Ramblings

Life, family, business


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Worship is Like Gardening

Here is my writing that was published in The Moravian Magazine.  The poem at the end is from this blog, but was also included.  

One of the things I enjoy the most is gardening, and growing food.  I’m a volunteer Master Gardener with the NDSU Extension Service.  I love growing plants, they amaze me.  They generally start from a seed, sometimes a tiny small seed, sometimes a big seed, depending on the plant. But somehow, contained in that seed, are the blueprints and the nutrients, and all the stuff it takes to make life happen.

But even though that seed has everything it needs in it, it won’t grow until it gets the proper place, time, and set of circumstances.  There is a certain signal that prompts that seed to sprout.  As a gardener, I try to replicate that signal, I try to give the seeds everything they need to start that process of sprouting.  Many seeds are easy to sprout, but others take extra circumstances.  Some seeds need to be left outside in the cold all winter before they will sprout.  Some seeds need to be burned in a fire before they will hear their signal that its time.  And others need to pass through the digestive tract of a bird or animal before the hard outer shell is dissolved, and the seed can begin its journey.

People are like seeds.  We all need the proper set of circumstances to truly grow.  Its one thing to be alive and occupy space, but its another thing to truly live life and continue to learn and grow and share ourselves with others.  Some of us seem to thrive right off the bat. Others need time, and space, and some extra help. Some of us need a big push to leave our comfort zone and reach out to others, while other people seem to live as though the whole world is their oyster.  Some people need to get burned by life, or frozen in their tracks, or even be consumed by something that seems to be the end of the line, before they are able to truly grow in life.

Many of us are born, or planted, in the same set of circumstances, yet the result of our lives can be very different.  There are things that stunt the life and growth of plants, just as there are things that will stunt human growth too.   In 1Corinthians 3: 6-9 (NIV), Paul tell us “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  

If you put a plant that needs a lot of sun in a shady location, that plant will never reach its full potential.  It won’t get as big, and it may not bloom or produce fruit.  However, if you place a shade loving plant in an area that receives full sun, it will probably burn up and die.  We are like that too.  If you stifle someone’s ability to grow and improve and learn, they will never reach their full potential.  They may never bloom or produce the fruit that God wants us to produce.  But give that same person the opportunities and tools they need, and they may grow so much you’ll barely recognize them!  There are some people who love to work behind the scenes, if you thrust them into the spotlight, you may lose them forever.  We all have different personalities that demand different scenarios for life, just like each plant has certain requirements for it to grow as well.  I think that God gives each one of us a talent, a passion, or a cause that we can use to glorify God.  Just like every plant in the garden has a purpose, every person in our churches has a purpose too.  We need to encourage each other to grow and use those talents for the greater good of our communities.

There’s nothing better than talking to God in my garden.  I can spend hours just being thankful for everything that God has not only given me personally, but everything He has given us all.  I contemplate things I have read; blogs and personal stories, and ask God how this is relevant to my life, and our lives in the Church.  How can I be a blessing  to others?  I feel called to help feed people.  I grow as much food as I possibly can in my half acre yard.  I grow for my husband and I, our adult children, and their friends and family.  I grow for my friends and neighbors, and I grow for the local Emergency Food Pantry.  Our Master Gardening group picks up and donates produce all summer, and that makes me feel like God is using me to bless others. For I was hungry and you fed me.  Some people don’t know how to grow food, some people live in apartments where they don’t have the space.  But I have a garden, and I have a dream to grow more every year; to have more to give away every season.

 

THE SONG OF SPRING

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.

 

 


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The Tall, Tall Trees

The forest.

Subdued, quiet, peaceful.

The birds sing their songs from the highest branches of the tall, tall trees.

The rain runs down the bark,

deep veins covered in moss and lichen.

The leaves allow some raindrops through,

here and there,

it splashes my upturned face.

They stand;

timeless.

Soldiers standing guard to some magical place,

a place we cannot see.

The patterned beats of the rain hitting the leaves

create a rhythm, my footsteps add to the song.

The bark is now soaked, the moss slippery.

Rainwater runs on the ground creating mud,

as it slips down into the roots,

a deserved drink to quench the thirst

of these soldiers.

