Preparation and Celebration – What God has Joined Together!

Wedding!This past weekend, we celebrated the marriage of one of our sons, Christopher, to his glowing wife Laurin! Wahoo!! The brilliance of the sunshine was surpassed only by the sea of radiant smiles and sparkling joy. Congratulations and heap upon heap of every Good thing to our happy couple! To you both, we wish every last drop of blessing that we know our generous Father has within His vast storehouses for you! xoxoxoxo!

It was a beautiful ceremony, full of palpable love, moving music, and rich Scriptural nuggets of inspiration and affirmation in my own walk with the Gardener. But as the final acclamation of the celebration rang out, “Let those whom God has joined together, no one separate!”, another rang in and claimed my heart:

Let no one separate us from the Lord, Who, through His Son, has joined us together with Himself!
Pity the one who tries – or even contemplates – to separate us from the Son,
from the One who first loved us, in Whom lies all the Power and Authority,
and in Whose All-mighty Hands our hearts are safe!

So…

  • Let no one separate us from our introduction to Him; from His calm, imperturbable and gentle softening of our hardened and wounded hearts to endear us to His; from His meaningful Word; from His quiet persistence in pursuing and courting us, and our spirits’ shaky consenting response to His tender invitation.
  • Let no one separate us as we walk and talk with Him; as we discover and are stirred by His character and passion for us; as He reveals He is the safe place to live, land and fall; as we are invigorated, inspired and excited by His vision of our fullness so wildly above and beyond the world’s imaginations, expectations, judgements, labels and assumptions, and as we take that timid step to live and move in His deep, protective and demonstrative love for us.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He pours His strength into our weaknesses; as He coaxes and brings out the best in us; as He stands as our security and shield against the world’s attempts to wound and destroy us; as He steps in to remove or helps us cast away all that harms or keeps us from perfect fulfillment within ourselves, and as He fill those holes to overflowing with His Goodness.
  • Let no one separate us from Him and His proven and proving promises; from His reliability and solid trustworthiness; from His patient assurance and knowing guidance through all the dark valleys and atop bright hilltops.
  • Let no one separate us from His profound affection and sacrificial love for us; from His wide and genuinely joy-filled smile and Heart; from His always-listening ear and sympathizing touch as we sigh in relief, settle and sink more deeply in our relationship with Him, and as we are strengthened by His unshakable, unmovable devotion and provision for us.
  • Let no one separate us from His tender, wise and learned influence over our hearts and minds; from the fulfillment, handsomeness, loveliness, and glistening power of increasingly resembling Him as we grow closer and closer to Him, and as we cherish Him more and more.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He invites us to get to know His own Father, and from His encouragement to call His Father our Father.
  • Let no one separate us as we join our spirits and souls and minds to His; as we find inexplicable joy and restorative fire in Him; as we commit to live our lives in unity with Him, and as we joyfully partner with Him with fresh purpose and desire to plant, water, tend, harvest and sow His Kingdom’s seeds and fields.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He prepares and sets the jewels in our crowns and to bedeck us in finery; as He prepares for today, and in all our moments, all that is needed within us in joyous anticipation for the day of celebration and jubilation when we rejoice in the Love of the most wonderful I AM!

The Groom and Best ManLet no one separate us!

“And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Mark 10: 8-9, New Revised Standard Version)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39, New International Version)

Erin
Soil and Seed

 

 

Maintenance – Following the Current

2319796141_6b9f1eaec2_zAhhhhh! Sitting on the deck, soft breeze gently blowing, sun shining and warm, birds peeping, flowers illumined with splashes of light. Coffee steaming, reading glasses clean, fresh journal and new pen. Now this is the life!

Sabbath.

Sabbath: a word often sadly brushed aside in today’s world. But if you observe today’s world, surely the very thing we frequently avoid might be amongst that which we need the very most?

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
(Genesis 2: 2-3, New Revised Standard Version)

A recent Sabbath morn I spent studying Genesis 1 – 2:3 with my son Greg. As usual, much like every young person I’ve ever come across, he fired up my imagination. I just had to share. It was his analogy as to why it’s important to carve out time for Sabbath, why there was deep significance in God’s command to keep it holy that had me fascinated. And not just to keep a day especially reserved on the weekend, but seizing moments during each day of the week to touch base and steal time to spend in the company of the Gardener. It was the significance of the very terms used, their definition and specific functions that struck me.

