Where We Are Planted

Last Thanksgiving when I visited California my Aunt Phyllis asked me if I would like to have cuttings from my great grandmother’s Christmas cactus and my grandmother’s succulent plant. Of course, I said yes. She prepared and potted them and wished me well as I made the drive back with them to Arizona.

Bloom where you are planted 1

There is always a question: Will these plantings take root? I watched with great anticipation over the weeks that followed.

Bloom where you are planted 2

They seem to be doing well. Now, I must pay attention and keep them alive through the summer’s heat. I may need to bring the succulent inside. Arizona summer sun can be brutal.

It amazes me that this plant life, nurtured by women in my maternal line, still lives and is present with me now. This line of women (my great grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother) is known for devotion to prayer. As long as I have known this, I have known that I am of that line. I have been planted too. These plants are a tangible reminder of a living spiritual heritage.

Vacation means….

Vacation means having no agenda or script. It is an essential break from the routine traffic patterns of our lives. It gives us a chance to see things from new perspectives, to discover new aspects of our relationships with family and friends.

As children, my siblings and I spent hours upon hours in the back seat of our Volvo station wagon, driving back and forth across the country (New York to California and back). We entertained ourselves, bickered, tickled each other, and negotiated the allocation of space repeatedly (driving our parents mad at times!). Wonderful memories!.

Here’s to summer and making space on the calendar for those unscripted, no-agenda times!!

unscripted 3

Valentine Scone Love

Valentine Scone Love

My Valentine’s Day was full of goodness from start to finish! Traveled to Denver with mom. Breakfast at Snooze. Denver Art Museum. Cream scones at House of Commons. Fabulous dinner prepared by my brother. Then, home to make a special dessert. All good. Beautiful, easy-going sunny day.

Advent 2013: Yielding Hearts

Heart and Blue Sky

Advent is a season of readying the heart for God with us. Although I didn’t exactly plan it this way, my personal spiritual journey seems to coincide with this theme. Advent is an opportunity to draw close to God. In the midst of all that shapes us, it is a chance to remember him.

I’ve been learning to listen, really listen, to God. I have been putting things I am considering before him and asking him what he thinks. Stillness is necessary. I find I need to recall the things he’s already said and done. Over time, he has spoken, whispered even, through his word when I’ve sat with him, through observations and conversations with others, and through his Spirit. My belief is that this truth, from a Spirit-saturated culling of communications, trumps everything else I think I should be doing, could be doing, or might be doing. And it is this truth – this directive from the King who responds to the “thy-Kingdom-come-thy-will-be-done” prayer – that will bear fruit (if put to action) .

God’s quiet voice can get lost in the din of busyness. Then, it feels almost justifiable when we sit in confusion about which way to turn. When we are torn between a range of thoughts and ideas, it is possible that we are being double-minded or double-hearted. James (James 1:6-8) warns against double-mindedness, and I have often wondered about that term (perhaps I couldn’t understand it because I was in the thick of it!). In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he tells them not to be conformed to or shaped by the world around them but to let God transform them by changing how they think (Rom 12:2). The “world” consists of family patterns, family idolatries (worshiping approval, pleasure, success, service, praise, money, ease, image, etc.), unhealthy relationships, and cultural and societal norms – all the things that shape our identity, our sense of being “okay” in the world. These are so deeply ingrained that sometimes we don’t even recognize them as being unhealthy burdens that God never intended for us.

Listening for God’s “no” or “yes” on decisions I put before him means I need to be open to hearing. It also means remembering what he has said and trusting him enough for me to brush the other things off the table and focus on the things I know for certain.  Tonight, over dinner, reading the December 6th entry for Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling,” I was struck by these words that fit the Advent theme and my personal reflections:

“Stay ever so close to Me, and you will not deviate from the path I have prepared for you. This is the most efficient way to stay on track; it is also the most enjoyable way. [People] tend to multiply duties in their observance of religion. This practice enables them to give Me money, time, and work without yielding up to Me what I desire most—their hearts…. What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the Joy of My Presence!”

If you are unsure about what God is speaking directly to you, take a moment to be still with him. Ask him what he is passionate about. He will tell you what moves his heart.