Thursday, July 30, 2009

Room to grow

This certainly looks like a strange picture to center today's blog around. When I started this whole blog adventure, I sincerely prayed that the LORD would speak to me through my natural surroundings, His awesome creation. He has been faithful in that way, and I record some of those revelations here.

So what did I learn from these green onions? I guess I'll start with a little background information. The girls and I planted them from seed and they sprouted up nice enough. The package gave directions for us to thin the seedlings to stand three inches apart when they were one to two inches high. Contrary to the growing instructions, I did not thin the plants. I just did not have the heart to yank out all of those green onions. They were alive, I reasoned, and that should be good enough.

The onions grew only up to a certain point and then kind of sputtered out. It didn't take me long to realize that they just did not have enough room to grow. I had not followed the package directions and done what was necessary to ensure a good outcome. Little by little I began pulling an onion out here and there. My daughter and I always tried to eat them, tiny as they were, to lessen my guilt from not letting them continue to grow.

Slowly but surely, as they were given more room to grow, certain onions really began to thrive. This encouraged me to the point where I was willing to pull even more of them out to create more growing space for the particularly healthy ones. The preceding picture was taken after I had finally gotten to that place of being able to pull out a larger amount. In a way it was very freeing to be able to pull that many.

Through this little lesson, my extaordinarily loving and patient Father has shown me that I may not always understand why He calls me to pull certain things out of my life. It might not make total sense to me, and may even seem wrong or cruel. If I will just obey Him when I feel His leading, though, I can see that the outcome will be better. Like the onions, He may just be trying to give me room to grow. Why would I go against His best for me, knowing what I do now? He knows what He is doing and I can trust Him in that.

I hear You, LORD, and I will listen to You.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Unexpected beauty

A few mornings ago I discovered that my mystery flower out front is a sunflower. I've had some of them growing for a few months now, but I didn't know what they were. Could they be zinnias? Maybe. We did, afterall, have zinnias there last year. They might have somehow dropped seeds again.

After a bit it became apparent that we would soon know what kind of flowers they were. One was getting closer and closer to opening. Each day we'd check its progress and look for any clues to its identity. So that's what it was - a sunflower.

A beautiful, unexpected sunflower. We did not plant it. I'm supposing it came from our bird feeder. And now we have this lovely flower. I am reminded that beautiful things can come from seemingly nothing. That's so like our Father. No circumstance is ever beyond His ability to beautify.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Lord, help me to trust that You will, in Your perfect timing, bring beauty out of my current circumstances.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cover Me

A few nights ago I desperately needed to get away for a bit. My loving husband drove me out to this covered bridge even though we'd barely be able to stay long enough to justify the drive. I just had it in my mind to go all at once and he could see that it would help me to decompress.

How thankful I am for him. I look at this picture and it reminds me that I am covered by my husband. I am beneath his protective umbrella and that brings me comfort and a sense of security. His headship and covering has always been extremely important to me. And our intimate moments are just a physical reminder to me of that covering. What a beautiful thing!

Besides the covering of my husband, there is, of course, the covering of God. He is so much more of everything I love about my husband's covering. Actually, He is perfect in His covering. How much more should I feel secure and comforted, knowing the Living God is covering me? I don't even know that I can fathom that.

I've always loved the Bebo Norman song "Cover Me". Here are some of its lyrics:
Cover me, cover up my tears
Cover up this man who's covered up in fear
I need a peace of mind, I need a piece of you
To cover all that's gone and everything that's new
You unveil me with your mercy
I want to breathe you in
You unfold me, then you hold me

Cover up my heart, cover up my soul
Cover up this world and everything I know
You cover up the sky, you cover up the sea
Cover up the mountains and every part of me
Every single breath I breathe...cover me

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In the palm of His hand

Thanks, Lord, for speaking to me while it is still early today. As I sat and looked at this tiny toad in Elijah's hand, You reminded me that I am in the palm your hand. Afterall, wasn't that the theme of my entire Emmaus Walk? I can't believe I didn't see it sooner!
Isaiah 49:15b, 16a - "I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;"

Grace like rain....

is the title of a song that carries a lot of meaning for me these days. It serves as a reminder of how thankful we, as Christians, can be for the great work of Jesus on the cross. Grace has always been a bit hard for me to grasp and that is why I included it in one of my children's names. We all need to give and receive grace every single day.

