I took this photo yesterday as I walked around the garden. You see, at about one o’clock yesterday morning, we were graced with the first rainfall we’ve had since early May. Central Texas is undergoing another severe drought, and so it was with joy that I watched the radar light up with lots and lots of rain. And it was with joy that I went to bed with the sounds of rain falling on our roof and thunder rumbling in the clouds. It was quite glorious.
When I arose at about six o’clock yesterday morning to let Max out, the rain had just ended. The ground smelled happy and refreshed. The trees and plants looked happy and lush. Our yellowing grass was greener, the flowers were brighter, and Max came back soaked from his roaming around. After so many days of 100+ degree temperatures, it was such a relief for Creation to have this little renewal.
One interesting thing about Facebook, to me, anyway, is how geographically diverse my friends list is. Every time one of my local friends mentions the drought, a friend from another part of the country helpfully offers to send us their extra rain. And yesterday, while all my Central Texas friends were celebrating the arrival of a good rain, my friends from other parts of the country were bemoaning the floodwaters near them, or the fact that some event had just been rained out.
It is good to have these reminders and to be taken outside of my own sphere of rejoicing for a time – taken outside to remember that for some, rainfall is currently a tremendous burden, one which is straining their local resources in a manner similar to how the drought is straining ours. And so yesterday, as I walked around the garden to take pictures of my happy plants, I remembered in prayer those who are not happy at all about their rainfall – those who are, in fact, suffering greatly because of too much rain.
I thank God for the rain we received here. And I also pray that a balance of heavenly waters will settle down upon us – more for those who are in need, and less for those who are overwhelmed.
Peace be upon your day,
The flower above is a passion flower from our garden. Every time someone sees one of these unique blossoms, their comment is usually along the lines of, “What a beautiful and unusual flower!” This flower is on a vine which grows along a fenceline we share with our next-door neighbor. He recently told me that his mother, on a recent visit, shared that she loves the flower on this vine so much, she’s thinking of putting one in at her own house.
My dear neighbor’s mother: Proceed with caution!
This flower is attached to the most unruly vine you’ll ever see. The thing takes over everything around it if I’m not careful. Last summer, I looked out and realized – with horror – that it had grown over the top of a nearby crepe myrtle tree, so that the foliage I was seeing on the tree was mostly the vine’s! It’s a good thing our neighbor likes having the vine on our fence, because soon, it will take the whole thing over, one squiggly little tentacle at a time.
Yesterday, I attacked one of our passion vines with a passion of my own, along with some hedge trimmers and garden shears. The bees were grumpy as I hacked and pulled away, but the darn thing was setting down new roots at the base of the afore-mentioned crepe myrtle (agh!) and was beginning to cover a nearby cypress – its latest conquest. As much as I hate cutting out plant life, sometimes, for the good of the garden, it must happen. An unruly plant is one thing – an invasive one is quite another. And so now, my new goal is to move one of the darn things (the tree-eater) to a part of the garden where it can grow bigger, where it can take over a bit more, and where it won’t have to be monitored quite so closely.
I have a personal calendar on which I keep track of self-care – times when I exercise, for instance, or the Bible readings I complete each day. Today, I was looking over the last two weeks and realizing that I’ve been able to reclaim some growing space for myself again – much like the growing space I’ve recently claimed for the trees in our garden. The last month – the vines of life have become invasive, and so in the last two weeks, I’ve cut them back (again!), or I’ve moved them altogether. It is an interesting thing to look at one’s calendar and see patterns emerge. Unruly patterns are one thing – invasive ones are quite another.
Isn’t it great what we can learn from one beautiful flower on one unruly vine?
Peace be upon your evening,
So, a quick glance at things tells us that I haven’t written lately. I should say that I haven’t written HERE lately, because I have written other things, to be certain. But for some reason, the end of February hit me and I lost my desire to write creatively.
There were lots of contributing factors to my lack of creativity, each of which has had its own level of intensity. Issues of vocation, project obstacles, and personal relationships – we’ve had these a-plenty of late in our home. And with all of these issues weighing in more and more on my time, focus, and energy, creativity has gone largely out the window. Funny how that happens.
The thing is, I think that we need creativity in order to survive. I know I do. Maybe that’s why I’ve started randomly sitting down at the piano again to work on pieces I forgot how to play long ago – working out the fingerings and melodies again has helped me get back into a creative mode. And today, I found myself sitting at my computer asking the question, “To blog or not to blog?” I decided on the former…
And so, dear readers, I am back with you! I’ve decided that blogging isn’t always convenient, but writing feeds me, and I’ve heard from some of you that my writing feeds you, too. And if I can offer wisdom to you today, it is this: find something which feeds you, and do it. Make time for it.
Peace be upon your day,
Because I didn’t get a picture taken before I lost daylight, I need for you to use your imagination today. I need you to imagine a garden which is overgrown because it wasn’t tended properly in the fall.
Imagine now the owner of the garden, looking out the window with guilt almost every day – guilt because of the work which wasn’t done in the garden in the fall – guilt because of the work which wasn’t done in the garden on warmer days in the winter – guilt because of the work which hasn’t been done in the recent spring-like temps.
Next, imagine the owner of the garden getting some motivation towards the end of a beautiful end-of-winter spring-like day, and going out to work in the garden for about an hour. Imagine the clear blue sky, the cooling breezes, the “cruuuuunch!” of pruned plants being pushed into the yard waste bin.
