Go Gently …

She was audacious and impulsive. Not the reckless kind of wild you might imagine, but more the kind of just passionately seeking to live to her fullest and embrace every opportunity.
She saw margin as something that needed to be pushed, gently but insistently, as if life itself depended upon it.
She was determined and tenacious; steadfast and strong willed; purposeful and resolute,
yet kind and gentle; sensitive and generous; endearing and precious.
She was bold, adventurous and brave.
Hindrances were not struggles, but simply opportunities to press in, overcome or get creative.
She was so much in one tiny package and on this particular day, this tiny three year old of mine was pushing all my “non adventurous” mom buttons.
Yeah. Three. LOL

This girl has grown up into one amazing woman because all these character traits turned out to be wonderful strengths and leader qualities, but on this particular day, this particularly overwhelmed, stressed out Mama, thought this particularly beautiful 3 year old,
was maddening!

We had been out for an afternoon of errands and everywhere we went, Anna had to explore. She had to investigate and argue and sow her seeds of strong will. Grocery stores became endless possibilities of foods she wanted to try.
Office supply stores looked like creative art centers.
Shoe stores were wild explorations of style, demanding cowboy boots “53” times too big just because “Dey will fit me when me a big girl!”

The drive home was no better.
Her “pitch” began; not loud, not screaming, not a fit, but an earnest plea with the kind of whine that only 3 year old little girls know how to do.
You know that kind, don’t you Mama of baby girl toddlers… You know.
Answering every whine and pitch with replies of explanation, rationalization and argument, I tried to reason with a 3 year old.

That’s it. I’d had it!
I hit the brakes and pulled the van over.
Throwing it into park I looked in the rear view mirror and near tears, hollered “THAT’S IT Anna! I’ve had enough. I’ve asked you to behave all day!!” Immediately her little arms threw up in the air and looking to the ceiling,
she replied with equal passion, “ME JUST DON’T KNOW WHO HAAAAAAVE IS!!!!”
And with that, this precious being of mine, burst into tears herself…evidently, she’d “had it” too.
Stunned, I couldn’t even reply.
OH my gosh.
She didn’t’ know who “HAVE” was.
In my own frustration, I had been asking her to “BE- HAVE”, this unknown person, all day and she didn’t know how! She didn’t know that “person” named Have. She couldn’t understand how I’d expect her to be that when she had no idea who that was!

I can laugh now 21 years later. LOL But then? I wasn’t laughing. I was stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated and legit – I can remember it was during a time when so much was going on in my marriage, our life, our finances… and more.
I can hear my words all day long.
“Anna, put that notebook back. Would you just BE- HAVE.”
“Anna! NO! You can’t have that bag of grapes! BE- HAVE!”
“Anna, I know you love them, but they won’t fit you until you’re Mama’s size. Now put them back. I’ve asked you twice, now just BE HAVE!”

Here’s the lesson I can bring with me though even this many years down the road and… Mama in the trenches? Yes you … I want to share it with you now.
Isaiah 40:11.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in his arms;
He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

Mama. Can you let that verse hug your tender heart?
It’s going to be ok.
You’re going to get frustrated.
You’re going to be overwhelmed. You’re going to do things “wrong”. You’re going to feel like you messed up and yes, those little buggers are going to push all your buttons;
but Sis,
He will carry them, He’s going to hug them to His bosom safely when you’re feeling like running to your closet and barricading yourself in there with a cell phone, candy bar and tissue box…
and maybe even what’s more to your tender, weary heart right now is this:
He will gently lead you.
He sees you in that closet, proverbial or not, and He’s not going to leave you there.
He tends to your mother’s heart just as passionately as he tends to your babies themselves.
You.
You’re precious to Him too and He sees you.
He will lead you gently, so go gently on yourself too Mama. Go Gently.

FREEDOM

I woke up to my alarm early Saturday morning and immediately thought…
“WHAT have I done?”
I needed to get up and get going fast! I had an hour drive to my third 5K of my life.
“Oh man.. seriously. What have I done?”
My mind started to contend against the excuses:
I’m in no shape to do a 5K… even walking it will set this inflammation “game” I contend against into overdrive!
It’s Saturday… literally my only day ever to sleep in and it’s been a weeeeek.
My head is throbbbbbbing.
I have so much to do anyway; I really need a full day at home.
My husband’s going to be gone all day too; the dogs will need walks.

