Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seeds of Faith

A few years back in my summer vegetable garden I started to grow a mysterious vine.  Out of sheer curiosity as to what it would become, I watered it and allowed it room to thrive. Soon I saw it start to flower, blossom and produce.  By the end of the summer I had the most delicious, juicy cantaloupe, grown from a seed I didn’t realize I had planted. I so easily could have plucked up that seedling as if an unwanted weed, but instead I was nudged to let it grow. What wonder and joy letting it grow brought!

In many ways, my faith has been just like that seed.

Being raised in a Christian home started me off with a great foundation for my faith. It planted seeds that, like that mysterious vine in my garden, I would later work to germinate and grow into a faith of my own, a faith that I am still cultivating and discovering with each passing day.

As a child there were times when I did not question the God that my parents taught, for He was as real in my life as the home that I lived in and the family that raised me.  I trusted with the heart of a child. 

As I began to spread my independent wings, craving to break free from the defining cover of my parents, I experimented with all kinds of ME, striving to find just who "ME" really was.  

It was during this heightened period of growing pains and desire for independence that I distanced myself from the faith that my parents "forced" upon me.  I put God on a very distant shelf and moved on with defining ME, with only ME in control (at least in my mind).

But just like that mysterious vine in my garden the spiritual seeds of my faith were determined, and had burrowed deeply.  Despite my efforts to ignore their existence, slowly, ever so slowly, as my attempts to live a life dependent on ME and ME alone failed, they began to sprout up.  Early in my adulthood I would glance over and see those weak little seedlings, and cling to them with desperate hope that they would bring comfort to my soul, save me from whatever ailed me at the time.  And like that mysterious vine in my garden, I was nudged to let them grow, even while I was unsure as to what those seedlings even really were.  

Memory verses from my childhood would pop up into my head and "Jesus Loves Me" would echo throughout my mind as I tried to imagine just how that could even BE anything more than just a comforting phrase.  

With each passing year, and a little bit of cultivation here and there as I searched for a greater depth in my life, those seedlings continued to grow.  As I sought out a church in which to worship as an adult, visiting every denomination under the sun, I sat through countless sermons and Sunday school classes. I brought children into this world, and discovered a desire to plant seeds in them as had been done with me. I realized again that those seedlings of faith continued to blossom and spread. 

The vines became thirsty for more watering, fertilizer, sunshine.  I had no idea that my God, who created me, loved me enough to place this thirst IN me.  I began to seek out books on Christianity and actually paid attention in church (I grew up only half listening because I thought it was what I was supposed to do!).  I gathered with other thirsty women who sought an understanding of their faith and this life to delve into spiritual topics, books and studies.  Together we debated, shared, cried and prayed as our hearts GREW in the understanding that there is a God who LOVES us.  As I read my children Bible stories of Jesus's love I heard those words myself in a way that I never had before.  

He loved not only the little children, but ME, too!

The storms of life that threatened the core of who I was and who I thought I was drove me into these arms I did not know were so unconditionally present for ME, waiting for me to run into, for comfort, forgiveness, grace and mercy, in a way I had never experienced in the world.  My vines now were rapidly spreading, seeking the light and watering that came from the true Source.  A Source that had been present all along, waiting so patiently for me to come Home.  Lovingly providing and protecting me as I stubbornly tried to cultivate a life with no seeds, no rich soil, no water from my Creator.  

Yet there He was, the whole time.  My God.  My love. The Great I Am.  

Today I am living a life so juicy, so sweet, like that cantaloupe grown from a seed I did not know even existed in my garden.  I thirst for Him, to know my God, my Creator, my all.  I am stilled in a way I did not know was ever possible as I hear Him in His Word, see Him in this world, feel Him in my life.  

More days than not I have to make a concerted effort to seek God's cultivation, to water my soul with His Word, to look for His Light in my life, for that drive to be independent ME is still there.  I am human, in all my brokenness and sin.  

Yet like that determined cantaloupe, the seeds of my faith have taken root so deep within the core of my being that I KNOW where to find my light and where to satisfy my thirst.  Even on the days when I don't, my Savior is waiting, with open arms, calling me Home, knowing just how beautiful I am to grow under his tender loving care.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I am Coming OUT….

Last week was National Coming-Out Day.  It hit me that "coming out of the closet" is really a term used for people finally able to shed their facade and be HONEST with others about who they really are.  I want to be very clear, before I continue with my thoughts, that I am NOT coming out in the traditional sense...I am still very happily married to my husband of 15 years. Mine is a more of a spiritual 'coming out'.

I also do not want to downplay or even begin to assume that I understand the magnitude of hiding your sexuality from others and the difficulty and strength it takes to 'come out of the closet' in the traditional sense.  I have the utmost admiration for those that DO take that step and am so proud of you! This blog entry is one inspired by those that have taken a very public and brave step to reveal themselves.  YOU all inspire ME.

As humans we have a natural reaction to defend our true identity in fear that exposing it will make us more vulnerable.  And in many ways, exposing ourselves DOES make us more vulnerable.  Some people will judge, some will throw stones, some will act out their hate.  All in reaction to their own insecurities that keep them from revealing their true identities to the world.  Fear overcomes us.

Today I am coming out.  With trembling hands and a racing heart, with fear of judgement and ridicule, I am stepping out in faith that by revealing to others who I am I will have MORE of a profound affect on lives than if I hide and stay in my comfort zone.

So here it goes, my revelation of all that I am and much of which I hide in fear of being vulnerable and judged.  But no more, for my true self-worth is not in this world but in He who created me.  For greatness.

I love my life.  I really LOVE my life!  Somewhere in the shift between childhood into adulthood I adapted this notion that you must downplay what you are doing, your love for what you do, and constantly be striving for more.  I mistakenly thought that complaining about where I was or what I was doing would protect me, just in case someone disagreed with what I was doing or what I loved.  Total insecurity played out on my part.  I continued to think if I DID more.  And more.  And MORE that my actions would justify my choices to be a homemaker, to not utilize my masters degree in the professional world, to really actually LOVE caring for my family.  So I am laying it all out there and setting myself and others straight.  I LOVE my life.  I LOVE being a homemaker. I love that God has provided me with the opportunity to grow as a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a chef, an artist, a gardener, a seamstress, an athlete, a writer, a child of God, and so much more.  I am ten years into this role as a homemaker and mother and each day brings me new opportunities, shows me new possibilities that I never even new existed, and opens up new doors.  I am finally, finally at a place where I am taking a stand to stop striving to DO more and am striving to LIVE more in each day.  I am ready to stop getting my affirmation from other people so that I can feel, temporarily, "good enough" because living that way has left me never feeling "good enough". 

In Matthew 3:17 God spoke directly to Jesus after he had been baptized and said, "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."   Knowing that I AM GOD'S BELOVED is ENOUGH.  I am whole only when I do for God's eyes alone and stop trying to live for the affirmation of others, compromising who I really am.  Living life in the closet.

So here I am, a whole woman, vowing that today I am coming out.  No more apologies for who I am, no more striving to be who I am not.  I am laying it all out; in my imperfectness, my brokeness, my fears, I am made whole by the one who created me.  For greatness.

**And for those of you who are blog readers, stay tuned because I am also vowing that I will no longer be holding back in sharing my writing!  I LOVE writing and I will push through my fears of sharing it and let it all COME OUT!