Naming That Emotion

Have you ever found yourself denying what you’re actually feeling? Shoving it down, poo-pooing it, staying busy so you can ignore it? 

That’s where I found myself a few months back when two domestic dogs busted into the chicken coop and killed 18 of the 23 hens we have here on my (very) mini farm.

I was completely confused when awakened out of a dead sleep to the sound of a dog barking in what appeared to be my back yard. I peeked out of my second story bathroom window, didn’t see anything amiss and went back to bed, only to hear the barking again. 

Peeking through the blinds once more, I saw a lot of flapping in the coop as well as two very large animals. I threw on some pants, ran down the stairs and out the garage door, grabbing a metal bat on the way. (In the afterthought, I’m not sure what good a bat would have done, but hey, I was in panic mode!)

It was a massacre. Dead chickens outside the coop. Dead chickens inside the coop. Feathers everywhere. A Great Pyrenees and Black Lab/Rottweiler mix had busted through the fence and was having a hay day “playing” with their prey. 

I banged the metal bat on the clothesline pole and started yelling. Fortunately, that startled them, and they took off in the back field. 

I stood there stunned. And did what every farmher does when her animals have been brutally killed…I cried. 

Carson and I got everything cleaned up, killed the ones that didn’t die but were severely wounded, called the dog warden who sent someone out and talked to the neighbor, then I also talked to the neighbor. (Did I mention my man was out of town? No? Yeah…) 

If you’ve followed me for very long, then you know this isn’t my first rodeo with something killing my chickens. We’ve had racoons, fox and weasels all wreak havoc in the coop. Shoot, I even walked out to a great horned owl with a hen in its claws. 

I am known as the chicken chucker after sharing the story of pushing my wheelbarrow full of dead chickens…curse you weasel!…out to the field behind us, chucking them while berating myself for being so dang out of shape. Come to find out my wheelbarrow had a flat tire. 

So, no. Not my first rodeo over here. 

But never the neighbor’s pet dogs. 

I couldn’t quite get over it. How do I know that? I kept talking about it. And yet, I would tell myself they were just chickens. This has happened before. What is wrong with you? I would apologize and tell Todd or Mallory or Mackenzie or Macey or any other person who would listen, that I was so sorry to still be talking about it. It’s okay, they would say. It was traumatic for you.

Traumatic? Nah. They were just chickens. This has happened before. What is wrong with you? 

I shoved it down deeper until several days later I spoke the word I had been feeling but wouldn’t allow myself to say because it was too big a word for the circumstance considering…they were just chickens. This has happened before. What is wrong with you? 

Violated. I felt violated. And I fought it. People are abused. Homes are broken into. Innocent children are sold into sex slavery. And I felt…violated?!? They were just chickens, not children. Not women hiding from a sick and twisted abuser. 

It WAS a strong emotion but until I allowed myself to say that that was what I was feeling was I able to deal with it. Psychologist Dan Siegel refers to this practice as “name it to tame it.” He goes on to say, so what’s the value of getting people to express what they’re actually feeling, rather than keeping things relentlessly light and bland? The answer is that naming our emotions tends to diffuse their charge and lessen the burden they create. 

We cause ourselves more harm than good when we try to keep the feeling at bay by cramming it down, keeping busy, ignoring it or denying it…for whatever reason we tell ourselves…instead of naming the thing. 

Dr. Brene Brown says the first step to moving through emotion is naming it.

I was stuck in they were just chickens, this has happened before, what is wrong with you cycle and would not move forward until I allowed myself to be honest about what I was feeling…big emotion or not. 

So why do we cram it down, swallow it whole, ignore it, deny it? 

We judge ourselves for feeling the feeling. Ummm…reread what I wrote above…yeah…I may have forgotten my own advice this time because feel your feelings has been a mantra of ours for a very long time.

We compare and that’s not fair to anyone including ourselves. Someone else’s circumstance may be worse than yours (like kid’s sold in sex trafficking) but it doesn’t lessen the trauma you’ve been through. Or perhaps the comparison looks more like how you think someone would react or even did react…but they are not you and you are not them. 

We’re embarrassed by what we’re feeling. Recognize that I should or I shouldn’t feel this way is the enemy to healing what actually is. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with clinical depression in high school but went undiagnosed for over a year. Why? Because, in her words at the time, she came from a good family, got good grades, and went to church so what did she have to be depressed about.

We can’t heal what we don’t reveal. Once I had the wherewithal to say, I know this may seem like a big emotion for what happened but I feel violated. Then we could figure out where that was coming from and move through it. 

We want to appear like we’ve got it all together so acknowledging our feelings may feel like a shortcoming, failure or mistake. 

We might think that by expressing an emotion that may be perceived as negative will make us look weak and lacking control. 

You guys, someones pets came into my safe space and killed something that was mine. My man was out of town, and I felt vulnerable and violated. It was a big honest feeling as a result of my little slice of heaven looking like a killing field.  

It’s okay to feel big feelings! Just don’t let yourself get stuck in that quicksand of emotion.