You see my dilemma? LOL …Bottom line is, I just didn’t want to do it.
Why?
Because it was going to be hard.
(And because my bed was comfy. LOL)
It was going to be hard because I’m in a health journey against autoimmune “dis- ease” and honest, even walking gets challenging at times. My feet swell. My joints inflame. My muscles get attacked. And, well… excuses, excuses, excuses…
The exact thing that would be hard to “walk” through, was also the exact thing my body needed to overcome the hard.
Gah… that’s just like dumb math. LOL I don’t like math either … haha!

I rolled out from under the down comforter and said, “Just get up, Kay. Just get going. You’re doing this to RID your body of these things. You’re doing this to pursue wellness. You’re doing this for “Freedom.”

Truth. I was doing it for those things. In fact, after a good talking to myself and a real heart check with my Spirit a few weeks back, I actually ended up signing up for four 5K’s through the end of the year! LOL …
because “Freedom.”
Walking these 5k’s was something I knew was difficult for me. I had done two others once before, just a year ago… and I struggled with them, not even sure I could finish. The Lord convicted me of that word “Struggle”, tho, and as I looked back at those other two 5K’s, I decided right then and there that I needed to re-frame them. I needed to do another and not claim it as a struggle, but call it out as something I was contending for! I was going to do a walk to contend for FREEDOM.
What I didn’t know my “yes, Lord” was going to be though was the start of something more… the conviction that if I could contend through one more 5K, maybe I should just keep contending for freedom in doing one each month, through the rest of the year…. gulp.

And so I did. I signed up for four.
Four pushes toward moving my body in ways I knew was hard.
Four dates with myself to celebrate what my body CAN do, not get in agreement with what it finds hard to do.
Four events to “contend” for Freedom against this “dis- ease” that wrestles against me.
Four times to show up for myself.
Four times to lean into God for strength.

So, it should come as no shock that the very first one, unbeknownst to me, was actually a 5k being run to respect the first responders, to honor those who had fallen in 9-11; and to remember FREEDOM.
I stood at the starting line while the trumpets played and the flags were being flown and the emcee was reading the names of the ones from our State who had been lost in the line of duty on 9-11.
I bawled.
I mean , ugly cried…
I know people were looking at me, but I didn’t even care. I couldn’t believe that “somehow” this 5k race, that I just signed up for because it was close to home, was for “Freedom”… and I didn’t even know it.
The intention God was using this for in my life, was not lost on me.
I was contending for freedom in my own way, by participating in a race honoring freedom.
Whoa.
It still undoes me.

I wiped my face on my shirt, just as someone handed me something. I thought it was a kleenex because legit.. I was a mess.. lol. I took it and humbly mumbled “thank you.” When I looked at it though, it was not a tissue. It was a small laminated ribbon with the name of one of the first responders who had paid the ultimate price for freedom. I was to pin it to my runners bib and think of him throughout my race.
Cue the tears again.
Where was that dang kleenex? LOL .. My shirt was snotty before it was sweaty!

All through my event, I kept him, and freedom in mind and I became even more grateful with each step. Even when the police car that was supposed to be bringing up the rear of the racers, passed me… lol … I was grateful.
I was out here.
I was doing what my body could do.
I was showing up for myself.
I was walking for freedom… in more ways than one.
It didn’t have to look like anyone else’s “race”.
It was mine. And it was already doing a big work in my heart. In my mind.
Within my Spirit.

As I watched the back end of that police car, I thought about first repsonders. They race. Without hesitation…
To the call. To the danger. To the emergency. To the need. To the thing that is trying to take something down.
For freedom.
They show up.

And so will I.

My call to this freedom in my body is not small. It’s for my life. And so I must be a first responder in my own life; actually, FOR my own life. No longer can I let excuse, shame, regret, feelings of insignificance, fear, panic or anxiety be first responders on my behalf.
They are not heros.
I am.
They are not freedom fighters.
I am.

It also wasn’t lost on me that the timing of this FREEDOM race was right in line with the timing of the 21 day sugar fast I had signed up to do with Revelation Wellness. It was starting the next day for me too.
A Fast.
Not a diet.
A prayerful entering into losing what weighs me down.
Not a plan to lose weight.
A calculated step aimed at dislodging the comforts of food that I tend to go to first.
An intentional turn to God instead.
Not a restriction.
An invitation…
To Freedom.