These guards.

These giants who seem to make time stand still.

 

 

 

 

 


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Pushy People

There are certain things that people do that I just don’t understand. One of those things is trying to control what other people do. Yes, we have rules and they are there for good reason. You should always stop at a stop sign, don’t take other people’s things, and don’t hurt other people on purpose.
But when other people try to tell you what to think, how to feel, or what to do with your life, I don’t get it. Why do other people think they know how you should live your life better than you? Why do others think they have any authority over another person?

I feel that so many people feel entitled.  That’s right, entitled to think that their opinion should matter to everyone; that somehow they are smarter than you and everyone else.  The biggest problem I have with this, is when that person is a close-minded person.  You’ve probably heard the saying, “Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one”. It should be no surprise then, when others do not share the same opinion as you.

If you don’t like something, then don’t do it.  Don’t think that anyone else cares that you don’t like it.

If someone’s lifestyle makes you uncomfortable, then just leave them be.  Most people have enough to deal with, leave them alone.

If someone else has a different faith than you do, leave them alone and go about your own business.  They probably think the same about you.

If you don’t like the way someone dresses, then don’t dress that way yourself.  You’re not a fashionista, get over it.

I have a problem with the “holier than thou” attitude I see so much of in today’s society.  You’re no better than anyone else. Get off your high horse long enough to see that you’re just on the merry go round of life.  We all are.

I can’t stand oppression.  I just can’t.  I  don’t understand it. Most of the people screaming on their soapboxes can’t even keep their own lives straight, yet they feel that everyone should listen and do what they think is right.  They try to keep other people down, they don’t want to see anyone else happy or successful.

Every one of us has a truly unique life and each of us gets to live that life the way we see fit.  Some of us have more difficult lives than others it seems, but each of us is fighting our own battle.  We each have our own demons to face down and kill for us to grow.  Some people seem to be handed everything, yet are unhappy.  And sometimes those who struggle for everything are the happiest people.  Its all up to each of us how we live our lives.  And if you don’t like how others are doing it, then just live your own life and stop worrying about everyone else’s.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  Just think of how much nicer this world would be if we still believed in this.  But in our current world of internet trolling and bullying, its hard to imagine.  Its so easy for everyone to hide behind their computer and type out crazy things they would never actually say to someone’s face.  So perhaps for our day and age, we need to change it.  Perhaps now we need to say “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t type it in the comments section.”  What do you think?

 


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Disconnecting From the Chaos

I’ve been accused of being a cell phone addict.  It bothers me if I get to work and realize I left it at home.  I don’t drive anywhere without it.  I take it with me in the garden, on walks, while shopping.  I don’t take it to bed though, I’m too light of a sleeper, and every notification ping wakes me up.

I own a small business, and during the hours we’re open, I feel the need to have it on, in case the person working has a question or needs help, or just needs to tell me something important. I feel the need to keep the communication lines open.  Plus, if there was a family emergency, I’d want to be able to be contacted even if I wasn’t in the house. (Yes, I still have a landline!)

When I got my last phone, I realized that it has an option to tag certain numbers to get through, even if I turn off notifications for everyone else.  Its the “Do Not Disturb” feature, and its making my life much more peaceful.

I can set it for a certain time each day, to turn on and turn off.  I can choose who can call me or message me when its on, and for those not on the list, I can read their messages later when its off.  Its so awesome!  There’s nothing worse than trying to meditate, or even just relax, and the phone keeps making noise.  Its such a bothersome little fellow!

Our lives have really become too interwoven into the social media storm that is the reality of life now days.  Everyone expects instant replies to messages.  But that’s your choice.  You have to make the decision when to be available, and when you just need time for yourself.  Its good to have time for yourself, time to think, time to ponder the meaning of life and the Universe.  Its good to disconnect and spend time in nature, in quiet, and in peace.  And there’s no peace when you’re cellphone keeps dinging all day.

For me, this way of staying “on-grid” for my family and employees is great.  I know that when my phone alerts me to something, its from one of them.  I know I can relax, sit by the bonfire, spend time with my family, and not have to worry about what is trending on Twitter, or how many people liked my Facebook post from yesterday, or who repinned my pin on Pintrest.

