We've all heard the phrase, "bloom where you're planted." It really is a great little quote to share but even more so, to meditate on. We all have a past and parts of our past we tend to grieve on the regular. Maybe you grieve those moments in the kitchen with Grandma, or watching. your kids sled down the neighborhoods favorite hill; maybe, you grieve for loved ones that have moved out and moved on or for just the moments spent with those you care so much about. We all do it, and sometimes we can let grief keep us in a dormant state.
In early January, I pulled up my Etsy app and started searching for Peonies. They are my absolute favorite flower. They graced my mothers front walk way and my grandmothers back door. I just think they are the most majestic flowers and I have decided that I want every kind I can find. There is a great little Etsy shop that is based just north of us and shares the same planting zone. I decided to take a chance on some mail order Peonies. They arrived fairly quickly and because I love receiving packages I was also quick to open the box. I was excited to find 3 pots of dirt, wrapped in plastic and surrounded by packing peanuts. I pulled each pot out of its plastic and it literally just looked like a pot of dirt. Somewhere beneath all of that soil that was shipped was a plant, a dormant plant.
Being that it was still January, I let the little ladies hang out in our basement for the time being. We had not yet even built our front porch on our house and I want them to be tucked in around our front porch. I would have to wait. They would also have to wait and remain dormant. Then there was a really beautiful, warm winters day today. Our porch is built but unfortunately not yet ready for landscaping. I was a little anxious to see how my baby Peonies were doing so I pulled them out of the basement from their box and carried them out to debate on what I should do based on their conditions.
Sprouts. Sprouts were poking up just ever so slightly, beginning to reach for the sky in search of the life giving sunlight. My baby girl and I pull out my grandmothers 3 concrete planters and prepared them to receive my three precious Peonies. We carefully transplanted each. These are the moments when I wish I had a small green house. (Hmmm, I think that will be my next project.). I want to make sure those little ladies are well protected and able to thrive. I've put so much thought and have been so careful to make sure they can reach their full potential.
See, flowers and trees really have such a neat life. The go about life doing what they were created to do. The may flower, bloom, bud, or just stay green all year. More than anything, every little plant has one goal, just one. To grow as tall as it can! It is going to reach and stretch with all its might to the sun until it can reach no further. Many factors will come into play to determine just how far it can reach. If conditions are just right it will thrive. If conditions are not just right, it will struggle.
Struggle & Thrive
Now, there's a thought. As I was planting my little Peonies I prayed that they would thrive. I wanted the best for those little plants because if they reach their full potential, they will bring so much joy to all who meet them when they are clothed in all their flowering glory.
Isn't that kind of like us as women? We are planted and we are told we should bloom where we are planted. How can we ever reach our full potential though if we aren't given the right conditions, no matter how much we want to bloom. If the conditions we are in aren't conducive to thriving, what are we to do? The answer is so very simple. Pray.
Romans 8:28 gives us confidence that everything we endure is used for God's glory, for a greater purpose, for good. We know that when we are in His hands, not matter the circumstances or conditions, He will make it all right. Even if it's grief, you don't have to stay dormant.
I want to encourage you, that if you don't feel you are thriving in this life to ask God if you are planted where you ought to be. Are you in the best place so that He can use your life and make it beautiful? If you don't feel that is so then just ask Him to plant you in the right place. Ask Him to begin to surround you with people who can encourage you, speak life into you, pray for you, and help you see yourself as God sees you. Ask Him to send life giving words your way, favor, and to uproot you from where you are if the conditions aren't what He sees as His best for you. Don't be afraid of being uprooted when you are in His hands. Sometimes that's just what we need to leave our dormant place and begin to grow where we have not. Sometimes it's what we need to get the conditions just right for thriving.
Six months ago, my family of 7 put everything we owned on truck beds and trailers and stored as much as we could, nearly everything. We moved into a camper and a small cabin between us. It's not what I personally would consider ideal but it works for us. In the mean time, I have watched our new house rise out of the ground. We are thriving and making progress. My kids have discovered that they can actually play in nature and enjoy it. We have become closer as a family than I could have ever imagined. We've even add a really sweet dog to the mix who is our protector and friend.
