Pancakes, partings and a seasons passing

By jennifer | May 21, 2010 |

I’m making lots of pancakes these days. In just two weeks my daughter will pack up her jeep and set out on a solo adventure across country to her
new zip code… California. I’m cheering wildly for my brave girl but my “letting go” muscles are really feeling the burn. (Sniff) I’m walking that fine line between heartburst nurturning and not-so-helpful hovering like it’s a tight rope across
Niagara Falls. I want to let go well.

Four days after she leaves, my oldest son will fly to California aboard a military transport plane with his National Guard unit to help rebuild roads on a Native American reservation. He’ll return home in time to head back to NCSU to try and finish his degree before he is deployed to Afghanistan. I’m proud of him and grateful for his heart to serve. But is this garden ever changing!

It’s that time….my once cozy garden needs to stretch out and grow. No gentle tugging at the soil now; today it is under renovation. Shovels and pic axes are heaved into the ground, breaking up clay and excavating rocks and roots. Here I played with my children…..watched their bright faces open to the wonder of the universe. Piles of debris litter the dreaming spot where we once spent lazy summer hours together on our backs watching cloud formations and shooting stars.

I grieve the season’s passing and let the sadness roll down my cheeks like my salty tears sliding into pancake batter. My heart aches and opens to the coming season and the beauty it will bring. It’s time for them to launch into the wild….and so I release and let go.

Change is hard. And messy. And so, so good……..blueberry pancake good.

Beauty rest…

By jennifer | May 17, 2010 |

strawberry bird

I stumbled into this weekend feeling tattered and worn. My lists said keep plowing but my heart said REST. I decided to set aside most of the doing and simply be.
Silent accusation buzzed me like a horsefly…..should do more, accomplish more, organize more, produce more…and better
and faster and more efficiently. Now!
I decided to tend, instead, to the garden deep inside me. Resisting the urge to rush, I let my breathing slow and my heart grow still. Sanctuary.
I let the “shoulds” and “musts” wait and stepped into the sweetness and
sanity of resting deep. Far from irresponsible, this was courage.
When I step into this garden, it’s beauty rolls me like white clouds drifting across the summer
sky. It calls to the joy in me….tugging on it until it spills into my cells and smoothes the kinks from my nerves. I remember Dostoyevsky’s “Beauty will save the world.” I’m letting it save me now from the crazymakers that try to bully me from my resting place….stalking me with the lie “it’s all up to you.” Splashing my face with cool awareness, truth calls me into rest…into knowing my place. I’m here to work and tend the garden. Unbroken love tends and cares for me.
Drinking deeply from these waters, I lose the striving, hurl the cares and toss the lie.
This is my choice. And it’s brave…

Blackwater willies…

By jennifer | May 13, 2010 |

pursue peace

I’m finding myself in unfamiliar waters as the season turns. The current has shifted and my life seems swept far downstream from what I’ve known.
The water here seems deeper and darker….not the playful swirls and burbles I’ve grown to love. I’m frightened by the murky depths.
I want to relax and enjoy the ride but this blackwater gives me the willies. Twinges of panic crawl down my
spine as if flies buzz and brush my skin, setting off involuntary twitching in my soul.
I’m craving peace.
Turning to face my fears, I reach into the depths and scoop the shadowy liquid into my cupped hands. Squinting in the dim light, I peer at minerals and silt glistening like gold glitter in the
copper-tinged water.

Turns out, this water isn’t black at all……….it’s only a shadow.

My dread leaks out like the golden water through my fingers. Hope seeps in to replace it, filling me buoyant and light. As I lean back into the current and let it take me, I wonder what else I’d miss if my heart kept condemning what my eyes first decided.
What if I dump all of my expectations and let life present itself fresh every day…
……..lose the assumptions.
I want to be soft and curious again.
No more suspicion….just wonder.

