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Pruning Season

Six-foot ladder shows the size, and you can’t see the deck at all.

Grandma Lehman says you can prune your non-flowering shrubs in any month that has an “r” in its name.  (Pause, pause while you think that one through!)

Here we are in September and these bushes are out of control.  If I’m honest, they’ve needed cut back for a couple of years now but since they aren’t in the front of the house they also aren’t in the front of my mind!  They block the view from the deck, but they aren’t really causing any other problems.  In fact, the only time I really think about them is here in the fall, when they turn this beautiful red (and how about this throwback pic?), and I wouldn’t consider cutting that off!

But the truth is that they need trimmed if I am ever going to see off my deck again, and for their own good so that new growth occurs.  And we know that this is similar to parts of our lives that are blocking our growth.  They might not be causing huge problems and they might now always be on our minds, but they need to go in order to make room for things or habits or thoughts that are better.  There’s probably never a time that seems good for pruning our lives because it usually means letting go of something we’ve kind of secretly enjoyed.  Resentment.  Doing a job that we get lots of pats on the back for.  Unhealthy or sinful habits.

For the bushes, pruning means that this fall I probably won’t get to see much of that beautiful red.  But I am already excited to see what they look like when the green leaves appear next spring.  And I’m certain that a year from now the red will be better than ever!

Bushes looking like we feel when we’ve gone thru a little life pruning!

Our products labeled “Vine and Branches” remind us of these verses from John 15:   I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  What would some pruning in your life look like?  Is there something God’s calling you to that you aren’t doing because you’ve let other things get in the way? 

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Stacks of Important Stuff

Hurricane Harvey has me thinking even more about the things I own and how much importance I place on them.  It’s amazing the things we rely on while we think we’re trusting it all to the Lord!  What if I had 15 minutes to get out of my house?  What would I grab?

This brings up some issues I have with organizing, because the things that are most important to me are spread hither and yon throughout my house!  I have areas that are neat and tidy, and then there’s my sewing corner and work table.  Ugh.  Despite my best intentions, organizing tools, and tons of Pinterest photos to learn from, it is nearly always covered in small piles of paperwork.  This and that that I might forget if I put it totally away.  (Just to prove it, here’s a photo this morning.  This is it’s typical state.)

And that reminds me of the things we carry around in our minds; this and that that we might forget if we totally put them away.  That time a trusted person said something that hurt us.  That time when we weren’t treated fairly.  That time when we tried really hard and still didn’t get the prize.  They hang around like little stacks of coupons and forms to fill out, junk mail and statements that need filing!  And then they get in the way when we need to pull up something really important, like how to love unconditionally and give sacrificially.

I don’t know about you, but if I only have one quick interaction with someone, I don’t really want it to be tainted with old wounds and grudges.  And if I only have a few minutes to find important things in my house, I don’t want to spend them moving around receipts from last winter and shuffling outdated fundraising forms.  And so this week I’m working on a new organizing plan for my work area.  And maybe I’ll do a better job of filing away some of that old mental junk while I pray for those who now have a long journey of recovery after Hurricane Harvey.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

 

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Technology: Apple or Applet?

It’s not even Tuesday but we’re working on this blog and something called an “applet”.  No, it’s not the smaller version of an apple like this…

If this is working, you’ll see an automatic post go to facebook for us (if you’re on facebook).  If this isn’t working, then later today or tomorrow you’ll probably get another random email about a not-on-Tuesday post.  But for your effort, here’s your encouraging verse for the weekend:

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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What Used to Be – Mom Life, Episode 687

Are you living in the present, focused on what God has for you each day, or are you spending your time remembering what used to be?

If you’ve ever been a mother of preschoolers, you know that the few short hours between drop-off and pick-up are a mix of delight and intensity, best laid plans and time passing too quickly.  Do you stack up errands and hope your toddler and infant can make it? Do you stop for coffee with a friend or visit a shut-in? Do you go home and pretend you have no responsibilities while you watch a few minutes of Netflix? No matter your choice it seems that little slice of free time flies by while the days may seem to last forever.