Now more than ever…I’m looking at you worldwide pandemic…we need to be able to express what we’re feeling, have safe places to do so and not be embarrassed. 

Will you be that space with me? 

kw

Something to Satisfy Your Carb Craving!

It’s harvest season around here. When something’s ready, it doesn’t matter what’s on your schedule, you take the time (make the time) to put up what you’ve worked so hard to grow. 

While the zucchini plants are looking a little worse for the wear right now, I was able to harvest several over the last few weeks and bake some scrumptious zucchini bread (or bikini bread as my grandson called it) and put them in the freezer for some heavenly goodness this winter. (Bikini’s and bread? Do they even go together?) 

Every year, I get out the recipe box, root around behind the “Bread” tab in search of two recipes. One is from a woman I treated many years ago when I was a radiation therapist. It’s handwritten and stained from so many years of use. I think of her and my co-workers whenever I see the recipe….it makes me smile. 

The other combines a vegetable and chocolate so you can totally gorge yourself because it’s healthy! It’s Bikini Bread after all! 

With all the worlds madness, there is something about the very ordinary task of mixing together a recipe, putting flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, creaming butter, sugar and eggs…that are fresh from that mornings gathering… in another that calms my soul. Anybody else? 

Baking bread is therapeutic for me. It reminds me of growing up in a kitchen filled with the aroma of goodness. A kitchen that was safe and sure. Those things shape who I am today…like water over a stone…day after day, slow, steady and sure.

What is it about bread that is so comforting? 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

God knew. 

God sent bread down from heaven in the form of manna when his people were in the wilderness. It fully satiated a hungry body.

Jesus looked to the heavens and gave thanks for bread provided by a young boy’s lunch. It multiplied to feed the multitude. 

Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. 

Jesus broke bread with the disciples…this is my body, broken for you. 

I wonder sometimes if it’s bread I’m hungry for when I’m in my own time of wilderness living or is it to feel fully satisfied by Jehovah Jireh…the One who provides. 

I wonder if it’s a reminder in my “never enough” mind to stop and give thanks for the ordinariness of my days. 

I wonder if when I’m craving carbs, seesawing between the cupboard (salty) and the fridge (ice cream), I’m actually craving the Comforter. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Take nothing away from Jesus but these recipes are sure to satisfy a true carb craving but will not get you ready for bikini season! 

Mrs. Libby’s Zucchini Bread

Cream together: 

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

In a separate bowl mix together: 

3 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (wash zucchini before grating and cut the ends off but do not peel)

1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans or this can be optional if you don’t like nuts) 

Mix all ingredients together. 

Grease and flour two bread pans or 4 mini loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour (or less). Test doneness with a toothpick or butter knife in the middle.  

Chocolate Bikini Bread 

Mix together in a bowl and set aside: 

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tsp salt

Cream together in a large bowl: 

½ cup oil

½ cup butter or margarine softened

1 ¾ cup sugar

Beat in 2 eggs one at a time then

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup buttermilk (can use “sour milk” by putting 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar in a measuring cup then filling to ½ cup measure, let it sit a few minutes) 

Add buttermilk alternately with the dry ingredients to creamed mixture. 

Add 2 cups shredded zucchini and a handful (or 2 or 3) of chocolate chips. (I used a variety here…sometimes a handful of white chocolate chips and regular chocolate chips…experiment! )

Pour into 2 well sprayed loaf pans and bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes. 

Is great straight out of the oven or refrigerated and eaten the following day! 

Then thank the God who Comforts for zucchini and chocolate…always thank him for chocolate! 

Enjoy!!

kw

For a similar read and my families favorite Banana Bread recipe read When Something Rotten Becomes Something Good

Holy Canning

In the house where I spent most of my growing up years, we had a finished-by-my-Grandpa basement. It had a kitchen, complete with cupboards, a deep freeze, table and chairs and an electric stove where my Granny would do all the canning. It was certainly cooler to work down there and this little girl thought we were rich because we had, not one but TWO kitchens!

Every year, when the green beans were gathered, snapped and washed, she would head to the basement, round up her jars, fill them with said beans, add a tsp of salt, pour hot water over the top with one inch of headspace, place the lid on top and screw the ring on.

All the while, the pressure cooker was on the stove heating the water in preparation for the jars to be put in. Once the jars are in, the lid is locked down and you wait for the steam to come through the vent. After 10 minutes of that, you place the “weight” on and wait for the pressure to build up to 10 pounds.

How can you tell the pressure has built up to 10 pounds? The weight starts to jiggle. It’s a beautiful sound to a gardener and canner of vegetables. But every time the jiggle started my Granny would say to me, run and get your Grandpa. I don’t want to blow up the kitchen he worked so hard on. 

With the weight of the basement blowing up resting solely on my shoulders, I would run up those basement stairs as fast as my little legs could go in search of my Grandpa. I thought for sure if I took too long to find him, that part of the house would be blown to smithereens. A hole in the house, and surely in my heart as my Granny was down there waiting for me to bring in the back-up, was all I could envision. 

