Author: hearmorefromgod

Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious

 

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Are you frozen?

shoulder sling

My shoulder is frozen.

For the third time.

And it’s not even cold outside!

The muscles have frozen the joint in place so that it requires rehabilitation for months before I can even do a simple thing like reach to the side. It is maddening, because I know that my arm was created to work with a range of motions, flexibility, and strength. And it used to accomplish those things painlessly all the time. Now, it simply won’t.

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It is so frustrating when you have to do Physical Therapy for a part of your body that no longer functions the way you know it should. Even the simplest tasks become a challenge.

 

Part of me is angry for taking for granted all the times I moved and my body performed effortlessly, without giving a thought of appreciation for this gift.

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Part of me is frustrated that my body operates so slowly now, and movement is accompanied by pain. I get so discouraged and impatient with it because it won’t do the things I know it should.

 

And it makes me wonder how God must feel when we don’t do the things He knows we can do. He has prepared work for us here on earth. And He has given each of us the necessary gifts, talents, experiences, training, and personality to join Him in this work. And yet, we hold back.

We don’t do it. Many times, we’re simply afraid that we can’t. Frozen. But God knows we can because it’s what He created us for!

As frustrated as I am with my shoulder, how much more frustrated is God with me? And yet, He is not a person with the shortcomings and limitations of a man. He is so much more patient than I am. And He is so much more powerful than I am. And He is able to provide the healing that overcomes freezing!

What has God prepared you to do? How can you see Him at work in your life? What gifts, talents, experiences and training can you use for His purpose?  Don’t be afraid. Let God work His Physical Therapy through you and show you what can be accomplished!

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen me.  Show me how to use what You’ve given me to accomplish all You have for me.  Empower me to overcome whatever fear has frozen me.

Heal me!

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If a Rose needs support – do I – Part 2

rosetrellisI’ve discovered putting a mature rose bush on a trellis can be a thorny and painful process.

Especially when the branches are heavy with blossoms and when the winding arms have already started down a path contrary to the direction I want them to go.

It’s the same with me. I’m the rose bush.

When I’ve been going my own way for a while, it takes more effort to change direction. To be willing to bend to the new way – even if I know it will benefit me in the long run.

 

 

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My trellis is the Bible. It’s the firm, never changing, God-inspired framework that guides and supports my life.

Often I know what I should do in a situation because the Bible is clear on its teaching. And I’m familiar with what it says. In these cases I don’t even have to think about my decisions.

Those instances seem natural to me. There’s comfort and support in the sturdiness of the framework that backs me. It helps bear my weight . And I lean on its structure as I grow.

Other times I come upon a verse that says something new to me and I feel a conviction to make a change in my attitude or behavior that causes some discomfort as I align myself to the structure of the trellis. That particular scripture becomes a sticking point for me that lifts me up, giving me guidance and new direction.

20180623_161520And then sometimes, there is a greater challenge. Without much thought, I allow myself to stray in a direction that feels freeing at first. It may be that other people are going that way and I think it would be fun.

But further down the path I see it leading me in a direction that takes me away from what I know is good. And I have to make a hard choice.

Sometimes it means making a U-turn and I have to bend over backwards to come back into alignment. That’s uncomfortable as I pull away from the people and activity I had joined. Uncomfortable because I want people to like me. And I want to be known as reliable and trustworthy, not fickle and inconsistent.

On rare occasions though, a U-turn isn’t possible. I simply have to cut off the branch entirely and discard the pieces that went in the wrong direction. This brings fear and embarrassment. Fear of what other people will think of me. They may question my choice, tease me, call me names, or talk badly about me behind my back. It hurts when I feel rejected.

Embarrassing because I made a bad choice and got myself into something I didn’t anticipate and couldn’t handle. These occasions are sticky, thorny situations. They are painful.

Painful because of the rejection I feel, but also a loss. I grieve the time and effort and resources wasted. And I grieve the loss of the relationships and doing something I enjoyed, at least for a while.

