Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Benefits of Blooming in the Weed Patch

I've heard the saying "Bloom where you're planted" my entire life.
What does that mean?
Why are some people planted in lush gardens and others in barren deserts; while still others are in rocky outcroppings or in climates that only allow blooms to happen for short amount of time?  Why are some blooms spectacular and others more simple and understated?

I love flowers.  I have since I was a child.  We lived in a modest home in a very poor area of town.  Directly behind our home was a large hill.  Every spring and summer the hillside was filled with wildflowers.  I grew up appreciating these simple, yet beautiful blooms.

I also had a paper route as a child, and part of my route was to businesses in our small downtown area.  One of my customers was the local flower shop.  I loved to admire the magnificent flowers that I saw there, but somehow I instinctively knew that these were not "my"  type of flowers.  My type of flowers were to be the simple wildflowers.

I say instinctively, but in reality it had nothing to do with instinct at all.  My parents and family were wonderful, but my home was BELOW the hill.  The fancy homes were ON the hill.  Roses bloomed on the hill while weeds grew below.
From my earliest memories,  other people made very clear that I was not blooming in the right garden.  I was a weed and not a rose.  I had no business trying to associate at school, at work, (at church even) with the beautiful roses and lilies and other "fine" flowers.  I needed to stay in the weed patch.  I needed to know my place.

Well, the problem was that I was a very outspoken weed.  I actually had the nerve to think of myself as beautiful and worthwhile.  I actually though that my simple blooms could add something to the roses and lilies and together we could be spectacular.

Eventually, I was "transplanted" OUT of the weed patch.  During college and a subsequent move to a different city, I was able to start fresh without anyone knowing where I came from.  Now, I didn't quite make it to the premier rose garden, but at least it was a garden with a large variety of different blooms, each with their own unique colors and sizes and fragrance.  I was able to mingle with roses and daisies alike.

 Every so often, a "designer" rose would grace us with their presence in the garden. This rose was bred for greatness and they knew it, and we had better know it too.  These were miserable times in the garden for everyone.

But more often, the roses that grew in this garden were thornless roses who saw the beauty in themselves AND in others and often preferred the company of weeds and common wildflowers to the company of the designer roses.  I came to love these roses as much as the wildflowers and weeds.

So, what have I learned from my days in different gardens?

  • Every flower is beautiful, even the weeds.
  • It is possible ... and even beautiful ... for a variety of flowers to bloom in the same location.  Each adding its own unique contribution to the garden.
  • Some roses are only pretty on the outside.  Their insides are full of thorns.
  • Not all roses have thorns.  Many are quite lovely.
  • The smallest, most fragile, almost shy blossoms are my favorite.
  • I've come to know amazing people who will never be welcome in the rose garden.  Beautiful, kind, intelligent, thoughtful, worthwhile people who have been treated like weeds their entire lives. It's ok to be a weed.   

I still love the weeds and see their value.  I love the daisies (yes, a weed), the baby's breath, the forget me nots, the yarrow, the cornflowers (bachelor buttons), and the purple loosestrife.  Some of these I've even planted in my garden ON PURPOSE ... imagine that.  

So please ... Bloom Where You Are Planted, even if you are told you are a weed ... not because you can't or shouldn't bloom anywhere else, but because you are beautiful and your bloom is essential and valued and needed in this world.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

It may not be on the mountain’s height, or over the stormy sea; 
It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me;

This song has special meaning for me in my life. When my husband and I were recently graduated from college, he took a job managing a clinic and was promised great pay and benefits, and the opportunity to turn around a struggling business. He worked very hard, but despite his best efforts, the clinic was sinking further into debt. The problem was a dishonest employer who eventually lost her clinic and her license to practice.

Throughout the last 6 months of his employment my husband looked and looked for other work, but the employment in the area was severely depressed at the time. We fasted and prayed and felt strongly that we should look for work in another city, but as we prayed we also felt that the Lord was telling us “Yes… but not yet.” We couldn’t understand why the Lord would ask us to continue with this employer when week after week our paychecks were bouncing and we were having to borrow money to pay our rent and buy food.

At this time I was serving in Young Women’s over the Miamaids. One week in Ward Council I was told that a young woman had moved into our ward and wanted to come to church. The only problem was, this young woman didn’t live with her family. She lived at the group home for troubled teens. She had survived years of abuse from her father and when she finally confided in her seminary teacher and then police, her family kicked her out and disowned her. She was bounced from foster home to foster home. She felt abandoned, worthless, used, and she trusted no one. She needed more therapy than they could access for her in a traditional foster home and was eventually sent to live in the group home. 