Man, the Lord is doing a work. It’s a hard work, Sis, I’m not gonna lie. And I’m kinda resistant to it… like the drowning person is sometimes resistant to the lifeguard swimming out to save her… kinda like that.
But this I know – in the “end”, it’s going to be worth it, and my “race” toward it should be without hesitation.

What might be set free?

Me.

The Ministry of Presence

I have two very vivid “feeling” memories from childhood. Feeling memories are things tied sooo closely to what your heart needs to hear; They are not a memory of an event or an instance or even a thing. They are a memory of a feeling, and I have two that conflicted and battled for a place …. one born from longing, the other born from fear. I remember them both well, and if I’m honest, in ways even today, they war on. #ButGod

To be seen

and 

To not be seen.

Let me explain. 

All I longed for and was desperate for, was to be loved and wanted; to feel important and significant.

I longed for it; yearned for someone to be with me, see me, show me love; but my home was anything but this type of atmosphere… so, out of fear from the bad things that I knew could happen, I tried not to be seen.

It was conflicting . These were “my people”- the ones who should make me feel safe, loved, and wanted… but instead I feared them and what they did to me.

I’d come home from school and go straight to my room, trying to escape before I was even noticed. If I was out of sight, I was out of mind, and if I was out of mind, bad things couldn’t happen to me. So on one hand, I longed for what I hoped I’d receive, but on the other, I feared what might actually happen, so I tried to become invisible. 

It was tormenting. And I was just a child. I didn’t understand or have any real frame of reference to expect things to be different. This is what I knew. I just also somehow knew there was supposed to be “more.”

 

From the late 60’s to the early 70s, this fear was what I knew. Loneliness was what I knew. Neglect was what I knew. Abuse was what I knew. But even in my child’s mind, I KNEW there must be more… I was sure of it.

“Kevin Hatfield” was proof. He was my next-door neighbor and when his mom got wind of me being home alone every night, she started sending Kevin over to ask me to come play. It was amazing. I loved walking in their house. I can remember so much about it…the dark wood floor in the entry; to the right the golden staircase banister that went up to the second floor; and to the left, a large living room with a fireplace and a big framed picture over it; a round, red braided rug on the floor and cozy pillows on a well-worn brown couch. I remember the bright, cheery kitchen in the back of the house, with wheat stalks on the wall paper, and a huge window that looked over a pretty wooded area and had a sweet dog that loves to play catch. I remember Kevin’s mom always in there getting dinner ready for her family. 
It’s crazy my vivid memory of this home, because if you ask me about my own, there is much I’ve blocked out. There is much I can’t remember. I can tell you the lay out, but nothing personal within. I can tell you the door to the stairway was dark panel and the basement itself always had a smell of something I could only then only describe as damp wood, skunks and flowers that had somehow rotted and developed their own kind of body odor. I now know, that smell was a damp dark basement mingling with pot and patchouli and various whiskeys. And I remember the door because fear struck me every time I had to use it.

I can tell you where the Christmas tree always stood because I actually met Santa at that tree one year. Late one Christmas eve I heard this horn , like that of an ahooga horn on an old time car. I ran to the window to look at the driveway, and sitting there was this old fashioned car, complete with a large red bag in the rumble seat and a large “red” man with a huge white beard sitting in the front. He waved and I ran to the front door and threw it open! Yes. It was in the dead of a Michigan winter and it was freezing, but folks, I was home alone on Christmas eve and SANTA just arrived!!!!  He came in and brought MEEE cookies, and then proceeded to place all kinds of gifts under the tree for just MEEEE !  I got hugged by the man in the red suit and I remember him crying…. And for a split second… I felt seen.  And very very loved.

I still don’t’ know who that man was. My Mom was in the hospital and who knows where dear ol’ step dad and the boys were, but this man… He somehow knew I was alone and he told me he had to drive his car this Christmas and not bring his reindeer because reindeer could only fly if it was snowing. It wasn’t snowing, so in my child’s mind it all made sense and I believed him. He told me to wait for morning and then open all my gifts. I did… and while I’m sure someone was there to have Christmas with me, I can’t remember them, I only remember getting the best gift ever: My Easy Bake oven. I didn’t even know it was a toy. I just know it is what I used to make dinners for myself. A lot of bologna went through that oven! Lol… And sometimes Graham crackers. Sometimes white bread and mayo sandwiches…. Whatever I could find to feed myself. This I know, Santa… real life Santa himself…saw me. Knew me. Knew what I needed and gave it to me. And I felt loved. 

