Every Blooming Thing

My dear reader,

Stop right now and look outside.

Do you see that?!

GREEN.

After all the dull and dreary and dead, finally, thankfully, the great outdoors has begun to bud/bloom/blossom. (Unless you happen to live in Iceland or Death Valley. In which case I suggest you stop reading altogether… and relocate.)

Spring has been a loooooong time coming. March didn’t deliver. April didn’t either. It did bring those showers it always promises. Along with snow, sleet, hail and high winds. (Which is different than hail and high water, though we did get a couple flood warnings.) And a tornado watch too. After that, I stopped following our local meteorologist on Twitter. Because she was blowing up my feed.

Just when it seemed we’d fallen under some nefarious Narnian endless-winter spell, spring up-and-SPRUNG!

I got the first glimpse when my pale yellow daffodils peeked out from the snow-dusted earth. Shortly thereafter, the snow melted and the purple crocuses sprouted and splayed.

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Then a lovely little magnolia stole the show.

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Not to be outdone, the Redbud blossoms burst on the scene the very next day.

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(Attention grabbers.)

But that’s not all, folks. The coming attractions include scents of lilac and lavender, honeysuckle and heliotrope. (< If you don’t have some, get some. The fragrance is heavenly.)

Early-bird specials to late bloomers, full-sun or shady characters, I wholeheartedly agree with Claude Monet: “I must have flowers, always, and always.”

Shrinking violets and knockout roses. Bee balm and butterfly bushes. Dianthus and dahlias and daisies… oh my!

Moonflowers and sunflowers, snapdragons and sweet pea. Pansies, petunias and peonies. All in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and designs.

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Hello, gorgeous.

My mom was a flower child. So I guess it isn’t all that surprising that I’d grow to love every blooming thing. (Yes, including dandelions. Especially when they’re twisted into a handmade garland by happy little fingers. What could be more lovely?)

From my very first seeds-sprinkled-in-a-styrofoam-cup-of-soggy-dirt kindergarten horticulture lesson… through years of planting/pruning/weeding/watering under the tutelage of my dear friend Jo… to becoming a full-fledged member of Newfields just so I can stroll the gardens whenever I please, I’ve been completely smitten by…

Flower power.

Flowers remind us that even when s%*t happens, something beautiful can come of it. (If only we will let God work when we’re deep in it.)

I think Lady Bird Johnson said it best:

Where flowers bloom, so does hope. 

Why? Because flowers just do what they’re made to do.

Beautify. (Every view – and vase – they grace.)

Gratify. (Gardeners, photographers, florists and prom dates.)

Glorify… God Himself.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:25-33, The Message)

Morning glories… and HALLELUJAH! He’s got you/me/us covered, clothed, and completely taken care of. Like every blooming thing.

You take care of the earth and send rain to help the soil grow all kinds of crops. Your rivers never run dry, and you prepare the earth to produce much grain. You water all of its fields and level the lumpy ground. You send showers of rain to soften the soil and help the plants sprout. Wherever your footsteps touch the earth, a rich harvest is gathered. Desert pastures blossom, and mountains celebrate. Meadows are filled with sheep and goats; valleys overflow with grain and echo with joyful songs. (Psalm 65:9-13, CEV)

Cultivate beauty. It’ll make the world a better place. Get your hands dirty. It’ll make your heart happy. Do a little weeding. In your garden… and your life.

What are you waiting for? Get growing!

Wendy

P.S. Just for you… a little SPRING FLING contest! 1. Comment your favorite flower(s) or gardening tip(s). 2. Follow my blog – or if you’re already following, share the link via email or social media. 3. You’ll be automatically entered to win an assortment of annual and perennial seed packets selected by yours truly. (Winner will be announced May 11.)

Ready, set, grow!

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The Definition of YOU

My dear reader,

Recently, a friend of mine remarked that she wasn’t feeling like herself. I’ve heard that comment from others before, but this time it struck me as odd. I understand feeling “out of sorts” or “under the weather” or “down in the dumps.” But I can’t really comprehend not feeling like me. Unless I was given a chance to feel like Cleopatra or Coco Chanel… or Jane Austen (when she was completely and perfectly and incandescently happy). In that case, I might consider making the switch. For a day or two.