God took what might look like a mess and misery to others and has made it beautiful. In the end, we have prayed over and over that we do not owe one single cent on our house. We own our land free and clear but a house is a different story. It sounds impossible to some.
Your circumstances maybe currently be ideal and perfect for you and your family to thrive. I pray that is the case for more and more families. However, as I have friends that reach out concerning needing prayer various circumstances I find it so very heart breaking that they just are not thriving. I have seen doors open and doors close for them and for others. I have seen God move and make a way were there shouldn't be a way. I have seen God drench families in His love and He has radically changed their circumstances so that they begin to thrive. The struggle, it will always be there. We aren't promised that things will be good and easy all of the time.
1 Timothy 4:10 says "That is why we labor and strive". We work and struggle. We work and struggle. We grown and stretch. We grow and stretch. It's not for our glory that we finally get to bloom. It's literally, for HIS glory that the world gets to be a witness to all the goodness and beauty that our story brings to the world.
I still find myself grieving for what once was. We had a beautiful home and were surrounded by family for 16 years. We brought home all 5 of our babies to that house, 2 were handed to us at our threshold there. I still grieve for my Granny who lived next to us and for the security we had in having my parents across the street. I find myself starting to grieve those things and that's okay. The thing is, I can't stay dormant long because God planted us so very perfectly. We were meant to thrive.
It's all for His glory.
There are so many memories we forget because we don't record them. I found this little gem of a memory in an old blog post. It serves as a brilliant reminder of someone I deeply love and grieve for many days, but it also serves to help me remember a precious memory I can share for generations.
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: exodus 33:22
Good grief! It's a phrase that I have heard used and used myself many, many times. It's almost never used in a positive way. Actually, I think this will be the first time I use it for good.
Grief by itself is very lonely and painful. It's empty and dark. There is no happiness there but...but, if you pair the word "grief" with "good" it can mean something so tender and precious it will steal your heart and knit together the open wound or tear in your life that has been caused by absence or loss that created that void to begin with.
Out of frustration we may throw our hands on our hips and call out "good grief" when the kids make a mess, the husband makes a mess, the dog makes a mess....you know where I'm going. "Good grief!" There IS another kind of grief. The good kind.
On Sunday morning I woke up when my husbands phone rang. It was early in the morning, not even daylight. I knew by the conversation that it had happened. That one of my dearest loved ones, one of my sweetest friends, one of my babies cherished love, had gone to be home with our Lord Father. In the dark hours of the morning my grandmother rested so completely that her sweet soul and mighty spirit were lifted away into the arms of the One who loves her most. I knew by the conversation I was hearing that my day was going to be much different than I had planned. I knew right then that grief was starting to lay over me like a heavy blanket. I didn't open my eyes, I just listened.
I knew before the phone rang something in my life would be different. Just before the phone rang I had been dreaming I was at my grandmothers house just next door and every one was there except her. The doors were wide open the window blinds had been rolled up, and everyone was moving about as I stood in the kitchen watching and feeling something empty. Her things were being divided up and the things I wanted most were being carted off but I didn't care. I just stood there listening to conversations and discussions, wishing with all my heart I was not a witness to this part of life.
It was a dream.
My grandmother had fulfilled every purpose God had for her and He called her home, ushered there by her angel. Good grief it hurts. Good grief there's so much pain. Good grief I miss her.
Yes good! Goodness! We were surrounded by so much grace and love that how could we not feel anything but good. We were loved on, hugged on, kissed on, and loved on some more. Good was all we could feel at times. We would stop...and think...and remember...and good was no longer a good word for how we felt. We all felt it.
So tonight as I was praying and leaning into God, pressing into Him, pouring out my heart, He leaned down and listened. My Jesus took me in His arms and said to me, it's okay. Grief is part of the healing, it's good. Grief is meant to be felt immediately. The pain is relentless in being noticed right away. So the grief stings, it bites, it wallows around, it plays hide and seek when you least want to, it speeds you up and stops you in your tracks. I'm also convinced it sits on your chest so you can't breathe...but when the tears come and you let go of the grief and let the tears flow, something happens. Release! We give that grief permission to be there but we take control tear by tear.