Back to Kevin’s house. I can even remember the worn path in the grass of my back yard where I walked to his house, crossed the dead end street, and joined the sidewalk that led up to the “Hatfield’s” porch. I remember a black lantern post at the edge of the sidewalk and I knew if that lantern was coming on, I needed to be getting home to grab what I could find in the kitchen and get to my own room before anyone who lived at my house came home. Remember, I needed to be unseen.

Here’s where I’m going with all this. 

PRESENCE

There is ministry in presence. 

Santa ministered to me.

Kevin’s mom ministered to me.

Both ministered to me, just by making me feel seen and by entering into my aloneness and make me matter. Oh my goodness… those two people alone, in fleeting moments, were what I drew hope from, strength from, good from, in many times during those young years. 

Santa’s presence made a difference in less than an hour. He knew just a moment in my life, mattered. He saw a once in a lifetime difference making opportunity, and he took it. I’m sure it was inconvenient. I mean, the man went to sommmme lengths to pull off this “moment.” But because he did, for a good few years, I got to eat “hot” meals. I got to remember “that one time” Santa came just for me. I got to recall feeling seen and loved and like I mattered . I mean, let’s be real, Santa can’t stop and bring cookies and show little girls how to use an easy bake oven at every stop! Right? That meant I was special! And I hung on to that with my life.

Kevin’s mom’s presence made a difference every couple of days. Just by seeing a little girl with a need, and inviting her in to her own everyday she changed the fear of aloneness in my week. She didn’t have to talk to me or feed me or do anything for me… she just let me be with her… and that was enough.

She entered in; “Santa” entered in; and I’m telling you friends, it gave me strength for all the in-between times. It gave me hope for all the other “unseen” times. It instilled in me a spark of hope and it created a space in my heart for down the road when “faith” would make an appearance. 

Wow. 

Read that again. “It created a space in my heart for down the road when ‘faith’ would make an appearance.” 

The ministry of presence. 

Just “being there”… sometimes with a gift, a conversation, an act of kindness, or even, moments of silence… your presence into someone’s hard space, is more of a gift than you’ll ever know.

The ministry of presence.
It’s seed planting. 

I didn’t know faith. I didn’t know God. I didn’t even have a good example of people in my life that I wanted to grow up to be like someday. I only knew what I knew…a desperate longing and a paralyzing fear: to be seen and unseen. It was torment. 

Enter, two humans who were kind. Who came into my space and made a place, if even for a moment. 

Who invited me to their table.

Who made room to have room for me. 

Who saw a need and filled it. 

Who did a little thing that changed my whole world.  

Who tucked into a cranny of my heart, the possibility of hope and a seed that would nestle down into the depths of me to be remembered when the time came, that I first heard about a God who loved me. 

The Ministry of Presence. “We will never be able to effectively tell them a God story, if we are not leaning with compassion into their human story.”  (~Homesteader Kay)

It’s a lesson well learned. 

When we take time to hear, to listen, to dwell, to reach out, to minister, to feed, to have compassion, to understand, to meet a need, to sit with in silence, to hold a hand, deliver a meal, send a handwritten letter, call with a real life voice… to seeeeeee with unbridled compassion the human story people are living, we open doors to plant seeds for a God story so much bigger than we ever dreamed!

I WISH I knew “SANTA” now. I WISH I knew Kevin’s mom’s name. I wish I could find these two “presence Minsters” and tell them:

“LOOK!”  LOOK where lil Kay landed in life! LOOK at her happy! LOOK at her SEEN. LOOK at  her loved. LOOK at her in this GOD STORY she never imagined possible! 

A seed.

A ministry of presence. 

Made a way. 

Friends. Don’t discount the value in seeing humankind, and then

being “Human Kind”.

It may promote you to “Minister of Presence.”

It may mean more than you ever dreamed to the one longing and fearing in the same breath.

Above all, it may just be the beginning of someone’s God story.

Difference making doesn’t have to be extravagant… it just has to be intentional and from a heart of love.

The ministry of presence. A small seed with a mighty purpose.

 

It’s ok to grow “quietly”

I have a favorite tree.