What about you? Do you feel like yourself? How so? Why not?

Or more pointedly…

Who do you think you are, anyway?

I know, it’s a loaded question. But have you ever really stopped to think about it? Or were you just involuntarily swept away from dreaming about what you wanted to be when you grew up to… adulting… every dang day. Work/bills/laundry/dishes/dentist/DMV.

(Sigh.)

Did your life turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed it would? What about you? Did you turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed you would?

Good questions. Take some time. (I’ll wait.)

Sometimes we get so busy answering the little questions (What’s for dinner? When is trash pickup? Where are my keys?) that we forget to ask the big ones (Is God real? What is love/truth/the meaning of life? Who am I?)

These are the $64,000 questions. (Not that I’m going to pay you if you can answer them. Sorry to disappoint.)

At some point, we all try to figure out who we are. We delve into our family history or start therapy. We take a DISC or Enneagram or Briggs-Myers test. We search for (or armchair analyze) our birth parents. We travel to our ancestral home or do a DNA analysis. And while these things can be helpful, they can’t possibly fully reveal your identity, estimate your potential, or capture the essence of you.

What defines you?

Your past? Your personality? Your pursuits or possessions? Your looks? Or your “likes”? Your resume? Your relationship to someone else?

Perhaps you simply defaulted to accepting others’ definition of you:

Who your parents said you were.

Who your friends say you are.

Who your colleagues or classmates think you are.

Maybe you’ve been believing what other people have said about you all this time. Because you didn’t have the gumption/grit/guts to not let them do that to you, define you.

Or maybe you’ve crafted your own “self-image”… and it comes down to this:

Who the virtual world perceives you are. (Smiling. Styling. Living it up in the city.)

But the fact of the matter is… deep down… you know who you are/where you’ve been/what you’ve done.

That’s the “closet” you.

But most of us don’t really like that person, do we? Because deep down, we’re unsure (or ashamed) of that person. And that isn’t who we were intended to be, anyway. (Like Lady Gaga says, we were just “born this way.”) But even that – all our innate shortcomings and errant thinking and inevitable sin – doesn’t have to define us.

Somehow, we’ve got to find our way. The way to become ourselves.

The real, true, free-to-be you (and me).

Here’s what I think. I think the only way to find our way is to find… the Way. Get to know the One who made us and knows us inside and out. The One who’s always there for us. (Even at our ugliest and worst. Even in the deepest pit. On the darkest night. When we’re convinced we are utterly, irreversibly alone.)

I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand. How can I get away from your Spirit? Where can I go to escape from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there. Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east. Suppose I travel to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me. Your right hand would still be holding me close. (Psalm 139: 7-10, NIRV) 

Unless we know our Father, we’ll never have any idea who we really are.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! (Psalm 139:13, The Message)  

Unless we plumb the depths of God’s wonder, we can never know ours.

And we’ll have zero chance of being utterly, eternally secure and permanently, profoundly significant. No hope of ever really/truly/unalterably belonging. No shot at averting a full-blown identity crisis. (Adolescent or mid-life or any other variety.)

Getting to know God is the way we begin to become ourselves.

Don’t you want to meet your Maker? (Oh, you’ll meet Him when you die. That’s unavoidable. But I highly suggest getting to know Him beforehand.)

You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. (Psalm 119:73, NLT)

You didn’t choose your eye color or vocal range or skin pigmentation, did you? Of course not. And even your parents didn’t have final say on the colors, characteristics, design, and details of the masterpiece that is you.

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Your DNA only scratches the surface of who you are and who you were meant to be.

It’s your divine soulprint that divulges the details.

Aren’t you curious to know why God gave you that artistic eye or your mechanical ability or that great golf swing or your infectious laugh? Don’t you want to find out what He’s got in store for you?

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, The Message) 

God has given you a place on this planet… a mission to accomplish… a future… a hope.

Get after it.

Wendy

P.S. If you fear it’s too late (or think you’re in too deep) for a do-over, think again.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. (2 Corinthians 5:17, AMP)

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.  My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.  I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (Philippians 3:12-14, CEV)

Now that’s good news.