Fast forward four plus decades and here I am, gathering my own green beans, snapping, washing, rounding up and filling jars, adding salt and hot water to one inch headspace, placing the lid, screwing on the ring and putting prepared jars into my own pressure cooker. 

The first couple of times I used that thing, I was so nervous that I always made sure Todd was there so I wouldn’t blow up  (my own)kitchen. Now, I’m comfortable enough to go at it alone and even though I know I won’t blow the kitchen up, I am respectful of the power inside that pressure cooker and the potential harm that can come if I get too complacent and think I don’t need to respect the instructions given in the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. 

Comfortable yes. Careless no. Respectful yes. Flippant no.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Uzziah was made king when he was just 16 years old and remained on the throne for fifty-two years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just like his father Amaziah

He waged successful wars against the Philistines. 

His enemies, the Ammonites paid him tribute. 

His fame spread throughout the land. 

His power was unequaled with armies and equipment at his command. 

His wealth unmatched with cattle, fertile land, vineyards, servants.

He was wondrously helped until he became, as my Granny would say, too big for his own britches. 

For when he became strong, he grew arrogant, and it led to his own destruction. (2Chronicles 26:16 CSB)

We see proof of this in this same chapter when his pride puffed up to the point of believing he was above God’s law. He wanted to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense on the altar. 

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? 

The problem is that wasn’t his job. Only the consecrated priests, the descendants of Aaron, have the right to offer incense.  They begged him to leave the sanctuary, for you have acted unfaithfully! You will not receive honor from the Lord God. (v18) 

Did he listen to the eighty priests who bravely stood up to him and tried to stop him from defiling the Lord? Nope. He became enraged with them. When he became so angry, the God who gave him success (v5) and helped him (v7) and made him powerful (v8) was also the God who cursed him with a skin disease which banned him from any access to the temple. He was quarantined until the day he died. (v19-21)

Uzziah didn’t listen to sound advice, didn’t follow the Good Book’s guide to preserving your life and his kitchen blew up! 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

How do you go from doing what is right in God’s eyes, being successful, powerful and well liked, to being banned from the temple with the epithet He had a skin disease, as the last (only?) thing people remembered about you? What did Uzziah do to blow up his kitchen? 

1. He became too comfortable in his position. Fifty-two years he sat on that throne as king. The longer we do something, the easier it is to become lax and take for granted our own position in life. We can forget that power, blessing, peace, fruitfulness, fame, fertility comes from God. I wonder if Uzziah thought he sat side-by-side with God, matching chairs and all and forgot for a moment that it is God alone who sits on the throne and is all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing. 

I never want to become so comfortable in my position in life or as God’s daughter that I forget who He is…holy and sovereign…or what he’s done for me already…given His Son to die on a cross for my sins. Can I go to Him with anything? Absolutely! Do I need to remember who I’m talking to? Yes. Yes I do. 

Just like with the pressure cooker, I want to be comfortable enough to know how to use it to make good things but respectful of the power within. 

2. He became full of himself. All that Uzziah was, his successes and fame, came from God. What should have humbled him produced pride instead. He convinced himself that he deserved more. That he had every right to be a priest as well as a king. 

I can sure convince myself of my own good works, can’t I? Look at me and all that I’ve accomplished. Here, let me do your job too because I’m that good. All the while forgetting that I have an assignment and ultimately God is in control. 

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes all things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You just happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1Corinthians 3:6 MSG) 

I think about this verse often when I’m out watering the garden and thank Him for growing it…and me. 

3. He stopped listening to wise advice. This happens when we get full of ourselves. The priest Azariah as well as eighty other priests were telling Uzziah, warning Uzziah, begging Uzziah to not do the thing Uzziah arrogantly thought he had every right to do. 

81 priests saying the same thing, surely can’t be wrong. 

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Proverbs 13:10) 

What would happen if I (arrogantly) thought I knew more than the people who wrote the Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving  simply because I had a couple of successful batches of green beans. These folks have been an unrivaled guide to home canning for more than 100 years

Surely, I would blow up my kitchen! 

What do I do when others give me wise advice? Warnings? How do I react towards them?

What do I do when I read the Bible…the wisest words of all because they are the very words of God? Do I think I know better? Or do I heed its warnings? Do I do as it says? Listen to what it’s telling me? 

Not always. Sometimes my life blows up because of it.

4. He stopped revering God. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Have we also stopped revering God? Has He become more like a “Bro” and less holy in our eyes? Have we scooted His throne over to seat ourselves beside Him…like equals? 

The Bible tells us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV) Approach. Not rearrange for our own to be brought in. 

Solomon says, don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7 CSB) Fear. Revere. 

I’ve heard fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10 NIV) 

Have we stopped fearing, revering? 

In his book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul says, 

When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and hopelessness. Helpless sinners can survive only by grace. Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. 

Yes, and amen. 

What happened to Uzziah can(does) happen to any(all) of us if we’re not careful. 

As in my experience with the canner, I try to be with God:

Comfortable yes. Careless no. Respectful yes. Flippant no.

All of this from an afternoon spent picking, snapping and canning green beans. 

kw

It’s Been the Longest Two Weeks Ever!

