Sunday, February 10, 2008
Bloom Where You Are Planted
I haven't written much lately. I've been doing a lot of thinking. My thoughts are not always "deep" thoughts. I often imagine myself a bit like Pooh, sitting on a log tapping my head and saying, "Think, think, think..."
One of the things I've been thinking about is Lent. It is a fairly new idea, this setting aside a time to contemplate - to sacrifice just a bit - to prepare for that day of days when Jesus secured my salvation with His own precious blood and then three days later rose from the dead conquering the last enemy. Raised in a religion where Lent was not observed it is something I want to know more about.
In thinking and praying about what I would do to observe Lent in my own life, I thought about areas of my life that needed change. Could my sacrifice be one of letting God work on those things in my life He very much wanted to conform to the image of Christ? My speech for instance.
When I begin to examine my own heart, it inevitably leads me to thinking about what I have "done" for the Lord. It is sometimes difficult for me to step out of the "works mentality" I somehow adopted when I became a Christian. I have grown enough to know that that isn't something from God. It is my own need to feel I have been a good girl and won His approval. In truth, there is no amount of good works I can do to earn my salvation. It is grace alone. I understand that, but there is always a little part of me that wants to "measure up."
This thinking led me to think about the women I have known in my life and what it was about them that I admired. My Mom always comes to mind. Hers is a simple, steadfast faith. She has never written a best-selling book, never spoken to crowds of people, never had her name "up in lights", but she ministers to our family and the myriad of friends she has made over the eighty-four years of her life in her own unique way. Her home is always open to all of us. It is a home made warm and welcoming by her special touches: the quilts she has hand-sewn spread over the beds, the curtains she has made, the little pieces lovingly collected and displayed, the family pictures on the walls, the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen, and the warmth of a hug and a kiss. Wherever she has lived, it isn't long before the house is filled with family and friends enjoying the welcoming warmth of real hospitality.
She has maintained friendships from as long ago as high school. She writes letters, sends notes, and never forgets to send just the right card for every occassion. She is a good listener and so easy to talk to. I have so many friends who have told me they just want to adopt her as their mother. I am happy to share. She has more than enough love to go around - and besides, I am still her "Sweetie."
My Mom has been my brownie leader, the president of the PTA, a deaconess, a sunday school teacher and so many other things - serving where she felt God would have her serve. Even now, she and my Dad work one day a month at their local Food Bank - distributing food to those in need. She has bloomed where God has planted her, and her life is a blessing to so many.
The other woman I always think of is Aunt Ethel. She died many years ago, but she was a powerful influence in my life when I was a little girl. She is not my aunt by birth. I didn't meet her until she was already well into her sixties. She was the leader of a group in our little church called Christian Girls In Training. Girls from the ages of eight to eighteen participated. We met on friday evenings. It was a time of singing, Bible lessons, and learning handcrafts. I loved every minute of it, as did all the other girls. How we looked forward to friday evenings.
There were campouts (my first taste of s'mores), cook-outs, special programs at the end of the year and the Christmas candle-light program. It was in CGIT (as we called it) that I memorized whole chapters of scripture for my memory work. Aunt Ethel set a high standard for us. I can see her still, her gray hair pulled back in a bun with pretty waves framing her face, always wearing the CGIT unifrom - a white middy blouse and navy skirt and sensible black shoes that tied up and had two inch heels. Whenever she gave you a hug, you caught the sweet smell of lavender.
She had a lovely smile and a ready laugh, but she was also a strict disciplinarian. Not one of us ever wanted to disappoint her. There were occassions when she had to give us a bit of a talking to. I remember some of those "talks" to this day. One in particular, about being very careful of the way we used the name of God. She was the perfect blend of fun and Godly principles, and we all loved her dearly. To this day she is my ideal of the Godly woman.
There are many other women like my Mom and Aunt Ethel, faithfully,quietly serving God where they are planted. I need to remind myself of that every once in while - when I feel discouraged because I haven't done anything "big" for God or look around and see what others are doing and long to be like them. He has planted me here, in this home and given me a ministry that seems so ordinary but is deeply rewarding. Noone else can do this particular ministry. And so...I am created unique and special for this place and this time.
Keep me faithful Father to do the things and care for the precious people you have placed in my life. Make me ever willing to do whatever you would have me do, but let me never minimize or compromise the place where you have planted me.