Archives for category: Waiting

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In the Spring, my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful mandevilla plant. It’s been growing beautifully and is filling up the trellis behind it. But one day, I noticed that a vine had reached the top of the trellis. And there was nothing close for it to cling to. Day after day, it grew in the same direction…seemingly reaching for something to cling to. It grew and grew and was just floating in the air, apparently searching for a landing spot.

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So, me and my rescuing self decided that I’d go ahead and help that little plant find a support, something to cling to. I gently took the tender shoot and led it back to the trellis. I thought it was no big deal and that the vine would go on growing, and twist and twirl itself around the trellis.  I was wrong.

Within a few days, the shoot was turning brown, and soon, part of the vine fell off all together.  Where was the point of decay?  Seemed to be right where me and my well-meaning self moved that vine. I was pretty shocked because when I had moved it, it was done slowly and easily and seemed to place no stress whatsoever on the plant. But obviously it had. It wasn’t ready to cling. Not to what I had chosen. And me choosing what and where to cling to for that plant wasn’t helpful. It was damaging. It was forced…and the mandevilla plant would have no part of that. Instead of helping, I hurt it.

(Case in point. See the healthy shoot on the left?  It’s doing just fine without me. And the one on the right..far right kind of whitish looking shoot…it’s still recovering from my ‘helping’.)

So here’s the thing. We’re made to cling. We are. Like mandevilla vines searching for a trellis, we are made with hearts and minds and bodies that yearn for connection. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us stronger, wiser, and more productive. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us weaker, stupid-er,  and ill-equipped. And we, the cling-ers get to choose. But you don’t get to choose what another person clings to. Nope. They’ve gotta choose that for themselves.

As a mom, as a wife, as a friend, there have been so many times when I thought I knew what (or Who) might be best for my loved one to cling to. And no matter how well-intentioned my thoughts or desires were, interventions that force issues could be more damaging than helpful. ( Note: I so know interventions can help lay things on the table, and persuade, and bring things to light, but bottom line, a cling-er chooses what it clings or does not cling to.)    Kind of like with my mandevilla.

Like a mandevilla vine that is not yet ready to cling, sometimes folks need time on their own to decide when and to what to cling to. We can know something is so good and right and true and ‘gently bend’ their little shoots of a son or friend or husband toward the trellis of truth. But if that plant isn’t ready, it won’t cling. Might have to be floating in clouds of in between for awhile.  So often, well-meaning folks can ‘arrange’ (force) connections that aren’t healthy. Seems to me that timing is important.  It also seems to me that willingness is important.

So now, lesson learned, with regards to the mandevilla at least! There are three shoots flying in the wind above the trellis, and I’m not intervening. The mandevilla is on its own. I’m pretty sure it’ll find its way. And I’m believing that for some of those in my life as well. Gonna pray, encourage, and ensure some supports are available….and then wait. Am often amazed at how well things work out when I pray and get out of the way.  With mandevilla plants, and with people.

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Am believing there’s a Sovereign Hand of grace that knows a bit more and has more power than I do. For me. For you. For those we love.

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Blessings ~

Heather

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“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word…”

Psalm 119:25

autumnrainIn a little over a week, Autumn will officially become Winter. The leaves are leaving…a few are still hanging on, but most seem to be ending up in places like my sidewalk and yard and deck.  December has come and even though yesterday I was wearing flip flops, now I feel like I should be wearing a parka.  Seasons change, sometimes so quickly.

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Yes, things can change so quickly. I learned tonight that a woman who we used to go to church with has passed.  She was 69. I didn’t know her well at all, but what I did know was that every single time that I saw her, she made a point to smile  a welcoming smile and make my family and I feel invited.  She loved well. That was obvious.  And I’m sure that those who knew her will have a void, an empty space in their lives as the reality of her passing takes hold.  Her love and inviting spirit just filled people up to the brim.  She has left a legacy behind that is so real, but her passing definitely does leave a void.

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Sometimes voids are noticed right away and we can directly attach them to a specific occurrence or event, rather than one that has gradually been built over time.   These voids are the ones that cause our stomachs to rumble, hearts to beat a little faster, voices to scream, and tears to fall. These are the voids that emerge so quickly that we feel as though or worlds have immediately changed. Death. Divorce. Financial Loss. The list goes on and on.  Like a violent wind that sends  leaves flying and branches crashing down, these voids come in like a storm.