A prayer shawl gifted, my FIL’s walking stick and eggs from my chickens.

One year ago today I wrote in my journal: 

03/12/20 Thursday: COVID 19 is causing quite a stir. Quarantine Day 1. 

I stopped counting in my journal on “Q Day 65”. It was supposed to take two weeks to help flatten the curve and here we are, 365 days later, still figuring things out. What does one call this day? It certainly isn’t Happy Anniversary. Unhappy AnniversaryA Year to Remember or maybe Forget? 

We’ve all had plenty of time to be with ourselves, by ourselves, learning about ourselves. What did you gain? What did you lose? What did you like? What did you not? What have you changed? What has stayed the same? What did you miss? What didn’t you miss? What have you discovered about yourself? Your people? Others? Church? God? What did you learn you could do even when you didn’t think you could? 

There’s no way to answer all these questions in one 1,000-word post. I’m still perusing them in my head, as well as others. (My mind is in need of some garden therapy, truth be told. Soon, dear heart. Soon.) 

There is something God began teaching me a couple years ago that perhaps I didn’t appreciate until these past 12 months and that is the art of finding sacred in the simple, of learning to lean into the ordinariness of every day and being grateful for hallowed simplicity. 

The smell of fresh bread baking. 

The way the light shines across the wood floor in late afternoon. 

The first tiny green bean. 

Eating a tomato fresh off the vine. 

The ticking of the grandfather clock. 

The daffodils breaking through the cold ground of winter. 

Gathering eggs each day. 

Homemade pizza. 

A lit candle.

I could go on, but you get the picture. 

This past year has me longing for more as well. More prayer and less scared. More tradition and less thrill. More depth of teaching and less fluff. More cathedral and less concert. More being and less doing. More transformation and less information. More faith that is unshakable and less excuses that I am unable. 

I wonder if, in my pre-covid days, I missed opportunities to serve, to be, to learn, to experience, to trust because I was looking past the simple in search of something with grandeur, something greater, a bigger stage, a wider audience? I wonder if I missed the sacred moments with God because I was making it too difficult to see what seemed like the unimportant thing? 

* * * * * * * * * *

In Exodus chapter three we find Moses doing a very routine thing on an ordinary day tending to the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro. He sees a burning bush that doesn’t get burnt up. He gets to experience the Lord out there in the middle of nowhere like no one has ever experienced him. 

The Lord has a conversation with Moses about his people, Moses’ lineage and God’s chosen ones. God sees their misery under the heavy hand of Pharaoh and wants Moses to go to Pharaoh and free the people. Moses gives God all manner of excuses: Who am I to do such a thing? What if they ask me who it is that is sending me? What if they don’t believe me. 

God has a response to every objection and the assurance of his presence. Moses still isn’t convinced. Then the Lord asks Moses this simple question: What is that in your hand? To which Moses replies, My staff. 

My staff. 

Something so familiar. Something Moses has used every single day while taking care of Jethro’s sheep. Something that is simply an extension of him after such a long period of time working in the wilderness. 

I love this. I love that God would squelch some fears with something familiar. Moses would soon become a shepherd of people and tend to them on a journey into the unknown with something known, into the uncomfortable with something comforting. 

I imagine when he grabbed hold of his staff there was familiar groove that fit his hand perfectly, reminding him that God could take this simple thing to free his people. God could take that which was in the hand of Moses and use it for his glory. 

* * * * * * * * * *

God uses the simple, the familiar to do spectacular things. I realized this past year that I’ve made serving God too complicated. I’m like Moses in many ways. When God asks me to do something that seems too hard or I make too hard, that I feel unable or inadequate to do and I just want him to leave me to tend to my things, I can hear him ask me, What is that in your hand? 

I’ve often discounted the simple things as serving. That somehow serving has to be done at church, through an organization, with much fanfare, pomp and circumstance. But in reality, God can use the ordinary to do the extraordinary when we answer his question. 

What is that in your hand? 

For me, I’m learning, it can be as simple as giving the fruits of my labor from the garden to someone as a gift because they love homegrown things. I can give a dozen of the most gorgeous blue and brown eggs as a gift. Better yet, I can bake brownies for someone using my Granny’s recipe with my fresh eggs. Or it can be giving someone something they need from out of our abundance. 

I’m learning to see the words I write as a gift given to me so that I can use them to encourage, empower and enlighten. 

I’m learning that listening to someone’s story is as holy a ground as Moses walked, a sacred space, not to be taken lightly. 

It would be easy to overlook that which has become so familiar as something God can use in service to him. But isn’t it like him when we bring our excuses to ask us the same question he asked of Moses? 

What is that in your hand? Let me show you how I can use it to free people, shepherd people, love people, direct people, feed people, stretch people, give people a drink of cold water, make a way for people. 

How would you answer that question? How could God use what you hold?

This past year was challenging. We didn’t have a choice but to sit with it and in it and endure it. And we DID! 

