A Life Stirred

Planted and Blooming

“Bloom where you are planted.”

I’ve been hearing this phrase everywhere lately.  So naturally, it’s got me thinking.

I feel like I need to confess that my first thought on this phrase isn’t very spiritual or wise or deep.  Every time I hear it, I picture a person literally planted in the soil with a little green sprout popping out of his head.  My brain is so silly.

But there actually is some good truth in this phrase (once I get beyond my literal brain).  Let’s delve into it a little, shall we?

Part 1:  “Where you are planted…”

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. 

Acts 17:26-27

God has determined where I will live and for how long.  He actually cares about where I am (geographically speaking) and what I do there.  He knew that I would come to Maine and live here for as long as I have.  My 1-year-turned-8-years didn’t surprise Him.  In fact, it was even part of His plan.

So God has planted me in a specific location for a specific time and for a specific purpose (even I don’t know those specifics).

[And by the way, God planted you in a specific location for a specific time and for a specific purpose.  It’s worth remembering.]

Part 2: “Bloom…”

He [the man who delights in the law of the Lord] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers. 

Psalms 1:3

If I plant myself in God’s Word, I will yield good fruit.  With the Lord at work in my life and heart, I will grow and flourish.  I will be productive.  I will bloom.

And it may not always look like what I expect.  It may not be blooming according to the World’s standards.  It may not look like the American Dream and a house of my own and 401Ks.  But it will be fruitful for the Kingdom, which is even better than all those quick-to-fade things.

Hey, look!  It's a free printable here!

Hey, look! It’s a free printable!

I do want this phrase to be true in my life.  I don’t want to wait until I’m “settled” somewhere or until I’ve got it more together or until I can know some of the specifics of my planting and my blooming.  I want to bloom now…where I am planted now.  But more than anything, I want to be rooted in God.

With my roots deep in you, I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit

And though I’m small, I’ll still be standing in the storm

‘Cause I am planted by the river, by your streams of living water

And I’ll grow up strong and beautiful, all for your splendor, Lord

“For Your Splendor” by Christy Nockels

(Love love love this song!)

 

 

 

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A New Phone and an Ugly Heart

Ben and I just updated our phones.  For the first time in nearly four years.  FOUR YEARS!  That’s like 28 years in technology-years, right?

It was very much overdue.  My phone was taped together, and I was texting at a snail’s pace.

Anyway, Ben got a smart phone, which is not making him feel smarter.  (Case in point: at one point last night, when trying to set his alarm for the morning, he changed the time on his phone, and we couldn’t figure out how to fix it.  Smart phones do not make one feel smart, apparently.)

And I got a…not smart phone.  It’s nicer than my old phone, and it’s not held together with tape.

But do you want to know what’s happening in my heart?

Jealousy.  Envy.  Coveting.  Discontentment.  Ingratitude.

Basically, lots and lots of sin.

It’s so ugly.  In fact, part of me doesn’t even want to write about it.  Because I end up sounding like a spoiled, entitled little brat.  Which I guess I am right now.  Ugh!

However, I am called to walk in the Light and shed light on the darkness.  Even the darkness in my own heart.

There is an undeniable pull towards new things—especially new technology and the “in” items.  I can’t deny that I want an iPhone.  It seems like everyone has an iPhone.  Why can’t I have one?  (And yes, that was totally written with a whiney voice.)

But when I succumb to that line of thinking, I completely discount all of the good gifts I have around me—technology and otherwise.  Within my line of sight right now, I see 2 laptops, a TV, DVD player, a Wii, a tablet, and a new phone.  And that’s just the technology I see.

Then on top of that, there are the more intangible gifts that are even more meaningful than stuff—a house to call our own, plenty of healthy food, clean and ample water, two beautiful and healthy (what a gift that is!) little girls, a husband who works so hard to provide for us, a Father in Heaven who loves me enough to send His son and who cares enough to reveal sin in my heart so that I might be transformed!

And I have the nerve to want something I don’t have.  It kind of makes me want to barf.  When put into perspective, my selfishness is completely ridiculous!

I suspect I’m not the only one who struggles with this.  It may not be an iPhone for you (because you probably already have an iPhone like everyone else…I kid, I kid), but ingratitude can sneak into our hearts in a million different ways.

So let’s be real…what do you find yourself wishing you had?   Do you struggle to be thankful for what you do have?  Or is this an area you don’t struggle in?  (And ohmyword, if you don’t struggle with this, please share!)

By recognizing my sin, repenting of it, and putting truth onto the lies I’m tempted to believe, I will gain freedom from the ugliness in my heart.  The Lord is faithful to transform my mind, and I will be able to be thankful for all the blessings I do have, instead of seeing what I don’t have.

Two of my favorite blessings.

Two of my favorite blessings.

 

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It’s About Time.