I call it the Sentinel.
It’s huge and towering , stationed at the very end of our property, up a rolling field and at the top of a hill; standing guard; watching; observing; challenging any who might stray on to the property or any who may try to harm the land.
I love that tree.
In fact, I love it so much, I almost always just look at it. When I come out of my home my eyes go straight to it. When I pull up the drive, my eyes are drawn to it. Floating around the pool, mowing the yard, tending the chickens, walking the dogs, giving treats to the horses, sitting on my porch… I always look at it. And love it. It’s in the center of every sunset, it’s dark silhouette striking; unwavering; formidable’ strong; demanding to be seen.

Have I mentioned I love this tree?
LOL
I do. I love watching it in all the seasons. Glorious is all of them.

But recently, I noticed another tree. It’s next to the Sentinel. And now that I’ve seen it, I can’t believe I never saw it till now!  When did that tree grow? How did it get to be so big and yet remain unnoticed for so long? Obviously it’s been there growing for some time. Obviously… but man, how’d I miss it?

And it made me think… in some seasons, it’s ok to grow “quietly”.
All this time it’s been there. And I haven’t noticed. The Sentinel “spoke” loudly. The Sentinel demanded attention. The Sentinel captured my eye and my heart and my love.

And all the while, “Little Tree” was there.
Silent in her growth. A whisper of a sprout , maturing and progressing quietly.
She went unnoticed. Unseen. Undetected.
And she went through seasons just the same … quietly, softly, unassumingly.
Gaining her ground, firming her roots; standing taller and straighter and more purposeful herself … just quietly,
flourishing.
Until one day, the Sentinel’s shadow was outgrown.. and she made her debut. 

She can’t be unseen now.
She used her season of silence to become a beauty all her own.
She used her quiet growth to mature herself, firm herself and root herself.
She used her time unseen, to develop a beauty all her own,

and now that I’ve seen her.
I can’t unsee her
And while she is not a Sentinel… it’s not her job; Her position or Her purpose…
She is a queen.

And I love her.

Hey Friend.
Let your unseen season… grow you. Go deeper. Root further. Stand firmer.
RISE taller.

You’re a Daughter of the King. You’re a Queen. Your silent season is not for naught.

 

#whatdoesyourheartneedtohear? YOU WERE BUILT FOR THIS!

What does your heart need to hear?

YOU WERE BUILT FOR THIS.

I was blessed enough to be able to go to RISE conference in Minnesota this year. Rachel Hollis is a wild fire and man, that girl can speak to your heart and make you get honest and intentional with yourself in ways many can’t. And she does it from a place of faith, un-apologetically and raw. And I learned so much…About myself. About my why. About purpose. And about love … however, it was something that her husband Dave Hollis said that hit me deep. I actually went into this conference with a prayer that it would grow me in ways that would draw me deeper to Jesus and his purpose for me. And it did.

Insert Dave Hollis’s speech, and this quote he used:

“A ship is safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

It struck a chord. And the chord sounded off key at first. Like one that doesn’t get played often. Like one that has a part of it out of tune. Like one that needed some attention.
So, I gave it attention. The spirit within me kept pointing to it… and I haven’t been able to let go of it.

It’s music is starting to sound sweeter. But it didn’t at first.

Mannnn…

At first.

And for awhile…

It was awful

and unpleasant

and I was afraid it would never sound sweet…

I started playing it more tho. “It” being that truth that Dave’s speech hit. The Truth that… gulp… I liked the harbor. The truth that I was made for more, but had come to love the safety of an anchor and a sea wall and the company of other “ships”, who embraced with me, the comfort zone of harbor.

That was the chord.

It’s called “I’ve settled”.

It’s called , “I’m comfortable”.

It’s called, “Lukewarm”.

It’s called , “Afraid to pursue”.

It’s called, “I don’t believe in myself”.

It’s called, “FEAR”.

And I didn’t like it.

That truth sounded like a terrible tune but I forced myself to lean into it.
If you don’t like a truth about yourself, if you don’t like the tune of a chord, if the music of your life isn’t sounding pretty…

Change it.

Decide that’s not the song you want playing in your head!!!
As I leaned in to try to hear it’s true tune, with each strum, it whispered more and more loudly, the real.. underlying truth I needed to hear. I needed to remember:

Girl. FEAR is keeping you in the harbor… But you’re built for more.

Believe– YOUUUUuuuuu were built for “THIS”!

