Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Garden

I seated my patient as comfortably as possible in the hard, leather chair. She was elderly and long past nervousness in a dental office. I adjusted her head rest, gave her a pillow to snuggle into her middle and sat down to make small talk with her as we waited for the dentist to come in and begin the scheduled extraction.

We chatted and our conversation soon settled on her hobby of gardening. She told me of the many specimens of flowers she grew. "I love gardening", I told her, "I'm just not very good at it. I can't get flowers to grow."

She gazed at me for a minute and then in a non-accusing, matter of fact manner, she simply said,

"Well then, you don't really love gardening."

And our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the doctor and we carried on with her scheduled dental work.

But her words stayed with me All these many years later her words have stayed with me. And I have to admit she was right. I love the idea of gardening. I love the results of gardening. I love the look of a beautiful garden. But the truth is

I don't love it enough to spend the hours of work and dedication it requires to have a stunningly beautiful garden.

That simple admonition has served me well over the years. Every time I consider a new hobby or adding a new routine to my life I ask myself how much I really think I am going to love it. Am I really ready to invest the time, the money, the dedication it will require. Most often the answer is no, not really.

Recently it has occurred to me that this same piece of advice pertains to my spiritual life as well. How much do I really want to be close to God? How much do I really long for His presence in my life? How serious am I about wanting to know Him more?

For many years my life verse has been Jeremiah 29:11. You probably can recite it by heart - everyone loves it. "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future". It's a great promise and many times in my life I have depended on it like a life preserver on a crazy, wild ocean. There is a verse that follows it that we don't quote quite so often:

"When you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart."

Last year I joined many others in choosing a word to live by for the year. I lamented that my word for the year failed miserably.
For some reason I guess I thought I would just pick a word and the mantle of it would fall on me. Like gardening, I expected beautiful results with not much effort on my part.

This year I entered into the new year tired, discouraged and worn out. I felt a measure of general unhappiness and dissatisfaction that overshadowed my days. I kept thinking I needed a change in my life - a change in location, a change in job, a change in friends - just a change in something, anything. The word renew was constantly on my mind and in my heart. I wanted renewal in my life. I longed for it. I began to realize it wasn't really change I desired so desperately, it was renewal. And suddenly I knew in my spirit that I needed to concentrate on renewal this year. So I claimed the word as mine for 2011.

But this time I did it differently. I didn't just sit waiting for God to pour some renewal over my head because I had been so kind enough to ask for it. I chose instead, to be an active participant in this journey. I chose to seek him with all of my heart, the best way I knew how. I chose some new behaviors in my life.

First of all, I chose to spend more time in His Word. Instead of just sporadic Bible reading I chose a regimented Bible In A Year program. I downloaded a translation that was new to me - The New Living Translation - on to my Kindle. I don't know if it's the Kindle, the fresh new translation or both - but this is working for me. I haven't missed a day and I look forward to each days reading.

Next, I joined Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture challenge. I have joined over 9000 other women in memorizing a new scripture every two weeks. My first scripture was easy to choose - I want to memorize scripture that helps me with the way I think and process things. I chose Phillipians 4:4-9. I focus on the verse that tells me to think about whatever things are true. My mind has a way of worrying about every single angle of an issue and then when that gets old, I venture into the land of "what if's". Things that aren't necessarily true. This scripture reminds me to stay centered on what is true. What is noble. What is right. What is right. What is pure. What is lovely. I love it! Memorization is not easy or fun for me. But like any other discipline it is good for me. My verse this time is perfect: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Oh yes I am!

I am participating in Bloom Book Club's book club and we are reading Ann Voskamp's book - One Thousand Gifts - A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. This is a most remarkable book and I can tell you that I have been reading chapter one all week. I mean I have read chapter one every day this week. It is so beautifully written and so full of profound thoughts - I just keep re-reading it so that I don't miss out on anything. I'm not sure when I will make it to chapter two. I don't really care. I don't want to miss a word of the message God is sharing with me.

I know that God is speaking to me because everything I am reading, everything I am memorizing, everything I am hearing has the same message to me. Every single thing. And in this process, in this manner that I am seeking Him with my whole heart - guess what? He is keeping His promise and I am beginning to feel the lapping of Renewal on the edges of my heart. I am sensing His presence as I seek Him. I am tasting the salt of change in the air of the fresh breezes that have started rustling by me. I find myself holding my breath as I anticipate what this year is going to hold for God and me.

This spiritual gardening project I have taken on is going to harvest much different results than the garden in my back yard. I know this because I have made the conscious choice to LOVE it with everything in me. I desire His presence in my life so much that I am willing to do whatever it is I need to do to love Him with my whole heart. I'm not so naive as to believe I won't have to be dealing with some nasty insects and weeds along the way. But I am prepared. I am ready.