Time is absolutely fascinating to me.  Seriously.  I love thinking about time and its speed (which is constant, but doesn’t feel constant).

One of my favorite ways to unwind my mind at night is to lie in bed and play the “Time Game” (which I just named right now).  Let’s play a quick round…

[Brace yourself…this may get a little confusing.  Feel free to skip the “Game” and head down to the picture of Joanna.]

So, I pick a kid whose age I have paused in my head.  For example, Tyler will be forever paused at 18 months old.  Sorry, buddy.

Handsome little guy.

Handsome little guy.

That was 5 years ago.  He’s 6 now…and so so tall (still handsome though).

The moment of that picture doesn’t feel that long ago.  I remember that day pretty clearly.  I’d been married for about 4 months.  Ben and I were kid-free but dreaming about our future family (me more than him at that point).  The five years between that picture and now went fairly quickly.

Generally at this point in the Time Game, I pause to marvel at the fact that I now have TWO KIDS.  And one, who wasn’t even close to existing at the time of that picture, now exists and has lived longer than Ty had at that moment.  That moment which wasn’t really all that long ago anyway.  (Confused yet?)

Joanna at 18 months.  It's also worth noting that Claire now wears that shirt.  Time is so strange...and awesome.

Joanna at 18 months. It’s also worth noting that Claire now wears that shirt. Time is so strange…and awesome.

Anyway, the last step of the Time Game is the best (and most mind-blowing).  I fast forward the same amount of time (5 years, in this case) and try to imagine my life 5 years from now.  I will be 35 (weird).  I will have a 7 year old who will be starting second grade in the fall, and a 6 year old who will be starting first grade!  WHAT?!?!  And Tyler will be 11!!  A 6th grader!!  That’s in-sane!

So, yeah, time.  It’s cool, right?!  (I am fully aware that I probably lost most of you during that “game”, but hopefully, you’ll rejoin me now.)

It moves at a constant speed, but it never really feels constant.  It can drag on, and it can fly by.  It can do both at the same time (hello, toddler years).

Time is crazy.  You can’t stop it.  And you can’t speed it up.

But here’s what really, really blows my mind…

God is outside of time.

I can ponder time and its passage, but I have zero control over time or what happens as time passes.  My view of time is oh-so-small small….and limited…and finite.

But God has a view of time that goes from everlasting to everlasting.  He is not bound by time like you and I.  It is all within His control.

That leaves me wanting to submit all my time to the Lord, who is outside of it all.  I know nothing about tomorrow, but as Matt Chandler puts it, “[God] is outside of time so tomorrow isn’t something he knows about and he’s looking forward to; tomorrow is actually a place he is right now.”

God is in tomorrow!  Mind blown.

So, I will keep playing my Time Game at night (I need something to help me fall asleep), but I will let it remind me that God is bigger than all of time.  I will let time stir my affections for the Lord, and I will lean deeper into Him who holds all my days in His hands.

 

What about you?  Does time blow your mind too?  Or do you have something else that reminds you that you are small and God is not?

 

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Becoming a Real Grown-up: Step One

It’s that time again!  Story-telling time!  Kristi at And Babies Don’t Keep hosts a monthly story-telling link-up, and I’m a fan.  (Even though I missed last month, I’m still a fan.  Just not a very organized fan.)  Story-telling is a way to connect and to share and to stir our affections for the Lord.  They are way to get to know one another and to get beyond the basics. 

All too often, as a mom of young kids, I fail to really dig into my friends’ pasts.  It’s easy to get lost in the here and now (especially when the “here and now” generates so many poopy diapers and whiney toddlers), but I want to be better at learning who my friends are and how they came to where they are today.  

So, in light of that, I will be sharing a story of how I came to be where I am today…literally.  (And yes, I’m using that word correctly.)

It was 2006.  It was my senior year in college.  I felt old.  (HA!)

I double majored in Spanish and Mathematics.  Strange combo, I know.  I just liked both subjects.  While I had no idea what I was going to do with that degree, I figured it’d come to me eventually…which was a great plan when I was a sophomore but was not quite as comforting as a senior with real life just around the corner.

So I did what any responsible senior would do…I ignored the fact that I was graduating.  I focused on important things like bubble wrapping the math wing and playing mud football.

Seriously.  We used a lot of bubble wrap.

Seriously. We used a lot of bubble wrap.

My armpit stayed clean and dry. That never happens!

While that may sound a bit flippant, it really wasn’t.  I trusted God, and I knew that He would provide my next step…regardless of whether I started in March or May.  So, I waited until the summer to start my job hunt.

I graduated and then tackled step one in becoming a legit grown-up: get a job.

Graduation!!  I probably should have ironed my gown....

Graduation!! I probably should have ironed my gown….

