Reaping a Harvest

Peas

The peas are finished.  An abundant bounty was provided and reaped.

I spent a lot of time preparing the soil, selecting my seeds, planting with care, pruning seedlings, pulling weeds and praying over what I hoped would grow. My wish was to provide healthy, organic veggies to my family and feed my interest in gardening.

At the first picking, I was like a child who had gotten into a jumbo bag of chocolate candies. Really! That’s how excited I was to get out there and pluck the pods from the vines! I was so pleased with how the peas had grown. As I was picking, I’d pop open some of the pods and taste the freshness contained within. Some of the peas were nestled in their pod in a perfect row; others were odd-shaped or off-kilter when cracked open. Some should have stayed on the vine a little longer (my yearning to pluck them got the best of me), but their sweetness was still divine.

There were a few more pickings that followed, but the bounty was less each time. My excitement seemed to lessen with each subsequent picking.

The time came to decide if I thought I’d get any more peas. There were a few flowers and even fewer flower buds, so I left the vines in place with the hopes of getting one more small crop. I did, but it was only enough for one family dinner.

Once I knew the supply was exhausted for the season, it was time to pull the vines. Have you ever grown peas before? There are an abundance of vines. Each dried pea planted is a vine grown. The vines are leafy and full. Pulling the vines led to the discovery of a tiny weed and bug menagerie living at the soil level.

With each handful of vines I pulled, I’d say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the abundance provided. (When I’m in the garden, I talk to myself, and I talk to the Lord a lot.) Cleaning out the vines, weeding the new space, turning over the soil and preparing it for the next planting was not as fun and exciting as it was when I did it for the first planting, but it was rewarding since I knew the bounty would grow with some care and nurturing.

Gardening doesn’t always turn out successfully with a single crop or even within a single season, but, overall, an educated gardener should be able to expect a satisfying crop over the span of seasons.

Life doesn’t always turn out exactly how we’d like it to in a day, a month or a year, but an invested believer can trust in that which is promised.

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The Difference a Year Can Make

Calendar

A few years ago, my life was turned upside down due to choices a loved one had made. The choices were made over a long period of time, but there came a day when the consequences of those choices began to clearly unfold. It was devastating.

The choices made and the consequences which unfolded took yet another turn a year ago. What a difference a year can make. It’s a day in which I can look back and recognize as one of the worst of my life, yet also one of the best, too. It’s a day that became an end and a day that became a beginning. Dreams and hopes were shattered, yet dreams and hopes were also born that day.

Choices have consequences and consequences lead to more choices. The choices my loved one made had far-reaching consequences, but MY OWN choices that ensued had the power to lead to even further-reaching consequences.

We can not control the choices of another person. In marriage, in parenting, in business relationships, in friendships, and in life, we all face choices. We are quick to judge and quick to offer opinions about the choices others make, yet we have a hard time realizing that the follow-up choices WE make in response to another’s choices we didn’t make may have a longer-lasting effect.

When I look at where I am today and I compare it to where I was a year ago, so many feelings surface. Life today is not the way I’d desire it to be, nor was it a year ago. Many of the shattered dreams and hopes still lie in pieces — shards that pierce, shards that cut to the core. Despite having to step carefully through what has been lost, I’ve developed a sense of determination and hope that has transformed much of the hurt into blessings. The path forward has been about the choices I’ve made and the hope I’ve found by weighing my own choices — those I have needed to make and those which have been made in response to choices others have made.

I can’t wave a magic wand and have the kind of life I’ve dreamed about…even that life would bring challenges and choices of its own! What I can do, though, is realize that despite the impact others might have on me, I am the one who can impact my future more than anyone else.

We were created by our God to do life together, and He created each of us with our own free will. Others can influence our free will for the positive or for the negative, but where we allow our will to lead is completely up to us. I don’t usually advocate thinking about Self first, but when it comes to the choices we make, Self is the one who can choose to follow the God-honoring path.

Although there are still hurts and struggles, there are also hopes and dreams. He’s given me free will. I’m working on using my free will to make choices that focus on the positive as much as I can.

What a difference a year can make.

Finding Hope in the Intention

Intention.Rings

He makes the bed.

There’s a history here and an even bigger story, but what I want to share with you is one of the shards I spoke of in an earlier post (Finding Hope in Shattered Dreams).

He makes the bed.

A few years ago and simply out of the blue, my husband began making our bed each morning. No announcements, no asks, no conversations. He just began making the bed.

He’s a very early riser. He’s up hours before the dawn. Me? Not so much. I love to watch a sunrise, but it is rare for me to see one.

Shortly after I’m out of bed and stumbling to the kitchen for a cup of coffee with my matted hair and slippers, he heads back into the bedroom to make the bed.

When he first started doing this, I interpreted it as an “I want the bed made, so I’m going to do it after you FINALLY get yourself out of it” kind of thing. He never propped himself up to me, nor did he boast about making the bed after doing it. In fact, he never said anything about it. This was just MY interpretation of his actions. After a few weeks of him making it daily, I caught him in the act one day and decided to join him. While helping, I asked him about it.

His answer floored me.

“I do it to honor you, to honor our marriage and to honor our marriage bed. Making the bed is a reminder to me about the kind of godly husband I want to be and need to be.”