But sometimes voids go unnoticed and grow over time. Sometimes voids, those gut-level voids, go unnoticed. Like a slow seep, they gradually become bigger and bigger until we turn around one day and wonder why we’re feeling such a huge sense of emptiness.  The gradual voids of little disappointments, loss, and struggles, add up and chip away at our core, leaving space.  They are kind of like the hollow spaces and gaps underneath the ground that become sink holes later on. Often the source of enormous sink holes that swallow up everything in their path go unnoticed under the surface for a long time, and no one even knows they are there. Sometimes voids are like that.

Either way, voids are voids.  They just are.  And here’s a thought.  Better to have a void, than to have a filler that temporarily fills the space, but ends up creating a bigger void in the long run.

As the Fall turns to winter, the spaces between the trees becomes more visible.

silentsunday2  The voids created by leaves fallen are easily seen.  We know that the leaves were  once there, and that they will come again. We can remember the beauty of the emerging lime shades of Spring, deep greens of Summer, and the multicolored hues of Autumn.  But in this season, they are but a memory, or visible only in the browns that crunch under our feet.

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That gradual process  of beautiful colors which began in the Fall comes to an end until the trees are bare,with naked branches in the cold of winter.journey

It would be a ridiculous thought for someone to try to somehow dress up the barren branches with leaves.  I mean, we know that Spring will come, right?  And with Spring, will come the little teeny, tiny lime green sprouts. grow.jpg

And we know with totally certainty that the naked, bare and grey trees of winter are just in the natural order of things, right?  They are just one season of many. So of course, we wouldn’t try to fill those gaps, those voids, those spaces and empty places with something that was just a mere filler, a counterfeit, artificial filler that wouldn’t last, would we?

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Of course not.

But then again, maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what we do when we rush the order of things.  Maybe sometimes the voids in our lives are there for a reason….for a season. And if we try to cover them up or fill them in or pretend that somehow they are not supposed to be there and rush to fill the empty space, maybe we’re really missing out on the true beauty of the space between.  Maybe the space between can sometimes tell us a little something.  Maybe the ache, the longing can help us take some steps to change things up a bit in our lives.  Maybe voids kind of help us get us back to basics of what needs to be in that space in the first place.  They are an indicator of sorts.

Life is full, full, full of so much beauty.  But on the flip side, life is filled with so much loss. What we do to fill the aches, the voids in our lives during those times of life is like the rudder of the ship of our lives…it leads us. Forward?  In Circles?  Backward?  All of the above?  Yeah, our responses to voids leads us. Somewhere.the-ride-home

Jesus had 4o days in the desert.  Void of food. Void of interactions. Void of any benefits. It was  a time of prayer, resolve. He knew that His ministry was about to begin and that much would be required of Him.  Everything.  He was tempted at that time but would not give in to any counterfeit.  Satan tried.  Here’s bread.  Nope.  Here’s kingdoms. Nope.  Jesus was fully aware that anything filling up the empty space that was not of God would merely be a temporary fix that would only leave much greater voids later on. Jesus knew the value of letting God  use the void to draw Him in a closer relationship to Him.

So, no, we would never attempt to attach leaves to a barren tree. Never. That’s stupid. We know that Spring will come.  But how often in my life I’ve tried to put temporary fillers and fixes in that only make the void more apparent.   Voids that might just last for a season can become a way  of life, when filled with things that only create bigger vacuums. Diversions can all be a temporary fix to a need, but like the rudder on a ship, they lead me.  How often I’ve forgotten that sometimes things happen for a reason,…for a season.  Even if I don’t understand reasons why, I can know that things last for a time.

And another thought.  During those seasons of need, of void, …I’ve been learning in recent years, that a lot of things that happen just can’t or won’t be explained.  Oh people can try to say this and that and offer explanations, but sometimes questions of “Why?” just go unanswered. They just do.  And a whole lot of wasted time and energy can be wrapped up in trying to find an answer to the question why, when on this side of Heaven, a lot of answers just won’t be found or understood.  Lots of things are beyond our comprehension for sure, so like Elisabeth Elliot so often said, “In acceptance lies peace.”