What has this past year of only two weeks taught you? 

kw

Other posts that might be of interest:

2020 In Retrospect

25 Bible Verses to Abide in During Anxious Times

When Life Throws You Zingers

Learning to Do New Things

Everyone meet this handsome guy, a Bar Plymouth Rock who we’ve named Rocky the Rooster. He’s the defender of the flock, the strutter of his stuff and hero to the hens. He’s our wake-up call as he sounds the alarm and his crow pierces through the fog of dawn and early morning sleep.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

When he was first learning to crow, we walked by the coop and thought we heard him trying but after listening more closely…nothing. Then one day as we were milling around outside, we heard what sounded like a teenage boy learning to use his man voice, but have it crack and go all kinds of high at the worst possible time. We giggled, knowing that a full-on cocky crow would soon be heard. 

Sure enough, after several weeks of honing his voice and warming the pipes, his cock-a-doodle-doo sounded like the professional rooster he has come to be. He crows in the morning. He crows when we feed them. (Which we like to think he’s saying, thank-you-for-my-food.) He crows when the sun is shining. And when it’s not. He’s proud of his performance. 

As he should be or at least as much as a rooster can be. 

* * * * * * * * * * *

I love to learn how to do new things, but I also want to be good at what I learn straightaway. It’s a conundrum really; this love of learning but knowing I won’t be good at it until I put the time and practice in. A lot of it. There needs to be space and grace for trial and error. 

Life is a classroom for learning new things. A cycle of seasons when sometimes it’s sunny and we’re acing every test and sometimes it’s a blizzard and we can’t see two feet in front of us. What was this teacher trying to teach us? 

Take parenting for example. When we had our first baby at the mature age of 18, we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. But we learned…quickly…what each cry meant, how to feed him, change him, bathe him and care for him. And all survived! Shew…

But then we became parents of a toddler, then a school age kid, then a junior high kid, then a high schooler, then a college kid, then a young adult, then a married adult, then a married adult with children of their own. 

We had to learn new things during each new season. Each new season felt like having to learn how to crow all over again…feeling a little garbled early on then figuring out the how to’s and what not’s and doing the thing….even imperfectly.

Take gardening as another example. In our first house I planted geraniums at the base of a big shade tree in our backyard…in mulch. My father-in-law explained the difference between sun loving and shade loving plants as well as mulch not being a good source of nutrients like rich soil. Oh, and you must water them…not just wait for rain…who knew? 

Life is a classroom.  

Last summer I grew enough food that we are still enjoying right now because I was able to can and freeze the harvest. But you know what? I’m still learning. Still experimenting. Still understanding different soils and ph levels and varieties of plants. It’s an ongoing experience of experiments. 

I’m growing a garden but I’m also growing as a gardener. Were there things I failed at? Yes. The cucumbers did terribly. Were there things I tried just to see what happened? Yes. Some worked. Some didn’t. I learned and will try again this year. 

Life isn’t pass/fail. It’s an adventure of living a life of loving to learn. It’s learning how to sharpen our skills knowing it takes missteps and mistakes to become mature enough to crow about your new-found know-how. Besides, are failures really failures if you’ve learned valuable lessons along the way? 

Take heart dear reader as will I, let’s not be too hard on ourselves as we venture out to learn new things. Let’s cheer each other on as we practice and sound like a teenage rooster learning to crow. Let’s clap loud for each other when we’re able to wake the world with our cock-a-doodle-do’s. Let’s let life be an adventure of learning new things! 

kw

A Simple Principle

Peas. Luffa. Corn

I sat a small jar of various types of seeds in the middle of each table. None were labeled. Some were obvious. Others, not so much. The ladies began to arrive, laughter and catching up filled the air as they grabbed their coffee and snacks and sat down. 

If I were to ask you what type of seed is in the jar on your table what would you say? 

This is definitely corn. One table replied. 

Peas. Said another. 

I think these are lima beans, but they have purple stripes on them! 

So, what do you think your harvest will be when you plant them? If you plant corn what do you expect to get in return? 

Ummm, corn?, someone answered as if the teacher were trying to trick the student. 

And the peas. What about the peas? 

Peas of course! 

Exactly! In farming or gardening this is an absolute principle. Whatever seed you sow, is exactly what’ll you’ll grow. It doesn’t surprise us when we sow or plant a lima bean seed and get lima beans. Or a piece of corn and get an ear of corn. 

Tim Keller says, whatever you sow, you will reap. Though the seed may lie in the ground to no apparent effect for a long time, it will come up. It is not the reaping that determines the harvest, but the sowing. (Galatians for You p.175)

It’s a simple principle for the farmer but it’s not just for the agricultural community. You don’t have to get your hands in the dirt to understand this is a how-to-live-life lesson as well. But what is simple for the farmer seems to be more complex when it comes to applying it to our daily lives. Or so it seems.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

In chapter six of Galatians, Paul uses this simple principle of sowing and reaping in the spiritual realm as well. It’s just as absolute, just as unstoppable. 

Earlier in his letter Paul addresses the sarx or sinful heart and lists those things we do to satisfy the darker side of ourselves. Things like repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfying wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:21 MSG)

Paul warns the Galatian people to not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. He cannot be treated lightly. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction…(Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)

Notice that the “acts of the sinful nature” aren’t all actions; attitudes are just as much over-desires of our sarx.

