How to Clear out a Jungle

How did it get that bad?

What used to be my neat little patch of land that I call my garden turned into a forest of overgrown weeds in just a few months. Well, to be honest, more like a jungle than anything else.

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After a few sighs of discouragement, I grab my trusty little spade and go to work on my knees, telling myself that I could stop after I clear a couple of feet.

The earth is wet, and most of the huge weeds are suprisingly easy to pull. I get into a rhythm of scraping and pulling, filling my bucket with weeds and emptying it, letting my mind dwell on the beautiful, tasty tomatoes that the heat of summer would bring. I discover more blooms on my strawberry plants and smile.

I am starting to sweat, and my back feels the labor, so I straighten up to work out a few kinks–sometimes I am reminded that I am no longer in my twenties.

My work looks good. I now can see the rich dirt that the jungle was hiding. I plan where I am going to plant the beans this year, and the peppers, and the spaghetti squash.

I just keep working, one inch at a time. The buckets of weeds get emptied regularly, and the minutes turn into a couple of hours. It’s all good–I can see the end in sight. I hit the last little corner against the fence.

When I am done, I look with satisfaction at the little plot of land. The jungle is gone, and it looks like a garden ready to recieve the seedlings once more.

I carefully step out and put the spade and shovel away. I smell like wet dirt, and my muddy shoes weigh at least a ton each. My fingernails are all black.1913381_228387_36d8a03c7c_p

Once home, I pull my heavy shoes out and scrub my hands. It takes some time, because the dirt embedded itself deep inside of my finger nails, but I enjoy the process. And just as the weeds got dealt with one at a time, so the dirt washes away, one speck at a time.

And I realize that no matter how big or small the task is, the process is the same–I have to start some place, and just keep moving until it’s done.

With one drop of water. One weed pulled. One ounce lost. One thought uprooted. One thought planted. One moment in time.

And I know that one is just a drop in the bucket. One is so not enough. But I also know that there is no bucket full of anything without all the ones. They are the very ones that make it happen.

It’s the tiny ones that created my garden jungle, and the little ones that recreated my garden. It’s the ones that made my fingernails black, and the ones that washed the dirt away.

I dry my clean hands, and I am struck as I look at all the fibers that make up the towel. Yep, it’s the ones.

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We are a small group of women who help each other own our lives with joy. You are welcome to join us here.

Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings,Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW, Tell His Story

 

 

Cease Striving

Overwhelmed with sadness, I get off the phone. My friend’s pain leaves a bitter, horrible taste in my heart. Why is life so hard for her? Who is to blame? How can I help?

“Cease striving,” I hear Him whisper to my heart. “I am God.”

Frustrated, I stepped off the scale. I was so good last week, and yet the number on the scale is higher than the last time. What will it take for it to go down? Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?

“Cease striving,” I hear Him whisper to my heart. “I am God.”

Exasperated with my too-full schedule, I find myself yelling at a child dear to me. His eyes welled up with big tears and I felt like scum. Why did I do that? How can I be so heartless?

“Cease striving,” I hear Him whisper to my heart. “I am God.”

Three times in one day! And I, of all people, should know that He is God. He rescued me when I was a hopeless case. He adopted me into His family, clothed me with His righteousness, called me His and keeps reminding me how much He loves me.

“I know that You are God, ” I tell Him. “But how am I supposed to cease striving? Life is hard. Stuff needs to be done.  Problems need to be fixed. I’ve got to…”

The whisper comes once more, “Cease striving. I am God.”

No discourse. No explanation.

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What am I supposed to do with that? How does one cease striving? How does one quiet one’s mind and heart enough to cease striving?

“Lord, show me how.”

As I worship the next few days, He fills me with the awareness of how awesome He is. And then, just like that, without any kind of work, I find myself letting go.

Since God is so awesome, He’ll take care of my friend, my weight, my stress level.

Great peace wraps itself around me. No change in the situations, but the undeniable knowledge that God is.

A week goes by and He shows me how to pray for, and speak to my sad friend.

A few days later, He shows me exactly what to do about my weight, and how to go about it. It’s been dropping ever since.

And as far as my stress, I simply don’t know where it went.

He is God indeed.

 

The Worth of Life

 

My dear friend Jackie’s mom passed away this week at 96 years young. Sweet Marion’s  life was filled of loving, and cooking, and serving, and writing. Full of paying attention to the people around her. Bursting with love notes left and right.

And then, God took her hand and He gently walked her home.

Just as real and simple as that.

