Some secrets are worth sharing

luna mothHey!

Some secrets are worth sharing.  I’ve been keeping one relatively quiet until recently.  No reason.  The only possible one is I’ve been a hermit and therefore, have not seen anyone.  I’ve been writing a bible study.  I’ve written several but I’ve never done a study for publication. This time is different.

I’ve taught bible study at church for almost 20 years.  This fall, I decided not to teach and focus on writing.  Research came first and I did most of it during the spring and summer.  Unknowingly, my Sunday school class was the beneficiary of some of my research and study.  But my words and the actual writing and formatting started in September.

My pastor has been mentoring and encouraging me.  He says of my endless draft tweaking, ” you have to let it go at some point and trust God.”  I keep going in and out of writer’s block, writer’s frustration, writer’s depression, writer’s procrastination, and writer’s envy.  Of the last one, I kept seeing my thoughts on other writers’ pages or my ideas being implemented by another.  Pastor Steve says, “God uses many people with similar messages to get His purpose across.”  I’m believing that to be the case.

I made up a writing schedule complete with target dates.  Pie in the sky.  I didn’t hit my targets but the beauty of it is that I’m the one who set the schedule and I’m totally flexible to continue pushing at the current pace.  I’m hopeful for a January date but I’ve got to complete the draft.  The process and journey with God is far more important than an end date.

Spare writing moments with a busy family are a challenge.  Uninterrupted time a luxury.  That has been my greatest challenge.  I’ve been so thankful for my daughter to keep this blog afloat by writing a post here and there as well as cook meals to give me more time.  I’ll do my best to have a post or 2 each week but I’m not promising.  This season of my life is full and not all the juggled balls can stay up in the air.  I’m going out on a limb and asking you to be patient with the possibility of meaningless blog posts on the horizon in order to keep the site afloat.

I also ask for prayer for this study’s fruition.  I believe that God led me to this particular topic and has a purpose for it.  As the study continues to unfold, I’ll share more details.

Blessings,

Mimi

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV Bible

Tending the Garden,Tending the Soul

Hey!

I’ve done a little garden tending this week.  The birds were chirping, the wind whispered in the trees as I pulled up weeds, raked, and moved dirt around with my hands. I like this task of caring and tending to the garden.  My mind wanders and begins to soul tend, too.

fleabaneI found weeds blossoming. Pretty, but a nuisance.  I work diligently to keep them away.  Sometimes, poison is required.

I have weeds deep in my soul.  I fool myself into thinking they’re pretty.   As I yanked and pulled those weeds in my garden, the roots held firm into the ground while they broke easily at the base of the stem.  I know that I need a spade to get the remainders out.  Like those in my soul, I know they’re going to require some muscle to remove and if I don’t take care of them, they’ll once again produce and choke out the good I want.

With a little effort and nurturing, the blossoming begins.

clematis 2I removed debris and the suffocating weeds so the plant had the space to freely thrive and bloom.  I tilled at things buried deep inside as I puttered about the yard while persuading attributes of joy, hope, kindness and love to sow in their space within me to bloom like my garden: fresh, clean, and well-tended.

clematisHow does your garden grow?

Blessings,

Mimi

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11 NIV Bible

The First Signs

Hey!

Tiny nubs of green slowly appear heralding the arrival of the earth’s cycle to warmer times. The ascent of life, long laying dormant, is coaxed out of its slumber into light. The time for renewal has come.

forsythia bush

Spring’s arrival comes in the midst of turbulent weather: strong thunderstorms, erratic temperature changes that dramatically swing up and down and winds that can blow a house down.  These small sprigs of life blossom out of this difficulty, vibrant and brightly hued.  Delicate flowers born out of adversity; not the hardier variety of later days; those hot, humid days of summer.

This time of year is my favorite for nature watching.  I’m encouraged by the first glimpses of the earth waking up.  The evidence of hope revealing itself as the splendors of God are brought out of the dark and into the light. Nature rejoicing.

forsythia blossom

I’ve experienced the winter seasons of hardship, heartache, the numbing coldness of hurt, times of lifelessness when hope was only a figment.  Then, a tiny nub of possibility begins and I’m reinvigorated with the promise of rebirth and awakened to that promise of possibility to come once again.

What tiny nub is blooming in your life?

Blessings,

Mimi

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”  Romans 8:20,21 NIV Bible

Snow Days

Hey!

Do you know the phrase, “once in a blue moon“?  Happening only every two or three years, a blue moon is a full moon occurring twice in a month.  Snow in the South is about as common.  It’s rare and a treat.  When the news gives a prediction of snow in the forecast, we wait with eager anticipation, along with the giddy school children, hoping against hope that the snow will come.  We scurry to the grocery store preparing for a snowmageddon and buy every junk food delight that can be purchased.