Greg is studying to be an Electrician, and for illustration for his point, he used the concept of electrical voltage in a power supply. (I suspect our Gardener happens to also be The Master Electrician!)

First, he explained, the goal of every electrician is to channel the wildly fluctuating Alternating Current (AC) in his power supply into a smooth Dependable Current (DC) using specific tools to achieve the task.

Image-2“If we look at a typical Alternating Current at any given cycle,” he explained, “you observe great positive charges at their peaks that dramatically proceed to dive to significant negatively charged depths. This is a lot like each of us, either during the course of the day, or a string of days that make up one or several weeks. We Alternate with great highs with God, then somehow we respond to triggers that bring us way down into the negative area of distraction away from Him and his Dependability, often falling into some kind of sin.”

“So how does an Electrician fix that current? Well,” he proceeded to explain, “he uses a Rectifier. This object serves as a tool to reduce the dramatic swings of the current. There are still dips, but they don’t slip below into the negatively charged area. As a Christian, a Rectifier that could help us from falling so far below into the negative in our walk could be a tool like regular morning, or evening, or daily periodic touch-bases with Jesus, or a combination of all three. It could be studying a passage from the Bible and journaling thoughts, or memorizing a particular verse of Scripture for recall later.”

Image (4)“But remember, the ultimate goal of the electrician is to achieve a smooth and uninterrupted current in his power supply. We’re almost there. Next,” he continued, “we would apply a Capacitor to the circuit. This calms the current, smoothing out the dips into less theatrical rippling. For us, this kind of calming measure could be something like snatches of prayer before or after a meeting, at lunch or other time of day, breathing Jesus’ Name while we’re driving, recalling a favorite Scripture verse when we’re stressed, maybe even allowing ourselves to be blown away by something in Creation.”

“The last step in bringing the Alternating Current in line to become a Dependable Current Image (2)-2is to apply a Regulator. This takes the rippling current and ‘straightens it out’ if you will. It applies the last calming measure to make the current flow more efficiently and the device that is being powered to run effortlessly and well. For me, my Regulator is Jesus; focusing my attention, my “current” on Him – Who He is, Who He is to me, how He knows me better and more deeply than anyone, is right there as my calming force, and how I have absolutely nothing to fear when I hand my life over to Him. He is my Source, my Regulator for living well and productively.”

th-47“God tells us to take a Sabbath day of rest, and we need to listen. But you know,” Greg continued, “if you look at the Gospels, Jesus was often also taking mini-Sabbaths. He would rise early before any in the household got up and go and have a One-on-One with His Father (Mark 1:35). He’d take off in the dark of night (Luke 6:12). Jesus connected regularly and depended on God throughout the day, and so should we! And Jesus’ days were full! He was a popular guy – a guy people wanted to be around! He was constantly surrounded by crowds vying for his attention, grabbing at his robe, begging for His mercy and healing, and hanging onto His every word. ‘He was made man,’ so He must have gotten tired and worn out, physically and emotionally. Teaching, healing, feeding thousands, washing feet, dealing with evil spirits, calling the dead to come out – all done with such profound and authentic Love that came from His very depths! He must have needed refilling! I wonder if he wasn’t in need of a recharge after He fed the 5,000? (Matthew 14:23) And just look what happened after He did! He walked on water! (Matthew 14:25)

I think we need to have a day of Sabbath, just contentedly sitting with God, reviewing together the week that has past and the one to come and giving Him thanks and praise for moving us through the past several days and into the next. But I also think we need the mini-Sabbaths modeled by Jesus – in the quiet of the early morning before the noise starts, stealing time away during the busyness of the day for a quick “Hey, Jesus?”, and at night to review the day together with Him. We are all “highly charged”, and it’s important that our “voltage” follows a good straight path to be truly productive, to use our talents and skills to their best potential. It’s hard, but we really need to keep from depleting and wasting away our “charge”, instead taking regular intervals to be strengthened and dependable to handle the wild ups and downs with a calm head and passionate heart.”

