IMG_1715These pairs of words were the bane of my existence in fifth and sixth grades. Discerning the most representative relationship between two words seemed like a pointless, tedious, exhausting job. And yet, after so many worksheets got so ground into my psyche, I’m counting on the deep recesses of my mind to know what to do with the analogies I’m acting out today. Continue reading

happiness list, 5.6.15

 1. I live in a jungle.

Over the last few weeks, the front porch has been the place to be.  Vines and bushes and trees are bursting out all over with life and bright, happy, new, green leaves.  (and lots and lots and lots of pollen…)

2. I got a new book.

One of my favorite, favorite writers, Lauren Winner, just published a new book, and though I’ve been carrying it around since last week, I haven’t gotten a chance to gobble it up.  (Hopes pinned on this weekend…)

3. God used my sermon.

More and more, I’m falling in love with sermon-writing.  It’s hard to get into a groove, especially when I preach once every two months or so, but last Sunday’s effort was a joy to contemplate, write, and deliver, it spoke to my heart, and it spoke to the hearts of many who heard and read it.  I’m so grateful to get to be a vessel sometimes!

happiness list: highlights of the week

1. By Wednesday morning, I was dragging heavily. I still haven’t determined whether it’s allergies or a dreaded warm-weather cold (I think it’s both), but whatever it is, this orange-ginger-mint concoction knocks it out.  I never would have gone for such a combo, but in my hazy desperation, the “ginger” stuck out to me at a coffeeshop, and I fell so hard I found it at the grocery store later that day.

  2. The super-valid excuse to stay in bed today: rain.  Cold rain (well, 50-something degrees qualifies here in South Carolina) is practically Mother Nature prescribing stillness and softness. 3. Speaking of Mother Nature, these determined, wiry, speedy little sprouts have me excited for the incomparable tomatoes of high-summer July.  I’ve heard they’re to go in the ground on Good Friday (whenever that falls each year), but in my profession, that translates at least to Easter Monday–I’ve got other stuff going on next week!

oh peas, no!

20140509-172930.jpg(actually, they’re tiger beans, but this priest couldn’t resist the bad AWESOME joke)

This morning I had coffee with a fellow writer friend.  I confided in her that I’ve felt challenged the last few weeks, lots of honesty roiling inside of me, eager to get free.  But I haven’t found a gentle, gracious, sufficiently-shrouded way to say these things yet, so I keep quiet–and very little comes out of the faucet at all (case in point: this dear space over the last six weeks).

Looking at my dear little bean plants in the garden this afternoon, I noticed something very disconcerting: their hard, protective shells were shriveled on the dirt.  Discarded.  Dried up.  Spent.  Returning to the dust.

The sort of click that you hear just-cracked safes make in the movies sounded in my head.

It’s only in taking off the outer barrier–the nice, cozy, practically indestructible casing–that allows the plant to grow, to feel the sunshine, to blossom, and then to bear fruit.  Growing does each of us good in and of ourselves, and to a much lesser extent, does good for those around us, watching our growth, encouraging their own growth, we hope.  The bearing fruit, though, that’s when we can really thrive, because that’s what we’re made and meant to do–to share the beautiful, hard-won, unique gifts that God places inside each of us.

But ugh–we’ve got to shed that outer shell, making ourselves open to attack, criticism, weather, ugliness.

Another wise friend of mine said recently, “With the immense support I have, how could I let my fear get in the way?”  With the immense support we have in our great triune God, how could we let our little limiting casings get in the way?


Soaking It Up

Since the first seeds dove into the soil the end of February, the weather has been rather dramatic.  There are strong, sunny days when heat seems to rise off the dark soil, and I imagine the seeds waking up warm and cozy, opening themselves to the nutrition of the dirt and the affirming warmth of the sunshine.  There are lots of chilly, wet, very cloudy days, when I imagine the seeds soak up the wet, even soggy, nourishment floating around them, loosening the hard seed covers, encouraging the seed’s stretching and growing–like those little sponges that start out as colorful pills but become great animals for bath times.

The little seeds–and me!–don’t get to choose which are sunny days and which are cold, rainy days.  They’ve got to just keep doing their thing, growing and stretching and taking in what they’re offered, using all the resources of the moment to help them grow.

How are you using the resources you’re being offered this very moment to help you grow?

holding breath

There’s a reason that holding your breath kills you.

Out in the garden over the weekend, I filled up boxes with compost-y soil.  It was hard work, but that was just what I needed–I’d been too static (stagnant) the last few days and needed some inner stirring up and re-settling.

Having learned in yoga practice to breath through the difficult parts, I noticed how my body hadn’t quite learned to carry that practice to yard work yet.  When I heaved a shovel full of soil into the wheel barrow, I held my breath.  My breath was shallow and short.  As I lifted my shovel and moved the wheel barrow, I constantly reminded myself to take long, deep breaths.

It’s the breath that stirs things up and helps the body re-settle anyway.  “Exercise is all about the breath,” I was told once–we don’t get the same benefit from a work out or a yoga session or yard work if we aren’t letting the breath in and out like bellows, stoking our inner fire, burning off the grumpiness that comes from stagnation.

When we hold our breath to get through a difficult moment, we’re refusing the healing and energizing power of the breath.  When we put our heads down, give up our regular prayer lives, slack on our exercise regimen, stop responding to our friends’ calls,–just to get through a week or a season of busy difficulty–we’re holding our “breath,” refusing the healing and energizing power that God offers us through the Holy Spirit in prayer, in each other, in our own bodies, and in worship.

Whatever happens–especially in difficult, put-your-head-down, hauling soil kind of times, keep breathing.