Not coincidentally, the Lord has been speaking to me in other ways concerning rain recently. During a faith-shaking week of events, we had to drive home through a torrential downpour on the expressway. With lightning flashing, thunder pounding my ears, rain rolling in a blinding sheet down the windshield, we made our way through construction cones and barrels. Being the nervous person I am, this was definitely not my ideal driving experience.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, though, there was God's still, small voice. "Tamra, do not be afraid. Look at this rain. It is my blessings raining down upon you! See how profuse? It is my love pouring down, covering you." Thank you, Lord. You are so good to me.

The rain, too, has served to remind me of His unfailing provision. He sent His rain this week to water my flowers and garden. I did not have to drag the hose around or toil one bit to get them all watered. He can and will take care of me like that as well.

As always, though, whenever the Lord blesses, the enemy of our souls is right there to try to snatch it away. Yes, the watering has been plentiful lately - and the weeds have loved it just as much as the other plants! It is all I can do to get them all yanked, but I will take the good with the bad. And I will have a good attitude about it, too.

Lord, give me wisdom as I walk with You and listen for Your voice. Help me to recognize weeds in my life and have the courage to pluck them out. Grant me the strength to uproot the ones that have been growing for a very long time and, as a result, are particularly tenacious in their ability to fight removal. By the power of Your Spirit and in the name of Jesus I humbly ask for these things. Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The audacity

I've been meaning to write about the visitor to my flower bed and garden for a bit now. This little guy wreaked havoc on me all through the earliest stages of putting our plants in. A few of my plants, namely the marigold and sunflower, were all but chomped away. Upon close inspection, I discovered little holes and tunnels from the offender. Whenever I'd come upon one of those holes or tunnels, I'd pack it full of sod or weeds. The next day, though, I'd find more evidence that the intruder had returned via another route. It was quite frustrating. One time, I dug a hole in the flower bed only to have the ground fall away revealing a complex series of tunnels beneath. It had been virtually hollow under there, and I hadn't any idea.

And so my days went on, repairing the damage of this visitor, and trying to rid my garden of his presence. Quite accidentally, I came upon a way to send him packing, but that wasn't before he let me know what he thought of my interference. The kids and I were having a bonfire and working in the garden. It was getting pretty dark out, but we kept working so that we could finish up the last few things. Suddenly, from across the garden, we heard a grumbly, complaining animal sound. We all stopped to listen, asking if anybody else had heard the noise. It was actually quite disconcerting, but we finished up what we were doing.

As the night wore on, though, I began to feel annoyed with this creature. How dare he chew us out for working in OUR garden? Afterall, wasn't it ours to do what we pleased with? The audacity of the little guy was a bit much for me to take. It wasn't long, however, before it began to dawn on me that I could draw parallels between this experience and my own spiritual walk. Wasn't I just like that poor creature, grumbling whenever God attempts to bring change into my life? Stubbornly attempting to go along where I want even if He erects barriers? Who am I to do any of these things to the Creator of the universe? Wow! That kind of put it all into perspective for me.

I hear You, Lord.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seeds and Weeds

I mentioned in my last blog how the girls and I had planted flowers from seed and transplanted them. There is just something extraordinary about doing it this way. Sure, it is so easy to buy the plants already grown, but then you skip all of the hope and faith that goes into putting a seed in the ground and waiting to see what it will become. Or if it will become at all.

When we planted our seeds, the girls and I would go out each day and examine the ground for any emerging sprouts. Sometimes, in our eagerness to believe our seeds had grown, we would see any sign of life and think it was our plant. Usually it was nothing more than a weed. No matter how much we wanted it to be one of our plants, we just couldn't make it be so.

I think I do that in life, too. Sometimes there are things that I want so badly to sprout and take on life. I watch and wait. Then it happens - something sprouts up! Hooray! But how many times do I not recognize it for the weed it is? "It can't be a weed," I tell myself, "I've wanted this for so long!" And so I go on convincing myself and trying to squash down that nagging feeling that it might be a weed afterall. When will I learn?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


At this time of year there is often a lot of transplanting going on. My household is certainly not the exception. Actually, we've had three rounds of transplanting recently.

The first group looked amazing the next day, but slowly deteriorated thereafter. Most are still hanging in there as their roots gain new footing in foreign soil. Some looked to be in dire straits, but seem to be perking up and recovering. I am now noticing greener leaves and new shoots growing. They proved to be resilient.