Wow! Thanks Greg! AMEN!

IMG_0214

And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place,
and there he prayed.

(Mark 1:35, Revised Standard Version)

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone.

(Matthew 14: 23, New Revised Standard Version)



Erin – and Greg!
Soil and Seed

Seasons – Out of the Sun

I enjoy every time of day.

Morning_Sunrise_2I enjoy an early morning sunrise as the garden seems to stir and rouse from a rest, yawning and stretching as it awakens, branches straining their tips way out, buds slowly opening up to the warmth of the rising sun, dew bidding its farewell until another day as it evaporates like sparkling pixie dust. Mummy birds fly from ground to nest with a fresh breakfast of wriggly worms to the delighted tweets and twitters of their broods. Bugs seem to venture out, travelling stem and leaf for a quick bite before they head off on a busy day of scavenging and gathering. Scarlet cardinals and cobalt bluejays engage in a duel of song. Heat bugs quicken to attention and begin their mournful song. Captivating!

To be honest though, I’ve never really taken the time to sit back and observe what happens in the garden at night. I’d often think that the explosion of a colorful sunset was signal to garden life to head to bed until it circled around to wake and warm it up once again, to please my eyes and comfort my soul and spirit … 😉 Does the nighttime shimmer with as much activity as day? Is it just as magical?

To the backdrop of the crickets’ squeaky sing-song, I quietly sauntered past a patch of bumblebee-yellow blooms as the neighbor’s calico zipped past me. Not only were these blooms open, but their glorious citrus evening-primrose-flowerfragrance seemed far more intense and rounded. Up ahead, a couple of moths flit and flew to perch and rest on the single bloom of milky porcelain-white clematis which seemed to have taken on an almost fluorescent glow as the moon began to shine. What was that little creature in the far corner of the garden? He froze in place, hoping I suppose that I didn’t see him huddled beneath the hosta leaves, the quivering of his nose tremoring through his fuzzy weeness like the aftershocks of an earthquake. I closed my eyes to the symphony of gently rustling leaves, the odd chirping, and the squish of stealthy padded paw-steps. The sky soon became an inky sapphire, stars fading in and blinking silently as I quietly tiptoed toward the door. I startled a pair of raccoons who seemed to be strategizing the physics of overturning our garbage can, conspiring the distribution of the feast within. The beginnings of nighttime in the garden. What else happens in the darkness whilst I slumber, I wondered. Creepers must still creep; burrowers must still burrow. Life and activity surely continues, even in the dark hours! A snippet of research revealed that some varieties of flowers only release their nectar during the darker hours, attracting a whole new breed of pollinators! These bugs are stronger it seems than their daytime cousins, and can handle cooler temperatures.  But, I wondered, do plants actually need darkness to grow? Read on, courtesy of user aazainal of Yahoo Answers (http://yhoo.it/1OdanYj):

Yes, plants do need darkness to grow. First, in the photosynthesis process itself, there is a reaction known as ‘dark reaction’ pathway or lately known as ‘carbon reaction’ pathway where the free energy of ATP and reducing power of NADPH, are used to fix and reduce CO2 to form carbohydrate. This is very important process to release Oxygen into the air. This happened in the dark or at night. Secondly, for inducing the plant to initiate flowering process. This phenomena is known as photoperiod, ie based on the ratio of the daylength to night length over 24 hours. Plants reaction to photoperiod can be divided into 4 groups.

  1. Day-neutral plants – the plant has no effect on photoperiod. They will flower when the plant reach physiological maturity.
  2. Short day plants – plants will only flower when daylength is shorter than nightlength. This group of plants will only flower in late summer or fall or very early spring, when day length is shorter than the night period. e.g. strawberries, potatoes, chrysanthemums etc.
  3. Long day plants – plants that flower in spring or early summer. eg lettuce, spinach, radish etc. Flower initiation will begin when the daylength is getting longer than the dark period.
  4. Intermediate day plants – These group of plants will grow vegetatively when daylength is either too long or too short. They will only flower when the day length is about 12hrs of daylight and 12 hrs of darkness.”