And I hope you check in along the way to see some beautiful bouquets.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Catching Up

Life has returned to it's normal, busy pace. I am deciding I like January. There is something to be said for routine, for days that are filled with the normal things of a regular life. Back to work, a new Bible Study at church, kids back in school and a home that has been undecorated and cleaned are all things that just feel good and comfortable.

I got a new "smart phone". I have been eligible for an upgrade for quite a long time and was waiting for my phone service to come out with the iP[hone]. But my battery would no longer hold a charge so I went in to the store a month ago to ask how much longer I would have to wait for the iP[hone}. "Oh", they said, "a long time". And they talked me into a phone that is really a computer - a smart phone. Then, as we all know now, the long time was given a date. February 10. Figures. But I love my new phone. It is smarter than I am! It has so many fun features and so many useful features. For instance, there is an app called Google Sky. You point the phone at the sky and it names the constellations! Amazing. It has a knitting counter on it, a bar-code scanner that you can use to scan a price on something in the store and it will tell you where you can buy the same item cheaper. My favorite feature is google calendar. I enter my appointments and every morning I get an email on my phone with my daily schedule! I absolutely love it. I have never been the kind of person to live by a calendar - mostly because I didn't want to carry one around with me. But I always have my phone and I am using the calendar every single day. I really love it! But my very favorite feature about my phone is - I CAN SEE THE NUMBERS!
That is so important when your eyes aren't as good as they used to be. And I also love that it is purple. And I love all the apps I have downloaded. I love that I read my Kindle books on it. I love that I can speak into it and it turns my words into texts. I love that I can listen to podcasts on it. Are you getting that I love my new phone? :)

I just realized that I never really blogged about Christmas. We did have some really sweet time with our kids and grandbabies. Let me just say that having two two-year olds at Christmas time is the sweetest. Here are a few pictures of our celebration.

These two have quite the fascination with their Poppa's cowboy hats. Actually, Tyler has the fascination but if he is wearing one then Ava Claire must have one too. They are the best of buddies.

I think because Tyler and Ava are so rambunctions, sweet Aiden gets left out of pictures! Here his is with cousin Kylar. Aiden has the sweetest personality and is the snuggliest little baby I have ever held. He smiles all. the. time.
This picture is of the cousins we had for Christmas this year. Our quiver is full! We do look forward to Ryan Craig being in the photo next year!

These are my girls plus one. Jess's roommate Lyndsey was with us for our Christmas this year. One of the best things about college is all the girls we get to adopt. They are modeling the neck warmers I knit for them for Christmas.

Here is a picture of me and Chuck and my brother and my sisterchick/sister-in-law.

And this is the ornament I made for my girls this year. I apologize for the poor picture. I need a new camera so bad. We all loved these sweet ornaments. They were easy peasy to make. I bought plastic balls and put some fake snow in the bottom. I cut some twigs from the bushes outside and placed a couple in each ball. Then I took a tweezer and pushed a small little cardinal into each ball with some hot glue to sit on the twig. Voila'! Very simple and very pretty.

I have the day off today so I am off to get things done. My sewing room is calling me!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ahhhhh!! Saturday!!!

Hardly anything thrills me more than waking up on a Saturday morning, knowing the day is a blank slate - ready to be written all over with the colored chalk of my choice. Examining my choices, I choose something - no, that's not good enough, yes! -that is something I have been longing to do - I mentally make my list of choices and plan out the day.

I suppose if I were a stay-at-home wife/mom/grandmother, I wouldn't appreciate Saturdays so much.

Here is my list for today:

Reading my Bible in a year portion.

Sewing some soft flannel into little blankets for our much anticipated grandson - Ryan Craig.

Finishing the knitting of my Happily Every After Fingerless Mitts.

Taking Jess, my knitting buddy, to the fabric store to choose some buttons to finish her knitting projects.

Watching On Moonlight Bay - a netflix dvd that has been sitting on the coffee table for 6 weeks. So glad there is no late fees with Netflix!

And I think that list will carry me through this day and bring me a measure of peace and fulfillment. These kind of days always rejuvenate me and make me, well, just happy. I guess the best word to use is - RENEWED.

Happy Saturday to you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

Welcome 2011! I have no idea what things you hold in store. I look at the fresh, blank pages of my new calendar and wonder what will be filled on them by this day next year. Life has taught me that there will most likely be some good things and some not-s0-good things. Today, I enter into your newness fearlessly, trusting the One who orders my days. I look forward to checking back here 365 days from now to see how far the Lord and I have come together. To wonder at His faithfulness and goodness. To see how he has RENEWED my heart.

Happy New Year!