The Wisdom to Know

Jumping back into James. We left him at verse 1:8 where he had just instructed us to go to the Lord for wisdom if we needed it, Then he tagged on verse 8, telling us to believe that we had received that wisdom, and not be a double-minded man (or woman), literally, a double-soul, about it. I’m afraid I am right there in that spot. Of two minds concerning a decision I need to make.

Is anyone there with me?

I hate it because I can see the value of both decisions, but I am stuck. I have asked the Lord for wisdom so many times that now, i am just rambling when I pray.

So, here’s what I decided to do. I decided to ask the Lord for wisdom regarding why I am stuck. Yep. A slight paradigm shift there. In other words, I took a few steps back, and asked, not about the decision, but about me.

Have you ever prayed something to death. “Worried your prayers” over something? What is it? Are you still stuck in that same place, years later? 

I’m not talking about a persevering in prayer, which is what we’re called to do, especially for others. I’m talking about finding out why, after all these years, I am on the same topic. The question isn’t is (a or (b better? The question is why am I still asking the same question?

My motivation to do this was verses 1:7-8. I read those verses and was terrified. I really like verse 1:5-6, but 1:7-8 seem to put the pressure back on me. I can ask, but I’ve got to have faith that he answered. The waves of the sea are starting to rock this boat.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does

So, I asked. Lord, why am I stuck? Why can’t I believe you when you give me wisdom? What am I afraid of?

I don’t think you’ll be surprised by the answer. I’m afraid he doesn’t really love me. I’m afraid he’ll ask me to do something hard, and I just did that. I’m afraid he’ll need me to sacrifice, and honestly, I don’t want too. I’m afraid he’s mad at me, and so, of course, the thing I want is the thing he’ll say no too. That (a may be my heart’s desire, but (b is what he’ll make me do. I’m afraid the consequences of some of my choices are beyond him, or that he wants me to suffer them. I’m afraid I am the ‘least of his, in the worst of ways.’ I am afraid he will abandon me after I believe him..

New Living Translation
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18
 

Are you afraid of something in your relationship with the Lord? Have you ever experienced his perfect love? 

Father, gracious and great, giver of all good things, may we experience your perfect love today, this week, this year. May we know the love of the one who saves us, rescues us, forgives us and glorifies us in his son. Father, pour your love out on us, fill us up with it, and let it run out of us to bless others. We need to know we are loved. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

The 50’s; The Decade of Acceleration

Wow.

I just did this exercise as part of my morning Bible Study, where I was asked to write down the date of 18 months ago. Then, I was to write down, from that date, everything that has happened in my life. Here’s my list.

  1. A new granddaughter was born.
  2. My son got married to a beautiful woman.
  3. I moved from my home and garden of 20 plus years.
  4. My divorce was finalized.
  5. My ex started referring to his girlfriend (ex-mistress) by name in our conversations, as in, “Cruella and I were in such-n-such over the weekend.” (Cruella is my blog name for her, if you’re wondering, that is not really her name.)
  6. I was hired for a great job.
  7. Six months later, I was laid off from that great job.
  8. I went on a wonderful trip to California and Oregon to study plants.
  9. I finally got settled into my quaint, rental house, and got all storage units unpacked.
  10. I got a dog???????? (Why did I do that? What was I thinking?)
  11. My mother passed away very suddenly and very unexpectedly. She was healthy, fun, and my best friend.
  12. I started living alone.
  13. I started another job, which I love, but it is seasonal, so…
  14. Gainful employment must be found.
  15. I lost weight.
  16. I lost a ton of money.

I encourage you to do this exercise too. I mean what craziness. Joy, pain, anxiety, grief, celebration, resentment, fear, contentment, insanity (the dog, I love her, but NOW WAS NOT THE TIME), wealth, no wealth. What would your life show you if you did the same? Go ahead. Write down the date of 18 months ago, and then compile the major and minor stuff of those months. Feel free to show it to your friends so they’ll stop insisting you go get meds. It put a lot in perspective for me, and answered the question of why getting home, curling up in bed, and watching all episodes of Cedar Cove on the Hallmark Channel on my Kindle Fire is a good thing. I’m not crazy but my life has been.