Purpose to the light. Purpose to the darkness. There is splendour in its every facet, and splendour growing within each facet it to bring about loveliness in the day. The Gardener has use of it to bring about His glory. Hmmm… Interesting! What about our periods of what seem like dark nights? It can be hard to imagine that He has purpose while we’re in the gloom of their midst, especially in what may appear to be a string of them. But could it be that He does have purpose in, and can use, these moments? While we wonder where God is in all of that apparent murkiness, when our eyes see only dimly, are our prayers truly absorbed or bounced off a glass ceiling?

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

I wonder. I wonder if darkness is only so if it is all that I focus on; is only so when I forget His promises. Is only so when I forget Who He is? And Whose I am? Perhaps darkness does have purpose, even for us. Perhaps it too can be a magical place of secret growth, of developing vitality! Perhaps we are brought to such places for a Greater purpose; a place far from distraction and beguilement where a private audience with the loving Gardener is all we have left. A place of sifting. A place where we search and find God not as we imagine Him to be from wild imaginations and rumour, but as Who He really is. Love. Vigilant Love. What would happen if, in the midst of our goop, we re-considered our Gardener’s character, His eye on our full restoration?

How would I then regard Him, my “all I have left”? There is really nothing like realizing that there is nothing like God! The All, who is all-ready, and already there! Eager to draw me to brush up against His iridescence, to be engulfed in the cheerful fragrance of His gladdening! And there is no place that He is not. So then, if He is here, if He stands as our Shield between us and whatever threatens, if He is Light and Love, what does that say of darkness? Of it ever truly overcoming us?

 “You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”
2 Samuel 22: 29 (New International Version)

Remember and recognize there is always Light that darkness cannot and will not ever overcome. Hope will always hum in the flame. Take it. Focus on me, and rejoice! Look! I bathe you entirely in my Light, for the Light is my Love that cannot ever be snuffed out. Yes, allow this joy to rise up from your deepest parts and envelope your heart, and sing as all flickers of light melt together to absorb the darkness in your mind in a flood of brilliant radiance! This juncture is occasion for profound intimacy with me; an opportunity for you to behold my love, my glory, and to allow my love and glory to shine through you. Do not worry. Worry is addictive and draws your attention away from Me and from the freedom I offer out to you and enslaves you in fear, shrinking, deflation, and withdrawal. This is not where I want or have designed for you to be. Trust in me. Trust that even this will be used for my Good in you, and in this circumstance, and that it pollinates future growth in splendour. I am here. Always. I am I AM.  Acknowledge that I am present at allth-86 times, in all ways, and use all things for a good purpose. Allow me to help you to grow in it and from it, and up out of it. You will see its purpose when I know it is best! I will choose when. In the meantime trust me, and only me, and not your own understanding. 

Seeds and plants in the garden of our spirits and  souls need – and still yet grow in – darkness. I wonder… I wonder if we can seize the faith that Light is bathing us, no matter how we feel? I wonder if I can rest in Who God is, and not what I want Him to do or to be? I wonder if I could focus on the Son’s closeness to me, even though I may feel far from the sun?  I wonder if I can settle my heart and mind on the assurance that He who ensured the hope of glittering stars in the night’s navy sky is in absolute control of all things in all situations – and that I just might not need to know every reason why things happen the way they do? Perhaps I could even consider .. perhaps even .. dare? .. to find darkness is alive with His good purpose? I wonder where such thinking would lead Father?

Jesus, help me to choose to consider dark nights and overcast days as places where just you and I meet privately; places where you shine your Light on the pathway out of my worry and self-absorption; places where you trim me down and muscle me up to take the better path illumined by your Light; places where I yield to and trust in you, in your greater purpose, and ask you what you want to accomplish!  And when and where you will it, allow me to be the warmth of your Light to peak through the darkness for others!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
(John 1: 5, New Living Translation)

 “He reveals tth-88he deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.”
(Job 12:22, New International Version)

Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”
(Matthew 26: 36-39, The Message)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33, New Living Translation)

Erin
Soil and Seed

Preparation – Getting Down and Dirty

It’s all a matter of what grows best in what condition, and in what climate. Each plant th-70requires specific nutrients found in specific soils. Most need help, my Mum explained as I unloaded bag after bag of peat moss, wood chips and fortified earth. Mine certainly did. No loamy soil in these thereabouts!

