Leggings are bad!

Leggings Are Bad!!

Ok, let me start off my saying leggings aren’t pants! I’ve been waiting to say that since the new (or should I say reinvented) craze hit a few years ago. But that has nothing to do with this post. In fact, this post is about something I have never written about before and may never write about again.

Plants! That’s what it’s about…kind of.

Last week, Laura asked if I would be willing to meet with her and the horticulture therapist as we begin to start planning how to incorporate all these different components into our program. I eagerly excepted, because I might be the world’s worst plant grower. I’ve tried on numerous occasions, with all different types of plants, everything from African Violets to cacti to bamboo to those plants that “are impossible to kill,” with no success. I’d like to say I just have bad luck, but the truth is I’m just not very thoughtful. I start out great putting them in sunlight, watering them, secretly talking to them and then I just kind of forget about it.

So, when Laura offered I jumped at the chance to go and learn as much as I possibly could. I just wasn’t anticipating what I would learn.

The horticulture therapist started teaching us about how we can start growing produce, now. He described how we can build a cart for indoors and start planting. A crucial element, however, is the lighting. He started describing how too often people put the light too far away from the plant, even a few inches can make a huge difference.

You see, apparently, you have to put the light right next to the plants, otherwise they start a process called legging (see it wasn’t completely random). Legging happens when the light is too far away and the plant has to stretch to reach it. Because of the stretching, the nodes which are where the branches happen are now stretched out and the result is less fruit. The stems also don’t have the same strength and aren’t grounded with the roots the same way, so they then have to battle the elements.

The light makes all the difference!

This made me think. How often do I choose to remain in the darkness? How often do I only look for the light when I have to stretch to see it; when it becomes a necessity for survival and I’m battling the elements coming against me? And because I’m stretched, and tired, and simply surviving I don’t have the energy to bear fruit.

What would happen if I lived close to the light, letting it provide me with the nutrients I need for growing strong roots, stalks, branches and fruit?

Would I love people better?

Offer kindness and gentleness?

Would I live in peace? Be patient with the growing?

Would I be joyful?

I think I would be all those things and more importantly I think other people would see the growth, the fruit-bearing, and want to grow close to the light, as well.

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Panicked Beneath the Ice

PANICKED BENEATH THE ICE!

Within an instant, I found myself trapped beneath the ice. Moments, minutes, of panic set in as I struggled to breathe and find my footing. In the panic, all you can do is bang on the thing that has you trapped, your only thought is getting out…being able to breathe again. Your physical survival instinct fights against you logical instinct. Your mind knows there has to be a way out, since you found a way in, but your body, your heart just wants to fight, to bang on the ice until you break through it.

Eventually, one of them has to win out. If you can just steal away a moment and think, you will survive; you will breathe again.

But, how.

Eventually I found the small hole, that small glimmer of hope. The opening that would bring me back to where I needed to be. And, with kicking and leveraging, and probably alot of screaming I found myself, laying on top the the ice completely out of breath. Exhausted. Still afraid, but safe.

I didn’t exactly fall through the ice, but that moment of panic and anxiety was real. And it was scary, because it was so new to me. Until this past year, I’ve been a relatively calm person. I can normally look at a crisis and can handle it with a certain even keel.

But, now I find myself in a new stage of life; an important stage. I’m in a stage of purpose and desire, that is both exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. And, last week when something threatened that, panic set in. I found myself unable to breathe, sick at my stomache, and unable to think clearly. All of these things being a new sensation, just magnified that feeling, causing me to drift further and further under the ice.

Once I recovered, over dinner and gelato with Amanda, we began talking it through, all the feelings of fear and doubt and the thoughts of “what could happen.” The realization that one small step in the wrong direction could hinder this mission we have somehow found ourselves in, is scary.

Even in that fear I can quote all those things I’m suppose to know like…

“It’s not about you. It’s so much bigger than one person.”

“You’ll be fine. You are doing everything that is expected of you.”

And of course…

“God is sovereign. This is his mission and he will do what he needs to do.”

So, if I know those things why the fear, the panic, and the doubt? For hours, Amanda tolerated me processing this out loud, moving quickly from one topic to next. My mind and my heart was having a hard time connecting. But, when it did the realization was not what I expected.

You see, what it all came down to was love. Somehow, I have learned to love something and someone that I haven’t even met yet. Right now, it is just a hope and a dream. I know that there are people out there just waiting for us to show up and I love them.

