A Slow Grow?

GROW!

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That’s the Five Minute Friday prompt word for this week. So, let’s…

GO!

I’ve been thinking of May as Maykover (make-over) month, month to do lots of make-over jobs and projects—in and on the house, in and on the garden, and in and on myself! But what’s impressing me—strongly—is the fact that so many makeovers don’t happen in a day—or a month, or in some cases even a year—and some makeovers only happen over the entire span of a lifetime.

I’m no longer young, and yet I still seem to have so much to learn, to know, to grow, to become, that I’ve not yet arrived at. When Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” it clearly isn’t talking about an instant makeover, but a growth process.

I used to mournfully utter the Pennsylvania Dutch saying, “Too soon old and too late schmart!” because it seemed to fit me way too well. “Why did it take me so long to learn that?” I’d wonder, after each little revelation finally blinked on in my awareness. But growth comes from previous growth, doesn’t it? And from experiences that can’t all jam themselves together into five minutes or five days of life. So now I mostly just thank God for some important understanding finally getting through to my soul, or some good heart-habit finally taking shape in my being.

If I weren’t growing, would I still be living? As long as I’m physically alive, new body cells are forming and replacing the old ones. So it’s reasonable to expect the same process to happen in the mental and spiritual areas, in habits and mindsets.

Once you stop growing, you start dying. So here’s to growing! Today, and everyday of life! And let’t not lose heart if GROW seems so SLOW.

 

When Just to “Pass”

It’s Five Minute Friday, and I’ve got to get back to my blogging. So let’s see what happens with today’s prompt word, and what God seems to want me to do with it— to blog or not to blog…

 

The word is

PASS

 

Go.

 

Sometimes I decide to pass. Step back. bow out.

It’s not the enterprising way, the go-for-it, get-ahead, get-what-you-need (or think you need) way that’s promoted all around me, but it is sometimes the wisest way. Sometimes it’s God’s way.

I just sat last night skimming through Proverbs for wisdom about this very issue: whether to pass or not to pass on something I wanted and was just about to engineer, something I couldn’t get on my own, and would have to bring in someone else’s help to achieve.

After getting the spirit of so many proverbs that relate in some way, I could see red flags warning me off. Things like… “If you sit to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are… given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies. For they are deceptive food.”

Right after that comes another warning “Do not overwork to be rich. Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle…”

Immediately following that comes another red flag, something like the one first mentioned: “Do not eat the bread of a miser [literally, one who has an evil eye], nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words’” (Proverbs 23:1-8).

And at this point in the reading, I had already come to my conclusion. So many cautions had popped up before this, I felt I needn’t search further.

Like… “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul,” followed by “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; If you have nothing with which to pay why should he take away your bed from under you?” (Prov 22:24 -27).

Like… “A prudent [person] foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished… Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them” (Prov 22:3,5)

Like… “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (Prov 21:5).

Like… “An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end” (Prov 20:21).

Like… “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows” (18: 6). And…

The beginning of strife is like releasing water. Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (17:14). And…

Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting with strife” (17:1), which kind of echoes “Better is a little with fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble…” (15:16,17).

The righteous should choose his friends carefully..” (12:26)

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (13:3).

 

… And many more!

 

I’d already taken the initial exploratory steps. I’d already gotten the offer of help. But, after all this wisdom from on high,

for today, for this time, I think I’ll…

PASS!

Another Late Bloomer

While the last several posts have reveled in collage, our ongoing “Themesday” (Thursday) thread remains: “Grace-aging”— And hobbies and occupations alone cannot produce that.  So today I am reposting a piece I blogged six years ago, about a person I omitted from my “Old Age, New Starts” list. This amazing woman began something new, something truly beautiful, at an age when most of us consider stopping the forward momentum, stepping back and bowing out. And what she did sure looks like grace-aging to me!…

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“Seek His face always” (Ps 105:4, NIV)—-“Seek His presence continually” (Ps 105:4, ESV).

I met a fascinating woman this morning: Helen Dexter, who served as a missionary for Christ in India, and also in Japan, for over twenty years—starting at the age of 66!

This widow sensed God’s call and, after getting training and inner certainty, sold her home and possessions and took off for India, “In the north,” where she knew He wanted her, even though people said, “You can’t just go and do that!”

She told me of a fascinating man to whose ministry there the Lord led her: a man who himself, ten years before, had walked all the way from England, laying down all his possessions (quite literally) on the way, including his money and his eye glasses, to trust and follow God, because he was certain that was how He was directing him.

I told her I’d have trouble laying down the eye glasses, but she then informed me that afterward God healed that man’s eyes so that he never needed glasses again.

Amazing modern-day happenings, and why? Because both these people sought God’s face, His presence, His will, continually.

That’s what Anna did, too, in the time of Christ’s birth (Lk 2:36-38).

