The Most Un-Christmas Merry Christmas

I had grand plans to embrace the holiday season with gusto. It doesn’t take too much for me to grab hold of the celebratory spirit. But Thanksgiving came and then December came and somewhere along the way that Christmas-y feeling just didn’t really come. I may have listened to more Christmas music in October than in December!

But you know what?

I don’t mind.

It was still so good. It was filled with life. And I let the holidays just be as they were.

That heavily marketed holiday feeling showed its face around Christmas Day and what a nice surprise! Isn’t it a good thing Christmas isn’t about how we feel?!

My sister and her husband visited us during the week of Christmas and we had such a grand time together. We visited our little town, drank coffee, had ice-cream, burned through some Christmas movies, opened stockings, exchanged gifts, played games, had late-night conversations, and just did more face-to-face life together. Right there’s the magic in life!

We plan to keep our beautiful Christmas tree up much longer this year. So many people are quick to take everything down and scarf in the New Year, but I’m still in the land of savoring and thanking God for all that was and is and is to come. I won’t be rushed.

In 2019, gardening held some of the loveliest moments and surprises. From a rose bed planted in September to unexpected stunning snapdragons in October to a geranium bursting to life while snow fell, or the many seeds that fell and got replanted or collected for next spring.

It’s been a year of abundance both on my porch and in my soul. I can only imagine the beautiful things in store for my garden in 2020. How much more God will do in my life! In all of us!

I have lived and will continue to live with eyes wide open, choosing to be easily delighted, basking in the life that spreads and multiplies. That’s just what God does.

I don’t need rose-colored glasses to be excited and confident for another year of winter, spring, summer, fall. God is in my future and He’s what makes it good. And so I will embrace the first day of a New Year because I know it’s simply an invitation for more of this life with God.

I gladly accept.

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.

Chapter 2: Ocean Is a Season

Her raspy voice pleads with me as she points her finger to my heart and waves her hand as if to shoo me away. Every word is bitter to my ears.

“Go to the ocean. Go to the ocean.”
“Into the ocean. Into the ocean.”

And I know what Old Maryn is asking of me.

To walk into the waves and lower my whole body into the water. To walk until I cannot touch the ocean floor. To go where I do not want to go. To be where my flower dress falls apart. To exist where I have never wanted to exist. To turn away from the Island I have made. Read more

I Did What I’ve Never Done Before

In my time away from regular life, work, and all the noise that comes with it, I found myself nurturing my garden with intention. I was looking up YouTube how-to videos, watching Monty Don do his garden magic, soaking up all the things I never knew, trying things that would have scared me silly just last year, and enjoying the quiet process of nurturing the small life that grows in gardening pots.

Flowers from the grocery store have turned into so much more. They have become life lessons, picture frames for my own soul seasons, and resilient blooms that return and return and return.

My garden is delightful, but not spectacular. I coax life, watch for life, and wait for life. Nurture and anticipate. That’s all that’s required of me. I’m not working to a finished garden, but walking through the process that yields a healthier garden. Read more