I decided to pursue teaching jobs that would hire me without a certification.  I applied to lots and lots and lots of places.  I got really good at resume writing (or at tweaking a resume for a particular job).  I went on a few interviews.

In the middle of July, I drove 12 hours to northern Maine for an interview at a residential math and science magnet school.  They were looking for a “Residential Intern”, which entailed living in the dorm, shadowing a teacher, and then teaching my own math class in the spring semester.  It sounded appealing because I wouldn’t have to dive right into teaching high school math.  Basically, I could ease into being a real grown-up.

There were all kinds of perks to the job.  I had a place to live.  They would feed me and provide internet and cable.  I would be saving pretty much everything I made.  It was in a beautiful location.  A little rural.

Ok, ok, a lot rural. But beautiful.

"She neeeeeeds wiiiiiiiide open spaaaaaaces."

“She neeeeeeds wiiiiiiiide open spaaaaaaces.”

And it was only a year-long contract.  The school pretty much expected turnover, so I could try out teaching and dorm living and go from there.  (And no, it didn’t occur to me that perhaps there was turnover because living in a dorm with 100+ teenagers was totally cray-cray.)

So, I took the job. And two and half weeks later, I jammed myself and all my stuff into my ’99 Corolla and headed north for a year of adventure!

See?

See?  I’m ready for adventure.

That was 8 years ago this week.

But how one year turned into eight is another story for another day.

And Babies Don't Keep
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Ten on Ten: The Forgetful Edition

So, despite having a dream about Ten on Ten last night, I still completely forgot about taking pictures.

However, it’s probably for the best.  Someone in our family (not mentioning any names) had to spend a lot of time on the little potty today.  And who really wants a “Ten on Ten: The Potty Training Edition”?!  I mean, I’m all for finding the beauty in the ordinary, but that would’ve been a challenge.

In light of that, I’m going to break all the 10 on 10 rules.  So, enjoy 4 pictures from one moment in my day.

Dada and his garden helper.

Joanna, a garden helper.

Modeling the zucchini.

Claire, a zucchini model.

Daddy's Girl #2.

Ben photo-bombed our zucchini modeling session.

Daddy and his girls.

Daddy and his girls…and our zucchinis.

ten on ten button

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Then and Now

Time flies, right?

Unless it’s 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm…

Can I get an amen?

It’s just amazing to me how fast the girls are growing.  Even in the last 7 months.  It’s actually kind of crazy.

Then:

January 2014

January 2014

Now:

August 2014

August 2014

Also, I think if the “baby” can climb up into the bouncy seat, it’s probably time for the bouncy seat to be retired.

I laughed, took a picture, and then rescued her.  She only appreciated one of those things.

I laughed, took a picture, and then rescued her. She only appreciated one of those things.

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Always a Daddy’s Girl

One of my favorite things about being a mom is watching my kids learn language.  It’s mind boggling that they go from a baby-blob to a talking human being in basically 2 years.  Crazy.

[Sidenote: I used to work at a preschool for kids with developmental delays, which made me extra appreciative of language acquisition.  I know it doesn't always happen easily or quickly, but it's just so amazing to watch a kid connect sounds to words to objects...and for them to realize that there is  power in using language.  So, so cool.]

Joanna frequently makes me laugh with what she says, and I love the insight into her little mind.

Today (while sitting on the potty because that’s what we do allllll the time now), she saw this picture in her baby book:

Joanna as a baby bump (December 2011)

Joanna as a baby bump (December 2011)

I explained that it was her in Mama’s belly.  And in my head, I marveled at how that was really just yesterday and now I have a talking, potty-training two year old next to me.  Just a quick trip down memory lane.

Joanna studied the picture and said, “Dada’s holding me.”

I suppose she’s not wrong, but come on, Joanna!!  You are inside ME!  And Dada gets the credit for holding you?!?!

Once a Daddy’s Girl….Always a Daddy’s Girl.

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Boot Camp

Tomorrow kicks off a big week here at the Morse household.

It’s Potty Training Boot Camp!!

…which sounds like more fun than the alternative (but equally true) title of “Mopping Week.”

Teaching another human being to use the bathroom seems really intimidating…and important…and messy.  I think if this week is successful, I’m going to be very tempted to put it on my resume someday (wait, is that weird?).  I feel like it deserves some serious recognition (and perhaps a Christmas bonus of some sort).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There are so many areas of parenting where I’m totally winging it–doing the mom version of Guess and Check (with my kids’ lives?!  That can’t be good).  But with this, I feel like I did some research and adjusted it based on what I know about Joanna.  I’m feeling fairly optimistic (although who knows how long that will last).

So, wish me luck.  Or better yet, bring me coffee because I won’t be leaving my house (or really, the bathroom…TMI?) all week!  <Gulp.>

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Facebook Feelings

I’ve been Facebook-free for nearly 3 months.