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And then, there is sweet Leighton, this little one who caught my heart quite unexpectantly. Her life is ebbing away while she is still with us, yet each moment so powerfully reminds me to live right in this very second. And then this one. And then this one. And the worth of her short life, it will never be measured in years, but in miniscule moments that forever change the hearts of those who love her.

 

And then, there is beautiful Sarabeth, who never saw the sunshine, nor felt the touch of her Momma’s hand, and yet fulfilled her purpose to absolute beautiful perfection.

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In God’s economy, life is measured quite differently than in ours. With God, we lose in order to win, we let go to gain, we give instead of hoarding, we die in order to love well, we suffer in order to rejoice.

In God’s economy, life is measured in how much it reveals our beautiful Creator. Whether in eighty years, or five, or weeks, or days, or seconds.

In God’s economy, the harvest is never denied. True life begets life.

Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, Gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays, Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW

From Quote to Life

“One only understands the things that one tames,” the fox says to the little prince.

He goes on to explain that “taming” means taking whatever time we need to get to know someone,  to become comfortable with someone, to be really present with each other and to be willing to suffer because we let ourselves love and be loved.

When you tame someone, you take care of them. You would die for them.

And the one you “tame,” he may be as ordinary as thousands of other people on the face of the earth, but because he has become unique to you, there is no one like him in your eyes. He is absolutely priceless to you.

After the Little Princes tames the fox, the fox gifts him with this secret: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

My sweet daughter-in-law embroided this quote for me, and it sits in a frame on my mantle. I dust it weekly, and I smile every time my eyes come across it. See, I grew up thinking that The Little Prince was the best book in the entire world because it was my dad’s favorite.

Oh, how I wish I could speak to him about it now that I have lived a few years, now that I have tamed a few friends.

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In the process of taming each other, my husband and I wove ourselves into each other’s hearts.

And the beauty of taming, it got deeper and deeper as the years went from one to five to ten to twenty-five to thirty-seven and counting. In the process of taming each other, we created a forever circle of safety where the uglies and the gorgeous live, in the midst of which we breathe, and dance, and cry, and grow.

To the young passerbys, we more than likely seem like a plain older couple–no extra-ordinary markings to make us noticeable. They are busy starting the process of taming, these young ones; they read books, they quote quotes, they are figuring it out.

But the beauty of taming, it takes shape in the living. In the dirty socks on the floor and the ice cream sundays in the middle of the night. In the awe of gloriously fulfilled promises and the wild fires of testing. In the places so tight that one can hardly breathe and the wide expanses of deep joy. In the agony of understanding the depth of forgiveness and the relief of surrendered love. In the giggles of births and the mourning of deaths.

My husband and I, we marvel at the delightful fruit crafted thought that most ordinary day-in and day-out taming.

My husband and I, we no longer look with our eyes; indeed, we truly see with the heart. And that is the best.

My husband and I, we moved from quote to life.

 

We are a group of women who help each other “own” our money and time God’s way. Feel free to join us!

Sometimes, I link up with any of these: Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday, WFMW, Tell His Story, Testimony Tuesday, ThreeWords Wednesday

 

Gather all your Trusts

“What percentage of your heart’s trust belongs to the Lord?” she asked. The question was genuine, with no jugment of me.

“Well, one hundred percent of course!” was my initial reaction. “I can’t even do anything right without Him.”

But my heart started to wonder over the next few days. Because even though I am completely sold out to Jesus, the Lord and King of every part of me, there are indeed many other places my heart relies on.

Like my ability to think.

And the discipline I practice daily that allows me to finish tasks.

And the fact that the sun rises and sets every day and I can plan accordingly.

And gravity.

The horror of this realization was most unsettling. Do I really have scattered trusts and God only gets a piece of the pie? Like 43 percent or  17 or 82?

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“Oh, that You and You alone would be my trust, oh God!” I prayed earnestly.

More light came over the new few hours.

Even though I do rely on my ability to think, self-discipline, the daily rhythm of the sun, gravity and whatever else I rely on, my heart acknowledges taht God is and forever remains the author of it all; I revel in that revelation. It is the wind beneath my wings.

And as I stretch my wings with the understanding He placed in me, I glorify Him by  moving in His gifts. By resting in His gifts.

He graciously gave me a brain and put me in charge of it.

He purposefully trained me in many things, made me proficient in them and holds me accountable for them.

He placed me on His earth and expects me to use its rules and manage it.

Do I have scattered trusts? No I do not. They are all gathered in one basket, and God, He gets all the glory.