Write it down, speak it out loud, place it in all the places you look … but also… HEAR it.

Every time you read it, every time you speak it, every time you see it… HEAR it and believe it.

This call, this dream, this goal, this purpose, is placed in you by your Creator and He equips you for it!

Stay in the harbor and be safe. Play off key and out of tune.

Or

Leave the safety of the sea walls and go to the deep and hear a symphony.

C’mon girl. You were “built” for this.

Like I said, my goodness how I’ve been revisiting this thought over and over since conference. It’s a hard truth I’ve had to make myself face. I’m a ship. Built for more but anchored at harbor.

Let’s dive into that.. it’s raw. But I think some of you may relate, so here I go with some transparency.

I’m afraid.

I like the harbor.

The other pretty ships and vessels bob and sway and stay safe at anchor, close by, like good friends who are gonna be there… even tho they are there because they are afraid too.

And hey, you know what, even if a storm does arise, you’re so close to shore, you can abandon ship and get to the safety of land, right?  I mean abandoning ship is finnnnne if it looks like it’s in danger of sinking, right?

 

Ugh. I don’t like admitting this. I don’t like confessing the “off tune chord” of, I like the comfort of “LOOKING” like a seaworthy vessel but am too afraid to sail. I can’t stand that I’m saying out loud that this “harbor life” is a comfort zone I don’t want to leave.  I don’t like disclosing that truth that I’m afraid of the deep. I’m anxious over sailing into a calling that is over my head, away from my security of shore and company of “likeminded” ships and that perhaps scary things may arise out there that look a lot like circling sharks, big waves and fierce storms I can’t handle. I hate that music.

 

Yuck.
I don’t like that girl. I don’t like that song.

That’s the girl that believes the lie. That’s the girl that gets in agreement with who she used to be. That’s the girl that looks at a past that tried to define her, and instead of believing for more… she believes what was. That’s the girl that lets all the fear that poured into her from childhood, keep her anchored to the thing that weighs her down. Thats the girl that lets the enemy storm the battlefield that her God has already won.
So , I’m not playing that tune anymore. I refuse. I’m not staying in harbor any longer than I have to. I’m sailing into deep waters… with my Creator

Because:
I was built for this.
I was made for more.

I was created on purpose for purpose

and, girl… so where you.

Here’s where we decide. Here’s where we don’t just AGREE, but rather, GET IN AGREEMENT with this truth: What you were made for… you are equipped for.

If you’re as ship, baby, you’re made to sail.
You might feel like hiding in safety. You may like the comfort of harbor. You may not mind an off key chord now and again… but the truth is, if you’re not walking in your calling. If you don’t sail into the deep, you’re only keeping yourself anchored to things that weigh you down. Things like your past, friends who are going nowhere too, opinions of other people, those attempts you made that failed, that insignificance you feel, that debt that whispers unworthy, that mistake that seems like a brand, that voice that says you’re incapable, ill equipped and not “sea worthy”… Those things are in the harbor and they feel “safe” because we know them. They feel safe because we know what to expect with them. They feel safe because we know how to drift with them. But they really… just have you anchored. Weighed down. Unable to sail into your purpose and dream.  That anchored is tied to an enemy of your soul who is bound and determined to keep you anchored.

Cut yourself loose.

Hoist anchor

Set your eyes to the Sea…  go deep. There are scary things there, but also, there are some of the most amazing and beautiful things waiting for you there too because that’s what you were built for… navigating those things to get to the deep and beautiful things you can’t find or give, in harbor.

You were made for more friend. You are built for more. And so was I.
What does your heart need to hear?

I think it needs to hear that you are built for this.
“This” dream you have. This goal you set. This purpose you see. This idea you develop. This plan that looks promising. This desire you crave…
Was set in you before the beginning of time by your Creator and you were MADE FOR “This”!
It’s not just in you to want it, it’s OK to want it. And that makes it more than ok to “sail” after it.
You were built for it.

 

Write it down.

Okra

My heart was hurting

It was plainly obvious she didn’t like me.
Worse…
She couldn’t stand to be around me.

Geesh.
All the rush of all my childhood insignificance, unimportance and unwanted ”nesssss”… flooded my soul again.

