Spiritual Rabbit Trail

I was reading in Hosea this morning and I followed the notes to their end. I didn’t end up so much like Alice in Wonderland, more like Alice wandering in Heartland. Here is the trail to follow along, if you feel so inclined.

“Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, til He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (AMP)

Which led to . . .

“And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity].” II Corinthians 9:10 (AMP)

Then the trail went to . . .

“For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10,11 (AMP)

Made me think about my writing and gardening and the purpose for which God has for me in both. I love this time of the year, watching things bud and sprout up from the dead. I may be in a place of mourning these days but still, there is life around me and seeds to be collected from the dead parts of my life to plant in the fertile soil around me, ripe and ready to be cultivated by God’s provision and grace.

God’s word alive and active in me, aka, Christ, is the rain which waters the earth around me and causes things, good things in abundance, to sprout and bring forth seed and bread. Opportunity and nourishment. Purpose and sustenance. Hope and discovery. A garden of possibilities abound.

What’s in your garden?

Cocktails

I mixed up a cocktail last night. It was one of those days where, you know, you’d like to erase it from your memory card for good. Okay, I didn’t really mix an alcoholic cocktail, although I did drink a glass of wine.

No, the cocktail I mixed up was mainly comprised of self-preservation, anger, self-pity, selfishness and I’m pretty sure I threw in a splash of pride as well. I slugged it down quickly and then doused my husband with some of it too. I might have even continued to sip at it until I went to bed. Some days it’s just hard being a person.

Emotions are potent things, duh, and when mixed together with other people’s emotions, look out–big bang creating a world of hurt. Ugh.

I awoke this morning with a bad taste in my heart. My breath was reeking with regret and my stomach was in knots. And we all know there is only one true cure for an emotional hangover. . .REPENTANCE.

I went to a secluded place and traced the ingredients of my emotional cocktail back to their origin, not just sin, but particular sins. Within the sacred place of God’s presence and grace, I found relief.

And I went to my husband and asked forgiveness. Only then were the effects of my emotional cocktail finally gone. Sometimes it’s best to not indulge the emotions.

Which ingredients do you find yourself mixing together in your own unique version of an emotional cocktail?

Room of Pictures

I was reading in Ezekiel a couple of days ago, a pretty visionary, trippy-like kind of book. He was in the middle of a vision from God where he was led into the court of the LORD and asked to enter in. Seventy some elders of Israel appeared to Ezekiel and they were all offering up incense to idols.

God says to him, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?” (8:12, ESV)

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(pic. courtesy of craftwarehouse BlogSpot)

I started to think about my own dark room of pictures and wondered what’s framed in mine, hidden from the world and God, or so I think. It’s not a pleasant question to ask yourself, but I’ve also been reading a book about finding God’s purpose for my life and the day before I read this, I was challenged to identify the idols in my life, aka:  anything getting in the way of God being first. And then I was asked to surrender my idols to God.

Interestingly enough, I came across this verse as well the next day. “His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them.” –God (Ezekiel 7:20, ESV)

This verse is provocative in that God gives us plenty of good gifts, but we can rapidly take a good God gift and morph it into something we hold in higher esteem than God, we begin to worship it. A God gift can become an idol.

For me, reading was exposed as an idol. I devour books, mainly fiction. I read to escape. Yesterday I surrendered reading to my LORD. It was very intriguing to watch God move in new ways through my surrender. One result was a job interview today. How many greater things have I lost out on due to my lack of idol surrender?

What is framed in your dark room of pictures? Which good gifts of God have you idolized, spending more time, energy, heart-sweat there than for God? Are you willing to surrender your idols and watch God move?

Dance of the Dragonflies

Every afternoon, when the sun finally comes out–yes, it’s like that in the Northwest–a group of dragonflies take flight in my backyard. I sit on the swing and watch them fly in a million directions against the blue sky. It’s beautiful.

It got me thinking and wondering about dragonflies and what exactly they symbolize, so I, like all of us these days, googled it.

They represent change overall, and change that goes beyond life circumstances to a deeper, more mature understanding of life. In other words, go deep. They can move in all six directions and eat while in flight. They are graceful and agile.

One of the sights, www.dragonfly-site.com, talks about their iridescent wings and body and their ability to show themselves in different colors from various angles.

“This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life… also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self-discovery and removal of inhibitions.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a ton of self-created illusions keeping me from God’s best for me. And I don’t necessarily want nor need a vision into the realities of this life according to the world; rather, I desire a clear vision into God’s reality for my life.

A while back, as I was struggling to find validation as a writer, a friend told me that I didn’t need validation, that I am a writer already validated by God. But here I am, still attempting to produce proof that I am a writer. Yesterday I was going through old papers and came across a couple of journal entries where I talked about the freedom I found in writing.