I was nervous the first time I went to pick her up for an activity. The kids in the home had come from all different backgrounds. Most were in and out of juvi, many had drug and alcohol problems, and many suffered from mental illness. Honestly I was scared to death what type of an influence I might be bringing to my other young women. But there was something special about her and there was an instant connection.

Over the months she began to come to church, and to Girl’s Camp. We became close friends and soon she was spending all her time outside of school at our home. We would check her out of the group home at 6am and check her back in at 10pm, there was even the occasional slumber party. There were many tearful late night talks over ice cream and early morning walks discussing God’s love for her. There were honest heartfelt questions of “Why Me” and “How Can I Ever Be Normal”. There were scriptures read, blessings given, and many, many prayers said together. Our Young Women lessons took on new life as the girls bonded with her and each was able to share their own personal struggles and build each other up. The broken and scarred girl who came into our lives slowly began to like herself and to feel that she had worth. The girl who once thought of herself as worthless garbage to be tossed aside now had a burning testimony that she was a divine Daughter of God.

Slowly, after months, she began to trust again and she began progressing with her therapy and was able to interview for foster homes. We went with her as she met her new foster parents and she was so excited to show us her new room and get our approval on her new temporary family. Late in the fall she was able to leave the group home and move in with her foster family.

Within just a few days of moving her in to her new foster home, my husband received a job offer in another city. Our prayers had been answered and we felt that the Lord was saying, “Now that you’ve finished what I needed you to do here, you can move on.”

We don’t always know how to travel the path that the Lord calls us to walk. But we aren’t expected to travel it alone. As we put our trust in the Lord and take his hand we can “Go where He wants us to go.”
But if by a still, small voice He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The "Ugly Stage"

In crafting and theatre there is a stage right near the end of the project where you look and realize you have put an incredible amount of time into something that is just plain ugly. You have worked and worked and done everything right, but it just doesn't look like what it's supposed to yet. My craft mentor and friend taught me that this is the  "Ugly Stage"... the stage when you just really want to throw it away and never look at it again because you can't possibly see how something so ugly can ever turn out the way it's supposed to.

In theatre this "Ugly Stage" happens a week or two before the performance.  You realize that even though you have spent hours and weeks singing and dancing and memorizing lines ... somehow all you have are little pieces of a jumbled mess and you keep mixing them up and tripping over yourself and you just know that it will be the biggest flop and the most embarrasing moment of your life if you actually try to perform this ugly mess.

Then, a magical thing happens.

If you don't give up, then the craft project begins to take shape and the theatrical performance suddenly makes sense. It happens so quickly that it is hard to believe that the "Ugly Stage" even existed. But it did.

And so it is with life. There is a whole lot of working and practicing and trying to live the way we're supposed to and a whole lot of struggling and paying our dues. We look around one day and see that what we have gotten for all of our efforts is just a whole lot of "Ugly". But we can't give up, because after the "Ugly Stage" comes the finished product that is so much better than we can ever imagine when we are staring so intently at the "Ugly".

The part that makes life even better than a craft project or theatre is that our Savior is the Master Craftsman who takes our "Ugly" and shapes it into the Divine.

He is the Director who guides and directs our play into a performance worthy of Eternal audiences.

We must endure the "Ugly Stage" and have faith that through our Savior, Jesus Christ, the finished Eternal  product of our lives will be so much better than we ever could have imagined.

...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith...
Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"I Just Needed You to Ask."

It’s amazing to me how everyday situations can remind me of my relationship with Heavenly Father.  This morning I asked Logan to bring me his agenda for school.  Each day they are to record their homework and any other notes from the teacher about upcoming activities or supplies needed etc….  Along with his homework for the day, Logan had written down “binders plees”.  I asked him if he needed binders for school.  He looked at the floor and whispered sadly and apologetically, “Yes.”   

I should insert here that the past few years our family has been recovering from a layoff that resulted from a company merger.  Because of this, our income was cut in half, and due to the current state of the economy, we haven’t been able to find employment that pays even close to the original wage.  So a good portion of Logan’s school life has been scrimping and saving and thrift stores and clearance sales.  Add to this the fact that we have had a wedding and a sent out a missionary this past year and Logan has seen me take on part time jobs and work all sorts of various odd jobs to help out.  Logan was worried to ask me about a binder for school because he didn’t want us to have to spend money on him that we may not have.  