Snow is an enigma.  We don’t know how to deal with it.  We don’t have snow plows, snow tires, snow shoes, snow shovels, or coats designed for cold weather.  Cars piled up, commutes that should’ve taken minutes took hours and in some areas, little children had to spend the night at school because they couldn’t get home.   Snow perplexes us and catches us off guard.

snow on log in woods

We only had a light dusting, maybe an inch /inch and a half.  For some of y’all, that amount hardly counts as spit as Southerners say but for us; it’s magical and FRIGID.  Snow never lasts long when it does fall.  In fact, the weather prediction is high 60’s for Saturday.

bench in snow

I’m not a fan of cold weather but I am a fan of snow.  I love watching the flakes come down.  I love the quietness and the stillness that begins to happen outside.  Nature seems to command attention by using the softest of whispers.  I watch in amazement knowing that each snowflake is unique and different; each testifying to the amazing, creative ability of God.

heart in snow

Snow days bless us with free days that are really unplanned holidays to be relished and treasured.  A day open to any possibility I can imagine or conceive: a true luxury and gift.  What have I done?   Very little : )

What do you do with your snow days?

Blessings,

Mimi

“Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”  Zechariah 2:13 NIV Bible

Christmas Tree 2013

Hey!

Curious what I decided to do with my ornaments I made “new” last week?  I used them to decorate a very special tree I planned this year.  If you’d like to see the post from last week about how to turn old ornaments into clear glass, look here.

This year, I decided to have a “blessing tree”.

christmas tree 2013 picEach ornament has a written blessing inside.  I added a little bit of salt to each ornament which is supposed to look a little like snow.  I’ve had everyone in the family write their blessings.

blessing ornament closeup picThis year, I went with an unconventional wrapping paper.  I thought the melon color was fun and I loved the pattern but what I really loved was the price tag: 89 cents a roll from Target.  The bows are made from left over tulle from my daughter’s wedding.  Now, if only, the cats will leave them alone …

presents pic I wanted this year to be focused more on things money can’t buy.  I think that’s why blessings came to mind.

closeup christmas tree 2013 pic The grand total for this year’s tree decorations and wrappings: Less than $20.  But, the blessing of the memories will be priceless.

Here’s the link to my tree from last year.

Are you almost ready for the holidays?

Blessings,

Mimi

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.”  Jeremiah 17:7,8a  NIV Bible

The Need for Thanksgiving

Hey!

Every year, merchants rush to fill their aisles with holiday trinkets hoping to persuade us as consumers to immediately leapfrog from Halloween into Christmas.  We enter the hustle and bustle to the ring of charity bells, sale circulars cramming our mailboxes and in-boxes and the pulsing beat of a countdown signaled on signs and newspapers everywhere.  Worry lines, fret faces and stress marks steadily begin to appear on our countenance heralding the birth of the holiday season.

We need Thanksgiving.

Some have taken drastic measures to try and control the onslaught.  Out come the holiday boxes, the tree for trimming and various ephemera after the last ‘trick or treat’ has been said and before the gobble of a turkey can be heard.  Their hope is avoidance to everything that would cause a seasonal nervous breakdown and consequently, be released to enjoy the festivities more. To an outsider’s view, they appear to have adopted the phrase,”if you can’t beat them, join them.”

We need Thanksgiving.

As holidays go, Thanksgiving is simple and rather dull in comparison to the other two.  No hoopla.  Children aren’t giddy with excitement staying up all hours of the night in anticipation of getting the wishbone.  But they will remember, long after they’ve forgotten the toy they had to have or the costume they wore when they were 10, the time shared around the Thanksgiving table and the feeling of their hearts and bellies overflowing with warmth and closeness of family.  They will recall their mother’s famous pie, their aunt’s out of this world casserole or their grandfather’s stories repeated over and over again.  They will remember the tangible expression of love.

We need Thanksgiving.

We need the pause before Grace comes.  A time to prepare our hearts and to begin our advent of remembrance and worship.  We need a time for shared communion with family and friends to give an account of God’s blessings and abundance in our lives.  Leap frogging over robs us of this gift.  Perhaps, we even have considered this holiday a nuisance, an inconvenience or maybe a drudgery to have to endure another day with our difficult company or the exhaustive preparation of the meal.  Thanksgiving is not just the pie, turkey and dressing but an opportunity for us to see God’s reflection in the faces of our loved ones as we recount His goodness to us throughout the year.

We need Thanksgiving.

This passing over Thanksgiving reflects how we sometimes approach God.  Takers by nature, we expect the abundance to pour from God often forgetting to thank the One from whom they came.  We bask in His blessings and thrive on the mountaintop of His goodness yet when we come to the in between times, the quiet times, we feel God is not there.  His working for us appears to be missing.  In these moments, we can find ourselves craving the Halloween and Christmas sugar highs of God.  Our journey with Him can’t be sustained on those moments alone. God wouldn’t allow it.  He knows the quiet, in between times are when we grow and thrive. He knows our very souls need the nourishment of pausing and giving thanks.