So as I remember why I'm grieving I learn to love the grief. The grief is good. It means I loved and was loved. It means that the tear in my life's canvas and emptiness can be knitted together. It means I must press into my Father God. It means I get to comfort my babies too. It is not all bad. It is good.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Missing you with all my heart my sweet Granny.
Today I was going about my business (literally working) and while talking on the phone I received a text. When I finished my call and I went to read it. Just the first little bit startled me. Then my phone rang, it was my friend who had sent the text and I answered.
As my friend told me about a series of events and how the played out over the weekend, my heart broke for her with each turn of the story. At the end, ultimately, she was safe and sound at home and talking to me. It felt like I was a million miles away from her because I could not reach through the phone and hug her. She has been my best friend for so long and is that friend that you can not hear from for months and be okay because when you talk again it's like you never missed a beat. She is that kind of friend to me.
I love her. I hurt for her when she hurts and I cry for her when she does. I rejoice with her when times are good and happy and joyful. Circumstances and distance do not mean a thing when you love someone so much because you make a way You are okay that you are apart but can't get enough hugs and conversation when you get to see each other.
Today the story that played out was devastating and something that no woman should have to endure short of losing a child. Every woman's body belongs to her and it is her to give to her husbands and to God out of pleasure and worship and never for anyone else except to give birth to another soul. Our bodies are a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and were made for a purpose (Jeremiah 1:5).
All weekend I read and studied on how it's always that one thing, that one experience that puts the spirit of fear in us but that is not of God (see previous post). God put a Spirit of strength, love and sound-mind in us. He gave us women a power that men will never possess. He set us apart and made us special, worthy, necessary, precious, and to be cherished. It is not God that lowers His expectations for us, it us that lowers our expectations for us. Circumstances and feelings we have are the factors that raise and lower those expectations. Circumstances and feelings can flip them like a switch. God does not waiver, He is steady, and He knows what He is doing.
After my sweet friend poured out her grief and shame and how she felt undeserving all I could do was listen. I literally hit the mute button so that she could just spill everything she could until she had said all she could say. All the while silently praying that God give me the words. It wasn't until later that I realized He already had, I just needed to be the vessel that poured them out on her.
To know God's love is something so special. We should all feel it. I cant feel it for you, or my friends, or my family. We each have to feel it for ourselves. That love causes me to lift my hands in the air with praise as if I'm reaching to the heavens for Him to pick me up as a small child. Like a Big Daddy who can pick His baby girl up and give her a whole new view, a completely different perspective. Remember...
Did you ever have someone pick you up when you were little. Didn't it seem so different up higher where you could see. I remember being picked up so many times, I remember riding on my Dad's shoulders and holding on. I remember how my heart pounded with all the new perspective and how exciting it was. That is exactly the feeling I get when I ask my Lord Father to pick me up. He lifts me up, gives me a new perspective and sets me back down with a whole new posture.
I want my sweet friend to know that love and I hope she felt it today. Even through scripture, prayer and words of love I could hear her voice shake with uncertainty. I think to myself; it's okay baby girl, you can take that first step again. Our Father is holding your hand. Be certain in your steps, He will guide and light the way and when you need Him to pick you up, raise your arms and praise Him for what He is about to do because He is about to give you a whole new perspective, His perspective, a view you couldn't see before.
Our body is a living sacrifice to be kept holy for Him and how dare anyone defile His beautiful works. He will seek justice for you, He will have mercy on those who want to be forgiven, and we all can walk humbly with Him, like a child.
It's 5:30 a.m. and I have had little sleep. I'm not going to complain, just wanted to justify if any part of this post doesn't make any sense. It's a little hard to focus but I think sometimes those are the moments when God's love and plan becomes more in focus.
Tonight I have stayed with my Granny in the hospital. She turned 87 this year. That's a big number. That's a great many of days on this earth. When my baby's were little I would say to them that they had only been on this earth for a little while. My Granny has been here awhile. There are lots of Granny's out in the world. Some are not as fortunate as mine to have family all around.
