How does Your Garden Grow?

crabgrass plot

That nasty grass is back? Wow.

Yesterday I hunkered in the little patch across from the sliding glass door where our rose tree fell in the dirt midweek. Steve propped it up with a stake. Once again, I stood in the plot where I’d spent hours alone removing stones and crabgrass. It felt sweet to have a husband beside me now to tend our garden.

Spring a decade past I wrote my single’s book to the daily mantra, weeding and writing, as I tackled the backyard of my newly acquired fixer-upper. When someone suggested, “You have a garden with every person in your life,” I became more thoughtful while I weeded. How was I doing maintaining the garden with various friends and family?

I first practiced weeding sessions when I dated. We would share observations, disgruntled and negative emotions evident through body language—words and actions. Hidden grudges, like crabgrass roots, strangled our potential for growth. Once exposed and removed, seeds could be sown. Loving thoughts, kind words and acts could once again, nourish our heart.

Desire, time and commitment are necessary to create a fragrant garden.

Is there a child we are at odds with? An estranged sibling? Difficult parent or spouse? Every relationship requires maintenance. Critical thoughts as weeds, will be resistant. God counsels us through His Word to forgive misunderstandings or insults, wounds caused from ill-spoken words or apathetic responses.

Forgiveness yanks the weeds out immediately. If we clip the top and leave the root, though unseen, it will prevent our garden from flourishing.

 People are fragile. Handle with care. Hearts tended by affirmations and prayers will respond. We must move beyond the doubt of negative memories to the hope of belief for new tomorrows so we plant new experiences and rebuild damaged relationships. Cleared soil once dominated by weeds can blossom.

As we process our feelings and rehearse our thoughts with prayer, we become more skilled at speaking the truth with love. Words framed with respect and gentleness diffuse anger. Christ will teach us humility if we ask Him. He will show us the beam in our own eye before we confront the beam in someone else’s. When  stubs of pride are uncovered, the stranglehold of judgment, like stubborn deep roots—release. When judgment dies, mercy lives—mercy that triumphs over judgement. (James 2:13 KJV)

Gardening in the rain is so messy, I wait for better weather conditions.

Likewise, I am learning to observe the sunshine or dampness on my husband’s face. It’s like God saying When. Wait means more time to pray we are each receptive to the other. To be diplomatic goes beyond an agreement to discuss an issue. It is the intention to understand the other’s viewpoint, as well as to be heard. I love to weed after a good rain. When the ground is soft, the weeds come out so easy.

How do we live without grace? Not only offering grace to someone else but to ourselves? Each situation is different, even if it’s the same person. New information is needed. If we avoid conflict resolution or have not pursued building a relationship garden for awhile—our tools will be rusty.

When we pull unused tools out of the shed, we must trust God to begin.

He has equipped us with two patient ears to listen, one mouth to say less and a heart that beats to love as God designed. God, our Master Gardener. He knows how to prune anything and how to grow every flower and fragrance we can imagine—or can’t.

Pursue (think plant!)  righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness of heart.

  1 Timothy 6:11 

copyright 2016  Dee Aspin

Getting Ready and Getting Out…the Single Life

I have been asked often and recently, “How did you finally get married? What do I need to do?”  This and next week I will post some thoughts.

lovebirds

Ultimately it is all grace… a God given gift that I met my mate. I still consider marriage a miracle at any age, after waiting for decades to meet and marry the right person.

However, knowing the ruts we can get into I did find a poem written years ago after talking with a friend and some observations on grief that seemed to coincide well with it. Because there is a grief in an unfulfilled desire as the verse says, “A desire unfulfilled makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”Proverbs13:12

I share those now to encourage singles to take the path less trod as they socialize and live their lives with their God-given bends and interests. Ultimately it is what turned my relationship with my husband to a romance. One broad social email  to ten friends to attend an outdoor concert turned to two – me and him. And driving to the hills that night alone and content, he texted…”I think I can come.”  So Don’t Stay in A Corner!! Get out , at least once every week or two….and be open, and brave 🙂

The Corner

It’s hard to hear you talk

About this problem you have got

About how you can’t meet men

When over and over again

You go to the corner.

 

The world is full of places

And there are plenty of Godly faces

But you always see one or two

Because all you ever do

Is go to the corner.

 

And I bet for you my sister

That when you meet your mister

He’s running free and out of view

Not waiting there for you

In the corner.

 

So when you’re feeling some adventure

Even daring to go alone

It may be just the time

He’s looking and he’ll find

You- when you’re not doing time

In the corner.

The same conversation with a friend lamenting, discouraged and hopeless is a grieving- it is the single lament, the song of a bird looking for a mate alone on a telephone wire. I had my lovesick moments too!!

“Crazy is doing same thing over and over expecting different results”- I have a hard time listening

Some thoughts  from the book Experiencing Grief  (pp 5,6) by Norman Wright which apply to singles in a corner from fear or pain of rejection or loss of relationship (s)…

“A multitude of emotions is involved in the grief process- emotions that seem out of control and often appear in conflict with one another.  With each loss comes bitterness,emptiness, apathy, love, anger, guilt , sadness, fear, self-pity,… and helplessness.  These feelings have been described in this way:

These feelings usher in the emotional freeze that covers solid ground with ice, making movement in any direction seem precarious and dangerous. Growth is hidden, progress seems blocked, and one bleakly speculates that just because the crocuses made it through the snow last Year is no reason to believe that they can do it again this year. It’s not a pretty picture.”