That’s what the fear is about. I’m afraid of something interfering.

That’s where the panic is coming from. From the question of “what if this doesn’t happen?”

And, the doubt, well that’s stemming from the “why me?”

So, I sat there verbally thinking about this concept of how can I possibly love something to the point of fear, the point of panic, and the point of doubting myself when it’s not even here yet. It is simply a vision, a possibility, a maybe.

In those chaotic thoughts, there was a simple pause and that still, small voice I often ignore said, “you are starting to understand the way I love. Remember when you were a vision, a possibility I still loved you.”

And with that the fear is gone (almost), the panic is gone (almost), and doubting myself is gone (almost). They are being slowly replaced with peace, understanding, and most importantly Love.

What is Christmas?

I finally pulled up to the house about 9pm after a very long day. My mind was spiraling with a meeting I just had, so I leaned my head against the steering wheel for just a moment thinking “it’s what happens in the movies.” It didn’t help. So, I drug myself out of the car, went inside, made a cup of hot tea, and sat at the counter to contemplate what just happened.

I could go into the narcissism I just witnessed, or the circular reasoning. I could tell you about how every time I said something remotely intellectual the other person quickly changed the subject to “save face.” Or we could talk about judgment, elitism, and condescension, because those were all present too. But I won’t (I guess I kind of just did), because that wasn’t what I was contemplating setting at the counter.

The comment from the day that played continually through my mind was, “I don’t celebrate Christmas because of the religious discrimination it implies.”

It’s significant for many reasons, but mainly because recently I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I know that’s not really unique, since well, everyone is thinking about it right now, but I mean really thinking about it. What is the significance around it? What have we turned it into? So, when I heard that statement, those questions kept coming to mind. Was what she is saying true?

A few years ago, I was The Family Pastor at a church and thankfully I had some amazing youth leaders that served with me. Once or twice a month we would pick a breakfast dive and hole up for a meeting which usually consisted of about 20 cups of coffee and sometimes we would stay so long we would have both breakfast and lunch. We would plan out all the teaching and try to find a way for the youth we work with to “experience” the Gospel.

So, it was November and we were gearing up for the Christmas season, one of the most exciting times for a church, right? There was one problem with that, all of us setting around the table were somewhat self-professed Scrooges and the last thing we wanted to do was “another” program. We begrudgingly began discussing what we wanted to do, trying to think of something that would have an impact; something that would show the youth what Christmas really is (you see where I’m going with this).

I’m not sure which one of the evil geniuses I was working with came up with it, but one of the guys started telling us about how a lot of times “stables” in biblical times were actually more like caves. And that was when the light bulbs went off! That was it! We would load all the youth up and anyone else that wanted to join us and we would spend our Christmas event together in a cave!

Everyone showed up at the church layered up, except for that one teenage boy in every group that seems to think shorts in the winter are ok, and we headed out. After several attempts to find it, we finally reached our destination. We picked up our lanterns and hiked down to the cave. We walked until we came to an opening big enough for all of us and we shared the Christmas story. Once the guys were done reading the story, we sung carols complete with cave-like echoes, and then joined hands and thanked God for what he had done.

As we hiked back to the cars, vans, and buses, everyone was quiet, but happy. We, as a community, had a new understanding of what Christ did for us.

So, tonight as I sat in contemplation, that night is what flooded back to me. It’s funny how something that happened a few years ago can still be teaching me lessons, but it is.

I didn’t realize it at the time but that night taught me about expectations (stay with me I’m in rambling thought mode). You see what happened on that Christmas night wasn’t what was expected. What was expected was a king, complete with purple robes and a golden scepter that would rule his kingdom. What was expected was a messiah, a warrior with sword and shield in hand that would come in an overtake the darkness.

AND HE WAS A KING AND A WARRIOR!

But it wasn’t as expected.

A baby came in a series of unusual circumstances and it wasn’t as expected, but it was as promised!

This king decided to rule this kingdom from among his people. Born in a stable (perhaps a cave) among ordinary people.

This king overcame the darkness in a way that couldn’t later be overturned, by sacrificial love.

So, Christmas? Is it “religious discrimination?” It’s actually the complete opposite.

Christmas, in it’s truest form, is inclusiveness versus discrimination. Christmas is about the sacrificial love of a king coming to us and saying “be a part of the kingdom, be a part of what I can offer you. You deserve nothing, but I’ll give you everything.”