We need Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Mimi

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name;. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100 NIV Bible

Guest Post from Katie@CardiganWay

Hey!

This month, the focus on my online bible study ministry site has been gratitude. I was thrilled when my friend, Katie, who blogs regularly at Cardigan Way, agreed to share some thoughts on the subject.  Her writing exposes her sweet gracious spirit and I knew I wanted to share her thoughts, here, as well.

The strange thing about blogging, I’ve never met Katie in person but I feel I know her.  I talk about her to my family like I would about any of my friends.  I feel a kinship with her perhaps it’s a southern thing, since she is from the South, but I suspect it’s a sister in Christ thing.  Please check out her blog and show her some love.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshots

The Grace of Gratitude. Again.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I drove to school through the fog, the trees mostly bare, that in-between time when it’s not yet winter but the vibrant hues of fall leaves are now muted, beginning to disintegrate on the ground.  The beautiful landscape of North Carolina was itself muted, a hazier version of its fogless self.

bare trees

By the time I hit the pillow, exhausted, it was as if the muted colors of the early morning drive pervaded the entire day.  I felt like the hazier version of myself…or something like that.

I found myself feeling utterly inept at my new job when decision after decision seemed to be the wrong one.

My phone died.  I was disconnected.  And while that may seem a small thing, I should tell you that I am in the thick of the adoption process, and the mere buzz of my phone sends my heart into my throat.

And that was really the main thing, the uncertainty of adoption and the weight of it.  The question mark that lies between today and the day that walk in the front door of our home with a little one in our arms.

A muted day.

ivy on the tree

You should know that this is not new, that grace has met me time and time again in the act of thankfulness, in naming a gift.  It’s happened before...  And {often} in much harder spaces than what I needed yesterday.

See, when I first read Ann’s book , I began to list my gifts.  We lost twins and I stopped.  Stopped speaking to God really, much less thanking Him.  I found myself confused and indifferent, the other side of angry.  And I believe God was okay with that, waiting patiently for my return to Him.  Actually, that’s not true.

If I say I think He waited patiently, then I picture Him – in my mind’s eye – to be something like the parent whose six year old has obstinately refused to wear anything other than the hand painted nightshirt to school.  And this makes me imagine His waiting idly by, watching from the Heavens, smiling, strong enough not to check His watch, believing that soon enough, I’d realize the error of my ways.

But that’s not true.  I believe {know} He hoped with us.  And then, I believe He grieved with us.  Deeply.  Like the parent whose child cannot understand her mother and father’s love for her.

leaves on the drive

It happened again.  We lost two more babies and the next day, all I knew to do was to pull up Lamentations 3, that touchstone of God’s faithfulness, whether or not I was able to claim it quite yet.

But I took a baby step.  And made a deliberate choice to…at least…call His grace to mind.

And I began to count again.  Slowly, deliberately, not always easily.

I counted and I shared them.

And last summer, in a little under a year, I made it to No. 1000.  But it wasn’t without the choice to keep counting…and counting…

For I can look back and find in my list gift No. 365…I counted the gifts of new life in my womb.

And then for No. 390, a train ticket of grace {when the babies didn’t make it}.

Then I counted No. 674, which was the text that changed our lives.

And then No. 747: He gives peace.  That was the day the adoption fell through.

And I counted and counted…and when No. 1000 rolled around, I was stunned by grace, by the quote that so perfectly described the journey of my counting.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace, only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”  — Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies

I was in a very different place when I counted No. 1 than where I was when I reached No. 1000.  And it was Grace.

I’m still counting.

And you’d think I’d remember these miracles, wouldn’t you?  That I’d easily call to mind the amazing grace I’d already known in counting gifts and further, that it would dawn on me in the much less significant, daily little missteps.

Tiny {by comparison} frustrations.

Small, mindless annoyances.

And — okay.  The slightly larger ones of unknowns and questions.

But yesterday, I didn’t remember it {or at least I chose not to}.  So this morning, I flipped my brain back to No. 1000 and Anne Lamott and then decided to count those very things – the frustrations, annoyances, and questions – as gifts.  Because hard eucharisteo is never without grace.  And these things were really… hardly…medium-sized.

I felt inept in my job yesterday. 

So I counted. No. 1426: getting to serve teachers for a living.

My phone died right when I needed it.

 I counted No. 1427: forced quiet.

I ached to be on the other side of our adoption.

Again I counted. No. 1428: we are adopting again.

leaves on the ground

 So I think, my dear friends, that we should keep at it, to deliberately recall the waves of grace found within naming the gifts, including the winds, the small rains, and the storms.  It may be a baby step, tentative, doubtful, and feel like the most you can possibly do.  But count.  And then, bask in the grace that He brings.

What are you grateful for today?