I really can’t even believe I made it this long.  (Clearly, I had a lot of faith in my ability to survive without Facebook.)

Honestly, it’s been pretty awesome.  After the initial panic attack at the idea of disconnecting from the oh-so-addicting Facebook world, it was great.  No regrets.  No struggles.  Just a liberating freedom and joy that comes from obeying the Lord.

See?  Liberated and joyful.  (Or at least one of us is.)

See? Liberated and joyful. (Or at least one of us is.)

But as you know, I’ve been feeling off.  Last night, I couldn’t take the off-ness anymore so I stayed up until midnight to read and journal.  (I haven’t voluntarily seen midnight in years!)  It was awesome and filling and clarifying…as time with the Lord always is.  [Sidenote: Why do I so often forget the peace that comes with turning to the Lord?  He never disappoints, and my affections for Him are always stirred.  But I stubbornly hold out…like I’m going to be able to get by without Him this time.  Foolishness!]

Anyway, God opened my eyes to the root of my off-ness.

I was feeling disconnected.  (I was also feeling about 10 other feelings too…which is probably record-breaking for me.  But this was a big one.)

Facebook makes connecting so easy.  Practically effortless.  Where else can you stay current on the day-to-day happenings of 100+ friends and acquaintances (and random people from high school)?  Marriages, pregnancies, births, birthdays, anniversaries, countdowns to vacation, pictures of vacation, hilarious toddler comments, invitations to get-togethers, and on and on.  All available with just a few quick clicks.

Plus, being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely at times.  I frequently relied on facebook to connect me to other grown-ups during the day.  It gave me a way to share my day, share my life, poll a large audience of moms for advice, and schedule an impromptu park party.  I miss that.  It was a great source of information and encouragement for me.

So without it, I feel like I’m always just a little bit behind.  I feel a little more alone.  I feel a little less encouraged.  I feel disconnected.

Facebook was a familiar and easy (mindless, even) way to connect.  Without it, I am relearning what it means to connect to the people in my life.  The old fashioned way.  You know, with texts, blogs, emails, and carrier pigeons.  (I’m practically Amish, right?)

Forget email!  Crayon-written notes are the way to go.

Forget email! Crayon-written notes are the way to go.

[One last note:  I'm not trying to garner pity.  I chose a Facebook-free life.  And really, I do have awesome friends who go the extra mile to keep me in the loop and encourage me.  BUT, life without Facebook does require me to be more intentional.  It takes effort. Labeling my feeling (disconnected-ness...that's a feeling, right?) is the first step in not letting that feeling dominate how I feel.  That makes sense, right?]

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Why I Write

So, remember two days ago when I was wondering why I blog and if there’s any purpose (and/or value) to my blogging?

It was pretty much a rhetorical question.

But God’s timing is very cool.  He answered my question.  The very. next. day.   A blog post entitled, When You Wonder Why You Write, popped up in my newsfeed.

Um, hello!  It might as well have been “When You, Carley, Wonder Why You Write Because I Know You Have Been Wondering Why You Write.”  But that would have been a bit cumbersome as far as blog titles go…and a bit specific.

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

There is value in finding an outlet for my creativity and pursuing it, even if I never make a dime (I probably won’t) and even if my readership stays in the single digits (it probably will).  This blog has got be about more than the slight chance of gaining popularity and fame.  It has to be about sharing my story–my life–with the hope that Lord might encourage your heart and stir your affections towards Him.  

And it’s about doing all that without ever knowing if I’m doing it successfully.

Which is no easy feat.  I like feedback (preferrably positive) and affirmation (and lots of it).  Perhaps a little too much.  [Sidenote: I had a hard time adjusting to life after college because the real world doesn't issue quarterly report cards to tell me I'm nailing it.  But it should.  Because I am.  HA!]

Yet I am learning (slowly) to find joy in the process.  The process of writing.  The process of thinking through my thoughts.  The process of putting thoughts into coherent sentences (shockingly hard when my mind is in baby/toddler mode most of the time).  The process of allowing the Lord to direct my thoughts as I write to clarify what He is doing in my heart.  The process of having my affections stirred for the Lord through writing.

So, I will let go of my desires to put out perfectly crafted posts (that will surely go viral for all the awesomeness contained within them).  And I will write from my heart.  I will be real and authentic and human.  I will learn to find joy in the process.

I will keep on writing and sharing and (hopefully) encouraging and stirring your affections for the Lord.

And that is why I write.

Maybe this picture is a metaphor about writing and launching into the great, wide unknown.  Or maybe it's just a cute picture of my daughter enjoying our ridiculously beautiful summer.   You decide.

Maybe this picture is a metaphor about writing and launching into the great unknown.
Or maybe it’s just a cute picture of my kiddo enjoying our ridiculously beautiful summer.
You decide.

 

 

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