Acceptance of seasons…that there are some things we can’t control, and acceptance of seasons…that some things just take time…is freeing. It’s saying that we don’t have to be it all. We don’t have to be the blooming tree in the season of winter because it’s a season. We can be right where we are and not have to look to the left or right feeling as though we gotta be in a different season. And we don’t have to put in fillers because we know the real deal is so much more valuable and fillers only create more voids.  And when there’s acceptance of where we are, maybe we have the eyes to see the beauty that IS, rather than the voids and what ISN’T.

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There’s beauty in every season when we have the eyes to see it.  Just a matter of accepting where we are and allowing God to fill the voids in His time.  Funny how needs can draw us to Him.  “His strength is made perfect in my weakness…”  Love that. Because it is.  And here’s an awesome visual.  Light.  Light that fills the spaces, gaps and voids.  FLOODS them, warms them, fills them.  I think that’s what the Lord wants to do in our lives. Fill us up to be poured out.  With light.  With Life.  With Love. With Truth. With Him. Maybe the ache, the season where there are voids and empty spaces are just merely opportunities to be filled to the brim with the power that only comes from Him.

I don’t know what ‘season’ you’re in. Maybe it’s Spring and things are full and awesome and beautiful. Or maybe  it’s summer and steady and fun and sweet.  Maybe it’s winter of Fall or a combination of all of it. But whatever the season, am hoping we can encourage each other with hope, accepting where we are, encouraging us to trust God with where He has us, and have faith to keep pressing on to know Him more no matter what lies behind, or what lies ahead.  Just a few thoughts as the season turns to Winter here and I choose to be thankful for what is…photo 4

…and trust that …Spring…Spring is coming.

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Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  (You knew it was coming ,didn’t ya?So long winded…)  Just a little reminder that there are people walking through all sorts of seasons around us.  Maybe you have a ‘winter’ who needs a reminder that’s Spring is coming. Or maybe you’re in winter and need to give grace and vicariously enjoy the beauty experienced by the friend who’s in the midst of a ‘spring’.  Whatever the season, am thinking there’s grace that can connect us regardless and only add depth to the season we’re in as we remember past seasons, look forward to future seasons, and accept and make the most of the minute that we’re in… ❤

” So, let us know. Let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn. And He will come, He will come to us like the rain. Like the Spring Rain, watering the earth.”

Hosea 6:3

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the LORD.”Psalm 27:14

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“For behold, the winter is past. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.…”

Song of Solomon 2:11

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Sometimes there are seasons of waiting.  Waiting when you see no signs of what you’re waiting for, but choosing to hope that it’s coming and that things are going on below the surface.

Here’s a visual for ya–This bench won’t be empty for long…and the field will be full of cleat-clad baseball players giving it all they’ve got.  But it’s still now.  Quiet. But the players are all out there…somewhere, and when the time is right, they’ll convene and practice and their friends and families will rally and shout and cheer them to victories and comfort them in defeat.  Yes, they are out there, but there’s a little more waiting, a little more orchestration of events that need to occur before it’s time….baseball season.

I’ve seen it time and time again, how we wait and wait and wonder if God is hearing our prayers…let alone answering.  But then, after a period of time, it’s as though all variables come together and series of events are interwoven to bring about the perfect scenario of answered prayer that is bigger than what we can imagine.  He’s kind of like that master mind coach working out all the details when all the spectators see is a snow-covered empty field. (We rarely see the things a coach does…Assembling a team, getting uniforms, try outs, setting up a schedule, getting coaches, refs, etc. etc. etc., but we trust that these things will get done.)   Yes, things are going on that we can’t see for sure.  Funny how we think we should see things that are just not ours to see or understand.

I love the verse that says, “For the vision awaits the appointed time, it hastens toward the end and it will not fail. Though it linger, wait for it.  It will certainly come and not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3   God knows the what and how of answered prayer.  It is ours to will to wait…to rest, to know that though all we may see is a snow-covered field, that in time, the snow will melt, the people will convene and what God ordains best will happen.  Just a few rambling thoughts on the season of waiting for this weekly photo challenge.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/seasons/

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Dormant for now, but, then again, Winter is just a season.

