March Madness; 2008-2013 Recap; Giving Glory

2008-2013. Here’s the abbreviated re-cap. Turns out March is a banner month for me.

March 2008. A friend suggested I write for the Mountain Xpress. Turns out they were looking for a garden writer for their column The Dirt. That started my very small, but fun career in garden writing.

March 2008. My now ex-husband suggested we divorce.  And, so we did, In June of 2013. What God “has joined,” I can attest to the fact that, it is dang near impossible to  “put it asunder.”

March 2009. I discovered a very big reason my ex suggested a divorce. Her name is,  fondly, Cruella de Vil.  (Well, it rhymes with it, anyway.)

March 2011. My first big garden article appears in a glossy magazine. It makes the “middle spread,” and is so snazzy. I’m super proud.

March 2012. Officially separated after 24 years of marriage, and officially employed after 15 years of unemployment. (Time flies.)

March 2013. A salary job! Manager of the BB Barns Flower Market in Brevard, NC. And, Aggie became an offical family member.

March 2014. There will be a brand new granddaughter to love. Miss Sadie Jane will make her appearance sometime mid-Feb, leaving March wide-open for my complete adoration of the newest family member. We’ll see if March has anything else up its sleeve.

But, maybe the March Madness has subsided. There is a time for every season, and the next good time is just as real as the next bad, OR vice versa. But, whatever the future Marches bring, 2008-2013 was a good five years, despite the unexpected. I’m grateful. Here’s what made it good.

The Lord was with me.

While my friends were hoping for a revenge-of-the-middle-aged-housewife, you know, lose the weight, get the fab job, the fab clothes, the fab guy, the fab condo… I was living reality. Reality looks a bit like that. I did lose the weight, but I also lost the fab job. Sadly, the Flower Market will not reopen next year, which stinks for Aggie as well as for me (she got to go to work with me). And, honestly, there was little time for revenge-of-anything. Its survival mode. Immediate action is needed if you’re going to be employed and housed and moving on, not a lot of time for revenge, which is never very effective when we attempt it ourselves.

But, how to describe that the Lord was with me, when the Lord is omnipresent, and so with us all the time?

Well, like he was with the Israelites when they left Egypt. He gave them the gift of his glory, i.e. his fingerprint on all that they did. In other words, there was truly no way they could say, hey look what we did! We got ourselves out of slavery, we drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, after we parted it so we could cross on dry land, then we ate manna dropped from heaven every day for forty years while our clothes never wore out (though I’m assuming the fashion did).  And, we conquered Cannan and took over the land for ourselves. Wow. Did we do good or what? It was a good half-century. No. They simply could take no credit for that. Everyone who watched this ragamuffin nation knew, God was with them. He was responsible for all that happened to them. He was ACTIVE in their lives. 

God is always active in our lives, but sometimes he shows up in a pow sort of way. Waters part, mountains are leveled, enemies are destroyed, addictions are conquered, manna is provided. When that happens, we seriously don’t want to miss it. Imagine saying, Nah, I’d rather not watch him part the Red Sea and drown my oppressor in it, after I’ve crossed over on dry land. Who would want to miss God’s activity when it shows up like that?

He was active in mine. God showed up in a pow way for me, and everything that happened, happened because he made it so. I could not have dreamed arriving where I am now, much less made it real. So many examples, but here’s one that got the ball rolling for what life looks like now.

I was offered a job in a town where my son would go to college, and found a house one block away from the college. and five minutes away from the job. My son was not looking at this college, they called him. I was not looking for this job, they called me. We were not looking for the house, a stranger (yes, a stranger) called me.  All this in one month.

There are some things you cannot do yourself. You cannot part water. You cannot drown an army. You cannot make manna appear. But sometimes, you need to part water, drown armies and make manna appear. I needed to do all that and then some. When your time comes, call on the Lord. He’s very good at helping those who cannot help themselves.

That’s what 2008-2013 was all about for me. God’s fingerprints are all over it.   

Darkness Invades from the Land of Mordor and a Merry Christmas to All

Carly Christmas Tree

Donning the tree with my granddaughter

I wake up in the pitch dark.

Blinds drawn tightly to give privacy, I cannot see the light of the new-fallen day. It could be 5 a.m. It could be 10 a.m. Heck, it could be noon. If I want to see daylight I must tear open the shutters and throw up the sash, or check the snazzy clock beside my bed. A present from the 19-year-old last Christmas. (Okay, enough of Clement Clarke Moore’s timeless classic. But, I do hope you plan to read it this Christmas Eve. I will be reading it to my granddaughter. The words of it are already running through my head, obviously.)

But, to continue.