My Granny and I...We love each other. She had 10 grand children and I was somewhere in the middle. She and my Papaw owned a dairy farm. I grew up a stone's throw away from her house. I could always see the barns, fields, smoke house, cows, hay and their home from my front door. I explored the land all around that my Papaw worked. I ran through the corn fields, stepped in the cow patty's, swam in the ponds, hiked in the woods, picked wild black berry's, and climbed many fences and trees. Much of my childhood was spent playing outside with my brother or alone. We stayed out of the road and in the woods.
One thing I hope I never forget is going to church with them on Sunday. There came a time in my life where I was between driving myself and my parents attending church. So, Papaw and Granny picked me up every Sunday for years. I served in the church as I got older, helping out with the kids and still being involved in the youth. During those years I met my husband and introduced him to Christ. I owe a great deal to my grandparents for my spiritual walk. I didn't always stay on the path. I always loved my Lord but I stopped worship out of high school, I didn't grow spiritually for a long time but I remained His child and loved Him. I didn't know how to stand up for what I believed in but I did make choices based on His Word.
I have a lot of memories as a child, many are faded or gone too. I need reminding sometimes of my own past. Pictures and friends are great for that. The parts I remember most were the ones that were most important to me. Ballet recitals, tap dancing, climbing trees, building forts in the woods, hanging on the monkey bars, playing with my beloved toys and dolls, not a lot of friends to speak of but I was close to my cousin.
Yesterday I knew I'd be up all night with Granny at the hospital, I cleaned house and it was very quite. James had taken the Little's to the lake and I just needed a "moment". I checked off some tasks for the day, bought groceries, washed clothes and the entire time I thought about Granny. Granny wasn't always a Granny. I thought about pictures of her as a little girl standing in line with her classmates outside of their school building. She always complained that she was the biggest girl in class. She was tall and stout and pretty enough to catch my Papaw's eye pretty early. That's a whole other love story to share another time.
I'm sure she was no different than any other girl. She read books, played, worked around the house, and grew up.
I'm not really wanting to get into her story this morning. Although, I think it would be neat to go back and see it all play out again. Basically, we grow up. Whatever is going on in the world, country, city, home, all plays a part in our lives. Each generation probably sits back and thinks, these are "signs of the times" and the "end is near" We try not to dwell on the evil in the world. Instead, we curl our hair, put on lipstick, fall in love, get married, have babies, love our husbands, raise our children, talk to girlfriends, and much of our daily lives are similar to that of women from our past.
We were all little girls once.
Then we become women.
As a mom I imagine all my grandmothers before me who had babies, raised them, had heart breaks, and celebrations. It all seems so fleeting when you think about their lives. When you think about your own there is so much to experience and have experienced. I used to rock my babies and wonder if the women before me felt the way I did. I think if anything the use of technology year after year helps us to find the time to enjoy our babies more. For the majority of moms we aren't washing our clothes by hand, sewing clothes for the family, or making everything from scratch. No, we have some luxuries that make life easier but we still never have time. We fill our time up with things to do. I am finding that turning my thoughts to the past has created a new learning curve. What would the mothers before me tell me to enjoy most, to pay attention too. What is the most important thing in this life?
Not all women grow up wanting to have babies or get married. I get that. It's okay. Our souls callings are each unique and our divine purpose is unique just like us. No two are the same. What I can relate too is what I experience. My entire childhood I wanted nothing more than to have a baby of my own. I even prayed that God let me be around long enough to have a baby. He gave me 3.
Purpose, it has to be simple. I think I try to complicate my purpose in trying to always figure out what it is when it truly is simple. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a child of His. My purpose is in front of me everyday. I don't have to try to find it. There will come a day when my purpose here will be fulfilled and I pray that I did it to the best of my abilities, allowing our Father to be sufficient where I am not. I will love Christ and share His love. I will make mistakes and not always love as I should. Still, my purpose is to enjoy this life, this gift, that He has given me. To see Him in more a more each day, to whisper His name in times of need out of faith. We all have a purpose, it is simple. Each is unique and evolves.
If we will just walk in the light, we will clearly see where we are going. If we will just persevere, we will make it. If we will keep our eyes on Him, he will not let us fall. Others are watching us...even those who haven't been born yet. They will think of us. What will we have them remember? What will we have them think of us?