I asked him what kind of binder he needed and he said, “Just a 3 ring binder with a place to put a picture on the front.”  I told him we had several and they were actually just a few feet from where he was standing.  He was so excited!  I let him know that I had prepared ahead of time for the things I thought he might need, and that I was just waiting for him to ask when he needed something.

Think about that …

Everything was prepared ahead of time in case he needed it, and all he had to do was come to me and ask.  He didn’t have to beg.  He didn’t have to earn it.  He didn’t have to do anything other than let me know what he needed and when he did, it was already available.  I was excited and happy to give him what he needed and I was grateful that something that I had sacrificed to provide was finally being used instead of sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

I told him, “I already have binders for you, I just needed you to ask.”  As I said these words I could imagine our Heavenly Father saying the same thing to me… “I already have everything you need for this trial, I just needed you to ask.”

Our Heavenly Father has already prepared the tools, the people, and the opportunities that we will need in this life.  Our Savior has already worked, struggled, and paid the price.  All that is left is for us to come to them and ask.
“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, … my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”  Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

Sometimes I think we are like Logan and don’t want to bother our Heavenly Father.  We also don’t want to cause Him to sacrifice any more on our behalf.  Maybe we don’t think we are worth it.  Maybe we think Heavenly Father is too busy and doesn’t really have time for us.  Maybe we don’t really know what we need.

Our Heavenly Father is a God of love.  He has already prepared everything for us and rejoices when we take advantage of the things He has provided.  He wants us to use the Atonement that His Son, Jesus Christ has already paid for.  He wants us to come to Him and let Him know what blessings we need and how He can help us.  He wants us to know that He loves us and He wants us to keep breathing.

  "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...."  
1 John 3:1

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kintsugi or Kinsukuroi: Broken Things

A friend shared with me today the lovely art/idea of Kintsugi (Kinsukuroi).  Kintsugi is the traditional Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a strong adhesive and then sprinkling the adhesive with gold dust.  The result is that the broken pottery is now mended and in fact even stronger than the original.  Instead of trying to hide the flaws and cracks, they are accentuated and celebrated because they now have become the strongest part of the pottery.  

I love the idea that each of us can be mended and become even stronger than we originally were through Christ.  Often we view ourselves as not measuring up, not good enough, not perfect ... broken.  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in 2006 entitled  Broken Things to Mend
In his talk, Elder Holland shares the following insights:

"The first words Jesus spoke in His majestic Sermon on the Mount were to the troubled, the discouraged and downhearted. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Whether you are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or among the tens of thousands listening this morning who are not of our faith, I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul. I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair....
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended."

What a beautiful concept, that Christ will take us as we are, broken and tattered, and he will mend us
and help us become even more than we could ever become on our own.  There is a song that I love that expresses this so beautifully, Broken, by Kenneth Cope.

As we turn to the Savior to be healed and to be perfected, we may just find ourselves more filled with gold than with pottery.  And through Him we will be able to be whole, to be good enough, to be perfect.  Perfection isn't a life without flaws, it's a life where those flaws are mended, our hearts are healed, and we remember to keep breathing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chasing Rabbits

"To cite a whimsical saying; 'If you chase two rabbits, both of them will escape.' No one is adequate to do everything all at once. We have to select what is important, what is possible, and begin where we are, with what we have. And if we begin and if we keep going the weight, the worry, the doubt, the depression will begin to lift .... We can't do everything always, but we can do something now, and doing something will help to lift the weight and lessen the worry, 'The beginning,' said Plato, 'is the most important part.'"--Richard L. Evans

I love this quote.  Too often I find myself chasing way too many rabbits... working 3 part time jobs, being mom to 4 kids at home and one missionary and one newly wed, teaching Sunday School for teenagers, being a supportive wife, taking time to be a good friend, trying to enjoy some time arranging flowers ... the list goes on.  The wonderful thing about my life is that I truly enjoy each and every part of it.  Don't get me wrong, there are definitley hard days and endless challenges.  But I kind of love the challenge.  The problem is that I find that I get upset with myself for getting burned out or tired or just not measuring up... And the silly thing is that I am the only one who thinks I'm not measuring up.  Well, ok, there are always those who are really quick to judge and would be eager to point out my failings, but my biggest critic has always been myself.

