Sunday, June 1, 2014

Work today for the future

Happy Sunday! What an absolutely gorgeous day we had yesterday in northern Michigan. It was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze….just a perfect summer day. I began my day very early, as usual, because I wanted to take advantage of every possible minute of such a beautiful day to continue working on the gardening projects and get the rest of the planting done. After working for a little while, I decided to take a coffee break, so I poured a fresh cup and sat in my chaise lounge overlooking the perennial beds, and just marveled at the presence of God all around me.  I closed my eyes for a few minutes and just listened.

As I mentioned in previous posts, part of my daily prayer includes asking God to open my eyes, ears, mind, heart, etc… each day to all the ways in which He is present in my life. I ask Him to help me recognize His voice/spirit/strength (whatever you want to call it) in each sound I hear throughout the day. So, as I closed my eyes and listened….I mean, really listened…. I was amazed at all the sounds around me. I heard a woodpecker in the distance tapping out his mating call on a tree in the back woods. I heard the sound of the water in my new pond splashing against the rock. I heard various kinds of birds announcing to the world that a new day had arrived; a new chance to start over if we faltered yesterday. I heard the leaves on the trees rustling in the wind; those very leaves that seemed to take FOREVER to appear this spring. I heard the cord on the flagpole snapping against the pole as the flag waved proudly in the wind.  WOW!  So much is going on around me….and I asked myself, “How often do you take the time to notice….how often do you take the time to stop and pay attention… often do you get so wrapped up in the busyness of life that you fail to really LISTEN to the world around you and the people whom God has placed in that world?”   Hmmm….very good question, and unfortunately, the answer these past several months has been, “Not enough.”  I need to do something about that.

 I said a quick prayer thanking God for the people in my life, the gift of new days and new beginnings, the refreshment of water and His grace and forgiveness that washes over me each day, the gift of the spirit that blows like a gentle breeze and refreshes my weary soul, and the freedom I enjoy because of those who risk their lives each day to protect our country and neighborhoods to keep me safe.  I am indeed blessed in many ways…..and yet….even though I try to recognize those blessings, I often fail to appreciate it. Thank you, God, for reminding me….just because I took five minutes to really LISTEN for your presence.

As tempting as it was to just sit there and relax, I had much work that needed to be done, so back to work I went. I still had some plants that needed to be put in, river rock to be spread, landscape stone to be moved, and mulch to load and spread. Because of my long nights at work this week and the pain and stiffness from the RA flare I’ve been fighting all week, it didn’t take me long to tire out. Typically I would have just quit when the pain got too uncomfortable, but I really wanted to get the front bed finished so I pressed on. I kept telling myself…just a little bit more and THEN you can take a break and float in the pool for little while.  

Earlier this week, I purchased some discounted lily bulbs and some very small starter perennials and I really needed to get them planted.  By the time I got to them, I was hot and really not feeling well, and each plant took increasingly more grit and energy to plant. At one point, I wanted to just quit and put them in the garage, honestly not even caring if they died or not. I just wanted to “be done.”  After all….why am I doing this?  I am sweating and my back in really hurting…and besides, these dumb things won’t even bloom for AT LEAST a year. I won’t even see results of my hard work this summer, so why don’t I just stop now, take some aspirin, and go in the pool. I had quit “having fun” about a half an hour ago.

 And then…..I moved further down the flowerbed and I noticed the buds that had developed this week on another plant…and suddenly, my spirit and will was revived. I had planted THAT plant last year, very likely feeling the same things as I did today, wondering why I was doing this when I could have just planted annuals for INSTANT results and color.  But now…. A year later, this plant was full of buds; and I was full of excitement and joy at the hope of a glorious display that will be evident in a week or so.  I said to myself, “So, Theresa…..that’s why you are pushing yourself today to get those silly bulbs and tiny little plants in…not for TODAY….but for the future!”  This moment would not have been possible without the hard work I put in LAST summer. What if I had quit planting when I got tired last year?

It didn’t take long for me to recognize the lesson God was teaching me today as I put those plants in the ground: PATIENCE….PERSERVERANCE….TRUST….HARD WORK….GRIT……all characteristics that are necessary for one on a life-long, life-changing journey.  I thought about Melinda…the group member that posted this week about her plateau.  I thought about all of you and those who have expressed the desire to quit and give up. I thought about how many times I wondered over the course of the past three years was “all the work, pain, frustration, sweat….etc.….” really going to be worth it….especially when it would take what seemed like forever to see any results. I thought about the fear that even though I put in the effort, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, I could gain the weight back. I thought about so many things about our journey and realized that changing one’s life is just like planting bulbs or little tiny perennials.  All we can do is HOPE that if we put forth the effort….if we push ourselves when we want to quit….if we persevere when it gets hard and the temptation to give up is overwhelming…..if we continue on even when we know it will take weeks, months, perhaps even YEARS, to reach our goal or see the results we want…..then WE WILL be rewarded and we will BLOOM an BLOSSOM and GROW….and be a beautiful display of God’s grace and glory.

 And….if we really look hard enough….God will show us those ‘buds”….those signs of hope and promise and we will see that hard work and effort really does pay off.  Look for those things to encourage you to keep going. Rejoice in those moments when you get to move your belt over a notch or you can zip your jeans up without lying on the bed. Don’t give up my friends….keep believing in your miracle….keep looking for buds that are soon to blossom.  And….if you can…..take a few minutes to close your eyes and really LISTEN to those things around you.   Have a great Sunday!