Before we despair, there is another seed we can sow and grow; that being the fruit of the spirit. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Notice all of these are one fruit, not multiple fruits. John says: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1John 4:20 NIV) Notice that he does not say: If a man loves God but doesn’t love his brother, he is unbalanced. No, he says he is a liar. True love to God (love) is always accompanied by love to others (kindness). If they are not both there, neither are there at all. (Galatians to You by Tim Keller p153)

We can sow the seeds of the sarx and reap the ravage. Or we can sow the fruit of the Spirit and reap the reward. But we can’t do both. At least not at the same time. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

We’ve been planting the garden the past few days. It’s reassuring to know that an okra seed will become okra that I will roll in cornmeal and fry on both sides, a lima seed will become a lima bean. Tomato plants will produce, you guessed it, tomatoes.  Green bean seeds in the dirt, green beans off the plants and in my quart jars for winter feasting. 

Such a simple principle this sowing and reaping. 

So why are we surprised when we…

Sow seeds of hatred and receive hostility. 

Sow seeds of blindness and not be able to see. 

Sow seeds of deafness and not be able to hear. 

Sow seeds of silence and end up with no voice. 

Sow seeds of ignorance and refuse to learn. 

Sow seeds of hurt and end up with blood on our own hands.

Sow seeds of word spewing and end up with no friends. 

Like Paul, I could go on. 

Why do we make it so hard? 

I find it interesting that the first fruit of the Spirit is love and the opposite of love is not hate as one might expect but rather fear. 

But what are we afraid of? Each other? Of getting hurt? Our different skin tones? Our different cultures? Our different opinions? Of being wrong? Of being right? Of having to say we’re sorry? Of getting sick? 

The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1John 4:18 NIV)

Martin Luther King Jr. said it this way, Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Maybe perfect love looks like driving different seeds in the ground. What if we…

Sow seeds of kindness and reap kinship. 

Sow seeds of eyes that see and witness the world in high definition color. 

Sow seeds of ears that listen and learn that every single one of us has a story. 

Sow seeds of conversations and begin to understand.

Sow seeds of wisdom and cultivate knowledge. 

Sow seeds of healing and reap reconciliation. 

Sow seeds of encouragement and watch people grow. 

It’s a simple principle, an absolute principle. I realize it sure seems more complex than this. But we have to start somewhere, right? Casting out fear so we can love begins with casting the right seeds. We are all farmers in this. Whatever seed you sow is exactly what you’ll grow. 

Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord and let the light of Your Truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace. (Ephesians 1:18 The Voice)

kw

When Life Throws You Zingers

I had to chuck a chicken this morning. My man warned me one wasn’t doing well so I wasn’t surprised when I went out to feed them today and she was laying face first in the mud. But I hate it, nonetheless. I grabbed my shovel, scooped her up and walked out as far into the field as I could and hurled her with all my might. Sigh.

I walked back around the corner by the beehives and noticed minimal to no activity. They were just buzzing beautifully last week. I opened up the side window to see what was going on….silence…that’s what was going on…absolutely nothing.

My garden is experiencing what I call summer time sadness. Weeds have taken over, the green bean plants are half bunny eaten, the cucumbers are drying up, the zucchinis are pitiful, the corn stalks look ready for fall décor, the lima plants need pulled. Winter is coming.

My neck of the woods is feeling a little decapitated this morning. Maybe you know the feeling.

Then I noticed something as I was turning around to head towards the garden gate, a spot of hope, a ray of light…

The Zinnias are still blooming. 

I had a choice. I could focus on all the things that have gone wrong today (already). Or I could look for the zinnias. I could let a million things get me down. Or I could see the beauty before me in the midst of the million.

Interestingly, I had to look up to see it. The zinnias were standing head and shoulders above the sad surroundings of the rest of the garden.

I know, I know. I’m not trying to be a perky Pollyanna who’s blowing heart shaped happy out of her hookah pipe. Life can be hard. Way harder than a dead chicken, bees and plants.

When life zaps you with zingers, look for the zinnias. They are everywhere if we would only look up, beyond our circumstance, above the noise, shining bright and offering a hand.

As a woman of faith, sometimes my Zinnias look like…

Prayer. Because God knows I enter that closet not because I’m super spiritual and strong but because I’m just the opposite.

Scripture. His word is powerful. Don’t discount it. Read it. Do it. Memorize it. Meditate on it.

Meditation. Stilling the mind is a practice that must be perfected so when life sends a colony of stinger zingers, I can quiet the buzzing. (Don’t give this away as some Eastern voodoo kind of thing.)

Zinnias can also look like… 

Coffee with a friend who is safe for you. There is something about being heard and validated that gives you the strength to keep going.

Being a friend. Sometimes when we ourselves are struggling it helps to help someone else. It gets us out of our own funk.

A counselor or pastor. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to seek professional help because sometimes the venom from stings just gets in too deep.