The second group met calamity as they overnighted in my house. Our cat had a grand time chomping on leaves and knocking over the one that was in water. I had been so excited to receive them, too. Definitely not the way I wanted things to go down with my prized possessions.

I just finished transplanting the third group. Unlike the others, these little guys were sown from seed in a little clementine box. We had lined the bottom with dead leaves to keep the dirt from spilling out and to help moisture stay put. We watched them expectantly and were overjoyed when the first sprouts appeared. They kept coming and coming! Unfortunately, as they grew, they began to get crowded. Things were definitely getting cramped in that little clementine box. It was time to separate them before they would no longer thrive.

I lovingly dug them out and transplanted them in a variety of pots and areas in our flower beds. There were so many of them! My daughter and I kept referring to them as if they were people. "This little guy needs some more support. I think he will do well if we put him here - don't you think? Don't put him too deep or he might not do well." Before long I began thinking about how I will be transplanting my children into the world before long.

Like the third group, I waited for them and rejoiced with their arrival. I watched them grow and provided them with the things they needed to do well. I have tried not to be careless with them like I was with the second group, bringing things upon them that would harm them. They are growing, for sure, and soon they will need more room. It will be time for them to strike out on their own.

Inevitably my mind wonders how their transplanting will go. Will they be like the first group? Will they strike out on their own, full of zeal, only to wither under the pressures to come? I do not know how it will happen, but I do know that God is faithful. He loves my children even more than I do, and I can trust Him to take care of them. And, if the transplanting does leave them withered at first, He is able to revive and restore.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strange requests

Earlier today I had noticed some kind of flowers growing on the side of the road when I was out and about. I noticed them once again on the way to church. On the way home I asked my teen son if he would get out of the car and bring some to us so we could identify it. Son #1 was a no go. Son #2, however, was game. Cool! We dropped him off and circled the car around to swing back and pick him up. As we approached him standing on the side of the road waiting for us, I had to smile to myself. What a strange request I had made of him, and yet he didn't consider it to be strange at all. The girls OOOHED and AAAHED over the prize that accompanied him into the back seat. The flowers ended up being pinkish, not the white color that they had appeared to us as we sped by. Another reminder to me that things are not always as they seem. The mystery flower's name? Daisy fleabane. The kids will probably always remember its name from now on. Who knows? Perhaps they'll carry on with them the memory of tonight's strange request. Just maybe they'll smile to themselves years from now when they encounter the same flower.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The beauty of simplicity

When I closely inspect most flowers I am blown away by all of the little intricacies in their design. Nothing simple about most any flower - the Lord really went all out when He made them. Amazing! As I worked in my tiny garden today, I couldn't help but ponder this.

As I looked over our garden, I suddenly became keenly aware that it didn't much resemble anything you'd see pictured in a magazine. All at once it seemed to be lacking in so many ways. I shouldn't have been surprised to find those thoughts lurking in my mind. Afterall, society tends to lean towards the philosophy that MORE is better. That is rarely the case, though.

Sometimes LESS is better. Less keeps me humble. Less helps me to work on being content in every circimstance. Less helps me appreciate more and expect less. Less gives me the opportunity to trust Him each and every day to meet my needs. Living a life of simplicity can be a very beautiful thing.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiates 3:11a)

For love is a flower...

This begins one of my favorite quotes. I came upon it last summer while reading Little Men to my girls, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. I have SO enjoyed studying wildflowers with them lately. I cannot believe how much we have learned and the memories we have made. There is just something so satisfying about walking with them and hearing them tick off the names of the plants. Or to see them get excited about something they've found or a picture they've taken. I cannot even begin to touch upon how much I enjoy this. It is neat to me that this quote fittingly links love and flowers. While I've studied flowers it has made me think a lot about love. The love God has for us, the love I have for my kids, the love I have for the beauty of His creation..... I could go on, but I'll end with the entire quotation.

"For love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet
miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair
and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those
who receive" (Little Men 369).

What's in a name?

Well I finally have a name. For three days I have been thinking about it. Even had a list going, but nothing was quite right. Ironically, I've been listening to a song over and over again each of the days that I've been thinking about my blog name. It is called, Speak To Me, by Audio Adrenaline.

It all clicked when I came upon the following verse:

Job 12:7‑10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

How awesome! Thank You, Lord. You are so good to me. Yes, I want You to speak to me every day. I will listen.