God’s design in nature, life and writing

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If you look for it, there is texture and design to be found everywhere in nature.

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In our gardens, repetition is a part of good design, ensuring a flow from one area to another by repeating colours and shapes. Varying plant heights, providing contrasts of leaf texture, and planning a winterscape are also recommended for a garden with good rhythm in all seasons. When I’m creating a new bed, or refreshing an old one with new plantings, I try to incorporate these principles as much as possible. It isn’t easy, especially when I’m let loose in a nursery and am faced with the temptation to buy one of everything I like!

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What I struggle to achieve in my small garden beds God does naturally and on a grand scale. He is the consummate landscape designer. There are lessons I can learn from his examples spread so liberally around my world.

  • Most things flourish when allowed to grow in conditions that best suit them.
  • Weeds blooming naturally en masse are every bit as beautiful as any pampered cultivar.
  • Keeping plants constrained in rigid formations requires constant attention and will still be an exercise in futility.

These are not only gardening truths but also life truths. I tend to forget I am not the one in control. God designed, created and sustains. It’s important to confer with him and take some initiative, but I need to trust he has a plan and accept that he’s not obliged to share it with me.

Now that this New Year is underway I want to pursue my writing as the joy it is, and leave how it blossoms up to God. I’ll do my part, of course, but I’m trusting that whatever his plan is, it will be in my best interest and ultimately to his glory. There is nothing more awe-inspiring and peace-inducing than knowing God, the great Designer, is in charge.

Are you making any changes in how you approach your writing goals this year?

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Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.

1 Chronicles 29:11 – RSV

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Candles & Greenery, Magic & Mystery

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Green

Candles and greenery are turning up everywhere. Sunday being the first Sunday in Advent – and part of the first weekend in December – we began our Christmas preparations… at least a few initial ones.

We put up our tree. I know it’s early, but I’m like a little child when it comes to Christmas. I can hardly wait!

DSC08996Saturday evening our church held its annual Christmas turkey dinner and the mood was set. There were candles at every table.

Then in church Sunday morning we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath – the “Candle of Hope” – and we sang:

You are the Hope living in us
You are the Rock in whom we trust
You are the light
shining for all the world to see…

Jesus, our hope,
living for all who will receive…

Lord we believe *

Our children come from muddled parents. My upbringing didn’t include faith or church attendance and Christmas was a secular celebration. My hubby’s father was a Presbyterian minister and in their household the holiness of Christmas was important. Our children grew up with a heritage that included a little of everything that both of us found meaningful from our backgrounds, and it’s a wonder they ever found their way through the magic and the mystery!

But they did… all the way through to their own solid Christian faith. (Obviously it wasn’t of our doing but the hand of God on their lives.)

Christmas can be celebrated in the silence of an unadorned stable, the holiness of our churches or amid the twinkling lights, greenery and decorations of our homes. The important thing is that we acknowledge the Christ of Christmas, the Hope of the nations, the Light of the world, and during this season of Advent prepare again for the significance of his coming.

As I write this, I’m squinting at the lights on our tree and setting my sights on him.

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* Hope of the Nations – Brian Doerksen

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In his name the nations will put their hope.

Matthew 12:21 – NIV

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We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 33:20 – NIV

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But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7 – NIV

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What prompts us to say ‘Thank you’?

 

First… it’s time for the announcement as promised on Friday!

I put the Random Number Generator to work, and it has selected Comment #7, which, when I eliminate Denise’s comment, mine and Shari’s, turns out to be Laura Best’s. Congratulations, Laura! If you’ll e-mail your postal address to caroljgarvin[at]gmail[dot]com, I’ll send you the signed copy of Denise’s NEVER ENOUGH.

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It’s Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.

I doubt there is a child alive who hasn’t been admonished by a parent more than once to “Say thank you.” After all, it’s good manners. We’re meant to show appreciation for a gift received, a kindness shown, or a favour given.

So when Thanksgiving arrives, many of us have been brainwashed into our responses: “Thank you for all my blessings.” But who are we thanking, and what specifically are those blessings? And a bigger question might be are we really all that thankful?