A note given or a note received. Ever gotten a letter, text, card, shout out, word, encouragement (whatever form of communication you choose) at the exact moment you needed one? Ever sent one having no idea how badly the recipient needed to hear it?

A meal, a visit, a smile, a hug, a pat, an understanding, a reassurance, a laugh, a cry, a kindness.

These are all Zinnias.

Then there’s this little thing called gratitude. It sure sounds lame as you’re looking at that stinger pulsating its venom. But there’s something about having an attitude of gratitude.

Renowned cognitive neuroscientist and brain expert, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, when you are thankful your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain (neuroplasticity.)

 Thankfulness is like plastic surgery for your attitude and it’s free!

 Research expert and author, Dr. Brene’ Brown says, There is no joy without gratitude and joy collected over time fuels resilience.

 While your circumstances may not change right away, your way of thinking can. Who doesn’t want to build resilience (that bounce back ability) to zingers? One of the ways we do this is by finding something (anything) to be grateful for in whatever our circumstance.

When life throws you zingers, look up! There’s a zinnia close by.

kw

 

 

A New Wildflower

I found a new wildflower. It’s strange that I’d not seen her before. She’s where I walk every single day to feed the chickens. She almost looks like she’s smiling at me wooing me to take notice. Things have a way of popping in your path just when you need them to.

fullsizeoutput_350
Meet Prunella…she really wants to be your friend 🙂

Her common name is self-heal. Her botanical name is prunella vulgaris. The first part sounds an awful lot like pruning; the second like vulgar. Interesting.

If you’ve ever been through a season of pruning, you know it can be painful. Vulgar if you will. Not in the lewd sense but in the crude, raw sense. It hurts when you feel like all your blooms have been cut off, while every other flower looks lovely and beautiful. You stand there hanging on to your one stem barren and broken.  You wonder if you’ll grow again, if you’ll ever begin to bust out a bloom.

So how in the world is vulgar pruning self-healing?

Pruning the Suckers

 Many plants will develop what are called suckers…those low lying shoots that suck the energy from the main part of the plant. The plants growth is stumped (not completely stopped) until the suckers are cut away.

thumbnail
Suckers on a Korean Dogwood that needs my snipper attention.

Ask anyone today how they are doing and they will inevitably answer with some manner of Busy. We’ve filled our work calendars, our social calendars, our kids calendars to the overflowing brim and wonder where our energy went. We’ve grown suckers without realizing it and for the sake of healing need to cut some things away to free up time for self-care.

Pruning the Dead

Last spring I got ahold of some sand cherry trees that were in desperate need of having the dead cut out of them. It’s growth and beauty was being overshadowed by the unsightly cadaverous branches. The pruning was harsh but the result was rewarding.

Have you ever done something simply because it’s what you’ve always done? I’m guilty as charged. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and evaluate the things we’re involved in or people we’re involved with, things we volunteer for, things we simply do on repeat to see if there’s any areas that have died a slow death and you’ve yet to notice it’s covering up your reach for the sky. There’s something therapeutic about pruning away all the dead to see what beauty lies beneath.

Pruning the Buds

Way back before my thumb was the least shade of green my father-in-law was down for a visit. As we were walking around the yard, I was showing him all the perennials I had planted and was shocked when he told me to pinch back the newly forming buds on the geraniums.

Say what?

He went on to tell me that doing so would increase the amount of flowers they produced. It made no sense whatsoever but I listened to his sage advice and he was indeed right. (Never mind that I planted part of my perennials in mulch instead of soil but that’s proof that anyone can become a green(er) thumb.)

Of all the life pruning this one makes the least sense and can be the most painful. Sometimes we are asked to cut out, snip off areas that sure look like they have promise. Areas that would bloom if left alone.

Here’s the thing, many times we settle for good enough when God wants to give us great. Is it because we’re afraid to prune the bloom? We can’t see the bouquet because we’re hanging on to a single stem.

Take heart my Wildflower Warriors…

Prunella Vulgaris, common self-heal can sure feel like anything but soothing.  It takes time to rest and reset, to recover and reveal the purpose. But when we trust the process we can be sure healing will happen.

kw

 

 

 

 

In the Weeds With Me

thumbnail

I cannot believe it’s the last day of July! Where has summer gone? Here’s what’s gone down ‘round here…

In the Library

Here’s what I read this month…

thumbnail

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This an excellent book if you like World War II history. It’s based off the lives of some unsung heroes. The author blends several stories of real accounts and rolls them together to create a beautiful fiction depiction. One of my favorite quotes is But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.

Create vs. Copy by Ken Wytsma  

Everyone is born with God-given creativity waiting to be unleashed. When business slows, when funding dries up, when the home environment is tense—these are the moments that call for creativity and imagination. Are you ready?  I needed this book as a reminder that I am made in the image of God, a Master Creator, who created, creates now and will continue to create in, around and through me.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Shawn is a psychologist who lays out seven principles or strategies that help us wire our brains for positivity and optimism. He doesn’t come from a Polly-Anna-life-is-always-wonderful approach but from a life can be hard but here are some ways to rethink the crappy parts approach.