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The Lesson of the Shamrocks continues for me. Awhile back, I blogged about these precious plants that my grandmother had given to me years ago. To make a long story short, I thought they had died, and was so very thankful to realize that they hadn’t died. When they emerged from the soil, they were healthier, fuller, and more beautiful than ever.

Well, that was then. A few weeks ago, we had a new saga with the Shamrocks. The story included a 14 year old boy with a dog on a leash. They were on the deck and the boy (who will remain nameless to protect the not so innocent) gets distracted and wants to go inside, attaches leash to table with pot of shamrocks on it. Dog tries to run to follow boy inside, and moves the table quickly which results in the ceramic pot of shamrocks flying through the air only to land with a loud crash on the cement deck. Voila, soil and shamrocks spilled out in a mix of broken pottery and bulbs.

The mom (me) comes out and sees the whole deal and recognizes the fact that often 14 year old boys do not totally engage the brain and gives him grace and a free pass on this one. But the shamrocks are all over the place. And even though it’s just a plant, it again brings up the sense of nostalgia and loss for the grandmother who had given me these shamrocks so many years ago.

I don’t cry over spilled milk or dropped pots. I’ve so learned by experience that gets you nowhere. So,I gathered up the bulbs, and proceeded to plant them in not one, but three pots. Now, only a few short weeks later, the bulbs are quickly blooming and filling the pots, and I’ll have more shamrocks to share, and more to enjoy. The pots that were mostly dirt with scattered shamrocks are now filling in with beautiful blooms of deep purple. Instead of being cramped into one pot, the beauty is being multiplied.

So here’s the thing. I was so enjoying the fullness of those shamrocks that they probably would’ve stayed in the same pot for years unless they had been disrupted. Sometimes the very things that we see as disruptions in our lives end up being the opportunities for growth. Sometimes we miss out because we like the status quo more than the unfinished product that takes time, patience, and process to come to fruition. We’d rather have the seemingly behaved child who is momentarily pacified than go through the painstaking process of training that brings up conflict for a moment, but peace for the long haul.Or we’d rather have a diet that takes the momentary disciplines away, but breeds only short term results.

I don’t like looking at a pot of straggly plants as much as I do a full pot of shamrocks. But good things take time. They just do. And often the “quick fix” is just a temporary short cut that breeds mediocre results. Sometimes the inconvenient ugliness of process leads to beauty that far exceeds the quick result. Just some more ramblings that I need to take to heart. Discipline and growth often walk hand in hand, and vision allows both to flourish. But the road to results is full of imperfect, unlocked potential that is not yet visible to the human eye. Vision that motivates and inspires is not the kind that is seen with the eyes, but felt with the heart, and formed in the crucible of will, determination and patience.

It’s the kind of vision that God must have with us. I’m so thankful He is willing to take time with this “unfinished, at times broken product”, and patiently draw me near and grow me up as His child. He sees us where we are, but encourages, refines, sculpts, and disciplines us to move to where and who we were created to be. We may feel like a broken pot, spilled all over the ground, but God sees the potential, the beauty in the midst. It is but ours to surrender to the process…and bloom.

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this…He who began a good work in you will be faithful to bring it to completion…”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/daily-prompt-broken/

Shamrocks bloom in sun

Over a decade ago, I was given a precious gift from my “Grannie”. She was always sending fun little care packages. It started when I was in college, and continued even after I became a mom until the year before she passed away. The packages were always such a bright spot in my day, and the gifts were always simple reminders of the beauty that she was thinking of me, and wanted to tangibly let me know it! Macadamia nuts were one of my favorites that she would send. Oh, and holiday napkins. She sent fun things that I most likely wouldn’t buy on my own. Things that were a splurge, but would be used as well.Her care packages were always such a treat!

One March, I received a gift of Shamrocks from Grannie. She celebrated all holidays with enthusiasm, but seemed to especially enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. She had actually sent me Shamrocks before, but this time, they were of the deep purple variety. They were beautiful, just beautiful. Through the years, I have repotted these shamrocks, planted them outside, and shared them with friends and family. My grandmother passed away years ago, but the shamrocks have so flourished through the years. Just the sight of them has been an encouragement.