I always want to call her Anna-in-the-temple, because this devout long-term widow spent all her time there, serving God with fasting and praying “night and day.” What an example her focus is to us today who allow too many things to rob us of His presence and to interfere with our seeking of it! And what a wonderful reward she enjoyed, after all those years of faithful prayer: to behold for herself, in her own lifetime, the infant face of the long-promised Messiah, and recognize Him for who He was!

No wonder her immediate response was two-fold: gratitude and inability to contain the good news. “Coming up to [Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, and Simeon, who also recognized the promised Christ] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (v. 38, NIV).

And notice the focus of the people she blessed with those good tidings. They were seeking His presence, too.

If we don’t seek, how do we expect to find? Far too much do our possessions and preoccupations deprive us of experiencing God’s presence. It seems we have to fight just for a little private time with Him. Well, if that’s the case, I say, “Fight on!”

***

Any new interests, jobs, or projects we begin at anytime can become just such preoccupations, can’t they? On the other hand, they may be just the thing God is leading us to do that will glorify and honor Him in ways we cannot perceive in the early stages. The important point is that our view stays focused: on seeking His face evermore. That’s really how “grace-aging” happens.

*****

Repost from December , 20010, edited

To read more about Helen Dexter, go here.

Surprised by Collage

What first surprised me about collage was how it can bring out what’s lying soul-deep and unspoken.

What surprised me later was the practical function it can have.

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When I first read about it as a way to journal, I couldn’t foresee it replacing or even supplementing word journaling for me. Nor, as I began exploring the process, could I imagine making my collages small enough to fit into what I considered a journal.

Did I have some new discoveries ahead! And new doors opening with them…

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The first collage I tried, several months ago at Kel Rolf‘s prompt, expressed my deepest longing at the time, better than words could have done.

This amazed me. For one thing, I never expected to “chance” upon photos, words, junk clippings, anything really, that could depict my spiritual yearnings. Yet, as I flipped page after page, there they were: illustrations or phrases that grabbed, and spoke for, my heart—so many I had to select just a fraction. Even then, the collage I laid out was enormous by journal page standards. I crowded what I could onto a 12 x 16 sheet of paper—and left everything unpasted, afraid to move forward and “spoil” the arrangement with paint or marker, also thinking I might somehow find a way to condense it.

Thus it ended up tucked away, I didn’t know where, yet wondered about it when Kel, in her “29 Days” series, once again invited collage.

Her invitations got me perching at my high art table more often than I would ever have predicted,  ripping out pages, scissor-clipping words, sorting bits and pieces into folders for better management, and… voila! therein repeatedly observing my heart revealing itself, along with possible new directions for my energies.

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This motivated me to tidy up paper piles and art materials still disordered from their move from elsewhere to my lighter, brighter, larger “creativity room” (an advantage of the empty nest…) In the process, I found that aforementioned, buried “first” collage!

By then I’d also unearthed a still-blank 10×10-inch spiral-bound “sketch book,” perfect for reasonable sized collages. I used it to make these first two garden ones, and realized this would serve well as a collaging Art Journal!

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So what you see near the top of this blog page is that “first collage,” now slimmed down and supplemented with words and background colors.

As for the practical, what you see below is a way to use collage as an ideas-organizing aid.

I keep files of all kinds of ideas: for interior design and decorating, cooking and celebrating with food, handcrafting of all sorts… many things… like this file full of gardening and outdoor design.

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The good thing about these files is that things are categorized into folders rather than thrown into one chaotic pile or box where I’d probably never find anything. The bad thing about them is that I have to get out the file box, draw out the appropriate folder, and sort through a lot of loose papers (that fall onto the floor and get all mixed up with each other), whenever I’m looking for certain ideas.

The last time I rooted through these garden folders for ways to develop my raised bed garden, it occurred to me that I could trim down clipped ideas I’d like to execute out there–and condense them together… by collaging them, on notebook-sized paper and put them in a special section of my looseleaf Garden Notebook!

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As for the garden collages I’d already made, I trimmed them down and used them to dress up front and back covers, a la my friend Laurie’s comment that she’d used collage for such purposes.

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This, I believe, is going to become an Everest of adventure, toward which I’ve just taken the mere first steps!

[Note: By the way, I’m now collaging on only one side of each page in the 10 x 10 journal. I never know what use I might find for an individual collage!]

*****

 

 

 

“Sabbath Desire”: Collage

Just this, today: A set of collages for your Sabbath, with words contained in them printed below each.

May they encourage rest and refreshment for your body, mind, heart, and soul.

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“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer’s day listening to the murmur of water, and watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” -John Lubbock….. Serene on the inside….. Escape.

***

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You can dream anything… When you’re up in a swing! Drifting softly in the breeze, swaying gently to and fro… sweet… thoughts… The garden became a special, safe place for me. I felt connected with something…

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Musings…  Your Own heart…

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Grace Inspiration… sweet soul care… root deep, grow… illuminate the dusk… Touch The Light… Glow… Quiet time.

***

There remains a rest for the people of god… Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest…
                                                                        -Hebrews 4:9,11 NIV

*****

Next time: the surprises I encountered in the collage process by which these came to be, and how it has made a “new beginning” for me…