Monthly Archives: September 2011

Full Bloom

I’ve mentioned before that it’s a struggle for me to keep things alive.  If a plant is supposed to blossom, I usually have a talent for giving it just too little or even just too much water, resulting in brown-edged leaves, droopy stems, fallen petals.  Maybe I should’ve paid closer attention in Freshman Biology.  It’s taken me too long to learn how to care for a window box of flowers, but this summer, I managed to keep the front of my home in full bloom.  While Jack watched his cartoons in the morning, eating his squash pancakes, I would throw on my crocks and begin the routine of filling the watering can 4 times, going back and forth across the living room with water sloshing a bit onto the rug and Jackson saying “Mom! I tan’t see!” as I quickly sashayed across his view of the television. I was faithfully committed to my flowers, and I watered and pruned them all summer, caring for them like they were my babies.*

I’ve reached a point in my spiritual walk where I realize that everything I do has spiritual significance.  More than ever, I feel like everything I do matters. Everything I do is some part of my conversation with God. Perhaps this sounds cliche, but I seriously connected with God when I watered the plants every morning.  It was powerful for me, because I’m realizing that God created us to be deeply connected to soil, plants, food, and abundant life.  It’s part of our separation from animals: we are the caretakers, the overseers. And if I can keep one small yard’s worth of plants thriving, I feel like I’m honoring the Lord in a meaningful way.  Most mornings, I didn’t want to get the watering can and go through the back-and-forth routine.  I didn’t want to get wet, or lift the heavy bucket up to the hanging baskets, or get stung by a bee, or get muddy or pricked.  I didn’t want to see that some flowers had died, despite my careful attention.  And I was tired of watering my hydrangeas every…single…day…without even one hint of a flower.

Day after day, I dumped a bucket of water on these, hoping that they would bloom and be breath-taking. I wanted to see cloud-like hydrangeas, spilling over one another, waiting to be cut and placed in a vase on my table.  Hydrangeas are some of my favorite flowers. I’m always drawn to houses that have them in front.  They are delicate, but also big and bright.  They grow in huge families of flowers which makes them even more beautiful.  I love their ruffles, their smell, their pinks, purples, and blues.  Every day, I waited to see a hint of a flower, a sneak preview. But all I saw were huge green leaves, practically making faces at me.

Finally, near the dirt, buried under the huge palmish leaves, I saw some bright, pink color pop through.

I’m not sure why the first ones had to be practically on the ground.  And I’m not sure how they started to turn brown so quickly. (They never did make it to a vase on the table).  But I at least had the motivation to keep sloshing and pouring into these massive green plants, hoping that before the first frost I can see a reward for all of the watering effort.  But even though I didn’t need proof in the first place (plants WILL produce flowers or fruit eventually), and even though I had proof I didn’t deserve in the first place (the ugly pink/brown/hardly seen flowers in the grass), I got angry at the plant for not impressing me, for not blooming when I wanted it to. For making my house plain and green rather than voluminously colorful. For wasting my time.

I can hardly even begin to think how many ways in which this little lesson applies to my life.  I can’t even imagine the hilarity or frustration God must feel sometimes when I’m stomping my feet, expecting a plant to grow faster than a plant was designed to.  I can’t imagine how ridiculous it seems to Him that I think watering these two hydrangeas every morning is hard work rather than a complete joy and privilege.  The moment I expected something selfish and unrealistic, I lost the joy and purpose of completing the God-given task at hand. “Take care of the earth”.  I did, I enjoyed it, but I ruined it so quickly with my own little wants.

God could have struck down the plant, burst in into flames, or just allowed it to wither completely.  He would have had a really good point.  But, a few days ago, I trucked out to the front porch to find this:

This is a different color…that came in different timing…but isn’t she just breath-taking??

It’s nearly October.  The weather will probably shut down the flowers before they can even get here. But something tells me that next year’s will be even fuller, even more vibrant and lovely, if I keep on watering.

I don’t know what your watering can journey is like, what you’re slaving over, what you’re pouring yourself into.  Maybe you finally see some flowers, but they look dead and lifeless.  Just remember, the plant will bloom. And you’ll probably be more impressed and over-taken by the beauty because you waited, you toiled, and you worked for every single petal.

 

 

*Well, my ambitious backyard flower project that I wrote about didn’t turn out so well in the end. The plants are still hanging on, but I didn’t make the time to care for the front yard AND the back yard plants. I’m a beginner, after all.