I’m not sure every season of life is this packed with transition, but I can attest to the 50’s being the decade of acceleration.When my children were growing up, time flew. It went much faster than I wanted because I loved being their mom. But this is different. Time isn’t just skipping by. It is a rocket ship headed for who knows where? Perhaps, I’ve just reached that age where children marry, have children of their own, parents die, divorces happen, and that creates a sensation of life flying by at warp speed. Does anyone else feel this way at 50?

A few mornings ago, I got up to take Aggie for her morning walk (the dog does get you out of the bed), and when I got outside the Episcopal church bells were playing “How Great Thou Art.” I live one block from the church, so I could hear the bells clearly. They played for our whole walk. What a joy!

I am sure some non-Christian person will come along, sooner rather than later, and ask that they stop playing something that offends them (I do hope they’ll at least play Bach or something when that happens), but for that moment, God was reminding me that all time is his and all events during time are his too.

The last 18 months have been cray-cray as the kids say, but on my walk I understood that time doesn’t belong to me. I don’t actually own it. It is God’s creation, and hence, belongs to him. How Great Thou truly Art. Only the Lord knows what is ahead and really, what is behind. And, what today holds. I do not. In fact, I’ve been so busy, I didn’t even realize all that had happened in the last 18 months. My jaw is still dropped from reading the list. But, the Lord knew.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. If time belongs to the Lord, and he knows all that will happen to me in the time he’s given me, then why not just give him my day-timer? Why not take my hands off the calendar, and let him determine, not only the length of my days, but the activities of them too, and even more importantly, my response to them? Perhaps the 60s will different, slower, a decade of leisure? But until then, I think I better hold on tight for the next 18 months. I have a feeling we’re just getting started.

 
 

The Weekly Wrap-Up/Life Acceleration After 50

Wow.

I just did this exercise as part of my morning Bible Study, where I was asked to write down the date of 18 months ago. Then, I was to write down, from that date, everything that has happened in my life. Here’s my list.

  1. A new granddaughter was born.
  2. My son got married to a beautiful woman.
  3. I moved from my home and garden of 20 plus years.
  4. My divorce was finalized.
  5. I was hired for a great job.
  6. Six months later, I was laid off from that great job.
  7. I went on a wonderful trip to California and Oregon to study plants.
  8. I finally got settled into my quaint, rental house, and got all storage units unpacked.
  9. I got a dog???????? (Why did I do that? What was I thinking?)
  10. My mother passed away very suddenly and very unexpectedly. She was healthy, fun, and my best friend.
  11. I started living alone.
  12. I started another job, which I love..
  13. I started doing garden coaching, which I love.
  14. I lost weight.
  15. I lost a ton of money.

I encourage you to do this exercise too. I mean what craziness. Joy, pain, anxiety, grief, celebration, resentment, fear, contentment, insanity (the dog, I love her, but NOW WAS NOT THE TIME), wealth, no wealth. What would your life show you if you did the same? Go ahead. Write down the date of 18 months ago, and then compile the major and minor stuff of those months. Feel free to show it to your friends so they’ll stop insisting you go get meds. It put a lot in perspective for me, and answered the question of why getting home, curling up in bed, and watching all episodes of Cedar Cove on the Hallmark Channel on my Kindle Fire is a good thing. I’m not crazy but my life has been.

I’m not sure every season of life is this packed with transition, but I can attest to the 50’s being the decade of acceleration.When my children were growing up, time flew. It went much faster than I wanted because I loved being their mom. But this is different. Time isn’t just skipping by. It is a rocket ship headed for who knows where? Perhaps, I’ve just reached that age where children marry, have children of their own, parents die, divorces happen, and that creates a sensation of life flying by at warp speed. Does anyone else feel this way at 50?

