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Bloom Where You’re Planted

“Bloom where you’re planted” is one of my favorite sayings and a sentence I strive to live by. To bloom where you’re planted means to thrive and flourish in the life conditions God has placed you. Or, as Paul put it in his letter to the Philippians, to be “content whatever the circumstances.” (4:11)

While working on my blooming skills I’ve discovered that reciting the sentence is a whole lot easier than actually growing the blossoms. Thankfully, God is the faithful and patient Gardener who has not given up on tending to my flowers while teaching me how to grow more bountiful, beautiful blooms. Under the care of God’s cultivation I have learned that the following three principles are key to experiencing blooms right where you’re planted.

1.     Be content in the soil of your circumstances.

Different types of flowers flourish best in different soils. Some species need moist soil while others grow best in dry conditions. And so it is with people. We do not all thrive in the same circumstantial soil. One person is best planted in physical suffering while another person will flourish under the demands of a laborious job. One will thrive single while another will grow fuller and stronger as one of half of a pair. God knows what we need and He plants us in the right soil to produce the very best blooms.

To experience the blessing of a healthy, bountiful garden we must remain content in our soil. Transplanting to what we believe will be more favorable conditions could prove disastrous for our blooms. The best growing conditions will always be in the unique ground of God’s flawless choosing.

2.     Enjoy your ideal exposure.

Like soil, sun and shade conditions are not one-size-fits-all. Cacti thrive in the direct desert sun. In fact, they will die without the light. But Begonias prefer shade. Too much sun will cause them to shrivel up and die.

You and I function much the same. One person will flourish in the heat while another will need the cool of the shade. To wish we had a different exposure to the world and its elements won’t aid in our growth. Seeking the wrong exposure could actually prove fatal.

It is always best to enjoy the exposure God has determined is just right for your ideal growth. If He leaves you in the quiet, enjoy the silence. If He surrounds you with activity, embrace the commotion. God knows the exposure that will serve you best and bring the most glory to His great name.

3.     Be satisfied with your saturation.

Back to the cacti we go for a perfect picture of the dangers of over watering. If cacti have too much water they won’t survive. Cacti were created to stand strong in climates with little rainfall.

Like wise, God purposefully plants people in grounds that are destined to experience drought. You and I may look up to the sky and wonder when God will send down blessings like rainfall but if we are a flower created to flourish in a dry and barren land we need not fear the lack of water. God never withholds what we need. If He does not deem it best to send down blessings in showers He will cultivate His goodness from the root up.

God knows how best to water the soil of the soul. Resist the urge to grab the hose. Be satisfied with your saturation and leave the soaking up to Him.

 

There is one more secret to blooming right where you’re planted and it holds the other three principles together: trust.

“Trust the Lord your God with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

When we trust God, the master Gardener, to cultivate our garden and tend to our flowers He never disappoints. When we leave it up to Him, He always makes us bloom beautifully right where He plants us.

You need not have a green thumb to bloom where you’re planted. All you need is to know the Master Gardener and entrust the garden of your life to His care.

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Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

I couldn’t get the tune of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” out of my head, which I fully admit is strange since I’ve never seen the musical that made the song famous nor have I heard it played recently. But once those famous five became stuck in my mind they began playing on repeat. It is the grieving tone of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” that has struck a chord in my heart. I can sympathize with the sentiment since I, too, have been doing a lot of crying as of late.

The tears I’ve been shedding have nothing do with Argentina and everything to do with the life I’ve missed in the past eight years. I’ve been crying for my lost twenties and the hopes, dreams and plans that died along the way.

The impending fall has jogged my memory and sent me on a reminiscing journey back to ten years ago this month. August 2008 is when I left for college with visions of how my life would unfold. As a normal eighteen year old, I was excited to take on the world as a thriving young adult but the transition to college was the last step in my life that went according to plan. Soon after my health began to fail, marking the end of my “normal” life.

Ever since my life has been an uncontrollable, unpredictable and often painful ride. Sickness snatched from my hands life milestones and gave me a list of failures, disappointments and setbacks instead. Although I am finally on the road to recovery I have so far left to go and so many years I cannot reclaim. My body can recover but I cannot recover my lost eight years.

The fact is that my twenties are nearly over and that reality has made me cry out in sorrow like Argentina cried in Evita.

After overplaying the one line, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” in my mind over and over again, I was curious about the rest of the song. What lyrics came next? I didn’t know so I had to look it up. That’s when I discovered the best part of the song wasn’t the five words I had been humming. It’s the lines that came next.

“All my wild days, my mad existence, I’ve kept my promise. Don’t keep your distance.”

Upon reading those words my tears dried up. It was as if God were singing over me, telling me to stop my crying because He has kept all of His promises.

God has kept His promise to never leave me nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) In fact, in the past eight years, I have experienced the nearness of God more powerfully and intimately than ever before in my life.

God has kept His promise to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) And not just any future or a flawed future of my desire. He has kept His promise to fulfill His good and glorious future in my life!

God has kept His promise to give me strength when I am weary and uphold me when I am weak. (Isaiah 49:29-31) God’s strength has been on great display in my sickness, especially when He sustained me at sixty-five frail pounds.

God has kept His promise to uphold me with His righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

God has kept His promise to cleanse, sanctify and renew me. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God has kept His promise to fill me His Spirit and indwell me with His Son. (John 14:27)

All through my wild sick days and mad existence, God has kept every single promise He’s ever made and all He asks is that I never keep my distance from Him.

