Garden Delights & Surprises from God

I believed this year would be one for tending all the things already in my life. And I was right. To an extent. But God has given me so many more gifts and invited me to be a part of so much beauty. At some point, I realized there were surprises I needed to record.

Things like roses going into my flowerbed before next spring. I didn’t even plan to have a flowerbed, but I watched one too many gardening shows with Monty Don and before I knew it I was clearing out a place for flowers the next time spring came round. I even began to plan and dream for what I may plant there.

But then our nephews brought us rose clippings from their grandmother’s grand rose collection. And now I have a flowerbed with four different roses and another smaller bed for another type of rose. They are doing well and I hope and believe they have had enough time to get a good root system going before the winter season.Before my friend moved away she gave me a wildflower seed packet. I bravely pushed those seeds in a gardening pot only to find a few months later that zinnias were the shining gift. I’ve had dark and light pink blooms. And the zinnias keep coming back!

I even had enough clippings to make a small centerpiece on my table. I dreamed up zinnia bouquets for next spring, but got to enjoy a little bouquet teaser this fall. I love being surprised with gifts likes these!

In August, I intensely pruned my snapdragons and didn’t expect a big show after the fact. I had a woeful spring and summer season with them and didn’t have high hopes. . . only to discover stunning beauty in September and October with the healthiest and fullest blooms I had seen in a long while. Snapdragons hold a special place in this novice gardener’s heart so it was such personal and kind gift from God!

Watching my tiny “rosebush” bloom had my heart singing, “WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!!”

I think that can be a sentence that sums up this year. What a difference a day makes! What a difference God’s light makes! What a difference God works with His healing and love and presence!

How different my life would be if God didn’t make the difference.

As I head into this season of savoring all God has done and is doing, I can’t help but be thrilled for the joy that is and the joy that is to come. These garden surprises may seem small, but they’ve been such a deep delight. God knows just how to delight His children. . .truly, fully, personally.

Take a moment. Look at your life. How has God delighted you with His presence? His gifts? His healing? His life-filled surprises? The beauty He’s invited you into?

A honky dory holiday fog is not required for you to see the joy, comfort, and hope God is carving into all the heartbroken places of your year and your soul.

Oh, how we can love life because of God. He makes it worth savoring and celebrating even as we hold this tension of pain and blessing while trusting Him with everything. . . our whole hearts, our open hands, our honest questions. In thy presence there is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

And we resolve with Habakkuk, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Let’s taste fullness of joy and trust God with the tension and tragedy we hold. Let’s come with souls filled up and hearts poured out as we give thanks for this unconventional life. Let’s rejoice always and anyway. Let’s do all of this today.

Let’s begin now.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy in March

God gives and gives and gives and gives again. I am already anticipating the holiday season. I love that we savor that season as long as we can. We give thanks for the year and then we prepare our hearts to celebrate the Life who gives us life. We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and it’s such a beautiful time for our souls to pause and remember.

But God isn’t bound by our holiday season. He doesn’t stop giving when the season is over. He continues on just as He always has. Bestowing good gifts. Holding us in steadfast favor. Loving us fully and deeply. Pouring out mercy which never ends, but still begins again with every new morning. Weaving our every ordinary day in grace. Sewing our broken hearts with His nearness.

Our God goes on giving…on and on and on.

But here I am sitting in March. Feeling those pinpricks of discouragement. And then it overwhelms me. I’m sitting there saying, “I don’t know what I should do to turn my day around.” I don’t really pray or ask God for help. I just sit there wondering what on earth I am going to do to turn my Saturday around.

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The Girl with the Headaches

We always want our circumstances to change our seasons, but it is God who would rather change the seasons in our souls to change us to be more like Him. In these ever-changing seasons of the soul, we learn to sing, I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! It is well with my soul. And we are surprised because we mean every word!

At 15, I was pushed into the world of chronic pain. Headaches had always been a part of my life since a very young age, but by the age of 15, the headaches became a permanent fixture in my life. I lived as the girl with the headaches and I couldn’t see past the pain–not really. You can read more about my struggle and the emotional onset of my chronic pain in my book, A Pygmy’s Life for Me.

But throughout these nine years of pain, the seasons in my soul have shifted drastically and for the better. Nothing has stayed the same though I am in the same trial of physical pain. There has been an ebb and flow of chronic pain, many incredible life events, added trials much harder for me than physical pain itself, and yet nothing in these nine years has placed my soul in a stuck position–because God doesn’t ask His children to live stuck lives. Ever. Read more

More Than Watercolor Grace

The  beautiful thing is God’s grace meets us as we are and does not leave us as we are. God loves us far too much to let us stay as the women we once were. God’s grace isn’t just a pretty word. His grace runs far deeper than watercolor or a brush of butterfly wings. He is Mercy upon our poor reactions, Comfort within our recluse structures, and Refuge in our chaos. And a grace we never have to work for works in us. It is impossible to truly explain the depth, the complexity, and the wonder of God’s grace!

But as we rest under God’s unmerited favor, He begins to change us to become more like Him. For our good. For His glory. From His love.

If not for God, we would be forever frozen in our old ways…stuck in a sedentary life. But His grace is more. More than a pretty watercolor quote. More than a brush of butterfly wings. More than a pretty self-help book that makes us feel good. No, His grace reaches deep into our gritty seasons where we are buried and pulls us upward–to hope, to victory, to change. Here we are shedding layers of who we used to be while we rest favored and secure in God (Titus 2:11-15). Read more