The Little Things

Many of the “big things” have been taken away from us recently.

  • birthday parties
  • funerals
  • weddings
  • baby showers
  • celebrations
  • graduations
  • JOBS!

So, we are left with the little things.

I bought these tiny vases at the pottery festival this year with the idea that I would pick tiny flowers and display them together, multiplying their impact. As you can see from the photo – it worked! These little violets grow all around the edges of our yard, but go unnoticed because they are small. Their delicate beauty would be lost in a large bouquet.

Georgia O’Keeffe, who painted very large canvases (some 30ft. by 30ft) said that she saw people pass by beautiful flowers without noticing them. “I will paint these flowers so large, you will have to notice them,” declared O’Keeffe.

and she did…

and they did.

Now we are left with the little things as we stay home and practice social distancing, respecting the health of our families, friends, and neighbors.

This is more difficult for some folks than others. I have two members of my family who seem to be enjoying the social isolation very much. Their introverted personalities thrive in quiet, contemplative times.

Several others of us feel a void of social interaction. Two of our granddaughters have been reported to me as whiny and even crabby. (I guess you could ask Phil if the same is true of their Nana.) As extroverts, our souls feed on social interaction, and right now, they are not being fed in that way.

Yet I am learning to appreciate the little things. Our yard has never looked so good this time of year. A large part of that is due to all the rain and a mild spring, but additionally, since I am home, I have weeded and trimmed places that have been at the bottom of my “list.” I am finding great joy and peace in my garden.

I sense God’s presence there.

After all, it all began in a garden, didn’t it?

Before there were all the “big” things, there were just two people and their Creator. They walked together in the garden in the cool of the day.

So, during this time of social isolation, I have the opportunity to “walk with my Creator.”  I can sense His presence apart from the usual rush of life filled with the “big” things.

Psalm 16: 8-11

I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.[

    My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead[
    or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

It is also a time for prayer. There are many suffering because of COVID-19.

There are others who are suffering because of life events apart from this crisis.

My prayer is that I will use this time for God’s glory –

noticing the little things and allowing them to satisfy.

 

 

 

 

In Season and Out of Season

Camellia

I was complaining to Phil recently about my camellia bush blooming out of season. “These beautiful blooms will all turn brown when it gets cold again!,” I fussed. “It is still winter and these flowers open up as soon as it gets warm.”

“Just enjoy them whenever they bloom.” Phil admonished me. “It doesn’t matter what season they bloom.” And this coming from someone who grew up thinking the four seasons were baseball, football, basketball, and hockey….

The more I thought about it, the more I realized Phil had a point. I LOVE the blooms of flowers. If I enjoy my camellia blooms in April, what is preventing me from enjoying them in December, January, and February, too?

Only my attitude.

They did turn brown two nights later, but I had already picked 5 and we enjoyed them in vases for a week. It was like a touch of spring in our house.

These early blooming flowers have also reminded me of God’s faithfulness and God’s desire that we be faithful.

Just as I should be thankful that the flowers are blooming instead of lamenting the timing, our Heavenly Father wants me to be ready to share the good news of salvation through Jesus whether the timing seems perfect or not. I need to be ready in season and out of season.

In II Timothy 4:2-4 Paul is encouraging young Timothy to be ready to share the truth of Jesus.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

These verses, written around 2000 years ago certainly describe our current culture, don’t they? I know that I am often guilty of not recognizing opportunities to share the Gospel because it is “out of season” – not the situation or timing I am used to or comfortable with.

I need to be ready in season and out of season.

I am so thankful for the encouragement I receive in my garden with God.

 

# In My Garden with God   24

 

 

 

Thankful, Tender Hearts

I wrote the following post in 2016. Yet I feel it is just as important today when I think about celebrating all I have to be thankful for. May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving.

“There are many people in our country and the world today that are suffering. The pain, fear,and loss they are facing leaves little room to be thankful.

Here I am, looking forward to the arrival of some of our children, grandchildren and friends tomorrow. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I enjoy the family gathering, the food, and the focus on being thankful.

Yet I know many are not blessed the way I am. Recently, friends from church lost their college aged son in a tragic accident. A school bus crashed this week causing the loss of five young children. What is there to be thankful for in these situations?

A dear young mother recently shared in our women’s Bible study group that she was dealing with reconciling the fact that –

God is good,

God is faithful,

Yet the pain of the loss of seemingly senseless death lingers.

We are studying Ezekiel, a challenging book heavy with judgement. Yet this young mother shared that she felt challenged by the following verse. Ezekiel 36:26 –

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

“Do the situations around me cause me to harden my heart, or soften my heart?”

When my young friend said this – I realized – that is the challenge for me as well.

Will I allow situations around me, and personal suffering to harden my heart? Will I allow God to give me a new, tender heart that is able to see and feel His presence in the midst of suffering?

We have much to be thankful for, yet the suffering some face is very real.

The book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Notice that it was “during a period of utter despair” that Chesterton came to the point of recognizing his need for God. He had a change of heart.

As we gather this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those throughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray that we would have tender, thankful hearts to experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all we face.”