The moment I fix my eyes on the King of Glory my crying ceases. Face to face with Jesus I cannot lament what I’ve lost because all I can see is the fullness of eternal life I’ve gained in Christ. My hope and peace can rest secure because I am rooted in the eternal, unchangeable, unshakable Almighty God of Heaven and Earth who always keeps His promises.

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Enjoy the Ride (and the view)

“NO SINGLE RIDERS.”

The rules were printed in big, bold red letters and displayed so prominently they couldn’t be missed. Solo rides were not allowed on the amusement park Ferris wheel…under any conditions.

A ride on the Ferris wheel was the sole reason I had entered the amusement park in the first place. It was a perfect summer evening to take in the view of the sun setting over the lake and I planned to enjoy it riding in a solo Ferris wheel car. In hand I had the four tickets needed for one person to enter the ride. I was all set for a single’s adventure until I saw the sign.

Despite the crystal clear no non-sense warning, I paused at the ride’s entrance and considered my options. I wondered if maybe, after waiting in line and putting on my sweetest (most pathetic) face, I could persuade the ride operator to make an exception. If that didn’t work out, maybe I could join a small group that had room to spare in their car. If I asked nicely, I might be able to snag the extra seat.

For a few minutes I stood by the ride’s entrance as groups of teens, families with small kids and couples on dates went dashing up the walkway prepared to enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel. I couldn’t bring myself to encroach on anyone’s evening nor was it proper to ask for a solo rider exception. So, with four unused tickets in hand, I turned and walked away from the Ferris wheel.

Dejected but not defeated, I decided I would use my tickets and find a different ride that welcomes singles. I heard the roller coaster off in the distance and, for a moment, thought that might be a fun adventure. But the roller coaster ride is over so quickly there would be no time to enjoy a view of the sunset.

To my right I could see single passenger swings flying high up in the air and decided that would be the right ride for me. I was about to walk in that direction until I heard yelling above my head. I looked up and was filled with joy when I saw the perfect attraction for a solo rider.

The Sky Ride.

Fifteen minutes and three tickets later, I was up in the air traveling slowly above the amusement park. The Sky ride didn’t ban singles from riding. In fact, the bench seats were filled with solo travelers enjoying a peaceful ride above the park while taking in a breathtaking sunset view.

On my solo amusement park adventure I was reminded that while traveling through life there are rides that aren’t suited for singles. There are particular adventures, events and occasions that only welcome couples and groups. Certain life experiences cannot be enjoyed alone. But that doesn’t mean that singles should leave the park of life dejected with perfectly good, unused tickets in hand. Attached isn’t the only way to ride through life while enjoying a beautiful view.

The park of life is full of rides that welcome single riders. If one ride in particular can’t be enjoyed alone you need not walk away dejected or throw away your opportunity to experience a full life. All you need to do is look up and out to discover that there are countless opportunities to use the ticket God has given you. In the park of life God has filled it with rides and attractions perfectly suited for singles to enjoy. And they boast beautiful views, too.

Whether single or attached, enter the park, buy the ticket, and live life to the fullest by enjoying the ride that’s just right for you.

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Re-Infected

Disbelief.

That’s the only word to describe how I felt when, six months after finally clearing my chronic case of Lyme disease, I found a tick embedded in my left leg.  I carefully extracted the blood-sucking bug but it was too late. His disease spreading deed was already done. Within days sickness and symptoms returned and my health deteriorated before my very eyes.

For the first two weeks post tick bite I attempted to deny the obvious decline and embraced the mantra “fake it till you make it.” I did my best to live a lie of health while, in reality, I was becoming sicker each day.

But by week three the pain was so intense I had to give up the act. The muscle spasms, head aches, itching and back pain had returned with such vengeance that they couldn’t be ignored. I had to get real with my doctor and voice my concerns.

When I heard the word “re-infected” I held back tears with a lump in my throat. It was one thing to know in my own gut that I was sick but having it confirmed was a different story. The doctor’s diagnosis made it a reality.

After eight years of waiting to be on the steady road to recovery and physical restoration the last news I wanted to hear was about re-infection. The last update I wanted to give to my friends and family was “I have Lyme…again.”

As I left the doctor’s office stunned and saddened by the return of Lyme, the words of Jesus came to mind…“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Jesus made it clear that dealing in truth isn’t just a good idea. Truth isn’t a suggestion. Truth is a demand. Truth is an order for how I am to live my life. To be freed from the sadness and sorrow of sickness I have to be truthful about my condition. I cannot live a lie of health and be well in my soul. I cannot fake physical healing and experience spiritual recovery. I have to be honest about my re-infection to be free and whole in Christ.

 

The truth is that I have been re-infected with Lyme.

The truth is that I have encountered a set back, but not the end of my story.

The truth is I have been delayed, not given a death sentence.

The truth is I am still traveling on the long and winding road to physical recovery.

And, the most important truth is, I am still on the glorious road to spiritual recovery.

 

Speaking the truth of Lyme in my life has set me free to experience the spiritual growth God has planned on this part of my journey. By denying the presence of the disease I was denying God’s purpose for it. When I was busy pretending I wasn’t sick I missed the peace and joy of living in honesty and truth.

Re-infection is not an accident. I know that to be true because God doesn’t make mistakes. He always has a plan and a purpose. Not once has He ever allowed sickness to strike my body without using it to sanctify my ailing soul. Every pain has had a greater purpose. Every symptom has been employed to strengthen my need for Jesus and increase my dependence on the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

The truth is that I was meant to be re-infected with Lyme because it is part of God’s perfect plan to purify my soul and unify my heart with my His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ.