Wednesday, February 28, 2018

a friend to fish with

living long distance from loved ones--friends and family--can be hard. more and more, i find myself missing those people for whom i care deeply.

with college kids out of state, parents 12 hours away, siblings scattered coast to coast, and friends dotted across the country, it sometimes makes my heart hurt.

then on a nothing-special rainy wednesday morning, my dear friend, diana, sends me this sweet picture out of the blue. and it makes me miss her and seeing our dynamic duo together---but it also makes me so thankful for how God has woven into my life so many wonderful people.

if you have people to miss, God's given you the most beautiful gift of relationship. He created us to be relational and rooted deeply with others. in the very beginning, He determined, "it is not good for man to be alone." - genesis 2:18

independent and autonomous as we might like to be at times, we aren't islands and were never intended for isolation. we were made in His image to bear His image and to be intricately involved with others---just like He is so intricately entangled wth us. yes, even in the messy parts. especially there. our earthly kinships can remind us of the relationship possible with our heavenly King.

dear ones, don't fail to invest in your relationships---near and far ... earthly and heavenly---we all need a friend to fish with.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

BLOOM even when you're [not] feeling planted

i know it's only february, but this past week has felt a lot like spring in georgia. makes me a little anxious for all these trees and plants beginning to bloom. i know a frost isn't quite outside the realm of possibility. so a little concerned, yes, but mostly i'm in a state of unbridled bliss. 

curse be the cold. i love spring. 

i love noticing the tiny buds on everything. i love how every day something new unfolds: the haze of lime and the hint of pink working their way into the drab fabric of winter brown and gray. honestly, sometimes i think something wrong with me: a middle-aged woman probably shouldn't be quite this smitten with a season. but, admittedly, i am. 

driving is downright dangerous during this time of year. last week, while chauffeuring connor to some teenage destination i scared the pants off my poor boy when i, unexpectedly, hit the breaks hard and shouted wildly for him to "LOOK AT THAT BRADFORD PEAR TREE BEGINNING TO BLOOM!"

after regaining his regular heartbeat, he was like, "MAAAHHM ... you CAN'T do THAT when you're driving."

but i was like, "son, i can't NOT do that when i see a bradford pear tree beginning to bloom."


anyway, today is sunday. and not having to drive anywhere this afternoon, i headed out to my backyard with the plan to address our vegetable garden i'd completely neglected since fall. i figured it was time to remove the leaves and other dead stuff i'd ignored in these past couple months of winter.

as i approached my forlorn, little garden, i noticed a few hyacinths already in bloom. last fall i had planted some bulbs with the purpose of cutting them. because, come spring, who doesn't go ga-ga over the smell of a fresh hyacinth. [if you haven't smelled one yet, you haven't lived. just saying].

standing before these few blooms springing from the rich garden soil i found buried on the outside of the garden was the bag full of more bulbs which i had failed to plant. i remembered thinking--last fall--wanting to save them for bella so she'd have the chance to participate in the fun of bulbs blooming. (i have these very grand ideas often). so i guess it was sometime last november when i abandoned the bag and then, of course, (grand idea or not) forgot all about it in my normal forgetful way. 

the leaves fell and the days grew cold and i never once again thought about that bag of hyacinth bulbs. 

until this rainy sunday afternoon at the end of february. 
and there, covered in leaves and pine straw, was the bag full of abandoned bulbs. not planted, but, nonetheless, blooming! BLOOMING!

these bulbs ...
they didn't get planted. 
they didn't get placed.
they were never gently situated in soil.

they were kind of forgotten.
kind of lost.
pretty much abandoned.
left out.


and, yet, they were doing their very darndest to bloom---right there on the outside of everything. 
and they were beautiful. 

and they made me think about how sometimes we, too, can bloom even when conditions aren't ideal. 

we've all heard the phrase, "bloom where you're planted." and i like that phrase. i'm sure i've even used it before in my writing and speaking. it offers a pleasant modicum of truth and, i suppose, some much needed encouragement. but i think in some ways it is a tad simplistic. 

maybe the bigger thing is to bloom even when you're NOT planted. 

because, let's face it, sometimes we don't feel like we are existing in ideal conditions. sometimes we don't feel like we're very rooted or even in the right place. 

sometimes we feel outside of something: left out or lost.
sometimes we feel not tethered or attached or anchored or very authentic ... 

maybe you're the high schooler who still doesn't feel connected to any group or any one thing. maybe you're the young professional uncertain in his first job. maybe you're the new mother who isn't sure how she went from deadlines to diapers. maybe you're the empty nester who isn't sure what to do next with everyone gone. maybe you're the older man questioning his day when he wakes to his very quiet house.

i don't know.

but i do know that even when we look like we are deeply rooted and perfectly planted, sometimes, we feel like we aren't. 

i have struggled with that feeling for years. i don't think anyone would necessarily know that about me. i look rooted; well-connected and well-established. i certainly am busy. 

but, truth is, sometimes it's easy to feel a little bit on the outside of life.

you're not alone.

maybe we all feel that way at times.

with moving away from family years ago and moving around a little in these past two decades there are moments when i'm not sure to which group or place exactly i belong. i am in this season of watching my kids grow up quickly and there are definitely days where i wonder what it is i am supposed to be doing. 

again, my guess is most of us struggle with these feelings.

and if you do, i'd like to encourage you to remember my bag of hyacinth bulbs. 
bloom.  wherever you are planted ... even if you aren't feeling completely planted. bloom.

oh friends, it's not about our FEELINGS, but about His FAITHFULNESS.

God has a plan and a purpose for our life. He knows exactly where we are and cares deeply for how we feel. so--teenager, young professional, new mother, empty nester, and well seasoned friend--go ahead and bloom!

"thanks be to God who  ... through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." ~ 2 corinthians 2:14

"be rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." ~ colossians 2:7