I thought that season of life was over for me, and thoroughly enjoyed a year with all of my kids in school all day.  But with a kid too young for a driver’s license and needing to take some college courses in the afternoon, yesterday I found myself re-living those preschool days.  Two free hours between drop-off and pick-up, and the same question of how to best use that time.

I will stop right here and admit that when I heard this schedule, I wasn’t any too thrilled about it.  Every day?  This would seriously hamper my plans for myself! At least when they were actually in preschool I could count on a bit of nap time afterward!  I spent most of the summer longing for last year’s free schedule: what used to be.  But all of my wishing did not change the situation.

And so in an effort to embrace the new, I decided to use my first day of this new schedule to get some exercise.  And it seems on my walk I just kept seeing examples of “what used to be“.  An old storefront.  

 

A stairway to nowhere.  

 

Houses well past their glory days.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it’s fun to imagine what these looked like when they were new, active, welcoming and alive, I couldn’t help thinking that many of us may be missing God’s opportunities for us today while we spend our time focusing on what used to be.  We say things like “I used to teach Sunday school all the time; I’ve paid my dues” or “I memorized all of book of the Bible once”, and we let that be enough.  We remember the fun we used to have in a certain small group, or the meaningful mentoring relationship that took place during college.  And somehow part of us just keeps waiting for those same things to happen again.

But we can never go back.  What used to be is meant to remain what used to be.  We’ve learned from it, we’ve loved or hated it, and we are different now than we were then.  God’s got something new for us in each new season, whether it is a new schedule or just a new outlook.  But we won’t be able to grow into it if we’re too busy trying to stay in what used to be.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  Isaiah 43:18-19a

And now, just for fun, a look WAY back at what used to be when Divine Gifts was just beginning…

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Final Fruits

Ha!  Not as desirable as peace or patience, but the “final fruits” could be the completely brown banana that lays on the counter day after day while I consider putting it in the freezer for use later or making it into banana butterscotch chip muffins, but don’t.  Or the few grapes in the bottom of the bag that finally mold together or turn into raisins on the vine.  If I would have pulled them all off the vine and put the bowl out they would have been eaten.  Or the one apple in the bag that has some bruises on it so that everyone chooses around it until it’s the only one left.  And it sits.

We thought about patience way back when we considered turtles, and about peace when we looked at our lavender oil and soft double gauze blankets – just scroll down for a quick reminder.  Today I’m thinking about this giraffe gift set entitled “Stretch Yourself” and how this might be another step in experiencing patience and peace.Stretch Yourself to experience patience and peaceCould it be that we don’t have patience because we refuse to stretch ourselves?  We want things a certain way, at a certain time, and we don’t want to think about another point of view.  And what about peace?  Maybe we don’t experience peace because we’re too busy waiting for everyone else and everything else to meet our expectations.  We aren’t interested in stretching ourselves or considering that our expectations might be a little off.

Today is the first day of school.  I sent my oldest three kids off on this bus a few minutes ago,

Uh, the camera had a little more lag time than I was expecting. Can you find the bus??

and the same bus will pick up kid #4 in an hour or so.  (See how that works?  I had PATIENCE all summer, and now I have a few hours of PEACE!)  Just kidding, but I do hope they’ll all stretch themselves this year.  Schedule not exactly what you wanted?  Didn’t get your favorite teacher?  Have to be lab partners with someone you’ve never been fond of?  Stretch yourself.

And I hope the same for myself and all of us.  The start of the school year is a great time to focus on something new in your spiritual life.  Schedule not really what you want?  Didn’t get the job you wanted or your coworker seems to have it out for you?  Healing taking longer than you think it should?  Stretch yourself.

Let’s not let patience and peace be those last ugly fruits sitting on the counter just waiting to be used.  Stretch yourself.