Some things are so beautiful, I can’t help but stop and admire.
Usually it’s nature that catches my eye and steals the breath with it's stunning beauty. Driving past this wrought iron gate had the same affect – caught the eye, pulled off the road, had to get closer to take it all in. Graceful curves, white aged to yellow, chipped and rusted, but to me it was beautiful. What struck me most was the contrast – strong iron shaped into gentle curves. How many years had it stood here? How many storms had it endured? Strong yet so graceful. How hot was the fire that softened hard iron to form beautiful swooshes and swirls?
I see the same beauty in someone close who battled the ugliness of cancer with such grace. Keeping her eyes focused on the ultimate Grace-giver was reflected in her response to what life had handed her. Through the firestorm, her strong faith unwavering was beautiful. Grace under pressure.
Long seasons of testing and trials are made up of small moments that define us. Like fire, they can refine making us stronger or they can consume and weaken us. I think of this as I stand on what seems a mountain of whys and unanswered questions. Trying to be strong as I move forward through the day, my breath a constant prayer, at times I feel I could crumble under the sheer weight of it all.
'. . . we are weak, but He is strong'. Those songs learned at a young age can be such a comfort! Yes, Jesus does love me. He is strong. And it's in that strength, HIS strength, that I can draw strength and find peace; it's in His grace that I see blessings that are still here, amidst all the uncertainty. And I know that all of this is grace.
Maybe you're not in a season like that. The truth is that we all face small everyday fires that can define and refine us. The question is, how do we respond when in the midst of those everyday fires . . .
to the heated moments of a stressful day?
to gossip that surrounds, or pain that hounds?
to words that sting and tempers that flare?
It’s in our nature to react to these pressures of fire with more fire: to be unkind when treated unkindly, to give anger when shown anger, to lash out when lashed at, to break under pressure. But what if we respond with what’s unexpected - kindness. What if we respond with what is undeserved - grace. What if we see our situation as an opportunity?
Each small moment fire can be an opportunity to reflect the undeserved love - unmerited favor - the grace God has shown us. When we react to moments of pressure or a season of trials with a posture of grace, our unexpected response and our attitude could stop fire’s fury, catch the eye, and be something beautiful. Just like that wrought iron gate. Grace under pressure.
May God use whatever fire is in our moments to make us stronger and be a reflection of his grace. ‘Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus’. 2 Timothy 2:1
The sun sets quickly as I bundle up and head outside. Tonight will be our first hard frost and I have zinnias to gather. Snip. Snip. They were beautiful this year, lasting well into November. I think of all the butterflies that lingered on each blossom gathering sweet nectar. Snip. Snip. I've been watching with fascination how cut-flower farmers like Erin Benzakien @ Floret Flowers and Tiffany Jones @ Blomma Flower Farm gather seed to breed new varieties of zinnias. It has inspired me to save seed for the simple act of planting them again next year. Snip. Snip.
As I gather armfuls of zinnias, I consider how November is a month for gathering. We gather the harvest of pumpkins, squash, and any cole crops that remain in the garden. We gather warm coats, hats, and gloves for the impending cold. We gather firewood for the fireplace, and then we gather around it's warmth. But most of all, in November, we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving. A day set aside to pause and reflect on the abundance of blessings we have. If you've been following me here on the Naturally Bella Journal, you are well familiar with how I feel about recognizing small blessings found in every day living. They are present in every day - good or bad. In every situation, in every moment, there is something to be grateful for. Opening our eyes to the small, seemingly insignificant blessings is powerful! It can lift us out of depression, fight off anxiety, and leads to contentment and joy. Each blessing is a gift. As a believer, I know that each gift comes from above. Each gift is a reminder of how much we are loved by our heavenly Father.
If we are honest with ourselves, our blessings overflow into abundance. Don't you love that word? Abundance. It means having an excess of something. Abundance feels like being rich, even without money. Standing out in the garden holding armfuls of zinnias made me feel like a wealthy woman. Recognizing this abundance of blessings can overwhelm us and touch the heart. It can move us to tears and even to our knees as we are lavishly showered with this undeserved love and grace. Have you ever experienced this?
There is a time to gather all those blessings, to recognize and name them, and to give thanks for them. But it doesn't stop there. Living a thank-filled life isn't only about the gathering. "Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts," - David O McKay.
Yes! Thankfulness leads to gratitude. Humbled by our abundance and compelled by His love, we show our gratitude by giving to others. Perhaps this is why Thanksgiving (the season of thanking) is followed by Christmas (the season of giving).
Through the act of thankful giving, we also experience abundance! This is the lesson of abundance. The more we give of ourselves, the more we are filled with intangibles like peace and joy. So this begs the question: how can I live an abundant life today? It is not in the gathering, it is in the scattering. It is in the giving as much as we can, that we receive more than we ever imagine.
I think about this as I'm sorting through zinnia seed heads. Scattering carries an element of randomness. We scatter seed letting it fall where it may. Out of this abundance of flowers that filled my small bit of earth, I'm thankfully gathering to gratefully scatter next spring. But I need to do more. I am compelled to do more. What if I give them away, so others can also experience their beauty and the joy they offer?
Let's begin with daily intentional giving, and scatter without limits.
This is how to live a truly abundant life.
1. List three things you are grateful for right now.
2. How do you define an abundant life?
3. Who do you know that has a need?
4. How can you become a gift to that person?
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!