Light invades the darkness of my room the minute I turn on my bedside lamp, or my IPhone 5c (blue, if you’re wondering) flashlight. Here’s what always amazes me. Darkness can never, NEVER, win. Darkness cannot overcome light. Think about it, one tiny match lit and a whole room is seen. The light invades the darkness and darkness cannot stop it. I know, you already know that it only-takes-a-spark-to-get-a-fire-going. Well, me too, but light/darkness is one of nature’s dichotomies that never stops fascinating me.

I also wake up to the pitch darkness of my soul. Yes, a bit melodramatic. I agree. Stop rolling your eyes, because, really, don’t we all? Aren’t we all waking up to the pitch darkness of our souls, and asking a crucial question, do I matter?

Do I matter?

Do I matter to myself, to anyone, to the world?

Do I matter to my family, my friends, my spouse, my children, the girl/boy across the room, my employer, my dog (you always matter to your dog, btw), the universe?

Okay, so maybe none of ya’ll are waking up with that question buried deep in your souls, and you’re thinking no wonder she writes a blog. She has a LOT TO WORK OUT.

Well, yeah, I do. Here’s the deal. I always knew there was a very important question lurking in my soul, one I had never asked myself, or even bothered to find out what it was. But, it wasn’t until I started waking up in this dark room alone that the question presented itself. Spouse gone, kids gone, home gone, friends gone. The little empire I had built for myself gone, and just me left (not literally in one sense, but in another sense, yes, literally)  And there in the darkness, right before I turn on my light, is the question. Do I matter? That’s my question anyway, maybe you have a different one.

If you’re my mom, you’re going to comment on this post, with a yes, honey you do matter, but the question goes beyond the grasp of a mother’s love (which in this world is the closest we come to infinity). The question takes you to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, and drops you off (guess what movie I saw Monday night). There, the Dark Lord Sauron would like you to think that darkness wins. That he could actually overtake Gandalf the Grey’s light, and destroy him. Please. We all know the ending to that story, but still, Gandalf has to face the darkness.

And so do I, IPhone flashlight in hand. And, so do you.

That’s the truth in Tolkien’s books. The darkness is coming, and it will invade your land. And, you will awake in pitch darkness. And, you will have questions, deep, soul piercing questions. This is a true statement. Your darkness is coming. You don’t get to avoid it anymore than I do, even if you manage to outrun it for a bit, or keep yourself very busy with your empire while in denial.

So, that’s a happy Christmas thought, eh? Maybe.

Maybe it is exactly the Christmas thought we need.

If darkness is going to overtake our lands, (I’m talking personal here, lets not take the Mordor thing too far), then we need a light to help us see, and to penetrate that darkness. For what is the world if not a dark and often scary place?

That’s what Christmas is. The announcement that the Light that has come into the World. Jesus.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John1:1-5

Jesus is not a metaphor for light. He is light. He is the light that lights your journey. He is the light that outshines the darkness. He is the light of life. HE IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE. Meditate on that. If the world finally implodes on itself, and the sun is no more, there will still be light, because Jesus is, quite literally, light. He radiates it. We are transformed by it. Jesus isn’t a self-help theology, he is the light of the world. Creator of all things. Creator of me. I matter.

If I lie still in my dark room just a bit longer, and allow my question to be spoken in the dark (Do I matter?), if I  allow my fears to rise up before I jump up, if I do that, and don’t turn on my bedside light or tear open the shutters to see the light of day, if I can just be patient one fraction of a second longer, then the miraculous happens. Or maybe it is not so miraculous that the Creator comes to the created to speak, to reveal, but he does. Jesus’ light comes into my darkness, and answers my question. Creator of the universe, beacon of light, speaks. You matter. All is well. Merry Christmas.

Western North Carolina Girls Take No Sass; Homophobes and Racists; Listening Between the Lines


The 19 year old and me

Ever spend an hour in a car with a 19 year old who is in the mood to talk? Yeah. Doesn’t happen often with IPhones, headphones, and snapchat, but here’s what I learned today during that once-in-a-19-year-old-lifetime:

1. That girls talk way too much. I mean really, how do you keep up with all that chatter, chatter, chatter? Geezzz, who has THAT MUCH to say?

2. Everyone knows what a girl from Western North Carolina is like.

(Curious? A resident Western North Carolina girl, as defined by the resident 19 year old boy, is “a good little Christian girl who takes no sass.” If that needs explaining to you, well, bless your heart.)

3. That guys don’t stress over someone thinking they might be gay anymore. That was just MY generation, a bunch of homophobes.

4. That HIS generation does not judge people, and they pretty much let everyone be themselves, oh and they aren’t racist either. Again, unlike MY generation who evidently are still wearing their shrouds, and carrying their KKK membership cards.

5. That Christmas sweaters, you know, like the ones we wore in the big hair days of the 80’s (I do miss big hair) are back in. And, guys think they’re cool. And, if you live in Northern Ireland you call a sweater a jumper, which is way cooler than calling it a sweater.

