bulb 2

bulb

Pentecost was last weekend, and it rolls in my mind ever since. The upper room where disciples huddled waiting. For what? I suppose they had no idea. Men, women, likely some children. Days before they ate with Jesus, and he tells them, Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised… They could not have known that the windows would shake, the flames would come, and the life of solitary religion would be gone in an instant as they are dunked, drenched and soaked in the fullness of divinity.

/

My parents left a few days ago, and as a parting gift, my dad gave us 70 bulbs of tulips, daffodils, freesias and ranunculus. I have no gardening abilities, but it sounded easy enough. It hinges on one thing, though. The bulbs have to be planted by the end of May. This is the season. 

We bought it at the Tesselaar garden store, home of the famous Tulip Festival. The bins were almost all empty when we arrived, and the only bulbs remaining were in a few paper bags and burlap sacks in the warehouse. The time to plant bulbs is coming to an end, wait for much longer, the flowers will not grow.

Grandpa and his grandsons dug up pockets of earth in the ground Friday afternoon, and we buried bulbs, one at a time. Patches of future daffodils and tulips, all a mess of brown dirt.

//

It is the cold ground of winter that the bulbs need to produce life. This must be one of those divine fingerprints on earth, God puts a piece of himself into the DNA of a flower.

Some things must die before they can truly live. Death gives way to life. In the losing of life, we find it. 

A perfect God man hangs on the cross and takes his last breath, descends into hell carrying the sins of the world on his back, is laid in a tomb. And then. He lives.

A bulb that looks like a forgotten, sick onion goes into the ground when it is cold and grey. The earth becomes its tomb. Or its womb? And somehow as it gets colder, life will grow. The roots will travel into the soil. Nourishment will flow in. The shoot, which is in the bulb before it ever goes into the ground, presses through the bulb and then the soil. With time, sunshine and water, brilliant flowers bloom.

flower

Burying the bulbs in the ground felt like the holy work of faith, I think of the prayers I’ve buried for years in winter’s ground, the ones that remain unanswered, the ones that were a solid, No, and everything in between. I think of the Peter and James and Mary and John and every person waiting in that upper room wondering.

What are we waiting for? Will it be like Him? Will it be enough? He came back to life, but what about us? What about the life we must life now in Jerusalem, Judea, and the ends of the earth? How are we going to live it without You? 

But they waited on because they knew their need. The aching, pressing, all consuming need for the one who had pulled them out of the pit. The one who had hung on a cross. The one they had seen live again. 

If there is any marker for a life with God, this is the only one I know: Need. The confession of our lips is simple, We cannot do it without you, we cannot survive it without you, we are nothing without you

There is a wait yet for all of us. Maybe you are waiting with people around you, maybe you are waiting alone. But how you wait isn’t as important as whom you wait for.

He’s the flame in the bush, pillars of smoke and fire surrounding his people. He comes in the terrible and glorious golden ark. He draws near as a tiny baby, an ugly carpenter, a broken Saviour, a coming King, and He is coming for you. 

The wind will blow again through the walls of your life, and it will shake the unnecessary away. You will speak anew in a holy tongue. Your heart will burn for his desires. The roots will grow into the soil, the shoot will push through. Your flower will bloom again.

So we pray, O God, for rain, we ask you now for our food, and we wait for fire. 

 

IMG_2826

March may have been one of my best months in this season of transition. We left Sweden at the end of August, spent seven weeks in Germany and moved to Melbourne on October 22. It has been a crazy few months, but the past 30 days were normal in the most glorious of ways. Here are some of the lessons I learned.

Making my bed in the morning. I invested some money in new bedding for our master bedroom. To say that it changed my life may be an understatement. I make my bed every morning now because it’s pretty and easy, and I enjoy it. When the house starts to fall apart – hi Lego – it has been a relief to have one spot where I can rest my eyes and know, it’s beautiful, it’s peaceful, and it took minutes to get that way.

Primary schooling in Australia is not what I expectedI visited primary schools in March in preparation for our oldest’s first year of school in January 2017. This may be the most grown up thing I have ever done, other than not maintaining my kids’ vaccination records. I went into it without knowing much about Australian early childhood education, and I learned that almost no school does group teaching, the one where the teacher stands at the front and instructs the big group of kids sitting at their desk. The schools, both private and public, had kids grouped and they did group work and each group had focus time with the teacher. After a day of school visits and questions, I have more respect for teachers than I have ever had before.

Small changes for the win. Last month I wrote about the way small changes were transforming my days, and I’m still loving this challenge and learning from it as well. Small breaks give my brain much needed rest and my soul a quick recharge. I used to think I needed half a day or a whole day to myself, but I’m learning that a 30-minute walk alone or an hour in a coffee shop alone before church starts can give me the energy boost I need.

Too many small changes don’t work. Keep it simple. My list of small changes in March was exciting and long, and truthfully I have hardly done anything on the list. I floss now more than I have in the past year. Incidentally my boys started flossing as well. I’ve gone on lots of walks in the past two weeks, and that has been great. But our walls are empty and so many other things are left undone. Going into April, I know now to keep my list to two or three small changes, and that will be much more doable and a lot more fun.

