SEEDS OF LIFE

“If you’re still hanging onto a dead dream of yesterday, laying flowers on its grave by the hour, you cannot be planting the seeds for a new dream to grow today” ~ Joyce Chapman 

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Have you ever felt dried up and useless? Nothing works out? I certainly have.

Once, while struggling with disappointment and failure, I went outside and sat on the steps of my deck to mope. A dead morning glory vine entwined around the railing. It looked about as lifelike as I felt. Then my gaze fell on a tiny seedpod. While I stared at the pod, I remembered an important truth—Inside that dried up pod was life. I broke it open and five black seeds fell into my hand. They looked dead too. However, in the right environment—moist soil and warm sun— a green vine would emerge and soon be covered in glorious flowers. Sometimes we feel dried up, useless, and in a sense, dead. But inside us are seeds of experience, ideas, wisdom, and creativity. We just need to put them in the right environment.

What does the right environment look like for you? Maybe it is when you forgive. Perhaps you need to get additional training. Do you need to rethink the direction you are heading? For me it meant trying again—and again.

Focus on the seeds in your soul. Give them a chance to live. Even if you feel you only have one itsy bitsy seed, plant it! One Morning Glory seed reproduces hundreds of seeds. And so it will be with you.

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HOPE FLOATS

“There shall be wings! If the accomplishment be not for me, ‘tis for some other.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I’ve been in a frustrating season lately. It reminds me of the time Neal and I went fishing with another couple. We boarded our friend’s boat and went to his favorite spot. We baited our hooks and with great hopes cast our lines. In no time at all the fish hit everyone’s hook but mine. But that was okay, because it meant we were in the right spot to catch our limit and my turn would soon happen.

 It didn’t.

At first I was fist pumping the air, congratulating everyone because, as I said earlier, my turn would surely come. After an hour my fists gripped the pole as I watched that stupid bobber float on the water. I mentally grumbled, “Why are they catching the fish? I’m using the same bait and in the same boat for heavens sake.” I wanted to quit, get out of the boat, break my pole over my knee and go home!

For the past several months I’ve received notices from my writing acquaintances and friends about their awards, three-book deals, and acceptances. And I’ve fist-pumped the air and congratulated them. But as far as my submissions, my writing . . . zilch, zip, nada, crickets chirping.

I have wanted to quit. To walk out of my office, throw my computer in the dumpster and go pout under a shrub. But I can’t. So what do I do? I sit in my writing boat and bait hooks for others so they can catch another contract, earn another award, get another acceptance.

And while this sounds noble of me, it doesn’t make things easier. But it helps me keep my perspective. After all, it isn’t all about me. It isn’t all about them. It is what it is. So while I’m conducting workshops, encouraging writers, and helping them succeed, I keep my eye on my own bobber floating on the water.

A couple of days ago, I got a nibble. Who knows, maybe this time it will disappear below the surface and I will be the one pulling in the deal. But until then, I’ll keep baiting hooks.

How about you? Do you feel invisible while others around you are succeeding, getting promotions, passing tests, stepping over you on the ladder of success? Are you  tempted to bale out of the boat, or are you willing to bait the hook for others?

I suggest you hang in there and keep your eye on your bobber. Hope floats. Persistence pulls it under.

ACCEPTANCE WITH JOY

Have you ever read Hinds Feet on High Places? It is a wonderful little allegorical novel. The heroine, Much Afraid, is on a journey to the High Places and the Good Shepherd gives her two traveling companions, Sorrow and Suffering.

Sound familiar?

As we travel through this life in order to reach the High Places, it seems we have those same traveling companions doesn’t it? As I read this book, I was struck by the simple truths and wisdom Hannah Hurnard imparted in this story. My favorite being the little flower in the desert. Much Afraid came upon a golden flower that grew under an old pipe where an occasional drop of water fell to the dry sand. The flower’s name was Acceptance with Joy and it held its face expectantly for that life-giving drop. The flower was thankful for what it got, it was brave, and kept the attitude of hope. It didn’t curse its circumstances, wither, and die.