A few mornings ago, I got up to take Aggie for her morning walk (the dog does get you out of the bed), and when I got outside the Episcopal church bells were playing “How Great Thou Art.” I live one block from the church, so I could hear the bells clearly. They played for our whole walk. What a joy!

I am sure some non-Christian person will come along, sooner rather than later, and ask that they stop playing something that offends them (I do hope they’ll at least play Bach or something when that happens), but for that moment, God was reminding me that all time is his and all events during time are his too.

The last 18 months have been cray-cray as the kids say, but on my walk I understood that time doesn’t belong to me. I don’t actually own it. It is God’s creation, and hence, belongs to him. How Great Thou truly Art. Only the Lord knows what is ahead and really, what is behind. And, what today holds. I do not. In fact, I’ve been so busy, I didn’t even realize all that had happened in the last 18 months. My jaw is still dropped from reading the list. But, the Lord knew.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. If time belongs to the Lord, and he knows all that will happen to me in the time he’s given me, then why not just give him my day-timer? Why not take my hands off the calendar, and let him determine, not only the length of my days, but the activities of them too, and even more importantly, my response to them? Perhaps the 60s will different, slower, a decade of leisure? But until then, I think I better hold on tight for the next 18 months. I have a feeling we’re just getting started.

 
 

The Knock Out Is Knocked Out (I’m Talking Roses Here)

Knock Out roses have been the rage for so many years that they are now synonymous with the word rose.

Homeowners have fallen in love with roses again, because finally there was a rose that could take anything you threw at and survive–a testament to the somewhat troublesome species of roses. Star Roses (the company who sells Knock Outs) put the landscape in landscape roses, or if you prefer the shrub in shrub roses.The Knock Out blooms all summer (meaning it has 5 cycles of bloom), escapes most typical rose issues, and you can prune the heck out of it come spring or fall without the nagging question in your brain, “Is this the right time to prune?” Honestly, the Knock Out is as easy as a butterfly bush. And, that, dear people, (despite my dislike of that rangy butterfly-infested shrub) is saying a lot.

But all good things must come to an end, and so it seems the Knock Out rose is losing its popular appeal. After all, there’s only so many you can see before you begin to think, blah. Then there’s the whole issue with rose rosette disease. An adorable client, who lives in one of the many Cliff’s developments around here, planted 22 Knock Outs in his landscape. (The Cliff’s Developments completely baffle me. I believe people play golf there, but who knows?) My client so loved his roses, and then, the rose rosette disease happened. All 22 were dug up and burned.

(Just an FYI, the reason you do not plant 22 of anything, even if you get them at Home Depot at 19,99 each–which I don’t recommend–is because you have just planted a mono-culture. Meaning, some disease or pest can come along and well, wipe out the whole planting. Diversity is good in people and the landscape. If my clients had just thrown in a couple of ‘Admiration’ barberries, they’d still have something to look at. Live and learn.)

But, moving on, because me? I never liked a Knock Out. So, I say good riddance. But, I do love a rose, and here’s my new favorite, It puts the Knock Out to pure shame. The leaf color alone makes me swoon. The rose blooms are not as bright as a Knock Out, but Knock Outs always screamed a little too loud for me anyway. And, so far, this rose is clean as a whistle. No black spot, no Japanese beetles, no powdery mildew (and I live in a rain forest). NOTHING BUT PERFECTION.

Side note: I never, and I do mean never, do anything about diseases on my roses. I garden organically and well, in my book, only the strong survive. The wimps hit the compost pile. I’m a busy girl. If anyone is going to get pampered, it is me. The roses must figure out how to shine on their own, without me dumping daconil on them. I do dead head.

So, here’s the featured plant of the week. The Kashmir Rose, part of the Easy Elegance rose collection. First up a picture of it blooming so you can just die happy right where you are.