How do you disconnect without being completely disconnected?  I’d love to hear about it!


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Procrastination

Hello, my name is Jeanne, and I am a procrastinator, sometimes.

I tend to procrastinate doing things that I don’t know how to do. Or if I have to make a decision about something that I don’t feel confident about, if that makes any sense.  I feel like I need to be properly educated about things before I decide what to do.  And it sounds like it makes sense, right?  But I use it as an excuse sometimes, and you’d be amazed at how much I can learn about something before I make that decision.

I also procrastinate doing things I think will be too much work.  I have to really get myself motivated to start any big project.  Sometimes, even little projects need a long time to get started.

But then there are other days, where I’m just ready.  I’m ready to start, to jump in with both feet.  I don’t even have to think about it, it just feels right.  I don’t want to make it sound like an impulse thing, but maybe it is.  Maybe sometimes its better for me to just jump on that first impulse and get it going.

I’ve learned that I procrastinate things that I don’t like to do, as well.  The way that I combat this, is by making myself do the least liked task first, get the crappy things done, and then move onto the next most crappiest thing.  (This is seriously how I get things done.)  By the time I’m halfway down the list, the rest of the jobs are things I don’t mind doing, and they get done much more quickly.

How do you combat procrastination?  Or are you one of those people who jump in every time?  My husband is like that.  It seems like he is always looking for something to do, because he does everything right away.  He’s a go-getter, that’s for sure.  How can I learn that habit?  I’m not sure, but I plan to at least try.

 


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How to Trust God in a Crazy World

My sermon from 5-28-2017:

Chaos.  Crazy.  Fast.  Uncertain.

How would you describe your life?

 

Reading through Psalms, we hear about the people crying out for God’s help.   They prayed, they cried, but yet they kept on sinning and kept on making God angry.  And if they attributed their plight to God being angry, then they knew that they were the ones doing it.

The Israelites really had a history.  They lived a life of uncertainty.  From Abraham came so many Israelites, that the Egyptians became afraid of their sheer numbers and enslaved them. Then Moses led them out of slavery, they wandered for 40 years, and finally arrived at their new homeland.  They worshiped God in victory, but continued going back to their ways of worshiping idols as well.  They demanded a human king, and Saul showed them how a human king can be.  David was his successor.

Life was very different then.  There were no grocery stores, no conveniences of life.  If drought came and the crops didn’t produce a harvest, people starved to death.  It was the cold hard truth.  The people prayed for rain, and rain was something they saw as a gift from God.  When the rains didn’t come, they saw this as God’s anger.

People now have more confidence in, and reliance on themselves.  We have crop insurance, life insurance, and if the rains don’t come, we assume other parts of the country will still produce a harvest, and no one starves.  We go to the grocery store and buy food when we need it.   We have a home, which is our shelter, and we have house insurance in case something goes wrong.

We don’t live day to day like the people did then. When it rains, we generally don’t sing “hallelujah” and dance in the streets.  Well, some people probably do, but they’re the minority.  Back then, rains meant life.  But too much rain would wash the crop right out of the fields, so they needed just the right amount, at the right time.  Farmers now also need rain, but the average farmer grows a lot more food than just what feeds their family, they grow thousands of acres of crops, something that would have been unheard of back then for lack of machinery and technology.  The plants were different too.  They were not hybridized to produce a better crop.

They really knew what it meant to trust in God.  They gave sacrifices to try to make God happy.  They lived in fear and anxiety every day.  But even with all our modern marvels, we still live in fear and anxiety.

How can you make your life better just by trusting in God?  Its easy, but yet its hard.  Happiness is not just a feeling, its a way of life.  Its something you choose to be.  If I have a bad day, or a bad week, I can choose to wallow in the depths of my despair, or I can choose to acknowledge it, and then let it go.  I can choose to let it rule my life with fear and anxiety, or I can choose to say, “what will be, will be.”   It takes practice.  Trusting in God with your whole heart is not easy.  We tend to trust in ourselves the most, and that’s  not really what God wants.  God wants us to trust in Him, to listen for His voice, to follow His path.  He wants us to live a full life, not one of fear, but one of love.  God’s way is love.