My judgments stopped cold at that moment. His answer gave me a glimmer of hope during a very rough period in our marriage.

Jump forward to today:  He’s still an early riser; I’m still not. He still makes the bed; I — prayerfully and in hopes surrendered — allow him to do so.

There are days I will make the bed, and there are days we’ll do it together. Most days, though, he makes the bed.

I’ve never checked in with him about why he still does so, but I’m hoping that if I were to ask, his answer would still be the same.

Monday’s Musings — Reflections

Two facesI’ve been spending a lot of time looking back at my life lately. Writing has the effect of causing one to reflect. In the process of looking back, I’ve also spent some quality time looking forward.

Many of my reflections — both back and forward — have put a smile on my face. The blessings I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and the hopes of what may be to come give me a sense of happiness.

Then, there’s the other side. The agonizing pain, the should-have-never-happened regrets, the scars in my soul that may never heal (on this side of Heaven), the darkness and uncertainty of what may be ahead…these reflections give me a sense of gloom.

You have the same reflections, don’t you? …reflections back and reflections forward which create feelings of happiness and feelings of sadness?

When I look back at my life, I want to be able to say, “Wow! I am SO glad that I ________________.”

I want to fill in that blank with activities, experiences, opportunities and people who made me laugh, made me feel accomplished, allowed me to grow, opened up my horizons, challenged me in a way that I’d never be the same, fulfilled me with a sense of passion and love, and put me on a path of deep satisfaction and joy.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who looks back at my life and says, “Wow. I really wish that I would have ________________.” I don’t want to focus upon what I’ve lost, what I’ve missed, what I’ve given up, the sadness and heartache, and the road never taken.

The bottom line is:  We’ll all be able to fill in the blanks for both statements. That’s life.

I want my bottom line to be a go-to instinct to jump at the first one.

I want my nature to be nurtured by the blessings I’ve experienced, not the regrets of my life.

I want to BE the kind of person who smiles, not the kind of person who shows indifference.

Not only all of that, but I want to be the kind of person who smiles and shines in such a way that when others look, they see one whose heart beats with joy…and they know from Whom that joy comes.

Finding Hope in Shattered Dreams

Shattered Dreams - Copy

Fantasies and fairy tales are not everyday occurrences. We all know this; the reality of our lives confirms this.

So, how do we find hope when our dreams have been shattered, crushed, or devastated?

I don’t know.

I’m being perfectly honest with you. I just don’t know. A lot of writers want to put out the perfect “do this,” or “rely on this” blog post or book to lead you to the cookie-cutter answers, but the reality of how one finds hope after dreams have been shattered does not come in a neat little package.

What works for one person may not work for another. What worked for me the last time it happened, may not work for me as I see it unfolding again.

Where is the hope?

One of the thought processes I’ve had to fall back upon has been reasoning that the Lord MUST have something better planned for me than what I’ve lost. Before you jump all over me for that reasoning, please let me remind you that my writings on this site are about my journey of surrendering my hopes with the expectation that doing so and doing so unto the Lord will lead me to something better.

Despite the losses, I’ve been fortunate enough to also experience blessings — ones which I might have never seen had my original dream come true. In hindsight, I’ve seen a glimmer of why His answer sometimes seems to be “No.” I just refuse to believe that the “No” He speaks ends with just His “No.” I’ve chosen to believe that His answer is really, “No, I have something better planned for you.”

James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Jesus, Himself, tells us to remain in Him with His words remaining in us, and when we do, whatever we wish will be done for us. (paraphrase of John 15:7)

When our dreams are shattered and it looks as though our plans and hopes — even the fully God-honoring ones — may not come true, how do we reconcile that with verses like these?

We just do. These verses and the ones that surround them and are cross-referenced from them, talk with us deeply about lining up our desires with His will. Our dreams are ours, but “thy will be done” in our lives is about letting go of our hopes in order to make room for His hopes in our life. Just as a good, earthly father wants what is best for his child, our Heavenly Father wants the same for us — His children. He doesn’t fall short, but to grant us our dreams just because we’ve dreamed them, might do just that. We might miss the something-better He has planned for us.

I think a lot of us do miss it. We miss it because of our grief, our anger, our hurt feelings, our inability to forgive, the ease of falling back upon the familiar ways, the focus upon Self and not upon others, and even the vengeance we might hope to sow. The something-better that He might wish to lay out before us might not happen, because we are too tied up and invested in the shattered dream that is now past. The choices we make today are not ones that follow the God-honoring path He had us upon. The choices we make today may just shatter more dreams if we aren’t cautious.

This isn’t what has to happen, though. We can look through the shards of shattered dreams and find pieces in there that look like blessings. These pieces might resemble something of the past, a chunk of the present, or a hope for the future. In the whole messy pile of shards, we can still find joy. Happiness might come from a dream-come-true opportunity, but joy comes from Him. He is our vine; we are His branch (John 15:5). His joy is carried through the vine and dispersed to the branches who seek to thrive and prosper on His Word, His ways, and His will.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,     

neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,     

so are my ways higher than your ways     

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~Isaiah 55:8-9

How thankful are we that His ways are well beyond our ways? So, too, must His dreams be greater than our dreams! Despite the hurt and the devastation, we can rely on Him.