My job search is not going so well. I am haunted by self-imposed doubts about my dubious work history of 37 jobs.

The fact of the matter is I could use a bit of dragonfly dancing. I’m ready for a change in perspective, to be courageous and agile. I am ready to unmask who I truly am, a daughter of the King, and embrace what He has for me, no matter what that is.

I will write. That is who I am. It feeds my soul and hopefully my words encourage and strengthen others. And through my writing I will dance with the dragonflies.

And so I ask, who are you? What self-imposed doubts are clouding the vision of who you are in Christ? Is it time for you to dance with the dragonflies?

Wall of Mirrors

Mirrors, mirrors on the wall, who’s the daringnest of them all to remove them off without a fall?

I have a wall of mirrors in my new house. Or I did have one. I removed around thirty one foot mirrors today in the smallest bedroom of our house. It was scary. They were taped on and I had to pry them off one at a time all the while hoping they wouldn’t crack or shatter.

Suprisingly, only one shattered, and that was because I dropped it. Several of them cracked but most came off without cracking up. I didn’t crack up much during the process either.

I slowly watched myself disappear as I removed each panel of mirror. So many reflections of myself visible, so many angles, so many different perspectives. One by one I was swallowed up. Behind the wall of mirrors was a yellow wall. Immediately the room seemed darker and smaller.

I kept waiting for some grand revelation through the mirror removal process. The only thing I came up with was this:  Christ calls us to die to self, to remove all of our own perceptions of who we are in order that we may be ready to embrace who He wants us to be.

At the end, the wall was a blank slate. Hopefully by my end, the selfish, sinful Laura parts will all disappear, replaced by the glory of God.

So, what would you do with a wall of mirrors?  And what do you think I should do with my blank slate (it’s in our office room)?

Rambling Irish Thoughts

I’m pretty sure I’m not Irish. Still, like many on St. Patrick’s Day, I wish I were. And I’m not really sure why.

I went to Ireland over ten years ago and that has been the extent of my overseas travels at this current time. I’m hoping in the next decade or so to remedy that situation.

I loved it. I loved the people, I loved the rural areas, I could admire the cities, but my heart belonged out in the countryside, like it always does, on the Cliffs of Moher, hopelessly lost with a friend on a back country road. Or perhaps traipsing through a fifth century cemetery suited me equally well.

At any rate, I have fond memories of Ireland.

Almost twenty years ago, while living in Lincoln, MA, I stumbled upon the St. Paddy’s Day Parade in Harvard Square. I remember thinking it so surreal that a midwest farmer’s daughter should stumble upon such a rowdy group of Irish Bostonians, out to enjoy the festivities.

The luck o’ the Irish. I love looking for four leaf clovers. When I was young my sister and I would spend many afternoons looking for four leaf clovers. It helped immensely after we discovered that certain patches of clover in our yard were more lucky than others.

Ah, the childlike thrill of finding a four leaf clover! I can’t help but look as an adult when I find myself in a patch of clover.

I like these weeds, as some would call them, for another reason as well. The trinity reminder–another sign in nature directing us to God. I believe that God loves four leaf clovers too. When we join ourselves to God’s trinity, we are four strong.

If there are patches of clover and shamrock in heaven, I believe they will all be four leaf clovers.

Do you have any fond Irish memories or St. Patrick’s Day traditions?

 

 

 

Rut Chucking

I am a rut runner. I discover the way I like things to be and I meticulously walk the same path over and over and over, until the groove deepens and the mud underneath my feet is comfortable.

But ruts are tricky. They can become slippery slopes or clumpy clusters of things that have become normal in our lives. Take food for instance.

Last week I started a three week funky diet where I am doing away with seven different foods. Once I made it past the cravings, I was surprised by how much I relyed on these not-particularily-super-healthy foods. In small amounts, by themselves, most are healthy. This week I realized how much they’ve been a part of my mealscape (it’s like landscape for food).

Ruts, pure and simple, and lots of them. Once out of these food ruts, I have been challenged to find creative alternatives. There’s been a couple mishaps. A scientific experiment involving kefir grains, coconut milk and fermentation went a bit wrong. Last week a craving nearly did me in.

Overall, I find I am eating healthier and enjoying the creativity of thinking outside my normal mealscape rut.

It makes me wonder about other areas of my life. Where else am I stuck in unhealthy ruts? How can I get out of them?

Perhaps a few rut reality checks are in order. Perhaps I need to do some rut chucking.

This I know:  I am thankful to be out of ruts. Initially it is hard, be it physical habits, emotional patterns, or spiritual practices. But once out I see how vast and varied the world around me is and I am challenged to go out and embrace the new.

