Longer ago than I like to admit Mom taught me to start new plants from stems of mature plants. She called them Cuttings.
One late winter I started a pot of golden pothos with 4 cuttings from one of Mom’s plants. By autumn the leaves had grown over the edge of the shelf and the plant needed to be re-potted. I started four more pots from the first plant and they soon took over that shelf by the window.
I enjoyed botany and especially spending time with Mom. She wasn’t my mother, but she taught me to be strong, as if she knew the hard times that laid in wait for me – maybe she did. She knew teaching me to start a whole new life from something broken, something that would otherwise die would help me through heartbreak and hard times.
For a long while my perpetually strained economy only afforded me to start new plants from cuttings to green-up my living space. Plants made my place in the world seem less harsh, more lovely.
Sure enough, believing as Mom taught me, that when God closes a door He opens a window kept me going over the years. Many doors slammed shut on me. When I barely had any strength to keep going, God certainly opened windows. Not only so, but all along the way He led me to fill them with pots and boxes of cuttings.
Many years later when FirstBorn brought LoveOfHisLife home to meet me, she gave me a potted kalanchoe. Many months and even more miles afterward, pieces of that plant became another beautiful plant on the other side of the country. And a year or two afterward, I started another plant and then another… The new plants eventually made it back to my sons’ houses.
Recently the sight of kalanchoes growing in pots on my grand daughter’s bedroom window seat, brought a deluge of fond memories.
Granted, GrandGirl’s plants may or may not be from the same plants I carried back and forth across the country so long ago. I love the idea that they could be, so I never asked. Wherever they started I’m certain the rest of this part of God’s story will be great.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid?”
I have an amazing gift for screwing up, and I’m especially good at misidentifying words. Yeah, I’m the writer that once saw the word flagellate and somehow worked flatulate into the context.
Weaving my literary tapestries, I must frequently check and double check that my words say what I intend. I practice reading sentences, formatting them in my head to ensure I understand correctly. But even so, stuff happens.
Not long ago, I wrote a lovely piece inspired by a quote. As I tweaked the media in the document, my last step before posting, I suddenly realized I’d incorrectly committed the message to memory from the start.I had read one word wrong, resulting with wrong imagery.
I had keyed the quote from the book exactly as it read, exactly how it was printed – and yet in my mind that one word was entirely different. But only in my mind. Days later I noticed how that one word changed my whole story line. Metaphorically speaking that one word changed a waterfall into a lawn sprinkler, for cryin’ out loud.
Once I realized what I’d done, I literally did cry out loud, “[colorful expletive!] Really? God, what’s wrong with me?!”
Maybe God spoke. I’m not sure, but I remembered – yet again – I’m a whole new brand of special. My brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or anyone else’s I know for that matter.
Health care professionals can diagnose and define all they want, but I learned ages ago I must approach some areas of life differently, like reading, writing and sometimes speaking. I’ve practiced this my whole life, and developed a workable regime. Once in a great while I will be late. I may need to rework a few projects, but I’ll eventually get them as I want them, in good time – or close enough to call it.
And yet, there I was, an hour from my self-imposed deadline, I stepped away from my desk, made some tea and walked a bit. Still wanting to cry from frustration, I had a chat with God.
In that conversation I remembered, it’s not the first time I had to tweak an entire article a degree or so. And if I must trash it and start something new it won’t be the first time for that either. And then it dawned on me I haven’t done this sort of goof in a very long time – possibly years. At least not an instance that lasted more than a minute – and those are always entertaining; no harm no foul.
Strangely, as I worked to clear my mind, the image of a toddler learning to walk came to me.
In nano-seconds I recalled how my firstborn, Iain began walking at nine months of age. Motherly pride quickly gave way to exhaustion. By ten months he loved to run – urging anyone to get him. With so many monstrous end tables, door jams and thresholds lurking around… Suffice it to say abstinence of stimulants was mandatory. I now recall developing a fondness for wine as Iain found his sea legs.
Already bigger than most two-year-olds, Iain was remarkably fast; often too fast. Despite his adorable pudgy bulk he was also remarkably agile. Still, when he stumbled and fell there was often blood shed. Fortunately, being the first of his generation, a host of doting aunts and uncles were usually handy to entertain – and spot him.
Among my fondest memories is my two brothers developing an obstacle course for Iain in the grassy yard behind the house. They set out a cardboard box to crawl through, a lawn chair cushion to pounce upon, a coiled garden hose turned into a tunnel and such. In no time Iain wore them down, and yet they both patiently kept close guard while the toddler squealed and bounced along with delight, rosy cheeks glowing in the patchy sunshine beneath the orange tree.
Iain couldn’t get more than a foot from both men, but I’m certain in his mind he was footloose and fancy free. Entirely forgetting his nearby sentries he ran, crawled, stooped, rolled and toddled until finally he sat down.
