under the mess

It was early spring; winter was finally past with nicer weather here to stay.  Not wanting to be inside any longer, I was anxious to get "out there" and start clearing up the gardens around our house.  One sloping bank in particular was a mess of weeds and downed limbs, as well as being home to mounds of leaves from the previous fall.  My husband had planted tall spikes of forsythia along the upper edge of the bank, and I was eager to free the budding branches so eventually they could bloom in all their glory.

I attacked the overgrowth with gusto.  I pulled, tugged, threw to the side, cleared and pruned to my heart's content.  Happy with my progress, I was almost to the end of my crusade when a spot of color caught my eye. All movement stopped for a moment. I wasn't sure what I was seeing because it was nestled so deep in the underbrush.  Only after I had a chance to move the surrounding debris was I able to see the source of the color - the first forsythia bloom of the season.

I stood there in awe. This perfect beauty, produced from the branch that had been buried beneath the muck and the mire.  Flower bursting forth from the limb that had been denied all but a little light.  Apparently, the one with the most junk dumped on it blooms first.
Sounds like something out of Life 101.
We all have weights bearing down on us in our lives; no one escapes that fact.  Some come for a season or a time and then leave; others make their nests in our days and roost.  This overgrowth, this debris, these heartaches and pressures and unwanted circumstances that threaten to bury us and squeeze out the light in our lives - they don't come to weigh our heart down for no reason.  God allows them into our lives to help us to grow, to flourish, to bloom.  We usually don't recognize them as beneficial fertilizer (because we're too busy trying to make them go away), but God knows they are exactly what our soul needs in order to produce the sweet blossoms that represent Him changing a life.
Life exists under the mess. It's there for a reason. It's the mess that provides the nutrients for our growth. 
So keep calm and bloom on.   

new (in)courage Community Groups forming today!

Happy Monday! And, for being a Monday, this is one is filled with fun news!
 The awesome online "beach house" for women, (in)courage, is having registration for their new and existing small groups today. You won't want to miss being a part of one of these online communities - they are resources of encouragement and discipleship like no other. 
 There is a group for almost any taste and talent- you can check out the complete listing of what's available here. Click on over and sign up for one!
The lovely Jennifer Frisbie and I are co-leading a group called
(in)couraged to Explore the Writing Life.  I am honored and blessed to be a part of this group; it's taking me outside of my comfort zone and it will connect me to other great women writers who share the passion of using their gifts and talents for Him. I desire to be an encourager for these women, and to learn from them as well as we share our lives and stories.
No matter what you love to do or are passionate about - they've got a group for it.  And after you head on over there and sign up, I'd love if you came back and left a comment telling me which group you registered for so I can be the first to cheer you ON!
Now go on, get out of here and head over to (in)courage, and have a great Monday!

plans and priorities

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21
This is so true.  I get up in the morning with So. Many. Plans.
Plans in my calendar.  Plans on my mind.  More scribbled on paper.
Plans I alone have made, yet before God I can't help but acknowledge that only He knows my day.  He has it planned.  And His plans could very well not be mine.
Sometimes the sheer volume of tasks on My List overwhelms me and I think, "How will I get this all done?"  I can feel my heart race and panic set in. 
Truth is, often there really aren't enough hours in the day - for my plans.
The best advice I've read on priorities comes from the book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  In it she writes, " The Truth is all I have to do is the work God assigns to me.  What a freedom it has been for me to accept that there is time for me to do everything that is on God's 'to do' list for my day, my week and my life!"  I love that concept.
I'm betting that God's to-do list for me looks way different than mine.  Think Mary vs. Martha.  Yeah. That.
Plans. Lists.  Pressures. Commitments. They all threaten to manipulate my day and thrust me headlong into my next 24 hours before I'm even ready. Why am I letting them dictate my schedule? Where is my priority? When will I remember that simply sitting at Jesus' feet with my Bible, a journal and some quiet time is not a waste of time, but lifeblood for my soul?  I cannot think of a better investment in my day than to give Him a part of it.  The moments I give Him are necessary in order to get those other things done.  (cue My List.)
Breathe soul, breathe.  There is time enough in this day to do what God wants me to do.  And the only way I'm going to figure out what those things are is
to ask Him.
to listen to Him.
to spend time with Him.
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you as well.....
Sounds like a plan to me.

waiting for perfect

I'm not sure what I've been waiting for, but I do know that I've been waiting for something to be perfect before I write on this blog. 

Maybe it's the topic. 

Or the words.

It could be my mood that I'd like to be just right, but then again, maybe it's my hair. (which is far from perfect even though I just got a 60$ haircut. Don't ask. That's another blog post entirely.)

At any rate, I decided to break the silence and stop waiting for perfect and just write. If I wait for perfect to arrive, the world is going to slip by without me because it's broken and in no way can manifest perfection.

Sounds bleak, doesn't it?

Believe it or not, there is good news for all of us in all of this.

The good news is that God doesn't wait for you to be perfect, doesn't wait for me to be perfect. He wants us just as we are, with our imperfect hearts, lives and souls. He's already made us perfect through Jesus.  No more waiting. It's done. It's so simple, really. And it doesn't get much perfect-er than that.

So go ahead.  Jump into whatever it is that's calling your name long before perfect comes down the pike.  Long before you've got your ducks in a row, planets aligned, checkbook balanced.  Tomorrow those things won't be.  Because, you see, in this world perfect never comes and stays.

Yet perfect, in Jesus Christ, is already here.  And will last forever.

What are you waiting for?