Roses and the lesson of preparedness

For the amount of times I seem to write a post about gardening, you’d think I was the owner and sustainer of a prize winning garden! Those of you who have ever come to my house, know this to be quite opposite to the truth.

My husband and I have a rather bad habit when it comes to plants.

Conversations go like this:

(At home)

Me: I really like those ‘such and such’ plants.

Him: Yes, they’re nice. Where would we put it?

Me: Mmmmm, not sure.

(At the nursery)

Him: Oh these are lovely!

Me: Yes, lets get them and some of the other ones and some veggies and….

And so that’s how we end up bringing home a heap of plants.

Now the problem is we haven’t prepared. We have no idea where they are going to go, what position they need, whether the soil is right or how big they will grow. Sure, we read the label when we’re at the nursery but, at the nursery, we are invincible garden wizards with not just green thumbs, but green hands!

We have killed more plants through lack of planning that I care to remember.

And so what did my lovely husband bring home the other day? Two rose plants. Where are we putting those, I asked. Yeah, dunno, he replied. That was about a week ago and they are still sitting on the outside table in their bag. We are so keen to have lovely flowers or fresh veggies that we put the cart before the horse, or in this case, the plants before the prep!

Made me think about how often we do that in life.

Are you trying to hurry up something because you know it’s going to be great and you just can’t wait?

I know I am. I complained to the same rose-buying husband about one area in particular and this is what he said (nicely of course).

“Just because you have swum one lap of a backyard pool does not mean you are ready for the Olympics.”

Yes, sometimes I just have to admit he knows some stuff and take it on the chin.

There is much to be said about preparing and doing the hard yards of checking soil ph levels, and positions in the garden. Less plants, and dreams, die that way.

Connections in a rice field

I mentioned in an earlier post that you would hear more about Andy. It has taken me longer than I expected to be able to articulate why meeting him was such a life-changing event, so I hope I do it justice with this post.

We met Andy the day before we left for Bangkok to come home. I’d had enough of being away by then and was chomping at the bit to just be home already. As a group, I think we were wearing on each other a bit by then, so our moods were not exactly of a cheery, ‘thankful to still be here’ nature…well, certainly not mine, in any case.

Andy1

This is Andy. He is twenty years old and lives alone with his mum who has alzheimer’s. As is the Thai way, the youngest takes responsibility for the care of ageing parents, so Andy has come to live in southern Thailand leaving behind a burgeoning career in the music scene.

Andy and his mother live here:

Andy's House

 

Apart from church on a Sunday, Andy doesn’t leave the house as his mother is afraid to ride on a scooter, his only available transport. Andy also is studying International Law at university by correspondence.

The things I have already said about Andy show you something about who he is. But the fact that he is 20, the sole carer of his mother, is virtually isolated and is studying International Law weren’t what struck me most about him.

He was thankful for his circumstances. And I mean truly, truly thankful. Living in that house, in that situation – he was thankful. Although we could only communicate via our pastor friend interpreting, the joy in his heart needed no translation.

While we were there, we sang some songs together, with Andy playing guitar. Those twenty minutes or so were probably the most profoundly moving minutes I’ve ever had. Singing in the middle of a rice field with an ox bellowing on the other side of the house, just Andy, our pastor friend, Charli, another team member and me brought a whole other meaning to worship.

I was raised in church and, thankfully, had parents who saw ‘life’ as worship, not just as a Sunday thing, yet never have I experienced the level of deep connection to my Creator and fellow man as on that hot afternoon in the south of Thailand.

Andy’s love and gratitude to God for his circumstances was so staggering and made me wonder if I have ever really been thankful for anything in my life. He was totally at peace with where God had him. He wasn’t bucking against it, telling God He was doing it wrong or offering suggestions. He is just getting on with the life God put him in for this moment.

Does that mean he doesn’t have hard days, dark days? No, of course not. Does it mean he couldn’t think of 50 other ways God could be using his life? No, I’m sure he has great plans and dreams he would like to see realised. Does it mean he isn’t sometimes discouraged and down? No.

But it’s how he is living in this moment, that really resonated with me. I am so often straining to see far into the future, to see what God’s got in store for me; reminding God of all the things I would love to be used for; letting God know that if He needs any help with planning my life, He can just ask me because I have heaps of brilliant ideas.

I’m so busy anticipating that I can forget all about the moment. I forget to be right where I am.

Andy gave me so much and I will be forever grateful that we met. It really was the perfect, blessed ending to our whole trip.

There’s not a great deal I can give him in return. But the one thing I can do is pray. I would love it if you remembered him in your prayers too.

I hope to one day go back and see Andy again and hear all about the amazing things God is doing in his life. And I will smile, knowing that prayers said all around the world really do make a difference.

 

God’s pleasure

It’s no secret that I love beauty. And I love art, whether that’s the written word, a painting, a sculpture, a play, dance – I love all forms of creative expression.

After our Thailand trip, I admit to struggling with my own creative desires. I would love nothing better than to be creative all day, every day, to write and paint to my hearts content. I have created just one piece of visual art since we moved into this house nearly six years ago. I have written only a handful of words on my story in the last six months. And I miss it. My creative side longs for an outlet. I have been keen to get in the kitchen and cook lately, and I only just realised that it’s the need to ‘create’, that this burning desire in me must find some sort of expression.

While I love and appreciate the arts, I feel guilty when I spend time on it myself. There are girls living in such horrific circumstances – how can getting the paints out help them? How does my story benefit anyone?

I used to struggle immensely with creating for seemingly no purpose. If I was going to paint, I wanted it to be for more than just something I put in a bottom drawer. If I was going to write, I wanted it to be an international best seller and not just a story my family read.

Now, I am happy to paint or write for the pleasure of only one or two, even if that’s just me. No, the struggle now is that there are so many people who need helping, that spending time on my arts seems selfish and self-indulgent.

The other day, I heard someone on the radio talking about feeling God’s pleasure when you do something that might not immediately seem to be ‘worthy’ by our standards. I have always believed that the God who created the amazing world we live in is surely the ultimate Artist but it really struck me afresh.

God created us with talents and gifts. He intended us to use them.

So my paintings may never be anything other than something to hang on a wall in my house, my story may never do anything other than provide entertainment to a couple of people…so what? They have served their purpose already, anything else is a bonus.

So the test is – do I feel God’s pleasure when I create? I would have to say yes. Being creative satisfies me in a deep down soul fulfilling way that I can’t seem to get anywhere else.

I feel right and good and wholly alive.

I feel God’s pleasure.

Mother’s Day

Last Mothers Day, I wrote this post, a letter to my mum.

This year, I thought I would talk about what I love about being a mother, from when they were little to now 🙂

• the weight of a sleeping baby on my chest

• small sticky hands around my neck

• that double edged sword when only mum will do

• that first ‘I love you’

• the bittersweet moment when the sentence “I don’t need to hold your hand” is announced and you realise it’s true

• the ‘first day of school’ rundown over afternoon tea

• school plays

• sports games

• dance concerts

• late night chats

• the words “Wait til you hear what happened today!”

• an arm tucked through mine for no other reason than to be close

• the words “You will never know how much I love you, mum!”

• surprise cups of tea in bed

• notes and pictures

• early morning snuggles in bed

• phone calls just to say hi

• ‘thanks mum’ said with a smile

• the knowledge that no matter where they are in the world, they’re always with me

• knowing that there is nothing that can change the fact that I am their mum

And being okay with the fact that as long as I live, being a mother will cause me to experience extreme joy and extreme pain.

And everything in between.