I don't want to die!
"Rosalyn, this is Mom," my answering machine played back. "I'm calling to give you permission to water your ivy today."
One year, I bought an ivy. My mom visited, saved it from death, and then called periodically to tell me I could water it. Otherwise, I would have killed it.
In a week.
Another year, my mom secured a position for me at the greenhouse she managed. It didn't last long. Every ten minutes I had to run to wash off the dirt. Icky stuff.
Knowing my past, I have come to the conclusion that God has a sense of humor. Why else would he have given me the job of being a farmer's wife?
And I'm not sure what surprises me more this year: That I enjoy my garden, or that it's still alive.
In tracing back how those miracles occurred, aside from divine intervention, I realized that all those years of failure had added up to two important missing ingredients: experience and choosing a positive attitude.
And so goes our spiritual lives.
For each success, there are a dozen failures. Each failure is a lesson, just as each success reinforces. And my attitude is the water that makes the whole thing take root in my heart.
Colossians 1:9-12 reminds me to apply the same concepts to my life. In verse 10, I'm encouraged to keep at it, cultivating my faith, and as I learn how God works, I will learn how to do my work.
The verses go on to remind me to check my attitude - am I going at my life (spiritual, family, gardening) with a ' just get it over with' attitude - if so, I'm missing out on the power that God gives me when I choose to have a 'yes, Lord!' attitude.
It's through that power that I am given the strength to do the tasks he's set out for me, and He gives endurance and patience to complete the tasks. (Two very necessary gardener character traits.)
Lastly, as I become thankful for the success AND the failures, I am aware that all my experiences are used to develop my relationship with God. As my mentor Nina Roesner constantly reminds me, 'Nothing is wasted.'
So what does your life-garden look like these days? Faith Life. Farm Life. Garden Life. Child-rearing Life. Work Life. Church Life. Married Life. Single Life.
Success, failure - both are necessary to create the experience you'll need for the next round. None of it wasted. Smile, choosing to have a thankful heart. Then watch your life bloom.
“Momma, you done yet?” Trey tugged at my sleeve. “No, honey. We're still eating breakfast. You can either sit here with us or get down and play.”
Trey looked around Alice's Diner, familiar from our vacation the year before, not familiar enough to feel like our hometown diner. He wanted to explore, but wasn't sure about venturing off on his own.
He tried a different tack.
“Dad, you get down now?” “No, Trey. I'm still eating too.”
Seeing the frustration on Trey's face, I finally said, “Trey, are you afraid of walking around where you can't see us?” Behind us, the line of booths offered a maze of fun, but obscured Trey's view of us.
Nodding, Trey looked at me. “Honey, what do we say when we're afraid of something?” Trey cocked his head to one side and thought for a moment. Pointing his finger he said firmly, “In name of Jesus, GO. A. WAY!"
Overcoming fear... Even swans do it!
“If you're afraid, honey, you just tell that fear to go away. Momma and Dad are right here, we'll see you.”
Trey's face cleared up, and he began to pick his way over to the far end of the restaurant. Facing fear with the faith of a little one and courage backed by knowing that we were watching, he went exploring.
Earlier that week, Trey and I had visited the playground with my local Mothers of Preschoolers group. A seven year old girl was playing on the small rock wall, but would get to the top and freeze. Crying, she would call for her mother to come and get her down. “She's afraid to go over the wall,” her mom explained to me. “Every time she gets to the top, she's too afraid to swing her leg over the side. Watching her little sister shimmy up one side and down the other is so frustrating for her! I just don't know how to help her...”
Boy, could I empathize with that little girl's fear. Earlier in the year, I had stood by our new pony Sarah's side, crying in frustration at the fear I felt about getting back into the saddle after years of not riding.
Walking over to the rock wall, I started to climb it. “You know, Jenny*, I get afraid too.” With each word, I inched my way up to the top of the wall. “Did you know that God doesn't want us to be afraid?” She nodded her head. “And if God doesn't want us to be afraid, then who does want us to feel afraid?” “The devil!”, she stated seriously. “So if God doesn't want us to be afraid, and the devil does, who wins if we don't do the things that make us afraid?” “The devil!”, she agreed.
“When I get afraid,” I added from my precarious perch on the top of the rock wall. “I have a bible verse that I use to help me do the thing that scares me. Do you want me to tell you what it is?” Jenny nodded, eyes wide as she watched me climb over the wall and begin my descent. “For God does not give us a spirit of fear,” I said, “but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) My foot touched the ground and I breathed my own inward sigh of relief. That wall was high!
“Your turn,” I said brightly. “Ready?”
Jenny began her ascent, saying the bible verse to herself. Her voice grew louder and stronger as she reached the top. Throwing her leg confidently over the side, she began her descent, her mom's hand poised to steady her. She called out firmly, “God has not given us a spirit of fear! But of power. And of Love! And of a SOUND MIND!”
Reaching the bottom, she turned to her mom, gave her a huge grin, and ran off to conquer the next playground obstacle.
Her mom threw her arms around me. “Thank you! I can never think of what to say when they're afraid. Now I know!”
And now YOU know.
Something scaring you these days? It could be the prompting the holy spirit, warning you. If you're not sure, pray about it, read your bible and ask a trusted mature friend (You know, the one that doesn't always tell you what you want to hear.)
But if you're afaid of something you're supposed to do, ask yourself: who wins if I let fear rule my life? Then throw your leg over that fear, and speak the truth – and move forward with confidence!
Courtesy Jill Hollis Photography
This summer I have been featuring stories from readers' lives.
Today I am awaiting news of a dear friend in the faith, Debbie King. Yesterday we received word that she is reaching the end of her battle with cancer, and is 'ready to go home and be with the Lord'.
It is Debbie's own story that is helping me walk this path of grief. I wanted to share a bit of her story, in her words, with you.
Debbie writes: "15 years ago I received the call that no parent ever wants to receive. Three of my four children were killed instantly in an auto accident on their way to school. My life changed at that point forever and will never be the same.
We went through that week literally being carried by the Lord. As I walked into McLain & Hayes Funeral home that day and saw three caskets lined up across the front of the chapel I knew in my heart that my children were not there but it was merely their bodies in the caskets; they were resting in the arms of Jesus. As Seth’s Aunt began to play “It is well with my Soul” on the piano I knew that ALL was well with my childrens' souls, so therefore all was OK with me.
Then as I walked into Noxapater Gym that day and saw three caskets lined up across the front among thousands of flowers and more people than the gym or Noxapater could hold….Great peace came over me as I felt the love pouring out to me & my family.
I am not saying the years have been easy. The grief and stress from that traumatic day has, I feel, played a part in my fighting cancer. I fought to live on October 17, 1995… I fought to live January 2007-August 2008 [and again in July 2011]. But if I die tomorrow I know I will be with my Savior and my children. Peace….Yes, sweet peace!!
When my head hits my pillow the peace flows because of not what I know but WHO I know. On this side of Glory I’m incomplete and there will always be that part of me missing, but one day soon I will be whole again!"
Who has not experienced the pain of loss? At some point in our lives, we will all walk the path of grief. The question is, will we walk it utilizing what we know, or Who we know?
Courtesy Jill Hollis Photography
Dear Father God,
We claim the promise that 'weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning'. (Psalm 30:5b).
We ask for your comfort and your peace to be with us, and those families that are right now experiencing the loss of a loved one. We thank you that you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in our times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Please help us to support those in grief with compassion, patience, and graciousness.
In Jesus' Name, Amen