Ragamuffin roses…

By jennifer | May 11, 2010 |

spring is coming

May is in full bloom and I’m wallowing
in roses. Every day finds me pulling into nurseries for another load of the lovelies to plant and tend. My arms feel as if I’ve been hugging porcupines.
Just a few short months ago, I pulled
into this nursery and instead of lush growth and flowers, a smooth sea of naked roses glistened like inlet waters at low tide. Hundreds of potted bare stalks spread out in cold March sunshine, unrealized dreams just
waiting for time to coax life back into branches.
It was a pool of ugly to the unseeing eye. Easy to overlook, their value was underwraps.
In just a few short months, all those barren brown faces have come alive in a gazillion shades
of pinks and reds with creamy stripes and freckles. There was massive beauty in all that dormant promise.
I’ve been aching over loved ones so like those roses….people who need time and liberal applications of acceptance, like fertilizer, to come through their gangly seasons and bloom.
Love sees their depth and design…sees past their slippings and slidings
and defences and hidings.
We’re all gardeners with lives to tend….people to love.
They need to be seen and affirmed and loved out loud.
I want to look past brittle stalks to the juice surging within the root stock… finding the beauty and singing it strong.
Creativity thrives in my garden when I believe the God who loves me….because He looks and sees through the artistic eyes of One who restores. I want those eyes…for real love to so infuse my looking that it brings rest and relief to hearts grown heavy with gaze.
Living things don’t lose their value during dormant seasons;
don’t quit on the ragamuffins in your life.

Fledgling flaws and freedom..

By jennifer | May 7, 2010 |

This blog is still a sapling,
yet my eyes are hungry for
strong leafy branches with
round, ripe fruit.

I’m being stalked by an old nemesis
….perfectionism biting at my ankles.

Rather than have my fledgling wings
go numb with paralysis,
I’m stretching them out….defiant.

I won’t get too thinky about this.

There is deep gentleness and patience needed
in order for living things to thrive.
And I want aliveness,
not a plastic performance.

And so I wait
for help to come,
for my weak and gimpy parts to grow
and mature.

So what if I’m still lost in blogworld…
wandering around and enjoying the sights but all
out of sorts over gadgets and templates and such.
These are STILL gorgeous strawberry fields
and even sticky fingers and stains
don’t sour the berries.
It’s all sweet.

I can be ridiculously glad
even when my slip is showing.


By jennifer | May 6, 2010 |

When God answers those
just-between-You-and-me prayers….

…the ones my heart barely dares to
whisper in His ears,

the impact is wildly delicious.

Being Here Now…

By jennifer | May 2, 2010 |


I’m living through the most rambunctious Spring our gardening business has ever seen. Being the mom in a “mom and pop” type company, it’s been overwhelmingly busy for me. Stretched like Gumby, my mind feels crammed full and spilling over like an overstuffed laundry hamper. Seems like I need a profound upgrade in my ability to multi-task and manage and focus. I’ve struggled to make space enough to fit it all together in a nice, neat package. So far, that would be a no-go. An objective observer might be reminded of an “I Love Lucy” episode…. the candy-making assembly line shenanigans. The candy is coming too fast to wrap and I just can’t swallow anymore.

Home is not a quiet retreat from the storm; the haven-making falls to me. Life is bustling everywhere… kids (and employees) juggling college end-of-semester stress and final exams, dogs drinking too much pond water and suffering digestive woes, my own gardens not tending themselves. The daily challenges of working with my husband of 28 years are equally rewarding and crazy-making. My muscles ache… hands and heart get sore, too.

Noting my filth and fatigue after long hours building her new rock gardens this week, a customer remarked sweetly, “honey, I’ll just bet you spend your evenings in the hot tub with a glass of wine.” I smiled and nodded, too tired to form an honest response that wasn’t crispy around the edges.

I love our work and I understand seasons. Designing and building gardens still engages and tugs at my creativity. But I’m homesick for my pens and paints. I process and pray so much through my art and writing….I feel hamstrung when busyness and fatigue crowd them out. I miss the peaceful-rest-easy-ness that rolls over me when I hit a vein and the juice begins flowing….spreading over me like mist. And I miss producing something that doesn’t have to be watered and weeded and maintained. .

Longing for that fresh clean laundry-billowing-on-the-clothesline feeling, I’m stirred to look into the eyes of Love and believe one simple thing. Just this: God gets me. Cares. And loves me in all of my parts. I can trust Him. All of my air is because of this. As I drop my guard and lean into this idea, even if awkwardly, heaviness rolls off my shoulders and my mind untangles. Soaking it in, my thoughts are rearranged. Spaces open. Lighter and roomier (and smelling of Downy and sunshine), I head back into the wild that is my life right now. Seasons will change; I want to be here now.

Free falling….

