Saturday, March 18, 2017

The search for my Splendid Truth…

The end of December generally triggers thoughts of goals, life changes and a review of the past year.  I try to blog about it and post the good, the bad, what was ugly and look forward to the next year type of thoughts.  Granted, my bad and ugly lists usually outnumber the good in my review.   I started a dissertation but never finished it due to illness, perfectionism and the fact I didn’t know how to finish it.  Bearing one’s heart is hard and over thinking it pushed it farther and farther into January.  Once January had past, I thought, “What is the point?  Now, it is too late to post a blog about last year and my goals for this year”.  This stuckness contributed to my lack of blogs for the month of January and most of February.  I unstuck myself by simply starting a new blog post.  Seriously, that was not as intuitive as it seems for my perfectionist personality urges that I must finish my plate before being even allowed to look at dessert.

My ice cream cone birdbath

This evening I was going through my blog documents and organizing them.  I tend to dislike working on the computer as things “disappear” on me.  Meaning that I clicked somewhere else and don’t know how to get it back.  I love tactile interactions.  I would rather write something out by hand than type it up.  My blog folders were a mess and it was difficult to ascertain the status of a particular file without opening it.  I sorted all the confirmed posted blogs into labeled folders, deleted partial ones or duplicates and was left with a small handful of incomplete ones.   Rereading said unfinished post, I realized that there was still value in it despite its tardiness.

Goals are valuable regardless of the time of year.  What I have learned is never wasted and sharing my heart is the best way I can be used by my King to encourage and bless others.  So step back in time with me to the end of December for my year end blog, slightly polished and edited.


The end of 2016 is upon us and frankly it seemed to go by way too fast.  While I did not blog much this summer as I was gone for weeks at a time and the garden was definitely on hiatus, the few blogs I did do seem like such a meager handful.

This is the time of year that one looks back and plans forward.  Looking back I did not accomplished very much in the garden except for my pond removal.  Plants were overgrown and “weedy” everywhere the mower did not reach and I can definitely say that I did not want to show my mess to anyone.  The idea of Shemita was to let the land rest and vicariously, the gardener rest as well.  While I did not DO much, I would say that my garden’s neglected state was most definitely NOT restful.  It made me cringe every time I looked at it and thus rarely ventured out into it for the sole pleasure of just enjoying it.

I am looking forward to engaging again, but at the same time, I am very overwhelmed by the neglected state it is in and the sheer amount of work it is going to take to return it to some semblance of order.  Part of the problem also stems from the fact that much of my ornamental gardens have needed to be reworked for the last couple of years, and one full season of no tending tipped the scale to full out jungle.   My ornamental gardens have taken a backseat to the food gardens and definitely show it.  How do I manage both and not get discouraged while wrestling them back to “properness”?  Here is a great challenge.

Espaliered fruit trees on a wall outside Chicago Botanical Garden.  I appreciate the orderliness.

I am currently reading two books, “Born Again Dirt: Farming to the glory of God” by Noah Sanders and “Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change” by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher.  I also start my permaculture course this week.  All three address a fundamental perspective change that is needed in how agriculture and gardening is typically done.

“Born Again Dirt” explores the concept that I am not just a Believer who happens to garden but rather a Christian Gardener whose practices are directly influenced and defined by my faith and scripture.  “Garden Revolution” explores the ugly truth that gardening in America typically does not improve the environment and ecologies, but instead damages it due to its high chemical use, demand for needy plants, mass produced plants and all the problems associated with that type of monoculture, and the unrealistic expectations of perfecting nature to maintain a standard it was never created to do and often in places that are totally unsuitable.  The permaculture class explores in depth how to work with the natural systems to preserve life in the soil, water, creatures and people who live and eat from the land.

Perhaps my unhappiness with the status of my yard needs a new measuring stick to judge it by.  I am interested in finishing these books and perhaps gain some ideas on how to revitalize my ornamental gardens.  Hopefully the permaculture class will give me some concrete ways to design my area better.  The Permaculture Design Course is scheduled to start December 30th.   It is a 20 week college level class that I hope I’m capable of keeping up with, with 4 additional weeks to complete the “final exam”  project.  Pretty cool anniversary gift to ourselves.  I will get the certification for the class but both of us will take it.

A table in the Japanese garden at Chicago Botanical garden, it’s years of life distinctly outlined.

I have read many books and articles with different suggestions for making goals and following through with them.  The most common theme is to write down the goal in detailed language and create a specific plan for completing that goal.  So instead of a vague statement saying I want to lose weight, I would specify that I wanted to lose 20 pounds.  I would create a plan to lose one pound a week by changing my exercise and eating habits.  While I would love to lose 20 pounds and would be in a healthier state for doing it, I have yet to accomplish this goal despite repeated attempts in various ways.