For millions in the developed world there is a sense of entitlement. We’ve worked hard — or perhaps our parents did — to earn what we have. Whether we share a crowded room or live in a mansion, there is a belief that we have a right to that roof over our heads. We anticipate at least one square meal a day, too, and clothing to keep our bodies covered and warm. Some of us live in abundance (my fingers tremble a bit here as I compose this on one of our three computers). We take a lot for granted… unless it’s all taken away from us.

Unless we return home from an evening with friends and find nothing but rubble left — unless serious illness happens, or accident, job loss or some other calamity leaps out of nowhere and strips us of everything that we’ve always had — until then we don’t think a lot about what constitutes our style of living, do we?

Instead we mutter about Monday mornings, moan about the chores, and mumble about getting started on our Christmas shopping.

In Jesus’ day leprosy was a big deal — a horrible, highly contagious and incurable illness that resulted in the afflicted being banished into isolated communities. So when ten lepers were healed by Jesus, it was as if they had been raised from the living-dead.

“One of them [the lepers], when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough.”

Luke 17:15-16 (Msg)

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Were the other nine not overjoyed, too? I’m sure they were. I imagine they marvelled at their unblemished skin and hurried on to be reunited with their friends and families and rejoice together. I don’t doubt they were thankful, but only one took the time to acknowledge the source of the miracle and return to say ‘thank you’.

So I’m back to my earlier questions. What prompts us to say ‘thank you’ today? Is it an automated, conditioned response, or do we really know who are we thanking, why, and specifically for what? Do we offer cursory appreciation before digging into the turkey, or do we kneel at His feet, so grateful for the new lives He’s given us that we can never thank Him enough?

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To each of you, my thanks for your precious cyber friendship and support.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo by think4photop

The View from Here

Have you ever yearned to be somewhere else… to see something other than the everyday ordinary? “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is a saying with more truth in it than I care to acknowledge.

With our lake-to-lake and through-the-mountains travels concluded, I could be mourning the lack of all the beautiful scenery now that  we’re settled into our daughter’s home, “baby”sitting our two granddaughters. I could be immersed in catching up with a holiday backlog of laundry, making lunchtime grilled cheese sandwiches and playing paper dolls while regretting the end of lazy vacation days.

It’s easy to get sucked into a mundane mentality — to see the dust and dirty dishes and wish for something more… more what? More interesting, attractive, stimulating? When I let such thoughts overtake, I miss the fragments of everyday joy that encapsulate the ordinary.

Yesterday, while saying goodnight to the precious youngsters, I happened to glance out the window and discovered this:

If I hadn’t lifted my eyes, I would have missed something just as spectacular as anything I saw on our trip through southern BC. And it was right there, waiting to be recognized outside the window through which I normally only “see” the neighbours’ homes, passing cars, light standards and the occasional person walking a dog.

As an aspiring author, I often don’t see beyond the daily writing and my wish to have my novels published. I don’t accept the pleasure of the endeavour as being enough.

As a wife, I frequently fail to acknowledge the comfort, companionship and assistance of a very thoughtful husband because he’s always here and I expect him to be.

As a woman… as a mother… as a member of my church, community and world, I fail to experience all that life is, because I fail to look and truly see.

Ann Voskamp challenges me to find joy in ordinary moments and to be thankful for them. It’s a challenge I accept and also pass along to you. This weekend a new month begins — a fresh start, not only for grandchildren returning to school, but for us leaving vacations behind and taking up the regular routines once again. It’s an opportunity to revamp my attitude and rearrange my priorities. I’m going to print out Ann’s 100 Days Calendar and use it not only as she suggests, but also to record at least one special joy discovered in the ordinary of each day.

Acknowledging the view from here will encourage me to use thankfulness to overpower lingering discontent.

Let’s get a head start on September. What one everyday joy can you find today for which to be thankful?

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“Open my eyes so I can see 
      what you show me of your miracle-wonders.”

Psalm 119:18 (The Message)

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“Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth you have for me…”

Clara H. Scott
(Click composer’s name to listen to the hymn)

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Still Saturday: Light

“Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind
and create light for understanding and awareness.”

Jim Rohn

“By your words I can see where I’m going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path.”

Psalm 119:105
[The Message]

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Joining with Sandra and Deidra:

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