 

We are a group of women who help each other stay accountable as we learn to #ownourlives. You are welcomed to join us here.

Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW, Tell His Story

 

A Closet is No Place to Live

Some people have amazing closets, I know. But still, a closet is no place to live.

I listened intently to the podcast in which a man described his most traumatic journey of “coming out of the closet” as far as what his sexual indentity felt like to him. He suffered much through the process, learned to build bridges with the people from his past, and navigated through some very uncharted territories.

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I don’t have any sexual identity issues, so one might think I couldn’t identify. But the podcast stroke a cord deep within my heart. Because there are many, many things that I have come out of the closet about.

Like the first time I admitted to someone that I sucked my thumb late into adulthood. And when I acknowledged to my family that I had become a born-again Christian and it changed everything about the way they viewed me. And the first time I told someone that my dad had been an alcoholic and my mom did not have the best mothering skills. Or when I confessed that I had food issues.

It feels naked and scary.

You tip-toe around a brand new uncomfortable terrain, and you wonder whether you will be ostrocized. Rejected. Judged. Whether “they” will forever look at you differently. So you try to build a bridge, but you are not sure it will hold you, or them, or that they even would want to meet you in the middle.

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It takes courage. Resilience. Knowing why it matters to you.

And the thing that matters, it’s being recognized. Aknowledged. Accepted in the bare naked truth of who you are.

The courage, it is in showing up as you are and letting the chips fall where they may. It is letting go of all the make-up and dare to be real.

But the courage, it is unavoidable. Because at some point, you realize that love has to do with accepting yourself first in all of your uglies and beauties. And daring to be.

And when you break through the lie, you realize that every one else has closets as well. But you find yourself more ready to welcome them out, and love them as they are.

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We are a small group of women who help each other own our lives with joy. You are welcome to join us here.

Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings,Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW, Tell His Story

 

My Forever Quirkiness

“Oh yes, here she goes again…. asking questions!”

“That’s Barbara all right!”

They all laughed, me included.

Being laughed at stung a bit, but it was all in good humor; my friend was just stating facts. And he was oh-so-right.

The truth is, you can’t be around me very long without being subjected to a question or two…

I can’t remember a time when I did not love to ask questions. And I love just as much to listen to the answers. Every time, it reaffirms to me how marvelously different we all are, and each answer reveals a bit of how that person’s brain works. This is fascinating to me.

 

Over the years, I have developed the art of asking better questions. Questions that make one think, questions that challenge the status-quo, questions that uncover flawed thinking, beauty, racism, kindness, bigotry, or a heart of gold. Questions that make people think and grow and feel alive and thankful. Questions whose answers could potentially change the course of someone’s life.

And my heart is thrilled, excited, on fire when I do. I feel full of purpose.

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As I challenged a life coaching client with a difficult question, she answered, “I don’t know.” But I knew and she knew that that was a cheap answer. So I pushed a bit more. Eventually, a true answer emerged.

And at that moment, I saw a flicker of understanding in her eyes.

And at that moment, revelation hit me like a ton of bricks: God is using my quirkiness!

Unbeknowst to me, I built my entire business on this characteristic written deep down in my DNA.

This quirkiness of mine, it  has somehow become my professional trademark, the very thing that brings my daily bread, the very thing that makes me thrilled to go to work every single day.

All I can do is marvel at the ways of my Creator.

So,… what is YOUR quirkiness, and how is it contributing to YOUR life?

 

We are a group of women who help each other stay accountable as we learn to #ownourlives. You are welcomed to join us here.

Sometimes, I link up with some of these beautiful blogs: Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW, Tell His Story

 

 

 

The Story of Love

It takes a while, but we discover how we fit, and we become effortless, magical.

With each layer exposed, a bit more beauty emerges. With each secret shared, there is a quiet shift to deeper preciousness.

In that sacred space of commitment, words enable hearts to soar, and backs bent under the pressure of physical labor. The hands bring about passion, yet scrub greasy pans. We make room for minds to dream while breathing in the routine of everyday life.

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The ordinary and the extraordinarty, they all braid together.

And when the uglies come to the surface, the commitment locks us safely in.

It’s like a dance, you know.

It’s like an ever evolving painting.

The plain rhythm of the habitual becomes the canvas, and we purpose varied colors and shapes. It takes on a life of its own, this painting of who we become.

And even though we tremble and bleed profusely. its strength keeps our footing steady when deadly explosions blow right within the circle of who we are.