Let there be light…

Today is the third day of Hanukkah and the focus of today’s prayer is to repent for lack of faith which is fear.  I actually thought for a moment that I don’t have a problem with faith, before my Heavenly Father nudged me and gently said, “You don’t have faith in my ability to truly change you”.  My failings are the same every year.  I work at the same issues and problems and find myself falling again and again until I give up and believe that I will never conquer this problem.  I will never change.  It is true, I will never change but HE can change me if I let Him and have faith in His power.  I don’t have faith in my ability to be changed and that fear keeps me stagnant in my problems.  It is hard to make goals when you fully expect to fail….again.


This is where I was stuck.  Discouraged and sick, it was the end of blogging and beginning of avoidance of self-review.  Novels and mindless computer games are where I tend to hide.  While reading and playing games is not evil, they did do an exceedingly good job at helping me waste my time and not listen to the still small voice of my Father.  Feeling ill but unable to sleep, I would spend hours on the computer reading about other people’s lives of adventure or conquering yet another level of candy smashing.  Because I do not work outside the house on a daily basis, most people do not see my real state of pain and fatigue.  I am a good actress and can “pretend” to be well for a bit when needed.  I tend to crash and pay for it later, but people never see that part.

To change my status is a much desired dream and while I have made many changes in my life in regards to diet, banishing most chemicals and carpet from our home, changing and removing stress from my life and looking for more ways to “be better”, I have yet to find the “magic” solution for health.

Beautiful… but dying….

Two weeks ago at Sabbath service, I asked for prayer for my health.  I rarely ask for prayer for this huge obstacle in my life because it is something that I figure I am supposed to fix and am capable of fixing.  I just have to find the right…. fill in the blank… to do.  A friend of ours was giving the message and before he spoke, he asked Sir T and I to come up and he prayed for me.  He has known me for a very long time and we share similar affinity for lines and rules and being the “good” kid.  He “gets” it.

His message that day was from Galatians and had to do with what God actually asks of us to do.  It is to love Him.  The rules and instructions are all good and important but that is not what He wants of me first.  The best rule follower is no more worthy than the worst rule breaker of His love.  I don’t need to find another rule to enforce in my life to earn health.  As I sat through the message with tears running down my face, I heard my Heavenly Father speak to me.  He said, “You will find your health in my joy.”

My mom has admonished me many times over my life that I need to let the joy of my salvation be my strength, to lighten up, to let myself have fun and to not take everything so seriously.  CHILL OUT!!  My tenacious attention to detail is a blessing to the many functions I organize and volunteer with, but it is not a place to constantly dwell.  My health cannot heal in a place of extreme criticalness.  As an all or nothing type of personality, I am all on and specific to the nth degree or I am totally checked out and uninvolved.  Neither end is a restful place for joy to frolic.

That day two Sabbaths ago, I created my own altar call and spent some time on my knees repenting and giving myself to my Heavenly Father to fix.  To help me find my joy, to see joy and be joyful.  This would require my submission of my mind and my thoughts.  No more daydreaming up worst case scenarios, or fashioning vindicating razor edged responses to previous slights that while would never be said aloud to the offender, did replay over and over in my mind.  No more instant bashing of myself with a sledgehammer of wrath when a gentle pause would be so much more effective for progress.

Blue Morpho Butterfly, picture taken 2011 at Fredrick Meijer Gardens

Music for me is the best way to “keep my mind on things above” and I have a pretty respectable list of great songs that vary from worship to bouncy.  I can be found dancing around my kitchen with sudsy hands on occasion when a good song comes on and I just have to move while doing dishes.  So I have been playing music, consciously changing my mind’s thoughts when I realize they are degrading and have deleted all of my fiction e-book requests.  Non-fiction is where I need to stay for now.

The book I just finished is “Happier At Home” by Gretchen Rubin.  It was recommended to me last week by my dear friend who is my accountability partner.  Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project book and blog and is a researcher, experimenting with her discoveries on herself.  She has a list of 4 Splendid Truths upon which she explores and embellishes on throughout the book.

For some reason I love the idea, the title of a Splendid Truth.  It is so… going off on a wild adventure type of feeling with a rolled parchment map beautifully inked in vibrant colors and calligraphy showing the way to the treasure which is in a beautiful city of crystal in the middle of a glorious jungle garden fluttering with butterflies.  And no, there are no monsters lurking in the shadows.  

Splendid Truth…. 

What are my splendid truths?  What makes my heart leap for joy and see beauty?  That is what I need to make my focus this year.  My Splendid Truths…. The first of which is…

I am loved

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy hearing from you. Reminds me of Shirley Temple, but with a garden. Good ship lollypop.