Many of us have an idea of what kind of soil nourishes our gardens. I’d been told, well before I began gardening, that much of our community was built upon clay. Dense clay. Slimy, slip-and-slide-in-your-rainboots-clay. Stubbornly-cling-to-your-spade-clay. Spit-and-splatter-on-your-basement-windows-clay.

Apparently clay has a great deal going for it. Clay is a super foundation for some plants, since they acquire strength as their roots forcibly thrust their way through, and firmly grip the soil. Because of that determined and unyielding grip, plants can weth-73ather extreme conditions, and become hardier, stronger. Perfect for asters, day lilies, black-eyed Susans, coreopsis and yarrow, among other things I was told. Clay soil needs a bit more work, but it keeps moisture well. Add a good rich compost to increase nutrient value and aeration, and my garden will flourish, I was told.

I find that the Gardener needs to work my soil too to see His dream for me realized. Too often, after he removes the concrete slabs atop, there can remain directly beneath a layer much like pure, dense clay beneath, unresponsive to his abundance of refreshing water. Like clay, I often dry up in the sun and harden in its pressurizing heat. But we have a tender Gardener. He knows the potential. And that potential he wants realized for us for he loves us that much.

I think all soil in every garden is eager to receive and nourish plants and fauna to growth. I think it’s in its nature. Perhaps it even shares in the joy of the splendor that it helped to realize. The question is, once God has worked my soil (and guaranteed he will), what do I wish to produce from it? What will be its harvest? Will it be resentment or will it be joy? Will it be jealousy or will it be love? Will it be fear or faith?

I hope that as he works my soil, the Gardener leaves a good trace of his DNA, his character mixed and blended into the quality of soil that promotes healthy, robust and resilient growth. He knows better than I that surface work is only the beginning, that in the deep parts there are too many toxins, contaminants and other bits and pieces of garbage. I imagine he knowingly discovers sharp, hard, abrasive materials over which scabs have grown. Still I know I need the Gardener to plunge his digging fork to do some deep-soil tilling, turning it over and over, so he can sift and lift out all the uncompostible, to liberate and transform my soil and blooms into more than clay and weeds. I need his aeration, amelioration and augmentation.

At regular th-72intervals, he blends in the rich compost of discomfort, of challenge, of lessons to be learned and theories unlearned. He softens the scabs and dresses the wounds. Painful, for often they are so deep and so encrusted and caked that I’ve grown used to them. But he persists. Seeds of his Truth are planted with generous abandon, moistened by tears of compassion, and generous forgiveness. He showers them with his refreshing and sanctifying water, his liquid love. Gently he pulls out tares from his crop of wheat, so they don’t damage the good that has taken root. Sometimes he sows more seeds so that his Truth crowds out intruding weed to starve it of nourishment. Slowly, what had been planted beneath begins to stretch and breathe and curl and bend upward toward the breath of his heart.

Till. Compost. Turn. Weed. Lavish sowing of Seeds. Water. Son-shine. He is the Good Gardener, full of tenderness, full of grace. He knows the kind of soil needed to produce a garden that flourishes in his Kingdom. And he prizes abundant flourishing!

My soil needs work. A lot of work.

th-76Will I allow the gentle-hearted Gardener to turn and till my garden’s soil? To weed it of seedlings and mature plants that choke out the Son-flowers? Will I welcome the compost of trials? Will I persevere and withstand the heat and blistering cold, to push my roots down further through the softer layers he’s prepared to the deep streams of water to strengthen them?

My soil needs work. A lot of work. Thank goodness there is One who loves deeply, gives cheerfully, knows fully and who heartily and eagerly undertakes my underneath!

th-42Some seed fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much dirt. That seed ·grew [sprang up] very fast, because the ground was not deep. But when the sun rose, the plants dried up [were scorched and withered], because they did not have deep roots. Some other seed fell among thorny weeds, which grew and choked the good plants.
Matthew 13. 5-7 (Expanded Bible)

“‘O my people Judah, those of you who have escaped the ravages of the siege shall become a great nation again; you shall be rooted deeply in the soil and bear fruit for God.'”
2 Kings 19: 30 (The Living Bible)