I think many of us tend to put God on a shelf until something really bad happens, something we can’t control.  That’s when we usually look to God for help. But what if you asked God for help in your everyday life too?  What if you truly thanked God for everything you have, even though you worked hard for it?   What if we trusted in God like the people did way back when.  How do we even do that? How can I thank God for my food when I went to the grocery to buy it, with money that I earned from working at my job, that I got because I studied hard at school and got top grades?  If we trust in ourselves more than God, we may see it just like that.  But if we trust in God, we can thank him for the food we were fortunate enough to be able to buy.  There are so many people who don’t have the money or the opportunity to buy their food.  We have it so easy here in the United States that I think we have a hard time even imagining life otherwise.  Even here though, there are people who are hungry.

We can be thankful for our health, for our lives, and for those loved ones around us.  We can be thankful for the weather, the flowers blooming, and the stars that light up the night sky.  We can always be thankful, we can always rejoice.

There are so many stories in the Bible that show us that God is love.  He sent us Jesus to show us how much He loves us, and how much he cares about us.  Some of the Psalms are song lyrics. The word “Selah” is believed to be a musical direction to pause the singing.  I like to think that God probably enjoys the Psalms greatly.  The songs of gratitude and hope, love and praise to God.  There are the sad parts too, the desperate crying out for help, the people begging for mercy.  But these were the songs of many people, including King David, who is believed to have written 75 of the 150 Psalms.  Number 68 is believed to be his writing as well.

Think about your life, are there ways you can improve it by trusting in God with your whole heart?  Are there things that you’ve never thought about that you could be thankful for?   Can you see the beauty of God’s creation in a stream, in a rainstorm, or in a full head of wheat?  Can you see the beauty of God in a child’s smile, a crisp slice of watermelon, or the bird’s song early in the morning? I urge you to take some time this holiday weekend to pause.  Selah!! Listen for God’s voice, look for God’s beauty, and ask God to help you trust in Him completely.  Let us be thankful to those who have given their all so that we have the freedoms we have today, and let us thank God for all that He has given us.

 


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Decisions, decisions

It seems like there is always someone who wants to tell you what to do.  Some people really think they know what’s best for you, regardless of what you think.  Some people even feel entitled to go around telling others what they should or shouldn’t do, and actually expect people to listen!

The really sad part of this is that sometimes we actually do let other people tell us what to do!  Why would we do that?  Why do we care what other people think of us enough to let them determine the course of our lives?

Sometimes, life gets hard. We need to make decisions, and that can be hard too. What if we do the wrong thing?  Pick the wrong job? Buy the wrong house? We stress over what to do, and sometimes, when we aren’t sure what we should do, we let others tell us what to do.

But I ask you this: what if you do the right things? Pick the right job? Buy the right house?

There are so many possibilities in life, and we need to be able to consciously choose our own paths in life.  Living the life someone else picks for you will never be fulfilling.  Each of us has to pick for ourselves.

If you really have a hard time making decisions, I find the best way to get started is to make a list of pros, the things that are positive about each choice, and a list of cons, the things that are negative about each choice. Once you have done this, read over what you wrote. Listen to your heart, listen to your gut, what is your body telling you? What is your heart telling you? Do any of these choices feel more “right” than the others?

And if you still really can’t decide on one that seems better, just pick one.  What’s the worst thing that could happen? You’ll learn something.  You’ll get life experience.  You’ll find out what you don’t like.  Then, pick something else.  Find a different job.  Sell that house and buy something different.  Very few choices in life are permanent, but some are, and you should really think about that tattoo before you get it!  Some choices we make may not fit us as we get older and more mature, and that’s okay.  That’s how life works.  We live, and we learn. We learn, and we make better choices the next time around if we are growing and learning from our mistakes.  And we all make mistakes.  Its part of being human, and its part of living.

Living your own life is the only way you will ever be happy, the only way you can grow. Every one of us needs to grow in order to feel alive.  Don’t stifle yourself by doing what someone else thinks you should do, make your own decisions, follow your heart. You can do this!