Intentional Space

Jack’s current most-repeated phrase is “NO! I can do it all by my big boy self!” And this pretty much sums up our life since July 24, 2011, his 3rd birthday.  He is now in a phase of fierce independence, discovering a taste of life as an actual kid.  As his mother, I certainly think life would be easier if he would let me squeeze his toothpaste for him, insert the straw on his Capri-Sun, velcro his shoes, unbutton his shorts when he needs to use the big-boy potty. But, I’m quickly put in my place. “No, Mom. I tan (can) do it.”

I suppose those are some of the greatest, healthiest words I can hear from my son.

Times are changing.  Jack graduated from a baby swing to a tire swing (tied and assembled by his amazing dad).

 

He packed his Thomas the Train backpack with several books, crayons, and snacks to be fully prepared for his first day of preschool at Cherry Lane.

Aside from the battle-of-the-wills, this time in Jackson’s life is very exciting to observe.  When I read him stories at night, his questions are getting bigger, like more can fit inside them.  I can explain where Michigan is on the globe because he asks and cares. I can explain (er…try to explain…) what baking powder does when helps me make banana bread. I can offer explanations about why things ARE, which gives me endless opportunities to tell Jackson about God.  The grandeur is overwhelming. (I feel sorry for people who don’t feel the spiritual obligation and privilege to raise children toward knowing and loving God. Nothing is more fulfilling than this!)  Jack wants to know everything, and most of the activities I do around the house are either assisted with or critiqued by my wide-eyed, need-to-know preschooler.  It’s an amazing time in my life and in his. And these past few weeks, as September crawled onto the calendar pages, I’ve been a very, very proud mama.

And as it’s been over three weeks since I’ve written…I can say that Jackson isn’t the only one who is feeling an independent streak.  I started a rhythm two years ago in my home that I’ve maintained fairly well: the routine of laundry loads, grocery shopping, cleaning, and other duties that fill more of my days than I probably realize.  And within this time of establishment and experiment, I’ve stretched myself, tried new classes, new hobbies, new groups, new recipes, new parks, new routines.  Although Jackson is obviously my number one priority, I’ve been able to create a good deal of space for me.  I’ve grown and changed, succeeded and failed. I’ve been refined, directed, challenged, confronted, forgiven, praised. I’m sure the rest of my life will continue to ripen similarly; but lately, I’ve begun to feel a space created. Emptied. I’ve been feeling perhaps it might be time for God to throw me another ball to juggle.

September will be the month our home study is complete for the adoption process.  Josh and I are awakening, realizing that this process, in a week or so, will no longer be a stack of papers, a mess of dotted lines and questions to be organized.  When asked about adoption, we won’t be able to give the shrug saying “We’re working on it”.  No. We’ve done it.  I believe this has always been in God’s hands, but our busy work is nearly at a close.  We are on the brink of waiting for the phone call or email that just might change our sense of forever.  Like most things in my life, some days I feel like I’ve got a handle on what we’re doing with the adoption.  I feel strengthened, prepared, informed, realistic.  And other days I feel like I have absolutely no idea what we are doing and no clue how we’re ever going to make this happen.  But, I’m reminded that I felt similarly when I was pregnant.  And every parent must feel both of these things each day as we try to build our family one small daily brick at a time.  I know what we’re doing. And I also have no idea.  That’s the beautiful part of his process, and I’m trusting the Lord more everyday that He already knows who our baby is going to be, and how he will find his little way into my arms.* I’m also trusting the Lord that I am ready.  I think that’s what this new space is for.  I’m praying (and asking you to join me) for the little one that was created to call me “Mama”.

I’ve gotten better at letting time gently pass me by.  The calendar** is still fuller than we ever expect, but it’s not bursting at its seams. I’ve still got the commitments, relationships, challenges that keep my engine running…but I have intentional space, made for intentional preparation, for this divinely intentional calling of adoption. As our folder closes, our family patiently…

 

waits.

 

 

*It’s no secret that my heart would leap for joy if we were to have a baby girl someday.  I was created to play with dollhouses and Barbies.  But, considering I have absolutely no say in what gender our baby will be, I should probably start at least entertaining the idea that Jackson could have a little brother.

**You MUST check out our latest organizational tool shared with me by my Cornerstone professor. Cozi. You’re welcome.