I think this is a universal problem for most women.  We really want to be able to do it all and we somehow think that anything less than everything isn't good enough.  But good enough for who?  Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to be everything.  Most of the time society doesn't expect us to be everything.  Our families don't even expect us to be everything.  Honestly, I am the one who puts the pressure on myself.

So, what do I cut out?  How do I prioritize?  It really isn't possible financially to cut out any of the jobs right now, and they are such an incredible blessing because they allow me to be with my family when they are home and to still help meet our financial obligations.  I can't just stop being a mom, and I don't want to.  I love my family.  They are my world.  I enjoy my time with friends ... I seem to have a hard time making friends so I treasure the ones I have.  I guess I just don't play well with others.  My flowers are such a peaceful expression of my soul and I love the opportunity to create something beautiful.

So what to do?

When I was a young girl we had a pet rabbit with soft, beautiful white fur named Snowball.  As a girl I loved to hold and cuddle this soft white bunny.  She was my confidant and I could tell her my inner most thoughts and daydreams.  She didn't judge.  She didn't criticize.  She just sat in my arms and made me feel loved.

One day we took Snowball in the backyard to get some excercise.  She loved the cool green grass and soon decided that this paradise was so much better than her cage.  She decided to make her escape and I found myself literally chasing a rabbit.  Round and round the yard we ran with Snowball always one hop ahead of me.  I couldn't lose my friend, she was much too important to me... I just had to catch her.  I leapt after my Snowball and made a frantic grab for her beautiful fluffy white tail... and to my horror, as I caught hold of the swiftly hopping bunny, I pulled her tail completely off.  I was devastated.  I thought I had killed her.  I sobbed harder than I knew I could.

In the end, she ended up being just fine... a little shaken and definitely not the happy bunny she had been just moments before.  But I learned a valuable lesson.  Running around frantically chasing rabbits is a little like chasing things in life that we think will bring contentment and peace.  While it is possible, with patience and strategy and a little luck, to catch one rabbit ... it is quite another thing to chase several at a time.

My advice to myself and to others?
Be good to yourself.  Give yourself permission to sit quietly and enjoy the peace and joy that can come from taking the time to focus on one precious thing at a time.  There will be time to hold other rabbits, but allow yourself to enjoy each season of life as it comes.  Slow down and take a look at all the good that you are doing, instead of focusing on all the areas you feel you are failing in.

And when you can't see the road ahead and it seems that you will never find that peace and rest that you long for, trust in your Heavenly Father and remember that He has said, "Be still and know that I am God."  ~Psalms 46:10

The maker of rabbits, and challenges, and families, and trials knows and loves you so completely.  Trust in Him.  Seek His peace.  Take His hand.  Feel His love...  and keep breathing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Missionary Care Package

Missionary care packages can brighten the day of any missionary.  They don't need to be fancy, just full of love and personalization.  I picked up a few fun things for my missionary today at the dollar store and from around the house.  This is what I came up with.

Granola Bar:  "And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye - for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day, and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar..."  2 Nephi 33:11

Gummy Eyeballs:  "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things..."  Psalms 119:18

Jaw Breaker:  "... and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."  D&C 122:7

Sour Gummy Worms:  Don't let "Sour" moments "Worm" their way into your companionship.

Reeces Pieces:  "Peace (pieces) I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world
giveth,  give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."    John 14:27

Gummy Airplanes:  "Fly High" in your missionary service.

Tootsie Rolls:  Remember your "roll" as a missionary is to bring the good news of the gospel to all the world.

Kool-Aid:  It's "Kool" to bring Spiritual "Aid" to the world.

Mouth Ring Pop:  "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that the field is white already to harvest; wherefore, thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind and strength.  Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.  Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.  Yea open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  D&C 33: 7-10

Puzzle:  Just like a puzzle piece is vital, every individual is important to our Heavenly Father.

Gum:  "...choose (chews) you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me
and my house, we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15

Hi-Chew Candy:  Take the "Hi" road and "Chews" to be a support to your fellow missionaries.

Swedish Fish:  "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Matthew 4:19

Firefly Launching Toy:  Just as a "Firefly" can light up the night, let your testimony light up the lives of those you teach.

The Benefits of Blooming in the Weed Patch

I've heard the saying "Bloom where you're planted" my entire life. What does that mean? Why are some people pla...