Old and New

Lavender grows abundantly in manicured fields in the sunny Central Coast region of California. Many homes and shops in the area have incorporated the fragrant lavender plant into their landscape designs. No doubt there are at least as many happy bees as human beings attending their annual homegrown lavender festival—perhaps even more.

I’ve tried several times myself to grow french lavender and other varieties here where I live but to no avail . . . until now. You see, I started small this time. This variety was not gallon sized but pint sized and is not in the ground yet, where I hope and pray it will eventually establish and go wild. But so far so good. It’s enjoying the full sun and after giving it a boost of nutrients it’s continued to produce new growth for a couple months.

The interesting thing is that the new growth, which is coming on strong at the moment, doesn’t resemble the pre-existing leaf structure the plant had when first purchased. It’s a curious thing.

• • • •

The new growth we experience as human beings doesn’t always look like what we’ve known before. It’s a little strange but that’s okay. We might get hung up on what it supposed to look like but, it is NEW growth after all, not same growth. Different nutrients have entered our system now and have begun to penetrate our cell structures. New and unfamiliar shapes begin to appear and we must be careful not to prune back the new growth solely because it does not resemble the former growth. Give it time. Keep providing the proper conditions that growth requires. Don’t put old demands on the new thing that is happening in your life, and in your spirit.

Can you handle that? It’s time.

“Behold, I’m doing a NEW thing . . .” Isaiah 43:19

Wonderful World of Color

Primary colors, rainbow colors, Crayola box of 64 colors, in living color, Cindy Lauper “True Colors,” Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.

Walt got it right in so many ways. Though his bread and butter character was always going to be that spunky mouse, he gave all of us a plethora of characters to laugh with and relate to from Goofy to Minnie to that duck. And then there have been all those gloriously diverse princesses . . .

I spent the entire day and night yesterday with an arena full of princesses who had traveled from all over the country for an annual women’s conference. We were of all colors. We showed our true colors as each speaker brought the heat to each succeeding session. We were encouraged, challenged, uplifted and empowered. Not just to go forth and be amazing women but to use whatever colors we have within us and go out and do good. To turn our blue moments of despair into an opportunity to reach out to those who are in greater need.

It was an exhilarating/exhausting day because of its length but I am going back for more today. I’ve got to go get some color in my cheeks and will wear the color gold today for the remainder of dynamic sessions. I’m taking a metaphorical empty pencil box ready to catch all the colors of the wind and all the rainbows that will fit in my pocket. Color me open and ready to receive . . .

Gold

This little gold box was a birthday gift to me just a few weeks ago. I like pretty, sparkly things when they have a look and feel of age and history to them. This little thing fits in the palm of my hand but has a surprising solidity to it—it’s weight is unexpectedly heavy. It’s sturdy beyond any need for a little thing like that to be so and I doubt that it will ever break. There would be no reason for that given its robust manufacture and intended purpose-maybe to safeguard some special diamond earrings or other precious contents . . .

How does this mini treasure box compare to your heart (which is stronger than you know)? Maybe not the physical, living flesh and blood organ that pumps life to every cell but rather the heart and soul of you.

As you know, having experienced it, your dear heart has the capacity to hold vast amounts of joy and pain, of sorrow and sympathy and ecstasy as well. It has the capacity to protect the good things in it. Those you hold dear, who have gone —yes, they fit into your heart. All the love you feel for whoever and whatever you hold close—that’s stored in there too. All the cares and troubled thoughts about all the situations that are out of our control—somehow, someway, there is always more than enough room for those things inside that heart of ours.

Capacity isn’t ever a problem. Isn’t that amazing considering how small your heart actually is? So you see, this is beyond the scope of limited physicality. You were given a sturdy, strong, large-capacity model and you also have the distinct responsibility as the gatekeeper of it.

Wake up and realize your own important duty here. You are to guard your heart; not from letting good in but by protecting the good that’s stored there and by keeping out the bad. You likely already know what that means. Be the guardian of your own heart. This unique assignment belongs solely to you, friend.

Protect that heart of gold.

In the Details

When I traveled to Greece with a handful of close friends some years ago we saw them everywhere. All the shops lining the streets seemed to have several versions of the same thing. I had seen this before in the fabric district shops in downtown LA. The eye of God they told me. Watching over us, all the time, all seeing and all knowing—observing every detail. Maybe they were better business people because of that ever-present eye. I cannot say how one society over another may respond to being observed by an all-seeing eye.