Then, imagine joy – joy at finding new shoots sprouting up under old, dried up plants. Joy at discovering that even though she hasn’t cared for her bit of earth too much over the past few months, the earth has cared for its own. Joy at realizing that in spite of her lack of knowledge about every plant in the garden, the plants to a certain degree have tended themselves – wanting life – yearning for it so badly that they sent up new life through a pile of dead leaves over two inches thick. New life!
This little journey of imagination was my journey today as I finally worked outside. I finally pruned some plants. I finally whacked at an overgrown vine and yanked up some weeds. I finally tore up the dead and exposed the living, giving thanks that the lilies of the field don’t toil or spin and yet somehow they emerge – clothed in their beauty.
I give thanks for this work today. I give thanks because it was a reminder of the newness of life which is found after the old has passed away.
Peace be upon your night,
I did something today which I haven’t done in a very long time…I built a snowman. We got almost an inch of the white stuff overnight – I went to sleep skeptical that we would receive any snow – and so we awakened to a lovely landscape this morning.
(Note for those Northerners out there reading this: under the snow was a bunch of ice, and I don’t drive unless I have to in these situations…and I know how to drive in wintry weather! We have no treated roadways, and plenty of people who have no idea what they’re doing. It ain’t pretty!)
The snow hampered some things for us. Breakfast plans with a friend – canceled. People scheduled to come work at our house – postponed, one till later today and one till tomorrow. But somehow, all the hampered-ness worked itself out quite calmly, so that we were left with what turned into quite a nice snow day. And an actual snow day in Central Texas is rare.
Early on, I decided to take advantage of the fact that the snow wasn’t melting off immediately, and so I went outside to build a snowman. I realize the example above is not one of the best examples which any of us has ever seen of snow sculpture. However, I wasn’t really looking for perfection – it was more that I wanted to get outside and do it – just because I could. And so, I did.
The little guy lasted till the afternoon. I was out back talking with the fence repair guys in the early afternoon, and I looked over to see that he was drooping. By late afternoon, he was a snowball with two twigs sticking out of him.
And that was that.
I will say that I enjoyed this Central Texas snow day in all its glittering beauty. It was great to look out and see pristine snow – snow which we knew wouldn’t be around long enough to get dirty. It was fun to see everyone’s pictures on Facebook – my friends’ kids and dogs and houses and landscapes. And, as I heard so many say, it was great to feel like a kid again – rejoicing in the simple pleasures of a snow day.
Peace be upon your night,
Oh, this week. This week just keeps coming at me. Nothing catastrophic, really. But it just keeps coming.
Our fences blew down. OK. If they were only our fences, this would not be a big deal. Or if the fences which had blown down were shared with reasonable people, it would be an easier deal. But not all the people with whom we’re dealing are reasonable, and in fact, one of them was very rude and condescending to us today. So, my friendliness and willingness to work to resolve this problem was met with the opposite spirit entirely.
It is frustrating, this sharing of the world with people who choose to be rude. It is frustrating because I work pretty hard not to be rude to others myself. It is frustrating because rudeness – to me – is so unnecessary. And yet, there are some who – for whatever reason – choose rudeness. They choose to be hurtful or downright mean to others.
Question: Where is the life in that?
And so, Rude Ones of the Universe – here is what I am going to do…
I am going to choose life.
You choose rudeness – you choose to suck the life out of life for yourself and others. You choose to treat others poorly. You choose not to listen to others. You choose to live a life with hardly any compassion for others. You may not be physically dead, but your actions can be soul-killing.
Therefore, I choose life.
God sets before us life and death, blessings and curses (Deut 30). And in the face of your behavior, I will continue to choose life because it is what God bids us to do – but also because in choosing life, we have so much more to offer to others…
And that’s what I think about that.
Peace – and life! – be upon your night,
And…that all changed, beginning at about 3:30 this morning (ugh).
I was awakened by some loud noise. Not sure of what it was, I was instantly alert and aware that the wind outside was roaring. Not just blowing – roaring. I got up and began looking out windows as I heard things blowing around outside. “What didn’t I secure?” I thought.
Unfortunately, no amount of securing our belongings would’ve helped with the damage we sustained. The (cheap) builders in our neighborhood used cheap products and labor to put in these fences, and so now – five-and-some years later – the posts are rotting and the fences are losing structural integrity. We get a windstorm – and this is the result. We get a windstorm with 70mph gusts like last night – and lots of us get this result all over our yards.
And so at 3:30am, our neighbor right next door had a section banging against a window, so I threw on a coat and some shoes and went out to pull down that section to keep it from damaging his home. The cold rain had started by this time, so with the wind, I came back in soaked and ready for some dry pj’s. I was glad to have my flannel pj’s at the ready!
When we woke up a few hours later, the picture above was part of what we found. Several sections of fence – completely down. And others – flapping in the wind. And others – creaking with purpose. And so, today, I spent much of the day indoors on the phone and outdoors talking with neighbors and surveying the damage. Fence guys in town are swamped. And so, for now, we wait.
I’m typing this inside tonight, bundled up in my warmest pj’s, in a robe, in a blanket. The north wind continues to roar and our bedroom, on the north side of the house, will get the brunt all night long. My Texas house isn’t sealed for these north winds (with wind chills in the single digits), and so tonight, we will be bundling up more than usual to fight off the draftiness of our windows.
I am pondering tonight, too, those who have no warm homes to huddle in, and those who don’t have warm blankets, warm meals, or warm companionship tonight. May God bless them, and may God continually move us to help care for them.
Peace – and warmth – be upon your night,