And man, for the love of all things yummy (because that’s a big biggg category in my life) … I didn’t know exactly why.
I mean, if I back up the story, it started at the start. Like all stories do…At the beginning of our “relationship”… of our getting to know one another.
It started then.
Back when I hadn’t “done anything” yet.
I say yet, because let’s be honest. I’ve “done” things since.
I’ve gotten mouthy back. I’ve yanked when she pulled. I’ve watered the soil of “comparison”, fertilizing my side more. Grumbling to her moods and letting them set my own.
I’m not proud of this. But it happened.
I responded back with all the ferocity I felt she was giving me… and, I decided it was ok.
It wasn’t.
I mean, it really, really wasn’t. Like, Jesus was very unhappy about it and the Spirit, well , He left me pretty unsettled and the Father? Yeah… He was giving me all the prods.
That kind of “wasn’t”.
And because it wasn’t, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t like it either. I squirmed. I held my breathe. I said I was sorry in prayer. I stomped my proverbial toddler foot and crossed my arms and pouted.
What I had to do, was grow up in this scenario and do the right thing.
That meant, I had to march my prideful self into her presence and humble myself before this woman who I KNEW, would take it and use it as a weapon against me…oh, she was going to revel in my humility. But I had to. I had to tell her I was sorry. To please forgive me because that was not how I should have responded. It wasn’t how Jesus wanted me to respond.
Dang it.
It tasted bad. But not as bad as the grit I felt in my heart.

Ok Jesus.
Let’s do this.
I knew her response wouldn’t be grace.
But I had to do my part anyway. I had to act justly. I had to love mercy. I had to walk humbly with my God. And I had to extend grace.

Truth is, sometimes you have to say you’re sorry to people who don’t care.
Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness from a person who isn’t even sorry themselves.
Truth is, it sucks to suck it up like that…
Least… until you see it from the perspective of gardening.

What?
Gardening?

Yep. Gardening.

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It’s spring and on this homestead, it’s my favorite time of year… except for fall and harvest… LOL… That’s my favorite too! 😊 But Spring… gosh. It’s like shedding winter and putting on something new. It’s shaking off the dreary and the cold and the brittle and the bitter … and it’s getting a warm hug of sunshine, a bloom of life, a fresh wind of … Allergies? LOL … Whatever. It’s new life coming back to the land and with that, also comes the planning and planting the garden.
I adore our garden! Unlike most people, who select a patch of land, out of the way, and off to the side to till up and plot, we tuck our garden right up next to our porch. You have to walk through it to get to our front door and it welcomes you in with all it’s bumbles and pops of color and heirloom “fruits”… and lets be real, as well as with it’s imperfect overgrowth and pesky weeds. It’s a gathering of raised beds, all made from cedar, and surrounded with hardwood mulch paths that we try to tuck herbs and strawberries and marigolds into. I say “we” and “our” because the tending to it is happily split between my husband and I. When he has a moment to steal out of the shop for a breather or a relaxing of his mind from some heavy and weighty task at hand, he can walk out the door of the shop, stroll over to the garden just a few feet away, and spend a few minutes getting out of his head.
I can drive up after a long day at work, park next to it and spend the next 20 minutes slowly moving through it to my front door. Letting go of the office and coming “home”. Pulling a weed here, looking for a tomato horned worm there (the ravenous hateful critters) and gather what ever is ripe for the picking as I go… often planning our evening meals side dish around what I’ve gathered.

It’s a welcome respite. Not a chore. (well. Ok. On 100 degree days, when I’ve let some weeds go wild, it’s a chore… but mostly. It’s not.)
Rather,
It’s a tending.
It’s a caring.
It’s a nursing and a bent towards giving.
It’s a cultivating and a nurturing and a giant… giant.. Hoping.
There are stages of planning and managing and preparing and fertilizing and propagating and plowing and hoeing and laboring and ripening and harvesting and …

ok. It’s work. LOL

But it’s beautiful, worthy and rewarding work. And it grows fruit … not just that I can eat, but “fruit” that mends my soul.

************
Re enter, “her”.

I had to pull some weeds in my own heart, choking out the good fruit that wanted to grow.
I had to do some pruning back of my own retaliation and manage my own mouth.
And I had to fertilize the soil I had let get completely depleted of any nutrients, with my “sorry”.
Let’s be real. Nothing good was going to grow there.

I’ll call her “Okra”. Haha… sorry. It’s funny. I don’t like Okra. It’s yucky. It’s sticky and spiny and slimy and tastes like hay rolled in dirt. (just me?)

