So You Might Bless

Last night, I pulled some of those oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer, placed them to defrost in a bowl with fresh basil and olive oil, and then paired them with some hearty bread and mozzarella for an appetizer for some friends.

It made me so happy to share the harvest from the garden. It was the kind of living-with-flair happiness that made me stop and ask, like I have for the past half-decade, “What’s going on here that’s so right and beautiful?” The feeling of joy reminded me of the day I took all my raspberries and made raspberry sorbet for the Italian Mama.

I bounded down the street with that sorbet in hand, so happy to share the harvest. I delivered more the next week from the bounty. I kept making sorbet for others, and that year, I had enough for myself and half the neighborhood.

I remember the beautiful passage in the Bible about a harvest. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11: He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Notice: You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.

God enriches our lives so we might bless others from this abundance. God blesses so we then bless others.
The more that comes in, the more I give away. And we always have more than we need.
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Finding the Right Vein

I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, and the nurse enters to draw my blood to check my thyroid.  She’s been practicing phlebotomy for over 10 years (I never knew the name for it!).  A skilled phlebotomist, she tells me, trains one finger to locate the perfect vein. 

“How do you find it?” I ask.

Venipuncture–the process of gaining intravenous access–isn’t easy. 

“I’ve taught this one finger to feel the bounce of the vein against it when I tap it.  When I feel that bounce, I know.” 

I sit back, close my eyes, and let her tap my arm.  Then, she pierces swiftly and confidently; she’s gained access, and within a few seconds, she’s finished.

A phlebotomist gains access to that hidden life force, that secret current, by instructing herself to feel what locations allow access to it.  I want to gain access to life-giving places, places where God’s Spirit leads, places of rich and deep flowing.  I want to pierce life swiftly and confidently and enter in, straight to the heart of God.  Maybe, when I’m not accessing abundant life, it’s because I’m hitting the wrong vein. 

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Do you ever find you can’t access abundant life because you’re hitting the wrong vein?

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What Your Underwear Drawer Can Show You

I run down the stairs with my purse swinging wildly behind my back and cry out, “I have to take the girls shopping.  They need new socks and underwear. I can’t find one thing for them to wear! “

“Are you sure they need more?” my dear husband asks in response. 

“Yes,” I nod my head. “Definitely.” 

We return home, and in order to stack all of our new stuff neatly in their drawers, it occurs to me to refold the little one’s underwear drawer because it’s a tangled vine of swirling tights, wads of underwear, and socks without partners. You can’t see a thing in there. 

This is why I went shopping. 

I dump the whole drawer out, isolate items, and begin the slow process of refolding.

Long Lost Pink Mitten

That underwear drawer had 30 panties (that’s thirty!), 10 pairs of socks, 4 leotards, 6 tights, and 1 missing mitten. Did I mention how many underwear?  Didn’t I?  Thirty.

I learned my lesson.

We have stuff to spare.  The mess just created an illusion that I was missing something.  Had I paused and assessed the truth of the circumstances, I once again would have found abundance where I perceived scarcity.  

What theme is this God continues to show me?  Living with flair means seeing God’s abundance. It might mean I sort through my life–isolate the blessings–and see all I have.  Once I’m organized, I find I have more than I need. 

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The Fence Around Your Life

I’m driving with a friend who flew all the way from the West Coast to see me for the weekend.  This friend knows how to get to the point, say the right thing, and change your reality.  5 years ago, she looked me in the eye during one of my darkest days and said, “God is not against you.  God is for you.” 

That conversation was a turning point for me. 

So I’m showing her around my little town.  I’m thinking of the glamorous lives people live in California, and I start apologizing that there’s not more to do.  I point to the tiny excuse for a mall and say, “There’s no retail here.”

She says, “Less choice means it’s easier.  You don’t have to make so many decisions all day.” 

Her commentary reminds me of the story I once heard about the school children who were let out into a school yard with a fence that surrounded the large play area.  With the fence in place, children enjoyed the freedom to explore, play in safety, and run free.  One day, a researcher took the fence down.  Without the fence in place, the children huddled together near the school building.  

What looked like freedom actually paralyzed them. They didn’t play.  They didn’t run free. They needed the boundary–that fence–to experience freedom and safety.

When I look at the narrow parameters of my life (small town wife, mother, part-time this and that), I feel tempted to rage against that fence.  I think there’s more out there.  As my friend and I drove all over town (it didn’t take long), celebrating the good things that God had accomplished in our lives, I found myself saying, “the more is right here.”  The smaller my life becomes, the more abundant it seems. 

That’s why it says in Psalm 16 that “the boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places.”  The boundaries I want to fight are the very ones that keep me in the right place to experience God and all that’s in store here. 

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What You Can Do with a Macy’s Bag

The big red Macy’s bag (the one somebody gave me) almost disappeared into the closet.  My husband dug it out a few days ago and used it to store our massive harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash. 

“What are we going to do with all these vegetables?”

That giant Macy’s bag has been sitting next to the kitchen counter for several days.  We’ve already made vegetable deliveries to neighbors, and still the end of season harvest overflows into our kitchen.  We could freeze them, can them, or give them to the local Food Bank to feed families in need.  

All morning, I’ve been looking at my bright red Macy’s bag filled, not with glamorous clothing, but with vibrant veggies.

Over a decade ago, I traded in my Macy’s style for a completely different life.  Working for a non-profit organization and teaching part time, for minimal pay, means our family shops and lives differently.  We’re more thrift store than Macy’s, more backyard garden than Wegman’s or Whole Foods. 

But we’ve never had so much extra.  We left an extravagant life, and we’ve ironically never had more

When I wonder what I’m missing, I laugh when I look at my Macy’s bag.  I give more away than I take in. It seems miraculous on some days. God promises abundance when we follow him.  He isn’t kidding.  I’m so thankful for that today. I’m so thankful for that upside down truth: the more generous we are, the more comes back to us. 

Living with flair means I fill my Macy’s bag with things to give away because I have so much.  

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