About six weeks ago, I went to the deck and was watering my plants. When I came to the Shamrocks, the plants looked pathetic. They were drying out. I watered them. Later that week, the pot was merely a pot of soil. The beautiful Shamrocks were gone.

Now, I know enough about plants to know that they go through periods of dormancy. Sometimes,like us, they just need a break. Bulbs need to lay dormant for awhile and rest, and take in the nutrients of the soil. They go unseen, buried deep in the soil. Even though I knew that these bulbs were most likely just in that period, part of me just really worried that somehow, these precious Shamrocks that my grandmother had given me nearly 15 years ago, would not return. Maybe this time, they just wouldn’t bounce back. I felt a sense of loss over more than the plant, for they were such a reminder of a great lady and the wonderful encouragement that her words, actions, and life gave to me.

Well, weeks went by, and there were no signs of growth. There was nothing I could do to make the process go any faster. It was just about waiting. I watered them, left them in the sun. And waited.

But…one day, a tiny shamrock broke through the soil. And then there was another, and another. And now, the plant is full and more beautiful than it has been in years! The leaves are large and deep purple. The white flowers are also larger than I ever remember them being. It is beautiful and fills the entire pot that only a few weeks ago seemed a barren pot of soil.

So here’s the thing. Waiting is tough. It can be really tough because no matter how much we know, there are always the unknowns. No matter how much we can control, there are always things that we can’t. I can water and put the plants in the sun, but I can’t control much more than that. I can fertilize the plant and ‘Google’ info and read up on all the procedures of growing plants, but bottom line, I can’t make a bulb start to sprout. The potential growth in a bulb, the ‘magic’ of something growing, that’s outside of my domain of control.

The beauty of the Shamrock story? That even when it appeared that nothing was happening, lots was going on! Beyond my scope of vision, deep in the soil, those bulbs were resting, taking in what they needed, and then slowly reaching toward the surface of the soil. If I had tried to dig them up during that time, I would have merely slowed the process. Things take time. I don’t want to hinder that process because of my doubts and insecurities. I want to wait with confidence knowing that God’s timing is perfect. I need to do what I can to control what I can, and leave the rest with God.

Some things are easier to wait for than others. Waiting in line at the store or in traffic on the highway is one thing. Waiting for a loved one’s medical prognosis, a financial reprieve, or a family member struggles to ease up are a whole different story. We come face to face with the fact that there are things we just can’t control. That’s when those disciplines of prayer and patience get real. But overall, knowing that there’s grace for the moment can make all the difference in the world. Grace not for the week, not for the day, but for this moment, right here, right now. It’s like spiritual manna…we don’t need to store up bread for the week when we’re given our daily portion. We can’t store up grace for the future…but we can tap in to God’s grace to live, thrive, and trust in this minute.

And maybe, as we focus on the “now” and live in this minute, we’ll be like those bulbs, in the dark, resting. We’ll be taking in what we need during the waiting, rejuvenated and prepared for what’s to come. And in due time, we’ll break the surface of the dark soil, and see the growth that resulted from the dormant period, (which really wasn’t so “dormant” after all!) We’ll break free from the darkness of the earth and bask in the light of seeing the results that were once unseen. God has a way of creating beautiful results from not such beautiful circumstances! It’s all about what we do with them in the process, in the waiting. And then, like my beautiful pot of Shamrocks, we might just be a display more beautiful than ever before.

P.S. A note on those shamrocks. We now rent out the house where I had once planted the shamrocks. Most of my perennials have died. But recently I went to the house because our renters had moved out. The home had not been well cared for nor the yard. Weeds had overtaken the flower beds. But when I looked closely, the only remnant of my garden was….2 tiny purple shamrocks in a sea of green weeds. They had survived there as well! Seeing these two shamrocks encouraged me so much. There were only two of them, but I’ll do what I can to see them flourishing again! Who knows, maybe there are some shamrocks just under the surface of the soil waiting to break through.

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/daily-prompt-waiting/

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