This mystery of love all wrapped up in the plain, it makes us stunningly beautiful.

This choice to believe in each other, it makes us powerful.

This commitment, it makes us more like Him.

 

 

“Delight Yourself in the Lord,” he said.

For years I have been saying that our feelings don’t just appear out of thin air. They are the direct result of your thoughts. If you think hateful, dark thoughts about someone, chances are you won’t “feel” like loving that person very much. If you think happy, sunny, productive thoughts about your upcoming day, you more than likely will “feel” happy and productive, even if issues arise.

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Further more, I am convinced that after those thoughts produce feelings, your feelings will move you to action.  If you don’t “feel” like loving that person very much, you more than likely aren’t going to get out of your way to be kind to them. If you “feel” happy and productive, you probably will handle productive tasks and enjoy the process.

But I haven’t had too many people agreeing with me at a soul-level.

“Yeah, sure,” they say, and nothing changes. Mental assent doesn’t yield much fruit.

“Delight yourself in the Lord,” I heard the preacher say on the podcast that I was listening to on my way home the other day. It had been a rough day, and I couldn’t wait to just get my PJs on, sip on a glass of wine and forget all about how unsensitive people are, how nasty this place is, and how tired I was of it all.

“Delight yourself in the Lord,” he said.

“Yeah, sure,” I answered mentally.  Mental assent doesn’t yield much fruit.

I got home and into my cozy PJs, poured myself a glass of wine and sat down.

“Delight yourself in the Lord,” I heard Him whisper.

“Yes, I know… Easier said than done,” I answered.

And deep within my spirit, I heard my own voice explaining for the hundredth time that feelings are the result of our thoughts. Any once can feel on purpose by choosing my thoughts.

Including feeling rotten about one’s day. Or delighting oneself in the Lord.

I started to laugh outloud at God’s sense of humor–I love it when God proves me right and wrong all within the same moment.

I got up off of my chair and purposefully chose to be involved with how amazing He is, this God of mine who knows how to speak to my heart. And my feelings, they just followed.

“Delight yourself in the Lord,” He said.

Mental assent doesn’t yield much fruit.  If we however agree at a soul and heart level, it changes us from the inside out .

 

We are a small group of women who help each other own our lives with joy. You are welcome to join us here.

Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home,SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home,Play Dates with God, Monday Musings,Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday. Wildcrafting Wednesdays, WFMW, Tell His Story

 

 

 

 

Ten Things I know to be True

I have changed so much over the years.

At one point, I was absolutely convinced of one thing, and years later, I wondered how I could have ever have thought that way.

Thoughts evolve, opinions mature, experiences soften us.

But some things just are.

Absolute. Never changing.

And on those things, I can rest my soul.

In no particular order:

1. God is.

He always is. He is before this world ever was, and He is long after it will be dissolved. God is. Oh, what an amazing comfort exists in this revelation.

2. Love always makes a way.

Love may not always look the same, but it somehow  always makes a way.

3. Innocent laughter is good for the soul. 

Not the sarcastic ones, nor those that come  at the expense of others, but simple, real, gut honest laughter is one of the best medicines I know.

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4. Words are powerful. 

Powerful to kill, powerful to heal, powerful to tear down and powerful to lift up. Every time I have been freed from a situation, it was with words first.

5. All that is alive must grow.

Life is never ever stagnant. It is forever characterized by growth. If we do not grow, we are slowly dying.

6. Listening is most often the key in disagreements. 

We percieve things differently, and when we practice listening intently, we begin to understand the other person, and the argument loses its steam.

7. Kindness conquers hatred.

Even when not recieved,  for the giver’s heart is safe and protected.

8. Humans are made for community.

Temporary solitude may be healthy and needed at times, but we are wired for being with each other.

 

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9. The harvest will not be denied.

All of life truly starts with seeds, and seeds produce after their own kind. Good or bad, whatever is sown will be harvested. Just wait for it!

10 Our attitude determines our experience.

In every way that matters, we choose our experience by the attitude with which we show up in life. The worst situation is not a sentence for despair, and the best circumstances do not determine joy.

We are a group of women who help each other “own” our money and time God’s way. Feel free to join us!

Sometimes, I link up with any of these: Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday,Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, gratituesday,Titus2Tuesdays,Extraordinay,Lessons from Ivy,Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday,Finding Joy,WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word, Reclaiming a Redeemed Life, Still Saturday, WFMW, Tell His Story, Testimony Tuesday, ThreeWords Wednesday