IMG_20180320_084255910_HDRIMG_20180320_084540709“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:22 (ESV)

God is still faithfully keeping His promises. Who are we to complain if all of them seem to come true at once? (grin)

Have a marvelous Spring! God never does anything halfway. It’s going to be amazing!

Grace and Peace!

 

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Signs

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When I look at this sprig of Mississippi cedar leftover from Christmas, I’m not entirely certain that our Georgia winter has run its course, but I’m ever so aware that Spring is certainly flirting wildly with us.

Might I suggest that you make some time to get out and flirt back this weekend?

Margin is just waiting to happen…go find some for yourself!

 

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

 

 

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“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” –Charlotte Brontë

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” ~Bern Williams

Grace and peace!