She, Okra, has edges too, that are spiny and sticky and she can be downright slimy if not dusted in “flour” and seasoned in all the right ways. Know what I’m saying? But friends…

She’s a part of my garden. And I need to tend to her and propagate and spread good seed around her.

Let’s be real tho, I don’t need to welcome Okra onto my plate… but I do need to make sure I’m not leaving that area of my garden untended. I need to be working my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether or not I like what’s planted there.

whew.

Let me say that again.
I need to be caring for my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether I like what’s planted there, or not.

MY tending, could just help produce , HER fruit.

whoa.

Can you imagine if I just neglected an area so close to my porch, the area others have to walk right up through to get to my front door, all because I was annoyed by something planted there?
It wouldn’t make for a very welcoming entrance or a very pleasing path to my home.

And, it doesn’t make for a very pretty or pleasing entrance to “me” either.

Let me tell you something about “Okra”.
Every time she reacted to me in a negative way, I decided I was going to turn that on her and plant a seed of grace.
She belittled something I did… I congratulated her on something else.
She found a wound to pick at, I let it bleed grace.
She scoffed at a story I shared, I shared one about her that I could find a sweetness too.
I wasn’t always perfect at this… there are days… but I found myself trying more and more, because
she’s in my “garden”.
And I know this…
EVERY time, you partner with Grace, you partner with GOD.
And He walks through my garden too… I need to remember that.

Oh, some days I let the weeds grow up in the “Okra” patch… and I get a little tired of the constant over growth and heavy, sweaty work … but more often now, I’ve found myself looking at it, at her, in a new way.
I’ve decided I may not like the taste of Okra, but friends…
have you ever seen an Okra plant blossom? It’s gorgeous. It’s so lovely.
There is beauty that is beyond the other flowers on my vegetable plants. It’s crazy. That spiny, sticky, pokey, slimy fruit… has beauty that far exceeds many other blooms in the garden.

So, I’m tending the flower. The fruit it produces is not my favorite, but it has a beauty that is unique, and I’m looking at that now and doing that thing that all gardeners do so well…

Hope.

Do you have an “Okra” in your life? Most of us do. There has been or there is someone… so, let me encourage you.
Tend to her like she’s the most beautiful flower in your garden and see what harvests.
I promise, even if “Okra” doesn’t change for you, your view of her
will change you.

New Year; Letting go of Fear

Don’t you dare say you can’t do hard things.

#notetoself.

That’s totally me, talking to myself. Totally.

I stood in Chicago, in October, at the Marathon my daughter was running and as I waited to catch a glimpse and cheer for her,  I  watched every size, every shape, condition, age, disease, “excuse” and “fear”, run by me.

I cried. I watched amazing humans overcoming more than I could imagine. And it convicted me. I saw what believing, and showing up afraid, and just getting out of their own heads and comfort zones and fears… and just givng it a shot, trying…could look like. And it was so moving. So inspirational! Did I mention I cried?

That was October, 2018 and it’s taken me four months to type another blog post here. Because I get scared. I wonder. I over think. I fear.  If you’re into the Enneagram.. I’m a 6. (nuff said)
Here I am tho…showing up afraid. And believing more of this “marathon minded” kind of empowerment for myself. My daughter is flanked by two bestie’s in this picture and they are all #warriors. Running for a cure for Huntington’s disease. ( another story. another day. another post.)

If they can do that… If my daughter, who was never a runner, can train and enter as her very first marathon, the Chicago Marathon… then I… can start to train myself at the hard things too. I can make new habits. I can create time to show up for myself, do the work, type the words, push “publish”…

Even if I’m not sure it’s going to be great. Even if I’m not sure anyone will read it. Even if it makes my tummy hurt.

New year. No more excuse.

It’s in these small ways, we begin to change our world. I stood on the sidewalk watching thousands of people run for their “lives”… but in doing it, they changed mine. The powerful images of those amazing humans are pressed into my memory permanently.  I hope someday, you get to watch a Marathon like this one. And I pray, someday… you realize, like me, that the marathon you’re running in life… needs you to show up for it too. Courageous.  Afraid. But doing it anyway.

**********

Perhaps,

Dear Lord, this little blog can be a place for that kind of difference too. Help me show up courageous.  Help me do the work. Help me let go of Fear and in all that… Help me show “them”, YOU.