When the Roses Bloom

It’s a new morning, with new mercies, new joys, and new hope. I see the first pop of color on the trellis covered in climbing roses.

Each new day, gifts arrive.

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A Lesson from the Wise on Happiness

My 85 year old friend and mentor, the one who invites me to the senior citizen lunch (and I go), and who gives me books by A.W. Tozer, and who calls to read the Bible to me and to make sure I’m doing well and spreading the fragrance of Christ, telephones with an astonishing statement.

I answer because I’ve already missed her call three times, but I was busy eating pie at the Memorial Day event in Boalsburg, PA. Now it’s evening. I know she has something she needs to say to me.

She declares this:

“I know why people are so unhappy. They are unhappy because they won’t let God have His way with them.”

She lowers her voice with the holiness of the statement. And then she actually giggles with the simplicity and truth of it.

I love older people. I just love them.

When my 85 year old mentor speaks, I listen. I take heed. I apply.

I immediately retreat into myself and ask the Holy Spirit where I’m not allowing God to have His way. And all morning, I consider that a great source of unhappiness in our lives does indeed come when we resist God, when we don’t surrender to His complete control. This has been true in my own life.

It’s a lesson for the ages from the aged, and I’m so thankful it came when it did.

 

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Remember the Treasures of Darkness

For whatever reason, I found myself in the worst mood ever a few days ago. These dark moments always send me into a tailspin that depression will return, that I’ll never get better, and that I’ll forever be lost to myself. These feelings prompted the book Guarded by Christ because I needed to remember the critical data that I am always in the fortress of God’s care and guarded by peace, power, righteousness, hope, and the crucified life, no matter what my feelings say about it.

I went on a walk as evening fell all around me. As it grew darker and darker and the storm clouds gathered, two beautiful things happened:

First, I saw lightning bugs, one of the greatest pleasures of summer. The sharp realization came: you can only see them in darkness. As I watched the flashes of light above the green moss in the dark woods, I knew that God sends gifts you only receive in dark times.

And then, the sky opened and the rain fell. Far from home and worried about the thunder, I wished for someone to rescue me. At that moment, my husband intersected my path in our minivan as he returned from an errand. I slid into the dry car and wondered about the timing. Being rescued from the storm felt so wonderful and so supernatural, and I wouldn’t have known this rescue had I not first been in the storm.

There’s a gift here.There’s a rescue coming.

These things we only know in darkness.

Amen.

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When You’re Left With You

I always feel a twinge of sadness on this weekend because I miss the days of swimming at the pool with little girls, running through the sprinkler, and eating sweet popsicles. It’s so different with teenagers.

Although we still have wonderful family times, I find myself more alone in the house. Teens move outward, and they bounce from fun activity and then to work and school and this vibrant life without you–just as it should be. They land back home like hummingbirds darting to the feeder, and I marvel at their beauty. Then, they flit off.

I wait to catch those iridescent wings. If I’m still enough and wait, they always return home.

I’m thankful for the strange, quiet house. I’m thankful that Jesus is here, just like He was when the house was strange with a sleeping newborn. I’m left with myself, my husband, and Jesus, and it’s just as it should be this weekend.

And just as I rediscovered myself in each new stage–marriage, small children, and teens–I’ll find out who I am here, too.

 

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Improving or Enjoying?

Today I discover this quote by author E.B. White:

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

My husband and I laugh with understanding. It’s the weekend dilemma: does he work in the yard or enjoy the yard? Do I work to make things better today, or is it a day to enjoy what’s right here? Maybe we fall into one of the two tendencies: we are improvers or enjoyers. I tend towards improvement, so all day, I consider enjoying. 

To plan the evening, I consider a walk around the neighborhood–not to improve anything, but to enjoy the lawns and gardens.

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And Another Thing: It’s Not Forever

I glean a final lesson from the Mother Robin: her work will indeed end. It’s not forever. I watch her gentle movements on her nest, and I let myself think of the burden, the boredom, and even the discomfort of certain seasons of life, especially the mothering of young children.

Then I remember that it’s so short. These eggs will hatch in 2 days since she laid them 10 days ago.

Then, she enters a season of nearly constant feeding. She will make over 100 feeding trips to that nest! I imagine the never-ending work of it. I think of all the family meals I prepare. But then, I know it’s not never-ending; her babies will fledge in 13 days. One of mine will fledge in 2 years.

The stages end. Nothing stays the same. Each season carries its own wonder and meaning.

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The Lady’s Slippers Have Bloomed in the Forest

I wander the woods in search of the blooming Lady’s Slipper Orchids, and today I find them. If you remember, eight years ago, I learned what it meant to live in community right where I am when I first discovered them. You can read the post here. 

Today, I learn a little about the Native American folklore surrounding this orchid: a maiden ran barefoot through the forest in search of medicine for her tribe, but she collapsed on the way with frozen, swollen feet. In the place where she died, the forest bloomed with Lady’s Slipper Orchids to honor her bravery. The Native Americans also used the roots of this orchid as medicine.

I love thinking about the story told of these forest orchids. I love all that they represent and all the beauty they hold deep in the shaded woods.

I also love this: It’s nearly impossible to see the orchids. I cannot explain it. They seem invisible until you spot just one, and then you can train your eye to see them all. They blend in–which seems so strange because of the pink color–but they do somehow dissolve against the background of the forest. My neighbor and I suddenly spotted just one, and then we realized all at once that we were standing in the midst of twenty or so. It’s an enchanted find!

 

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Nest Work

I watch the Mother Robin sit. All day long, she sits. I find myself deeply admiring her. I find myself respecting this work of sitting on a nest.

I observe how she shields her eggs from the heat of the sun, the driving rain, and from the chill of evening. She uses her body to incubate. As a verb, I realize that incubate essentially means to keep at a suitable temperature for development.

The Mother Robin lives now in a season of incubation–of keeping the environment at a suitable temperature for growing her chicks.

I consider my own season of incubating teens.

I consider the incubation of my spiritual life.

I consider how I create the right conditions for the incubating of creativity.

If I took my cues from the robin, I would know that to incubate for the growth of anything (my children, my marriage, my work, my relationship with Jesus) requires practicing stillness, sensing the atmosphere, making subtle adjustments so nothing falls destructively out of the nest, and surrendering other activities that seem rather bird-like (flying, soaring, singing, perching).

I take the season for what it is. I practice stillness, sensing, subtlety, and surrender.

And one day, everything hatches.

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Wise Advice About Jealousy

I ask my wise mentor for her advice about teenage jealousy. After all, it took me four decades until I made peace with my own life and found the deep contentment of knowing I’m already seated at the table my heart longs for. While teaching the truth of our seat at the table soothes so much of teen comparison, I realize that I need something practical and immediate.

I present the problem to my mentor, and she says, “Have your daughter tell God what she really wants. Maybe the jealousy about certain things is a God-given dream in her heart about something she doesn’t yet have that perhaps God intends for her.”

I had never thought of it this way.

I tell my daughter to think about that thing she’s most jealous of and to ask God for that very thing because perhaps it’s a dream in her heart! But then, something marvelous happens: my daughter says, “I actually don’t want [that thing.]I don’t know what my problem is!”

It was a fun conversation because I said we might write down everything we think we want that other people have that we’re jealous of. And by the time I went to get the pen, she realized that she never wanted those things any way. It’s like the spell was broken.

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