Kashmir Rose

Kashmir Rose

photo 2 (3)

Kashmir Rose

I’ll quote the company because I love when rose people write about roses. They get so Shakespearean.

Resembling a hybrid tea rose, the velvety red blossoms are as soft as cashmere and beg to be cut for the vase. With an evenly rounded habit Kashmir fits perfectly into today’s urban landscapes. Try this bold accent plant in the border, foundation or as a low hedge, hugging paths and walkways.

Notice I did as instructed and planted by a pathway and my picket fence. Though, I did not read the instructions until 2 minutes ago. A lucky move on my part. Here’s the leaf. How clean is this thing?

photo 1

Kashmir Rose leaf (new growth, but old growth looks the same)

 

And, here’s the neighbor’s Knock Out, about 200 yards from the Kashmir.. If it were mine, it would already be in the compost bin.

photo 2 (1)

Knock Out Rose

 

Simply put. The Kashmir rose has knocked the Knock Out, out.

When Our Hearts and Our Flesh Fail; The Secret to a Successful Life

In week one of Bible study, we talked about suffering. Unfortunately, we will all suffer. This week Psalm 73:25-26 leapt out at me in my personal suffering, and put another dimension on the topic. My roommate from college, Donna, sent these verses ito me in a text because my mother–my energetic, vibrant, determined, stubborn, always on the go, Independent  outgoing, godly mother–passed away. Very unexpectedly and very suddenly. Tomorrow will be one week. When my oldest sister called me to tell me someone had died, my mom was not on my radar. She radiated life, not death. And I could not describe how I felt until I read this passage. Psalm 73:25-26

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength[b] of my heart and my portion forever.

I read these verses when I was throwing up. A stomach bug attacked our house (myself, my two sons, daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters) this week. I was its Wednesday victim–the day my mother’s physical body ceased to exist. She was cremated that day. I literally came unglued while throwing up. My flesh and my heart both failed me.

These verses spoke to my condition because God was telling me, that stomach bug aside, my ability to cope with the week’s events was nonexistent.

My cousin, Kim, the pastor who spoke at Mom’s memorial told the family that humans don’t have death in their DNA. God created us for life, not death, he said, It was sin that brought death into our world, and so death is unnatural to us. It is not something we actually know how to handle. But God does. He is our coping mechanism when we have none, and so far as death goes, we have none.

My mother knew this. I watched this past week as the dichotomy of Mom’s life played out. A woman whose resources were so few, lived a life that was so full. Her bank account and her life did not match. Her assets were people, her joy was the Lord. The receiving line at her memorial overflowed with those she had involved herself with. When I view my mother’s life, it literally makes no sense from a worldly perspective. My Coastie son spoke at her funeral, and said, “Maurme (the grandchildren’s name for her) lived life like she drove, about a 100 miles an hour.” Meaning, she lived it to the fullest. How is this possible for a person in her situation? At 77 years of age, she still worked to provide an income for herself.

The Lord was the strength of her heart and her portion forever. 

She let God worry about the things she had no control over. And, let’s face it, other than making up our beds (which Mom always did, and did it HER way), there’s not much we do have control over. Her life was a puzzlement outside of God. She was happy, joyful, cheerful, had a ton of friends, and in her words, few worries. What was the secret to her success?

The Lord was the strength of her heart and her portion forever.

This week’s lesson only has one question because it is the question I have pondered all week, and perhaps you need to ponder it too.

If the Lord is my strength and my portion, why do I wait to live? 

Please feel free to leave comments below. I am always blessed by them.

Father, gracious and precious to us, be our strength and our portion. Teach us to live fully, not waiting until everything is just right or ready, but to live in the present moment with you. May we take our hands off the reigns, stop trying to control every aspect of life, stop trying to achieve, and just receive. In Jesus strong name, Amen..