Fastening even one branch of a rogue rose bush to a trellis can be a painful chore. Its thorns scratch and grab at my sleeves, causing little snags or tears in the fabric. Sometimes they scratch and grab at me, leaving the skin on my arms full of small, bloody reminders of my efforts.

In my own life, redirection or pruning can cause just as much soreness and pain.

climbing-roses-1431123_640I haven’t finished the rose bush project yet. But as with my own life, we’re both works in progress. Thankfully my Gardener has a beautiful plan for me. With His endless patience and boundless grace He won’t give up on me no matter the scratches.

I love gardening.

And I love my Gardener!

 

I LOVE gardening!

 

 

I LOVE gardening!

I love being able to work in an area and look back and see a difference in where I’ve been.

It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Like I’ve made a difference.

I think it goes back to one of my earliest memories of my grandmother. This was back in the day before sprinkler systems. Heck – maybe even before sprinklers!

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When I was just able to walk, we would spend time every evening watering her flowerbeds. She would let me hold the hose and direct the water. I dragged the hose from one bed to another and watched the brown dirt around the flowers turn a deep dark black with the moisture, then make little rivulets from one plant to the next.

I even liked it when the water splashed on the concrete sidewalk, making a darkened trail where one could follow my movements from one place to another. Or when we walked through it and left visible footprints.

 

So many things I do on a daily basis are not like that at all. They don’t give me the satisfaction of literally seeing where I’ve been and how I’ve impacted my environment.

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For example, the laundry is never ending. Even if I wash every single item of clothing I own, at the end of the day, when I take off what I’m wearing, there’s laundry in the basket again.

 

I plan menus, shop for food, prepare and cook meals and present them to my family. Even if I’ve outdone myself with healthy, nutritious, great–tasting dinners, everyone’s hungry in a few hours and the pressure is on again.

money-256312_640Doing my taxes feels somewhat like an accomplishment. After sifting through bills, receipts, calendars and notes and placing the carefully calculated numbers in their appropriate spaces, I can sign the form and mail it in. But even while hopefully awaiting the refund check, I am organizing and sorting bills and receipts for the next year’s return.

Parenting has both worrisome and rewarding moments, but the job is truly never done. And you can’t even be the one to take credit when something goes right. There are so many influences on children, it’s hard to know all that might have had an impact on them.

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But when I have spent a day or even just an hour in the yard, I can wipe my brow and look back on a row that has been cleared of weeds and know that I had an impact.

Or stand tall, hands on my hips and see a newly planted bed of flowers and know that my effort has brought beauty to a previously barren place.

I LOVE gardening!

 

If a Rose needs support – do I?

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I bought a trellis for my rose bush this weekend.

It’s for its own good.

It gives stability for the plant’s long, gangly branches that hang down to the ground. And it provides a framework to display its beauty.

But does the rose understand what I’m doing for it?

Does it resent being tied to a frame – limiting its growth to one direction or one plane? Is it grateful for the support? The stability it offers? Will it feel different from the other plants that don’t get that kind of support?

 

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This project caused me to think about my life and how I am like a rose bush

I want to have the freedom to go in any direction I choose or feel led. But do I need a trellis?  And would that look like for me?

 

 

book-1936547_640For me, the Bible gives me guidance, structure, some might say wisdom. But do I see it as wisdom and embrace it willingly? Always? Or sometimes, do I see it as restriction, leading me in a limited path that seemingly restricts my freedom?

 

I would love to say I embrace it all the time. But I have fought it, tried to get around it, occasionally wondered what my life would be had I taken a different path.

I hope, with the support of the trellis, my rose bush will stand tall, displaying its beauty and fragrance for all to enjoy.

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And I hope my life will be the same. That God will be my gardener. And that I will embrace His Word to direct, guide, encourage, support and strengthen me whenever and however I need it. So that I will stand tall, displaying His honor and His grace for all to see.