I’ve long been amazed that seeds hold a bit of the miraculous. How can such a tiny thing become food for the table, a tree stretching shading branches, a field of flowers. Each seed holding potential, but its more than just potential. We plant in faith - that it will grow. We water in hope - that we’ve done our part. The rest is up to God. And he always provides.
How many times have I read the following and breezed past: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’“ Genesis 1:29 NIV
This was the first gift he gave to his creation. That such a small, unassuming seed could produce food that would sustain life? An impossible gift that required wild faith and still does. He turns seeds into harvest, food for our tables to fill hungry stomachs. But his provisions are greater than this. He gifts us with small, unassuming things that don’t look like enough. Everyday moments, seeds of grace, that become a life that is full.
Looking back at the year that has just passed, it has been full of hard moments, hearts spilling tears, and nights whispering prayers, but also moments of joy and wonder. I can say it was a good year because I can see his goodness, his nearness. The seeds that have grown look like friends and family who support and murmur prayers for us, for healing. Something impossible that required wild faith. And through it all, God’s goodness was the gift.
January, the beginning of a new year, planting new seeds in a fresh Eden, while watching other seedlings still growing. All this, the dreams, ideas, goals, are humble seeds that we plant, and we trust that God will provide, growing them into what we need. The abundance of his gifts and his grace is feast for the soul. And that is more than enough.
"When can I have my life back?"
It's 5 am on a cold Sunday morning in March, and I find myself flat on my back on the driveway.
There are a few events that led me to this position and to this question:
- A few weeks ago, our youngest son who is 24, arrived at the shoppe with a German Shepherd puppy, happy as I've ever seen him.
- The next day, I heard myself saying, Yes, as he asked if the puppy could stay with us for awhile. He hadn't exactly thought things through and needed time to figure things out.
- I've forgotten how demanding and exhausting the training of a puppy can be, and how small their bladders are. So when she whines at 5 am, I hit auto pilot: shoes on, coat on, leash on, out the door. It must be urgent as she darts out like a bullet. In an instant I'm flat on my back on the driveway which is a sheet of ice. My head hits the cement pretty hard.
Bewildered, I first think of the leash. Still in hand. Thank God.
I feel the back of my head with my other hand and look for blood. None. Thank God again.
I lay there for a moment staring at the dark sky, puppy licking my face.
When can I have my life back?
A few days later, I listened to a podcast by Emily P Freeman. She talks about life's interruptions and how to find peace in handling them.
Tears fall fast. It feels good to cry.
This puppy is definitely an interruption to my quiet, daily routines, but I know its more than the puppy that's triggering these tears. There's a bigger life change that is emotionally exhausting and difficult to accept as my new reality.
When can I have my life back? When can there be time for me and my needs?
Have you ever found yourself asking that question?
If we think about it, our life is made up of interruptions. They look different as we move through our stages of life:
the demands of our children, the needs of a sick loved one, caring for our aging parents. . . Others before ourselves - isn't that what we are called to do - live a life of service? Yes, but when the interruptions are not ones that we chose, not what we had planned, and are forced upon us - those are the ones that can lead to this question: When can I have my life back? Maybe we are the ones who are ill and find our life looking so different than what we had planned. As hard as it is to understand, even those are given to us for a purpose.
CS Lewis writes: “The great thing if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s own or real life. The truth is of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life, the life God is sending one day by day.”
Those last words "the life God is sending one day by day" - oh how I need to be reminded of this. It's like manna that God sent the Israelites. That daily bread from heaven nourished and sustained them while they wandered in the desert, but they quickly grew tired of it, and began to complain. Manna means 'What is this?' If I'm honest with myself, when I ask the question 'When can I have my life back?' I'm really saying, 'What is this? I'm tired of what you are giving, God." The truth is that He gives us what we need, not what we want, and it's always for our good. Always.
So then give me the strength and patience every day so I can handle this life of manna. And he does.
The French composer, Claude Debussy wisely said, "Music is the space between the notes". "There's meaning, depth, richness, in the interval, in the rest, in the silence. The silence is necessary for the notes to be music. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of noise. Our pauses, our solitudes, our quiet respite is necessary for our interruptions to be our lives." Emily says in her podcast.
The space between the notes is necessary - we need that time of rest and solitude. Time for me. Time for you. And may I offer this suggestion - the space between the notes can be one of peace. Finding peace in the interruptions, knowing that God sees you and holds you in his strong, ever-present hands, is possible and is a comfort. His plan is holy and perfect.
The road may be long and you and I may be weary, but don't give up. I find this quote to be helpful:
"Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have." - John Piper
"Mostly we need you, lovely embodied you, showing up to your life as it is and not as you wish it to be, able to admit what you need and what you want. You, honest about what you miss and about what you long for. You, celebrating this right now moment. And in all of this you can be sure there is a divine presence, a holy harmony, a welcoming acceptance of the whole colorful mess." - Emily P. Freeman
We are not alone. May we find peace in the interruptions and joy in the space in between.