What about you, where do you need to do some rut chucking?

Weedy Reflections

First off let me apologize for my recent inconsistency in posting. As you all are very much aware, sometimes life happens. My life happening has stirred up the soil of my heart. Honestly, I’m not really enjoying what has been stirred up:  weeds, and lots of them.

Several years ago my husband and I bought a house on a couple of acres. It was our first taste of owning acreage and we were in for some definite shocks to our manicured, city mentality. The property was foreclosed on and the previous owner had horses.

Much of the land was barren, that is the land that wasn’t being overrun by blackberries (gotta love the Northwest). Ironically, I planted a few plants in an area that remained barren until we moved last summer. I know, location location location.

One hillside, or rather one part of the hilly acreage, had a patch of thistles. I’m sure the horses kept them in check, but by the time we moved in, they were easily over my head at 5’2″. These were SERIOUS thistles. Serious as in, cloak yourself in armor, at least double gloves, and pull them up. I didn’t even want to go near them for the potential pain they could cause. PRICKLY!

Another weed scattered around the property was milkweed. If you have never had the pleasure of pulling some up, know that they have to be one of the stinkiest weeds ever, and messy too with their milky, smelly liquid oozing from a broken stem. I always hated pulling up milkweed.

A final predominant weed continually battled against was scotch broom. The thing about scotch broom is that I actually think it’s pretty when in bloom, and even in the winter when my eyes are starved for any color other than grey. But scotch broom is deceiving. It propogates via seeds in late summer and spreads like wildfire. Its roots go deep and they are stubborn to pull out.

Real life connection/application:  I need to pull up some weeds in my heart. There are thistles growing, prickly issues I don’t want to tackle for fear of being hurt. Milk weed is abundant; stinky, oozing, messy things to be dealt with. Scotch broom propogates lies and spreads its deceitful beauty.

I can’t tackle these weeds without God. I don’t want to tackle these weedy issues without Christ. And here’s the thing:  God wants to clear away the weeds to make way for a garden of goodness and beauty, right in our hearts.

What are the weeds prevailant in your heart? How does God want you to tackle them? I’ll give you a hint, it’s with Him.

1rst Grade Memory

I’ve been re-visiting a first grade concept lately, saving it for a rainy blog day. Today was a sick on the couch watching movies day. My head’s a bit fuzzy but hopefully I can articulate my thought.

When I was in first grade we spent some time studying emotions by talking about warm fuzzies and cold pricklies. It should come to no surprise that we turned them into an art project. I kept mine, they’re stored in a scrapbook somewhere in an unpacked box.

The warm fuzzy was bright and cheery and happy and made you feel good. Cold pricklies of course did the opposite.

I’ve been wondering lately which I have and give off more of. I’d like to say I have way more warm fuzzies, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. More often than not in the current cramped quarters of my life, I’m hurling out cold pricklies.

So how are warm fuzzies acquired?  Spiritually, turning my thoughts on God, on Christ, and digging into the Word more. And praise. Praising God can quadruple my warm fuzzies in no time.

Cold pricklies can multiply way faster than warm fuzzies, especially when things are not going quite the way you want them to. Cold pricklies remind me of frightened porcupines shooting their quills out at what gets too close. Okay, I may be making that up, but honestly I’m too tired to open a new tab and research porcupine quills at this moment.

So which do you have more of lately, warm fuzzies or cold pricklies?  Is there a relevant art project from your own childhood that addresses something in your current life?

In Search Of . . .

Remember the Leonard Nimoy show that ran from 1976-1982 called In Search Of? (I love google, so handy with all its quick information.) I remember watching it from time to time as a kid.

One of the episodes I will never forget is when he went to Pompeii. I think it was the first time I had ever seen the remains of the ash encrusted city. I can still see in my mind the tables laid out for a meal, the people statues who didn’t escape the volcano’s force.

I’m not really sure what brought that all to mind. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been kind of searching for myself the last few days. Old photographs bringing to light chapters of my life long since passed.

My insignificant life is not all that much more significant than those entombed in Pompeii, except I have more stuff to cart around and less of a sense of community these days in this season of a moving transition.

Yesterday I traveled a distant path of my past to collage out my own in search of moment. Here goes. In Search of . . . Myself, Part 1.

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The words are:  Looking for maps, opening, platform, initiative, logic

Is a faster solution for this issue available, scalable

Big step for Laura in application

I could go into the long drawn out meaning behind these words but I’m not going to. Summarized, I am questioning where I am.

Lighter, ending questions:

  • Did you ever watch In Search of . . .?
  • Which episode do you remember?
  • When’s the last time you collaged for yourself and not for a school project?