By jennifer | April 24, 2010 |

Into the Wild
Comfort zones have a shelf life; they get stale.
Familiarity can feel cozy….even when the well has gone dry.

When I go stiff to change,
saying “no” to that gentle nudge to yield and follow,
my safe place becomes a prison.
And I find myself defending my right to stay.

I’ve become attached
and am practiced at making nice with my chains.
It seems less traumatic than stepping again into the unknown.

Are much of our lives are lived in these shadowlands?

…huddled around the charred remains of a campfire-gone-cold… only lonesome gray ashes where light once bathed us in comfort and warmth?

I don’t want to live in shadowlands.

I want the real and raw and fully alive, even when I’m terrified.
So I’ll lean forward into the opening door……far, far from the ground,
choosing to trust huge outstretched arms I cannot see and the heart that whispers
“I’ve got you”.

Last week I heard Kim Hill croon these words:
“I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free.
I know His eye is on the sparrow
and He does so much more than watch over me.”

Then, as soulful voices continued to sing this, her deep rich voice began weaving seamlessly with the chorus Tom Petty’s “I’m free…….free falling.”

The singing washed over my outstretched heart until it got inside me. It seems like all the atoms in my being have joined the song, loud and primal.
I’m there. And I’m okay with that.

Hold me closer, tiny dancer….

By jennifer | April 18, 2010 |

quiet mind
I’ve been sore from dancing with my fears; it’s spine-wrenching and all too familiar. Invited by Love Himself to leave the shallows and wade out deeper onto the dance floor, giving Him the lead, I dream of grooving to His rhythms instead.
My heart longs to follow but my feet feel heavy….stuck.

The willowy sweetness of Grace invites me, “may I have this dance?” I drag my chains behind me, the “shoulds” that jerk and jostle while claiming to keep me safe. The only “yes” I can manage, it’s enough. I’m swept into a bohemian rhapsody…into newborn motion colliding awkwardly with old patterns and mindsets.

Here in the swirling waters of these fresh steps forward, His breath pours over me like a loofah….peeling off painful pressure until fear shakes loose and slips off. Old stale beliefs can no longer stick and slide away. I lean into Love that is unwilling to leave me a stranded wallflower. The carbonation in my soul, shaken by my violent dance with fear, is released as He quiets down the waters of my mind.

Enabling me to let go, I’m coming into the wildness inside of me. The dance is exhilarating, but without the agitation and struggle and striving I’ve always known. Instead, there is rich, buttery peace.

I dreamed of this as a little girl….of becoming a graceful dancer in the knowing arms of a strong partner I can trust with my very life. Instead of demanding a performance, He pulls me to His heart as He sings over me “hold me closer, tiny dancer.” Pressing in closer, I hold on for dear life. I was born for this.

The Pretender

By jennifer | April 13, 2010 |

sky beaver
Sometimes I’m a liar. I passed another one on the road this morning and laughed out loud at the resemblance. A flattened raccoon was rolled out on the pavement, thin as a flapjack…all but his dear little tail sticking up proudly like a flag still waving. I murmured, “yeah, me too, Sparky….I’m fine, too.”

I like to fancy myself an authentic woman with her cards on the table. Sometimes I am. But my imagination has always been a rich, fertile hiding place. I can pull out my paints and splash the walls of my countenance with illusions of “together” or “virtuous” or “sweet” when I’m really wrangling for some control. Sometimes I smile and nod politely while I’m busy evaluating and sorting out my next move. Or worse, the other person’s. And can I ever hock up a hairball of judgment when I’m feeling really insecure.

Somehow, seeing this undone critter with his tail held high reminds me of those ugly parts of myself…and that when I run away into my own devices, I unwittingly take cover from showers of mercy pouring down on fields of grace….the thriving fields. These are the green pastures and still waters of vulnerable honesty where my true heart can find safety and rest. I have an open invitation from the shepherd of my soul to take shelter here….and to become my true self, as well. When I pass on it, yielding instead to the fear that drives me to grab for some illusion of control, I end up looking a lot like this plucky road-kill. I’d really like to quit my fear….and the posing that seems to ride shotgun alongside it.

Jackson Browne painted these skittery places in my heart when he wrote, “Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender…..say a prayer for the pretender.” I want to be soft and curious in all of my parts….to live out in wide open spaces where the genuinely free survive and even thrive. No more suspicion; just wonder. Saying another prayer for the pretender in me.