I doubt I’ll ever forget the image of the three of them sitting quietly, backs against the tree trunk until Iain’s head slid slowly onto Seagh’s lap, sound asleep. Or that these were the same guys that would catch farts in their hands to release them in my face. Don’t get me started on other things they taught my sons…
Peaceful, calm assurance restored, I wiped my eyes and got back to my desk. The rework actually went remarkably well and I posted the story in a record five hours later than I’d planned that day.
I sometimes imagine Father God like my brothers in that scenario. As we grow into the various stages of our lives, we often go so fast, too fast sometimes and want to run before we master walking. He gives us healthy obstacles to challenge us and yet, He is always close enough to stop us from running into harm’s way.
Sure, bad things happen. We all fall sometimes and occasionally face harsh consequences after landing. Especially when the pressure’s on it’s good to remember that despite the bumps and bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is, for those who know and trust Jesus, the cross has made us flawless.*
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:3-5 (NLT)
*I do not own the rights to Flawless, MercyMe. No copyright infringement was intended in the making of this video.
Two particular things stand out from my recent trip for a family funeral.
Stormy Daybreak, Valley of the Sun
First is the astounding amount of time I need to resettle after such a trip.
Not long ago we’d take up any opportunity to hit the road. Regardless of my boys’ ages we thought little of grabbing our packs on the way out the door, not knowing when exactly we’d actually walk back in. We’d cross a state line or two for a weekend adventure if for no other reason than because we could. What’s more, I recall only one instance where an eight hour drive through the night rendered me incapable of working my first shift. In all fairness that was the day after my niece took her sweet time being born – 355.7 miles from home at the time. Maybe that was long ago. That niece is in her thirties married over a decade ago.
Now, days after returning from the last trip I am amazed at how much time has actually passed.
This morning, thinking I had a pretty good handle on things, latte in hand, I sprang to work and immediately felt blindsided by the bulk of email awaiting me, some now six days old. I slouched leaned back in my chair, sipping my steamy, comforting mug contents, listening to the uproar in my head:
The Nano-Organized Micro-Manager Voice screamed End-of-the-world-NOW prophesies,
The Artist Voice called for blues, greens and reds all to be mixed with black,
The Comptroller Voice demanded we audit all accounts immediately,
The Editor-in-Chief voice demanded I post something, anything, NOW
Suzy Sunshine’s Voice feebly interjected about how popular we’ve become…
This took place mere nano-seconds before I noticed the figure “3” next to the Gmail Drafts folder (meaning something most likely did not go out as I thought before I left for the airport). A loud scream, initially remote, rapidly pierced its way to my frontal lobe, nearly breaching Central Dispatch before I arrested it, saying instead, “Voithos, where are you?”
Though I actually had internet access the entire time I was away – time away with family being the operative term. Such occasions happen rarely in our circles, so they’ve moved up the priority scale dramatically. This morning I sipped, calculated and reminisced events of the past two weeks. I determined to break tradition, and not stay at the laptop until all two-hundred and some-odd items were opened and sorted, and then take time to catch my breath. That memory alone made my neck and shoulders stiffen.
Instead. I. thought.
I decided upon the well-considered, conscious choice to sort all email into three categories (four including the Drafts folder) to address after I returned from a walk and shower with a fresh pot of tea:
Absolutely First: Check Draft folder,
Folder 1: Stuff to open first to avoid apocalyptic catastrophe (stuff that could cost me money),
Folder 2: Stuff to deliberate over after sorting through Drafts and Folder 1,
Folder 3: Put other stuff here only if doing so won’t cost me money,
Folder 4: WordPress notifications. Get strong coffee, and then proceed.
The second thing that stands out is the very many gatherings with my siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews where we all emphatically agreed we must get together before another funeral summons us. At our advanced age, as approximated by no sign of our elders (until passing a mirror) and the horde of young people that look only vaguely familiar now, we should not press our luck as to when that gathering will happen.
So, dear readers, this post is not only me checking back in, but is also my figurative gauntlet landingsolidly in the dust, a cloud billowing gently on the grass before my dearest relations. I shall again attach a link to this post in another round of family emails reminding us all that tomorrow is not promised. We must set a date.
I’ll get back to you on that.
“You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow;red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times.” Matthew 16:2,3 (NLT)
With all our advancements, as much as things change, some things haven’t.
Why can’t people identify people in lite conversation as people, like, “this guy,” or “a girl I know”… Must we start a conversation with wedges such as specifying skin color, ethnicity, gender inclination, political orientation, etc?
What are your thoughts?
If you don’t vote, quit yer bellyachin’. If you did, trust God.
“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.” (Carl Sagan); “Nothing ever dies on the Internet.” (anon.); “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Madison Ave. [m]adman). My posts amalgamate these three philosophical elements into one novel experience; they champion critical thinking, human dignity / equality, levelheaded / even-handed / liberty-based governance and solid environmental stewardship. C’mon in!