A lesson from high country wildflowers

I am house sitting at a beautiful home this week, and although I am working from here its like a bit of a retreat for me, really. Peaceful, surrounded by mountains, trails near the river to walk, places to ride. I love it.

One of my duties (in addition to taking care of the cat) is to water the inside and outside plants… and I’m not talking one or two. I’m talking probably 50 or so. No kidding. They are beautiful and frankly I am amazed that someone can keep this many plants alive. It’s no secret that I do NOT have a green thumb. There are only ever two plants in my house: Pothos and Snake Plants or Mother-in-law’s tongue. They are very forgiving. Pothos will start to wilt to let you know you forgot to water them, and when you do – voila! – they come right back to life. These are the plants I feel confident about.

Needless to say I am following the homeowner directions VERY carefully so that their plants stay alive while I am here..

Today’s post though isn’t about having a green thumb or the beauty of potted plants. Today I want to talk about some wildflowers I saw on my hike this afternoon. These, I think could very well be the only thing I should be planting at home.

You see, out here in Colorado (and I’m sure this is the case elsewhere too), one of the things that’s hard to miss unless you are just not paying attention are the abundance of wildflowers in certain places when you are hiking. They are beautiful. Dark purple, light purple, bright pink, periwinkle blue, sunshine yellow. There are even these little tiny red ones that look like mini trumpets. Some grow on bushes, others grow in little clumps on the ground.

I’m always amazed that they can thrive in the altitude and dry, sandy soil. Yes, these flowers could work for me. They don’t seem to need too much to stay alive. Haha!

Yet I think there is a bigger lesson these wildflowers can teach us, if we will listen.

When I look at these flowers, they are so brilliant, I think they could rival any landscaping annual that is carefully planted and manicured in a flower bed or pot hanging from a balcony. Yet who takes care of them? No one.

So it makes me think of the parallel with life a bit.

I had the privilege of growing up in a pretty stable home, solidly middle class. I never feared where we would live or if we would have food on our table. My mom made most of my clothes growing up, we didn’t eat out a ton, and vacations were to mostly to see family. If I was missing something, I never knew it. My life was, in many ways, like a manicured garden, even though it got replanted every few years when we moved. Yet I could dream and hope, because the basics were not in question for me.

For some of you, survival was the name of the game. Dreams and hope were a thing for everyone else. You just wanted to survive and get out. Maybe you are still there. So as I share this next part I want to be tender in how I offer my thoughts.

Jesus talked with people in his day about wildflowers. When he did, he used it as a way to make God seem less “out there” and more “near” to them. He used wildflowers to teach them the truth of how much God cares for them. He had the audacity to tell people that they were worth SO MUCH MORE than wildflowers (Matt 6:28). Nice thought, but maybe harder to know what to do with it, right?

So to understand this, let’s consider the truth of these wildflowers:

1. There’s no one to water them every day.

2. It’s hot and dry.

3. The ground is sandy, it’s not rich or full of nutrients

4. There’s no one fertilizing them or gathering seeds to make sure they survive, yet they do. They flourish. They multiply. Who do you think does that? God. NO one else

I know I lack the ability to tease this out every way it could be. Maybe this describes your world right now, for whatever reason. Maybe this described how you grew up, without being nurtured, and you wondered where God was. Maybe this describes a season of faith you have or are going through..or maybe it describes the life of someone you know that needs to be nurtured and invested in..

What I see in these wildflowers is a dogged determination to shine, in all their colors, for everyone to see. Yes, I know I could research the scientific reason why they survive, but I think that takes away the mystery of the spiritual parallel. (Maybe for some of you, the scientific reason shows you more how God took care of them in their very design, so maybe that will speak to you more.. have at it!)

Friends, wherever you are in your story, and however it reads, can you dare to believe that there is not only a God who cares for you, but that this God is near and longs to show you the truth of his reality through the things around you? Today for me it was the wildflowers on my hike. I pray your heart and eyes will be open to see the reality God longs to show you in your world this week, or the way he longs to use you to love on and encourage a “wildflower” living near you.

Blessings!!

When it’s -6 outside

This morning I woke up early, as usual even though I have the day off. Sun peeking through the curtains so I know its at least 7 am. I figure it’s cold out since a frigid snap has decided to blow through the western and midwest part of the country. Still, there is still something so delightful about the early morning when no one is out and snow is on the ground that I cannot let go of. It beckons, that is the only way to say it.

Not wanting to wake my husband, I make a mental note of everything I need: base layers, flannel lined jeans, wool socks, a sweater. Grab my phone, sneak out of the room and head to the kitchen to check the temperature on the weather app:

-6. Yup. Pretty dang cold.

Well at least its not -11 like in the Springs. (because another 5 degrees below zero makes a ton of difference (can you hear my sarcasm?)… Frankly once it drops below zero I am not sure I can tell the difference but mentally it just seems that much colder). Anyway.

I finish layering up and creep outside, heading to the lake nearby to take a lap. I was right. It’s just me. I love it. (although I am sure everyone sitting inside looking at me through their windows thinks I’m nuts. It’s ok. I am .. a little.)