Here’s what I heard:

1. That girls (me) need to zip it, and start listening. Amazing what gets said when you aren’t the one talking.

2. That sassy Christian girls get some respect.

3. That 19 year old boys (men) are watching 50-something year old men, and deciding if that’s the kind of man they want to be.

4.That HIS generation is pretty darn cool, and they really are a lot more accepting of others than my generation was, and I think that is seriously awesome.

5. That Christmas is still magical (and someone wants a new jumper).

When my boys were little, they couldn’t talk fast enough to fill me in about their school day on the ride home. I responded with lots of “ohs, uh-huhs, and oh my goodness” until I heard something serious, and then I became fully present and listening. I used to wonder if that’s what God did with our prayers. Sat there shaking his God-head saying, “uh-huh, oh my, and well, my goodness” until suddenly a wall drops, and the vulnerability slips through, and there God is, fully present and fully with us, because there we are, fully needing him.

That hour started with a lot of “ohs, and my gosh, and well, who ever heard.” It ended with that pregnant pause of silence that makes space for hearts to speak, completely heard, fully present, even if it requires listening between the lines.

Sleeping the Winter Away; Sorting Through Life; Testimonies and Issues

Platypus in Repose

Its that time of year again. I am going to bed. I mean that in the most literal sense. I am two weeks away from putting on the pjs, and curling up under my covers to sleep the winter away. When spring rolls around, well, somebody wake me up. But, not until the last possible cold snap is past.

I actually get to do exactly that because of my job. I don’t work Jan-March. I sleep. Horticultural is a great career, but it’s seasonal, at least where I live. As hard as that is on the finances, its not a bad way to live. Everyone should take the winter off and sleep. No catching up on projects or starting an exercise regime, just sleep. We’re all sleep deprived anyway, according to the Huffington Post. (Seriously, every other article is on sleep deprivation, check it out.)

I will also sort. When not dreaming through the wintry days, I will sort. First, through all the papers that were stacked carelessly on my desk while I worked, and then through boxes of who knows what, and finally my life. Every now and then I have to still myself and put my life in chronological order. I have to place the events of my life into a time-space continuum, or I get lost in my own life. I can only run on auto-pilot for so long, before I start to fear that I am living my life without living my life. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve already started sorting and sleeping (lots of naps of late) though two weeks of work are still ahead of me. Tonight, I ate my wild-rice/chicken soup (made in my new red crock pot, no less) for dinner while reading last November’s journal.

Two things stood out:

1. Everything has changed.

2. Everything has stayed the same.

My surroundings may be very different now, but it seems my issues are still well, my ISSUES, hence point number two. (I realize this is not breaking news for some of you.)

I was very unhappy about point number 2, kicking myself under the table (ha), and wondering when in the heck? But then, I remembered this pastor at my old church. He was young and fresh out of school. He was hired as like an assistant pastor. Nobody liked him because he fumbled over his words, forgot what was next, and generally stumbled through worship services. I thought he was awesome. A kindred spirit. Someone who messed up as much as I did. Anyway, I remember once he talked about how if your testimony about Christ was only about how you’ve changed, i.e. you’re such a better person now, you’re on the right track now, you’re so over all your addictions now, your marriage is awesome now, your kids perfect now, and so forth, that perhaps you’d missed the whole point. The point being Christ, of course, the perfect loveliness and holiness of Christ. No one liked that sermon but it made tremendous sense to me, even though I instantly forgot it until tonight.

So, I’m eating my soup, and wondering, am I trying for perfection? Is that why my issues are still my issues? Am I trying to be that person whose testimony is all so sanctimonious? Am I trying to have a testimony for Cinthia or for Christ? Well, that thought was a spoon stopper.

What if my issues are for the glory of God? Like the guy in John 9 who was born blind and the disciples asked Jesus if was blind because his parents had sinned or he had. Jesus told them he was that way for the glory of God. Now, there’s a thought. What if my issues somehow bring glory to God? My weakness revealing his strength?

This is not a way out of bettering myself, but it might be a way of placing my issues at the cross, where God is free to free me of them, or use them for his purposes. I am getting sort of mystical and hardly understand myself here, but in some far off way, it makes sense to me.

The good thing is, I have the winter to sleep on it and sort it out.

A Wreath-full of Christmas

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t say to me, generally several times a day, “What a cool job you have.” Agreed. The coolest job I know. Check out what we’ve been doing lately.


Love the burlap bow with a bit of bling in it. Awesome.


Mantle piece done by BH for Deerfield Retirement Center–bronze is a hit this year.


Swag with some sparkle and bells.


Stick a birdhouse on it and it sells.


LH added some ginko leaves. LOVE.


We’re dying over the blueberries.


Don’t forget the tree.


Red Twig Dogwood goes into every arrangement and wreath. Again, LOVE.


Ballerina hellebore for winter containers.

photo 2 (5)

Greens for the container, drop and go.