There are times we all go through desert times. During these times we need to hold our heads up, be thankful for all we have (including the occasional drop of water), stay brave and keep the faith.

Over the years I have experienced an extended desert experience in one aspect of my life. I’ve cursed my situation, wept bitter tears, even waved my fist at God. Thank goodness He is patient with me. Today, more than ever, I’ve learned to turn my face up to Him, be brave, keep the faith, and trust Him, even if I only get a drop of encouragement at a time.

Something I do to help me with my perspective is to keep a gratitude list made up of all the things in my life now that I would hate to lose—like bathing in hot, drinking-quality water. Something that many on this planet can not even imagine. I find that I have much to be thankful for even though everything in my life isn’t the way I want it.

What about you? If you find yourself in a desert time of life, don’t despair. Life up your head, be brave, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

Patience with Their Journey

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Life is a journey. God is patient.

As a young man C.S. Lewis abandoned his Christian beliefs and became an avowed atheist. His lifestyle was one that raised more than a few Christian’s eyebrows. They shook their heads, pronounced judgment, predicted his destination, and then added, “I will pray for him.”

What they didn’t know was his heart. They didn’t know his pain. They didn’t hear him pleading in the night for God to spare his mother from death. And when his mother died, in his pain he decided there was no God.

But life is a journey and God is patient.

The life-path of C.S. Lewis led him back to God and he became one of the greatest Christian apologists of our time.

There was a young man, Denny Ezell, who did not live the conventional life. He had a hard time fitting the mold society made for young men. As he struggled to fit into that mold and not being able to, he made a lot of bad decisions. These decisions affected his family and friends. His mother cried herself to sleep many nights. More than a few Christian’s eyebrows went to their hairline. They shook their heads, pronounced judgment and predicted his destination if he didn’t straighten up. Of course adding, “I will pray for him.”

What they didn’t know was Denny’s heart. They didn’t know his conversations with God. They didn’t know his struggle to be the man God created him to be.

But life is a journey and God is patient.

Denny’s wife and four children had moved to a tiny community in Louisiana. Denny joined them and in that little town he found God’s path. In the short time he lived there, he impacted the people of that small town with his love for God, people, and life.

Less than two weeks ago Denny died from a heat stroke.  He was only 32. But in his short life, his love for God and people triumphed over any bad choices he had ever made. At his funeral, the little church in his community burst at the seams with mourners. I attended his memorial in North Little Rock, expecting around 75 people give or take. There were 550 people. 550! You see, he loved others without judgment because he understood their pain. Denny could relate to their frustrations, disappointment, and struggles. He was a trophy of God’s love and grace.

Denny offered hope.

Why am I writing this? Because there may be someone in your life who has been consigned to the hottest part of hell because of the way they are currently living their lives. I know I do. And I suppose that is why I’m so sensitive to this. Even though the scriptures teach the opposite, it is so easy to put sin on a scale making one worse than the other and from that we shake our heads, pronounce judgment and predict the outcome, never forgetting to say we will pray.

But do we? Really?

Two of my sons made very insightful observations. Charles asked me once, “Aren’t you glad that God released us from the burden of judging others and instead told us to love them.”

I am glad. Very glad.

But Linda, you may be thinking, we are to expose sin. What I have to say about that is there is a fine line between judging and discerning. In judging the attitude is one of self-righteousness. In discernment, we are truly concerned, our hearts are heavy, our mercy is tender, and yes, we DO pray—earnestly.

My son Rob reminded me that we are on a journey in this life and it is up to God when He intersects that journey and sets us on His path. Pastor Dick King said, it is all about God’s love and His love story for us. We are all a part of God’s love story.

So remember, life is a journey and God is patient. May we grasp this truth and be patient with those we don’t understand, those who walk to the beat of a different drummer, or whose lives are offensive to us. And for those of us who have someone in our lives who are the cause of eyebrows arching, may we find hope in this truth.