The air is so still, for which I am grateful. I’m not sure I could handle wind on top of the cold, that I know. The lake is frozen over again and strangely the geese are nowhere to be found. I wonder.

Then I hear this sound, even above three layers on my head: birds are singing. Really? I look around to see where they are.. but see nothing. I can hear them though, they are here somewhere. Eventually as I make my way around the lake as I look in the tops of the trees I see a cluster of red winged blackbirds up in the trees, basking in the sun as its rays pour out over the tops of the houses. Then towards the back of the lake the song is even louder, echoing out over a sanctuary area nestled in a spot I had never seen before. Tons of birds, like a chorus.

I have to pause for a minute here and just explain something about myself. I normally do not pay much attention to birds. When I lived in the Chicago suburbs and was out running, they were always a reminder to me that spring was around the corner, but other than that – they are just nice background noise (please forgive me if that sounds callous, all you bird lovers. I know they are exquisite, they are just not my thing. God bless you if they are your thing. You help me appreciate them).

I stopped to pay attention to these birds because I wanted to purposely listen.

You see, I used to feel the world was alive and “enchanted” some might say, every living thing beckoning me to admire it, to worship, to see its beauty and connect with the One that made it…. And somewhere along the way even though I still am thankful for the beauty of creation, its beauty has somehow crept up into my cerebral realm and been relegated to “just fact”. Meaning, the wonder of it takes longer to get to sometimes. Sometimes the wonder feels… absent. I am not sure I like living like that, because it makes me wonder if I will miss something the Spirit wants to show me.

Ever been there?

When the year started, I asked the Lord what I needed to learn, or re-learn this year.

Wonder, the Spirit seemed to whisper. Wonder.

And so that was why I stopped to listen to those birds, to see what I could hear from them and learn, to wonder what lesson Jesus might teach from them if he were here today. NOTE: This is not easy for me as a logical thinker, even if I can have long deep talks about the meaning of life… LOL

So, here goes:

  1. It is below freezing. They are still singing just like they would in spring. Why? Because that is what birds do, that is their song, their unique song given to their unique breed by their creator.  And it made me ask this:  Can we do the same? When our world is cold outside, or when its cold in our inner world, do we still know the song we were created to sing? Do we know what it sounds like, or have we forgotten the chorus somewhere along the way? If you have, how do you find it again?

    Jesus spoke about his kingdom being something that a little child understands, but we as adults often miss it. Or lose it… So I wonder….is this a work to undertake, to find the song that you have forgotten to sing to yourself, to your creator, to the people around you?

    Is your song one of music or writing, is it building or creating, is it protecting and providing? Is it service, giving of yourself or your time, is it creating beauty or stability for others to rest in?

    Because just like these birds, even when I couldn’t see them, I could hear them. When you can sing your song, it’s like living hope. People will see it, they may choose to join in, or they may not, but they will find hope and healing by being around you. And isn’t that what the prophet Malachi  spoke of, when he said that the “sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” – speaking of Jesus? And we who know Him, therefore carry that healing to others. How we do it, how we sing our song or speak of healing will differ based on each of our life stories….but it needs to be sung.

    2. The location of these birds differs from the location of the geese. What do they gain by their location?  The red feathered blackbirdsare at the tops of the trees, basking where they can see the sun. The geese however, were all gathered on the other side of the lake around the one spot that hasn’t frozen over, sitting with their beaks curled back and tucked into their feathers. They are quiet. Of course they all started squawking when I got there, but they never moved – it was if they just wanted to acknowledge I had disturbed their peaceful view or something. I know their location has everything to do with the type of bird (because I’ve never seen geese in a tree) – but still. Hang with me here a sec.

    I thought about the necessity of the two things this time of year: the (bare) warmth of the sun, and a place you can get water and find food, and it made me think of seasons of the soul and of life we go through.

    Sometimes, we feel like all is well and we can easily see each day bringing something new. We know that even if the sun is hidden by clouds, it’s still there. We can still walk with hope, joy, and purpose because we know the One that created us and we know who we are. 

    Sometimes, we are in seasons where all we want to do is sit and huddle down, making sure we have sustenance, but we tuck our beak in our feathers and just take care of self.

    Which one are you at the moment? Or are you a mix of both?

    With all that has changed for you this past year, whether or not your life has been affected a lot or a little by COVID, don’t forget that your own life, your own faith, goes through seasons too. God and his faithfulness has not changed, but it’s important to recognize the season you are in, and learn the lessons you can from it, because you will not stay there. 

After all, if you have been around geese and watched them for a season or two… you know very well they get up from their winter perch on the ice and spread their wings and fly. And squawk. And fiercely defend their young.

Photo by Brandon Montrone on Pexels.com

Your life – all of it, with however many years you are given – can and will display the glory of the One that created you, cleansed you, gave you hope, and brought you back to life over and over… because that is why He came to live and dwell among us. That is the beauty I see in Romans 8:18 right now: where the future glory of all that God has planned in a world remade starts to break into our lives now. His hope, rising like the morning sun. Our lives a song, calling out like the birds back to Him in response to His love. Sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly.

Find your song. And know that no matter how it sounds to you, its always beautiful to Him!

Blessings,


Tama