Every detail of every move we make being noticed. Does that make you feel spied on or cared for? The details of “you” being observed and duly noted. And do they really truly matter, those details?

Would you believe it if I told you that every hair on your head is numbered? Every freckle accounted for. It a little bit might depend on how loved you feel and here’s why. The more we feel cared for, thought about, truly deeply loved, the easier it is to believe that someone would notice and take interest in the most minute detail about us whether it be our crooked smile or asymmetrical brows or never-give-up spirit or creative streak.

The reverse might be easier to relate to though. When we’ve been unnoticed or perhaps neglected in some way for some time, we may eventually begin to believe that there’s nothing noteworthy in us. Nothing remarkable, leaving us to wonder how we ended up positioned “off” the radar, unnoticed, unloved, as if our solitary life didn’t quite matter in the scheme of things.

The details of “you” do matter. Somebody knows your name and the real color of your hair and all the other smalls about you. Somebody knows and cares and delights in you. You’re not alone when you think you are.

Leftovers

My order of scrumptious Mu Shu pork was quickly polished off by us all. What remained were the scanty leftovers of my companion’s meals—a bit of chow mein, some sesame chicken, and a tad of the almond chicken dish as well. They each said “No thanks” when the waiter asked if a takeout container was desired. But I wanted it. There really wasn’t much left but I asked him to box it up anyway.

And so was the smallest of family gatherings as my younger son and I went, one last time, to my sister and her husband’s favorite Chinese restaurant in town. This time it wasn’t for my nephew’s high school graduation or any other such family celebration like we’ve had there in years past. This was to say goodbye.

And what a relaxed and enjoyable evening we had with no one in a rush to leave though they were exhausted from loading the moving truck all day. Our last supper together came to a natural conclusion with us taking turns reading our fortunes out loud and ending each one the same way . . . “The future looks promising on your life journey . . . in Texas.” “You will meet a tall, dark, and handsome soulmate . . . in Texas” and so on.

The next day for lunch I took pleasure in eating alone, sulking a bit, eating the leftovers from the last meal we would share as four native Californians. In 48 short hours later the two of our tiny band, making their SoCal exodus, would become Texans. It was bittersweet as it should have been. Watching people you love ride off into the sunset isn’t all its cracked up to be after all.

Leftovers. Our memories are the best kind of those when the ones you love have left. They are a true gift and can be as embellished or truth stretching as we please. But mostly those memories help to fill what feels cavernously empty now that they have gone.

I’ve lived in the Sunshine state 99% of my life and imagine that the darn Texas heat will feel similar to what’s simmering in my skillet of last-supper leftovers. Might be a great reason to come back home, y’all. Just. Sadly. Sayin’.

With All My Heart

Tarnished, a bit battered, this world-weary heart.

Made by a craftsman. A silversmith. One who specialized in this precious metal and designed a perfect heart as a gift. Inscribed upon it in the script style of the day, both a name and place and a very specific place at that. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New England, North America. Pull out larger than that and the mind imagines an image of Google earth. Beyond that, the stars and our galaxy, the entire universe, as it were.

And yet this slightly rumpled heart bearing the owner’s name was crafted with care and engraved with down to earth precision. A treasured possession no doubt and now a museum piece that resides in Boston, 243 years old and less than two inches in size.

Now the question of the day, how would you describe your own heart? Braveheart, bruised heart, valiant heart, wary heart, lonely heart, loving heart? Who’s name is inscribed there? And what metal is it made of? Heart of gold perhaps or like the tin man perhaps you’ve questioned if you even have one or if its still beating.

How about making this “Take Heart Tuesday?” Take heart dear friend. Hope (help) is on the way. Weary heart, this is for real. The Creator of your very unique and custom designed heart has your name inscribed on His. He knows, He sees, and He cares.

Take heart.

One of a Kind

Here’s an almost finished pillow I whipped up this weekend. Thank you Grandma Cary for teaching me how to sew when I was but a school girl. It allowed me to ace the clothing construction module in High School Home Economics class back in the day and honestly so much more. The skills taught were as much about patience, ripping out a carelessly crooked seam, securely attaching a button so as to keep things together that should most definitely be kept together. Life lessons that are with me still after oh so many years.