- Thankfully I did not have a concussion when I hit my head on the cement.
- The puppy is potty trained and now happily living in her new home.
- Here's a link to Emily's podcast: emilypfreeman.com/podcast/267/
- or you can read it here:
Of course, it would snow. . .
Not a soft, pretty snow with flakes gently descending from the heavens.
No, it was during a winter snowstorm that we moved from our home of 22 years out in the country into a smaller house in town. Fortunately, the bulk of our possessions had been moved five days earlier with the help of family and friends. But now, as the snow quickly accumulated on the ground, we frantically packed the last of the boxes into the U-Haul. The trip down our steep, icy driveway would be stressfully packed with prayers, as well, that we make it down safely. This is not how I wanted to say goodbye to this lovely place, to my home where we raised our kids, to the gardens that I planted where I know each plant by name . . .
That morning’s winter storm reflected the chaos going on inside me, overwhelming sadness mixed with a touch of excitement of the unknown that lay ahead, the stress that comes with moving, the late nights of packing, lying awake in early morning hours with endless lists running through my head, and trying to keep it all together with a trust that God will make it all work out – it was an avalanche of emotion that I’ve never experienced before.
After a harrowing 30-minute trip on snow-covered roads to where we would close on the house, I was able to catch my breath. We sat in the office waiting our turn, and I got a text from our daughter who had been at the house with our son packing the U-Haul. It was a video she had taken of the snowscape that surrounded the woods on the property. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Tears welled up yet again – how I will miss those trees – watching them change through the seasons. They were the first thing I saw every morning when I opened my eyes to gaze out uncurtained windows. Fresh spring leaves unfurling, summer green canopies, glorious autumn hues, and graceful bare branches outlined in snow like right now. And I had missed it this morning – blindly consumed with the details of moving.
It was then that it struck me - even amidst all the chaos going on around and inside of me, there is something beautiful happening that God is orchestrating. It’s his perfect plan for me – I take a deep breath in. His love and presence is constant - I exhale slowly. It was he who led us here to this place years ago – inhale deeply, and filled it with love, joy, tears – all of them blessings. Exhale. He goes before me once again, leading me – inhale. And I follow, knowing that he will make this move something beautiful, too. Slow exhale.
It’s been almost a week now, and already that emotional day is but a memory. The lessons I’m learning of trusting God, letting go, embracing change, and seeing beauty where you least expect it, those will stay with me as this new chapter unfolds. I miss waking up to the wooded view out my window, but I’m so grateful that I was given that gift for a while. The trees have taught me to carry something with me through every season of life – and that’s joy. There’s a passage in the Bible that says, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12
God is writing a symphony. All of this – the struggles, the joy, the tears, the laughter, He’s weaving it all together into a beautiful symphony that I’m blessed to call my life. And right now, in the beginning of this new movement, I’m being led forth in peace and, like the trees, I will joyfully clap my hands.
The last of the leaves linger on the trees. The great horned owl coos from the woods nearby, and I hear the train's horn in the distance. The sun rises and fills the sky with lovely colors. I want to capture all these moments along with all the other memories from this special place that I've called home for so long, pack them up, and take them with me. The next few weeks will be the final ones in this house on the hill, and time seems to be flying by way too quickly. To slow it down, I want to savor each moment, and fill the hours more meaningfully.
Yes, we've sold our house, and have found a place to land - so grateful for that. As I walk our property, watching each tree and shrub that I've planted release their leaves yet again as part of their annual rhythm, I'm overwhelmed with how connected I've become to this place, this land, these gardens. Such a blessing this has been - growing a family, growing gardens, and growing myself. Gratitude fills my heart, and helps me brave up to see this move as a new adventure with new opportunities and new gardens to grow . . .
Can you keep a secret? I'm digging up some of these plants and taking them with me. I don't know why, but I feel this is a covert operation. And time is short, so every spare moment of daylight, I'm out there with shovel in hand, hunting for those I can't leave behind. Hellebores, Hostas, Epimediums, peonies . . . As I dig, I'm careful not to disturb the roots too drastically. It will be awhile before they get tucked into their new home, forming new roots, and growing in new gardens. Kind of like me.
I'll be honest - I feel like my roots are being ripped out of the earth, but I know God is gently digging so this move will be a positive one. And like my plants, it will take awhile for me to put down new roots and feel at home. But once settled in, it will all be ok. It will all be ok. I need to play that on repeat. Plants, memories, trust, hope, optimism, and gratitude . . . taking them all with me to fill my new home. It's that last one - gratitude, that I'm practicing daily as I pack. Slowing down to recognize the gifts that grace the path of each day, naming each one, and giving thanks for it. It's in this practice that I find peace and contentment - no matter what the circumstance. It's calming. And then it dawns on me - being rooted in him and in his love is what really matters.