I pray for all the wonderful singles who are looking for a mate. There are so many wonderful people of both genders waiting and wanting to meet a companion for life. It is honorable and natural. But when we get discouraged…we can become our own worse enemies. And beware of self-pity.

Self-pity is the worse when we are at these points. We are not clams stuck at the bottom of the ocean to wait for food to come to us. We are more like  turtles who have legs to move,  even if slow …  forward!

We must pray for courage and move out beyond our borders and our self-imposed corners. Jesus is always with us. We are never alone…

 

 

 

The Single Struggle pt 3

As faithful as God is, I hit a wall at Mount Hermon, Palm Sunday. I prayed "Meet  me again God at this Dark Place" before  God renewed my hope a week later, Resurrection Sunday.

I felt false-guilt desiring a relationship when so many people have much greater problems and pressing needs. I have heard this struggle from other singles. Still processing through it I stumbled across St Theresa’s prayer on the internet:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

“May you not forget the infinite possibilities born of faith.”

“May you use the gifts you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.”

“May you be Content knowing you are a child of God.”

“Let His presence settle in your bones and allow your soul the freedom to dance, sing, play, pray, praise and love.”

We walk by faith not by sight. This requires not trusting what our eyes see…or don’t see. We trust God by looking at Him. Circumstances rob our trust, like the sea robbed Peter’s faith to walk toward Jesus when he focused on the waves instead.

 

I journaled a prayer bending my mind and heart to trust:

“Trust—don’t lean on my human understanding.

Isn’t trust about not figuring it out?

Trusting God’s love in the desire unfulfilled.

That He does not withhold any good thing from those

Who walk uprightly.

And He knows how to work through the delays, mistakes,

In spite of our human condition?

Maybe we don’t hear—can’t hear. We are not in the right place

At the right time emotionally or mentally to connect with the Right one, the Best one… for us.

Can God create another space of time when we can connect?

Can He do it over and over again if That’s What it Takes?

Why not?

He’s God.

He is use to working with imperfect human beings

His will be done in spite of us…  "

 

I will work and who will hinder it?  Isaiah 43:13

Why would God listen to our struggles?  We need to praise Him for what we have. We do. We continue to praise Him in the storm, in the sun, in the marathon.

God said, “it is not good for man to be alone. He and Adam had a perfect relationship when God said this. He said man needed someone else—and made woman. Eve. So we can validate our feelings and desires with God, not stuff them.

 

 

 

He is the author of our desire to have  a relationship with a special someone the same way He calls us to walk with Him in the garden of life and nurture that heavenly relationship. And so we pray and wait trusting in our Matchmaker and His timing and perspective. We are strangely at peace again, walking daily with God, listening, still, joyful. It is well with our soul…

Soon and it will not be very long–the wilderness of Lebanon will be a fruitful field again, a lush and fertile forest. In that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the blind will see my plans. The meek will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord…"  Isaiah 29:17-19 (Living Bible)

Holocaust Memorial Day- Putting Struggles into Perspective

Today I received an email from an American sister who lives in Israel. Her story of a HOlocaust survivor and meditation of God and and our desires blessed me…and so I share part of her letter.

 

 

"Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, it is quite amazing. At 10 am the whole country stopped for two minutes as sirens echoed throughout the whole land of Israel to remember the Holocaust, 6 million Jews, and many others who perished.

Yesterday, Miriam, who was in Auschwitz-Birkenau, told me part of her story. 

 

Right away it put my life and my own struggles into perspective. I was so moved. She shared how when taken from the ghetto to Auschwitz, where she stayed 8 months, she lived with 500 people in one of the barracks.

 

 One day she looked out the window of her barracks and saw her husband, whom she barely recognized, running toward her barracks. Although extremely crowded with many different people dressed in the same jumpsuits he recognized her right away and she came to him. He gave her a piece of his bread and left immediately (as he was not allowed to be there)  That was the last time she ever saw him.

 

13 members of her family went in, 2 came out–MIriam and her sister. Watching and listening to Miriam's story broke my heart. All of the movies and documentaries I have seen on the Holocaust are heart wrenching, but to hear this sweet lady that I have grown to be friends with, tell her story was almost unbearable. It is so much more personal and it hurts so much more to hear it from someone you love.

 

 Please pray for the many Holocaust survivors here in Israel and abroad, as they are less and less each year. Their personal testimony reminds us what happened and what humanity is capable of when we harden our hearts toward God…

 

She continued ending with an exhortation:

"Recently, I feel God has spoken to my heart directly and through others. He has told me He is pleased with us and delights to dwell in us. How deeply this has sunk into my heart. The God of this universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the one who made the Stars, doesn't just love us, isn't just pleased with us, but His Holy Spirit delights to dwell in us! This is mind-blowing to me as I meditated on it, It crushed me. The weight of His Glory is unbearable. I thought 'Why God? How could you ever delight to dwell in me? I am a woman of unclean lips, but it is true."

 

The Spirit loves to dwell in those who are covered by the blood of the Lamb and who have willing hearts to walk in his ways and to die to ourselves daily. It is the willing heart; the heart that delights in God and all that He is about. My desires are what He desires and if they are not I am willing to change to conform no matter what the cost. I weep as I write this because I am in such awe of our heavenly Father. He loves us so. I want to encourage all of you to draw near to Him and ponder the thought that we are his dwelling place. He loves to dwell in us. Delight in him and he will give you the desires of your heart. Let us join him. Let us pick up our cross and follow Him."    Psalm 37: 4   Luke 9:23