Our career-minded, full-time working mom would send us sisters, one at a time, out to stay with grandma for a week each summer. First day there we would shop the fabric stores and pick out material, buttons, zippers, threads, and patterns for five different school outfits each. The rest of the week we were taught how to make a dress or cute top for the coming year’s school clothes. I particularly LOVED that I could own something entirely custom made that no one else could buy in a store or choose off a rack. We wore more than jeans & tees to school at that time.

Custom made, one of a kind.

Uniquely patterned, cut at just the right angle, meticulously hand constructed according to a specific design. You.

Designed for a lifetime of experiences of all shapes, colors, and sizes. From birth to death and all the joys and heartbreaks in between we travel about our spheres of influence as a custom made, one of a kind creation. The longer the journey the more wear and tear so mending is a necessity. Keep your hemlines current, adjust your pant legs flared or skinny. Or . . . don’t! Let out the side-seams or take them in a bit as life ebbs and flows. Take care of your garment—your spirit, your soul. It has been gifted to you for your life journey and will take you up to your very last day here. Beyond that you’ll be clothed otherwise. No specific details on that wardrobe yet but the inside word is . . . Nah, I can’t go there. Yet.

Passing Through

I hit pause on the inspirational message on YouTube at about the point that the speaker brought up generosity. My mind drifted to a good deed I had just done hours before.

A lady at work who appears to be a little older than me, maybe she’s not, I cannot tell, but perhaps that impression is because she scrubs the restroom floors while my work is done in an air-conditioned office. She was telling me of her 94-year-old mother‘s health and how she recently brought her to live in her home. Her story, shared with me in broken English, moved me with compassion. The next day I brought a heavy bag full of things that would be helpful to her and her elderly mother.

It felt good. It always does when you do even the smallest kindness for another. And then it hit me with a resounding smack that this thoughtfulness hadn’t actually cost me anything. I gave from what a family member had recently given me. Yes, I could’ve kept the gift and used it but I also could have provided it for myself just as easily. The fact that I passed it on, though it cost me nothing, suddenly hurt my heart a little. It felt great in the moment and the lady had a need met, yes. But it had cost me nothing and for some reason that realization rushed over me with an immediate flash flood of sorrow.

Just about as quickly though, a redeeming thought filled my heart and mind.

Sometimes things come to us as a way to get them where they’re supposed to go. Sometimes WE are the channel and not the intended recipient. Sometimes we get to be the one who passes on a blessing, opens a door of opportunity, or is otherwise the chosen conduit of supply for someone else’s need. There’s so much more in this than there is room to convey it here.

Bottom line? Stay open to being the passageway as sometimes the Provider is in need of a channel.

Never Stops Working

Maybe not today, maybe not next week even, but when it’s needed (and it will be needed) it will be there, ready to go.

The phone charger we recently added to our suite’s waiting area is there for you.

Just a silent source of power. Available to ANYONE who is low.

Even when we call it a day and lock up for the night the Charger is ready to do its thing. It never stops working, though we do.

Never closes up shop. Never stops working and never gets tired – never slumbers or sleeps. There for you. Even when we don’t see it or feel it—it never stops working. Got it?

Good.

FYI: I changed my Instagram account name overnight to correspond with the name of my blog and Facebook page. You see, I love sipping a good strong cuppa while writing and sharing my thoughts with you. I hope you’ll continue to join me on the Daily—the refills are free!

Both Sides Now

Peonies or something much more exotic?

The large scarlet flower with the white tips is reminiscent of the Sarlacc pit, a reference only diehard Star Wars fans (or mothers of boys in a certain era) would understand. But what are these really?

We’re accustomed to making a diagnostic of a thing based on the vast compilation of images and experiences that we’ve gathered along life’s way. When we learn to look at things from both sides, from top to bottom, from different angles and points of view we will find, on occasion, that what we originally thought was incorrect.

These colorful blooms are week old roses. Softened just enough to have their stem and rosehead pulled away, leaving the petals intact. They of course won’t last long after having their core and lifeline removed. But in this moment they are beautiful, having been transformed into a unique looking species. In reality they are common garden roses.

There are some sides of each of us that we do not put face forward to others. Sometimes we don’t even know that this aspect of ourselves exists. We may feel an occasional glint of “one-of-a-kindishness” now and again in rare and fleeting sparkles. But the utter uniqueness is indeed there and sometimes it just takes a curious mind or a creative friend or an inquisitive observer to see something in us that we ourselves did not realize was there. And that can create a combustible moment if we’re open to bursting forth with our own unique, God-given colors, talents, and perspectives.

Just a garden rose? I don’t think so. Take a look from both sides now.