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.--Hebrews 12:1
As I sit here in my bed tonight I have a bazillion thoughts running through my head. Slowly, the thoughts are slowing down so I can focus on just one. My night as been wild so far...
The husband snores while I'm putting 2 of my own kids plus 2 nephews in the bed. They were like popcorn tonight. After cleaning their rooms I put them 2 to a bed I handed the oldest of each a book and told them to read...well, still I kept hearing feet pound the floor as one or two little superheroes came bounding off the bed. The solution tonight was LIGHTS OUT and cracked bedroom windows so they can listen for the wildlife. That worked! Praise the Lord and in the mean time of I managed to tackle a few tasks other than getting them to lay still. I'm so tired!!!
Eventually, I ran a hot bath and as I slid down in the perfectly hot water I closed my eyes and my tired body appreciated the comfort but as always I am almost self conscious in front of my own self. Today I was exhausted mostly from lack of sleep. I stayed with my Granny all night the night before and didn't sleep a wink. I spent hours cleaning house for her before crashing on her couch. It was a miserable old couch to try to sleep on but I wanted to be next to her in her recliner. She didn't sleep either.
While I was thinking how odd it really is that I'm so self conscious of my body my mind went straight to my grandmother. She can no longer drive herself...she hasn't in years. Lately she can barely get around on her own but we encourage her to try. She's had some procedures and new medication to help with how tired she is and they seem to be working for her. I thought about how much she has become dependent on her children and grandchildren lately. It's okay. We want to help. I just can't imagine getting to that point where I would need my boys and grand children to do everything for me.
I thought of my grandmothers tired body...her vessel and I imagined the soul inside and how it is aching to get out. Eventually my body will do the same. The aches and pains of this flesh and this life will become to great and I will be ready to move on to heaven.
Andy Andrews described it best for me in The Noticer Returns. He described the aches and pains and crossing over like being born. When we are in the womb we become uncomfortable and are ready to be born. When I was born I was greeted with love and open arms of family all around me. The same will be true of when I pass away on this earth. I will be greeted on the other side and I will have left this vessel which is tired and worn into a new "home, tent, mansion."
I didn't write this to plug a book. I simply have so much in my head regarding the "flesh" and how it constantly fails me. Not because it wants to but because it just does. Instead, I try to focus on staying healthy and serving others. There are many, many things I want to document when I read about our bodies, our flesh, and our new heavenly bodies. So, I figured I'd start somewhere.
I sometimes feel like I'm being led down a rabbit hole or an adventure into the unknown when I'm studying scriptures. As many times as I've read 2 Corinthians 5 about our heavenly homes, I had never thought of our homes as our bodies until one day in church I was reading a slip of paper I had written on years before that lead me to look up those verses in chapter 5. I remembered writing the words down on that slip of paper the last night I stayed with my grandfather. Jesus was SO present in that room with us that night. So many little details were alive and evident. He laid in the bed, his bod completely failing from head to toe and ready to make the cross over. I prayed and read scripture that night because I so badly wanted peace on what was about to happen. Losing him was hard but the peace I felt was from God.
That little slip of paper had written on it, "My papaw cried out that he wanted to "go home", we kept telling him he couldn't go home and in his drunken morphine stupor he cried. We were essentially telling him what he already knew...that he was going home! He was leaving this home and going into open arms to a place where he was cherished and loved more than he had ever known here. I had read 2 Corinthians 5 that night when I realized it wasn't his earthly home he wanted. There was NO comfort there. So, when I found that slip of paper, I went back there and studied more.
Could it be possible that the "many mansions" refer to our heavenly bodies. I mean, if we currently live in "tents" then how could our new bodies not be like mansions in comparison. In this "tent" we groan wanting to be clothed with our habitation from heaven. We groan with burdens not because we want to be without our tents but because there is something better waiting for us because we know as long as we are home in this body we are absent from Him.
So as our bodies groan and moan and we become weak in our flesh and our hearts begin to fail we will remember that in 1 Chronicles 16: 11 it says that we should "Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore." In time these flesh tents, bodies that we live in will on purpose and in good timing give out. We will then experience a new body like we could never imagine. One so perfect as to be called our "mansion".