A combination of toothpaste, butter, soap and warm water removes superglue from the palms of my cheeky toddler. I learned this one last night when Husband found our almost-three-year-old wandering in the hallway (when he should have been in bed) with something strange covering his palms. It was superglue. We can only be thankful that he didn’t glue his hand to a wall. It took about 45 minutes of Husband’s hard work (I bailed after about 15 minutes). It was definitely a Send Wine moment except my full wine glass was right there on the bathroom counter while we each scrubbed a hand.

If you missed it, I wrote a few more posts on the blog in March.

Buying my own flowers bring me joy, helps me embrace beauty in a daily kind of way and help my soul rest.

I learned this month that Instagram’s algorithm may potentially change, and I learned that I care too much but can learn to not care at all. Mostly I learned that everything in the world is going to change. I can keep creating, I can keep writing, no one can stop me from doing this, and I can trust that my work will land where it needs to.

Thanks as always to those of you who subscribe (scroll down to do that), read, comment and share. I appreciate it so much. Now tell me, what did you learn in March?

I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman today and lots of others who are sharing what they learned in February. It’s a wonderful way to chronicle the small and big ways we grow, change and learn, and I love it. Right now, I’m trying to capture moments of beauty and change over on Instagram, so head over there and follow me if you want to see more.

flowers

A few weeks ago, I bought flowers for myself for no reason. I like having flowers around. I like looking at them, I like trimming the stems and arranging the blooms, pulling out my vases excites me, having a spot of beauty where I can rest my eyes during the day brings energy and strength.

So I’ve started buying myself flowers. Weekly. It’s now part of the grocery shopping experience.

Flowers felt like an extravagance in the past, but more than that, it came with expectations. That someone else was going to by me flowers. My husband, friends, people who are coming over for dinner.

I see myself as a person who knows what she wants and goes to get it, but somehow when it came to these small things that bring beauty, joy and ease to my life, I treated myself as a consumer and not a creator.

I could consume beauty by joyfully receiving flowers, watching a movie or reading a book, but I couldn’t take ownership for my love for beauty by creating what I longed for. There is a bigger story here about writing, but for now I am sticking with the small lesson. I was created by God, who is the source of creativity that cannot and will not end, and I was given creative strength because my creativity points back to the goodness and beauty of his creative strength. I do not have time these days to hole away for days writing, I cannot paint a masterpiece for an art gallery, there is no time to perfect any creative skill or talent.

But I can do small things every day that remind myself that I am a creator, I have ownership for my life, someone else is not responsible for my desires. For now it means I stop to paint with my boys, I print pretty printables with truth about identity and daily work, I sweep my floor, I make my bed daily, I chop parsley and scatter it on top of soup. These are simple actions that transfer my creative mind into my daily work, it keeps beauty filling my life, and it helps me to keep going.

And for the days when there is no time for anything else, it helps that my vases are full of flowers.

For you there’s a story as well. What do you want to create? What is an idea that has swum around in your mind for a while? Maybe it’s more than an idea? Maybe it needs a life of its own? What small thing can you do this week that would say to yourself and the people around you that your creative self matters?

I’m linking up with The Grove at Velvet Ashes.

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas
 

Right now, I’m trying to capture moments of beauty and change over on Instagram, so head over there and follow me if you want to see more. And if you want to read blog posts right as they are written, scroll down and subscribe in the form below. I’m glad you’re here.

peony 3

Little Bear was born on June 1 in Geneva, Switzerland, and I think I received three bouquets of peonies in the weeks after his birth. The gentle flowers took their time to open up and every stage of the unveiling was glorious. They quickly became my favourite flower.

Last spring I received a delightful surprise in the form of budding peonies in our garden in Stockholm. I’m the sort of gardner who leaves the carcasses of rosemary and mint plants in her wake, so you can imagine that I had no idea we had bushes of peonies. This year I knew I was flying out on May 3 for six weeks in Sri Lanka and Australia, and I eyed the bushes hoping to see buds before our flight. It was sporadically warm but mostly cold in Stockholm. There was nothing, and I knew it: No peonies for me this year.

Last I wrote on this blog, we were in transition, figuring out what the next step was. Well, the transition phase is not done for us, in some ways it is only just beginning. We have made some big decisions, but there will be many more to come in the following weeks. And in the middle of this there are more decisions, the waiting, and our companions through it all, the many, many questions.

Can we miss the good plans God has for us? Have we missed it? What if we pick wrong? What if we hear wrong? How do we know for sure? When do we know that it’s right? What if we disagree with each other? 

peonies 4

peonies 2

We flew back to Stockholm on June 16. When I left in May, leaves sprouted small and green, but now our street looks something like a suburban forest. The trees go wild in the early summer months with the almost 24 hours of light, branches stretch this way and that, sagging heavy with leaves. The grass in our yard, not mowed in three weeks, was up to my knees.

And there in the front was our peony bush with four pink buds on stems reaching up to the sky. Each petal folded up tightly waiting to be unfurled. For the first few days, I thought they were dead buds that were frozen unexpectedly on colder-than-normal May days. But in the past few days, the petals pushed out.

Today, the first flower.

Because this is the truth: He lavishes us with his love, we cannot miss the plans he has for our lives, he is not cruel, arbitrary, capricious or willful. We have a good Father, he has loved us with an everlasting love, yes he draws us, he draws you with his unmerited, unending, unyielding, beautiful kindness. 

peonies

Now it’s your turn: What are the signs of God’s love in your life right now? What are they telling you about who he is and his love for you? In what ways can this help you to trust him?