"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; it's leaves are always green." - Jeremiah 17:7-8
I've always loved that passage. Roots have gone down deep here, that's why it hurts so much to leave. But those spiritual roots keep things in perspective and in the end are the most important ones. I'll share one last thing before I sign off - a song. It's one that I find bits of running through my mind lately - one that I find comforting. I hope it will give you comfort as well when you need it. You can listen to it here.
"Morning by morning, I wake up to find the power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season, I watch Him, amazed In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me.
I can't remember a trial or a pain He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret In serving God only and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me.
This is my anthem, this is my song, the theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me.
- Sara Groves
So I started another garden.
Not just a small one. It runs the entire length of the building.
As if I don't already have enough to tend to - not sure what I'm thinking. Taking on another project right now is that last thing I should be doing. Maybe it's this waiting in the in-between that's making me restless. I feel a need to create order and beauty when life happens crazy around me. It's not the first time I've done something like this. I find that my response to chaos beyond my control is to attempt to create order. Not that long ago, as the pandemic made everything spin out of control, I found myself organizing the junk drawer, then each cluttered closet in the house. Random, but at least I could control that one small thing. And organizing a drawer helps organize my thoughts.
As I layout the new bed line and edge it, I wonder what drives me to do this. Maybe it's an underlying hope and a trust that things will get better that spur me on to do something for the future - beyond this in-between moment. Knowing that someone bigger (God) is handling all this is such a relief. But instead of just sitting here waiting for something to happen, it helps to do something positive and hopeful - like designing and planting a garden. Creativity can be therapeutic, so perhaps God will use it as a way through and eventually out of this maze.
Do you ever feel like you are waiting? Like you are stuck in the in-between? Yesterday I read a post by author Kaitlyn Bouchillon that beautifully captures what it feels like:
"An ampersand (&) is the sign for 'and', a connection between two things. It goes right in the middle & keeps the story going. So often we try to rush through the messy or mundane middle & turn the page, hurrying to the ending . . . The truth is, most of our days are somewhere in between . . .
Hope & heartache
Joy & stress
Grief & delight
Anticipation & disappointment
The list could go on & on because we live our days in the tension of the Already & the Not Yet."
Kaitlyn goes on to say even when we walk through the "and of sickness & healing, of hope & disappointment, of trusting & waiting, doubting & believing, it's messy. And it's good, in its own way, because it's here in the ampersand that . . . God's goodness doesn't waver or run out . . . it's the thread running all the way through, leaving fingerprints on every page of the story."
It's in the waiting that I'm finding some peace & contentment - most days. I'm learning to trust God without borders, to be grateful for small things, to pray big, and to wait on his timing. He is good, all the time.
That last one is easy to say, but hard to believe at such times. But it is a truth to cling to: God IS good, all the time. His goodness doesn't waver. How do I know this? Even in this messy middle, blessings abound. And friends, YOU are among those blessings! My heart swells and overflows with gratitude for each of your prayers, kind words, and thoughtful actions. What a comfort to know that we don't walk alone and that He walks with us and ahead of us each step of the way.
So here's to messy middles . . .
. . . to community,
. . . to new gardens,
. . . to hope,
. . . to new mornings and new mercies.
On my knees. In the garden.
It grows with wild abandon this year, unkempt as if forgotten. It's not forgotten, just not a priority as time earlier this summer was spent focusing on health issues and running a business. Now more of a priority, and that thing nagging at me every time I look out the window, I've been spending my August mornings clearing pathways, sorting through the wildness, and restoring some order. Not many people I know enjoy weeding, but I'm one of the few who find it relaxing, peaceful, and extremely satisfying. I know the potential the garden holds, and being part of the creative, restorative process brings a sense of joy and is great garden therapy.
As I tackle each garden, one by one, the 'before' is obvious as it looms in front and around me, but I can visualize the 'after', and that's what drives me. What I find amazing is that as I tackle each garden, it's not just the perennials that are rescued and form that is restored, it's me that is tended, fed, and made whole again. The process of any restoration shapes character, sharpens resilience, and grows determination. Whether a garden, a piece of furniture, a car, or an old house, it's the vision that drives us, isn't it? It's that we see the potential of what could be, and belief in those possibilities motivates us through the hard work, setbacks, and challenges.
On my knees. In the quiet.
This time it's my soul that's in need of restoration. Weary from what seems like a marathon of challenges, I'm tired. Yet, I'm resilient. God is a God of restoration. He sees the potential. He uses the challenges and setbacks as stepping stones that build character and perseverance. He restores, room by room, making it beautiful - better than before. I know He is using this journey to help me grow in so many ways. And just as the sun rises every morning, His mercies are new every morning, and I draw strength from knowing that He is present. He is in control, and He is growing something good right now.
What about you?
Do you enjoy taking something old, seeing the potential, and making it into something new?
Are you in need of some soul restoration? If you are, I hope these words encourage you like they've encouraged me:
First, familiar words:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. " Psalm 23:1-3
"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness, I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us. . . " Romans 5:3-5 NLT
and finally from CS Lewis:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
Take heart and lean into Him. Find gratitude and joy in this journey of restoration.
Until next time -
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!