The Giver Lois Lowry

One of my goals is to read more books off The Great American Read Top 100 List sponsored by PBS. This is the first one. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. It did not disappoint.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

She never disappoints! Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Brene lays out ten guideposts to what she calls wholehearted living. This is a re-read for me with new underlines and highlights for where I’m at right now. Must read!

The Fiery Cross  by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fifth of eight books in the series. If you are an Outlander fan you will know this is the continuing story of Jamie and Claire. He is an 18thcentury highlander from Scotland, she is a time traveler from the 21stcentury. This has been the least favorite of mine in the series so far. I got bogged down in some of the details but you cannot not finish it due to all the new characters etc. Anybody else read(ing) these and not care for this one as much?

Here’s what I’m getting ready to read…

thumbnail

In the Garden

There’s just something about growing things that tickles me to no end. To think that you can put a seed in the ground and a few short weeks later you have something to eat for dinner is amazing…oh the wonders of simple things.

We’ve grilled zucchini, made chocolate zucchini bread (this makes eating your veggies a breeze!), eaten and canned green beans and crunched on cucumbers. Nothing tastes better than eating the results of your blood, sweat and tears.

But not everything has done well…

In the Weeds

My basil is a bust this year! I planted it in the same pots, used the same soil, same seed company and it is wimpy at best. Being determined to grow some, I moved off the patio and out to the garden boxes where I planted an entire box of basil, five rows with even wimpier results. I mean the green beans are right next to the basil and are going gangbusters. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for it to not grow. My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for basil…at least around here. But I will continue to try.

As I was thinking this conundrum through while out weeding other areas of the garden, I realized that parenting can be much like this: You provide the same environment, pour out the same love and nurturing, the same discipline and determination and the results aren’t always what you thought they would be. Some kids bust a move and grow. Some bust up your heart. (Some just plain wear you out at times.) It makes not an ounce of sense.

My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for the growth you wanted but DO NOT GIVE UP! Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep providing. Keep nurturing. Keep pouring in.

Hang in there parents. Eventually that seed will produce the harvest you knew it could.

Thanks for hanging in the weeds with me!

kw

 

The Mimic of the Mockingbird

monday-mindset-april-20-2015-the-earth-has-music

There’s nothing quite like sitting out back in the stillness of the morning, coffee in hand, Bible open, being still and watching the variety of birds come in for their breakfast.

Flight patterns and personalities emerge, some cling to the feeder to eat, some scratch at the food on the ground. Some don’t mind the company of other types of birds. Some prefer to eat alone…good morning Mr. Redheaded Woodpecker. Some are bullies…I’m thinking of you Mr. Blue Jay. Some make messes…that would be the Blackbirds whether it’s the Cowbird, Crow or Red winged variety.

There’s Bluebirds, Towhees, Chickadees, Juncos, Goldfinches, Robins, Nuthatches, Titmice, Turtledoves, Catbirds, Redbirds, Sparrows, Thrashers, Orioles, Indigo Buntings, just to name a few, that we’ve seen on the feeders. All of them have a very distinct call and if you listen long enough you can distinguish who’s who.

Until you hear this guy…

Mimus_polyglottos1

Meet the Mockingbird. He can mimic any and all of the above, plus some, I’m sure. He’s really good too. He rattles off his repertoire as I’m going about doing my outside chores. My girls joke that he follows me around. It could be.

I believe the Creator of all things teaches us many things through the simplicity of nature. We just have to listen with our ears open and our hearts willing to learn. As I listen to the mockingbird mimic his fellow aviaries it reminds me that we, too, are to be mimickers. Paul tells us to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1)

 How do we do that? Just like the mockingbird does every single day, we practice until we perfect it so that no one can tell the difference.

We practice the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

 We practice thinking upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…and excellent. (Philippians 4:8)

 We practice the art of loving each other with grace and truth. Not one or the other but both because that’s how much we care about our fellow people.

We practice the cunning of the catbird’s call and the tenderness of the mourning dove’s coo. Because we are being sent out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

 We won’t always get it right. I’ve heard the mockingbird hit a sour note or two. It didn’t stop him from continuing his ballad. We mustn’t stop either. People are in desperate need to see us be imitators of Jesus. The real One, not the one clothed in a Pharisaic robe standing all-righteous above others. The real One, who gets down in the dirt face to face with an adulterous woman and dares the others to judge her. The real One who would rather have dinner with sinners than rub elbows with the saints. The real One, the rebel with a cause. The One who can see a person’s potential even though they have a past. The real One who sees beauty in someones broken and purpose in their pain.

We practice so we have the courage to show kindness to those who are crippled, to those who cannot stand for themselves…even when it may get us in trouble. (Acts 4:8-9)

We practice so that when others realize we are but unschooled, ordinary people, they will be astonished and will take note that these people have been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

We can be imitators of Christ by having spent time with him, getting to know him, learning from him, and listening to him.

I want nothing more than for each person I meet to take note that I have been with Jesus. To be astonished at how I acted and reacted. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of the One with whom I’ve hung.

Now excuse me. I have some mimicking to practice and a song to sing.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw