May 5

Potting a Place for Ourselves

It’s that time of the year when I can hardly go to the grocery store or Home Depot without wanting to buy a colorful pot of flowers, a few more herbs to grow, or another hanging basket.

I just listed a fixer-upper on James Street in downtown Boerne that I’m super excited about. At the open house, I made a joke that I’ve practically done all the work already. It’s amazing what hanging a few ferns on an old porch can do for curb appeal.

Plants liven things up.

Right now I’m driving around in my car, with a plump succulent stuck in a Mason jar.

I’ve sacrificed the use of a cup holder so I can have the pebble and soil filled pretty visible to me at all times. My new fourth-grade friend and I made a pair and it now serves as a daily visual reminder of caring for others and myself. When I’m stuck in traffic or on a long blue tooth call, I’m reminded to breathe and be simple. The earth and all that is in it belongs to the Lord.

The spongy plant keeps me from screaming Jesus Christ when all I really need to whisper is Jesus.

When the girls and I moved away from the city, out to the middle of nowhere, on sweet Miss Marjorie’s ranch, we didn’t have much money to buy pots of flowers, herbs or vegetables. I tried to save seeds from the food we ate and when those took too long to grow in the window sill, I got a shovel and headed out to the field.

And I started digging.

Cactus.

The prickly pear kind that most ranchers try so hard to get rid of.

The old red pick-up truck puttered down the red dirt road and then stopped outside the gate. In the slow but determined way he often spoke, Harvey, Miss Marjorie’s brother, scrunched up his nose and asked, “Why ya digging that up?”

“I hope it’s okay. I really just wanted to put some nice plants out on the porch.”

He gave me a strange look and said, “Huh. So you’re digging up the cactus?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve never seen anyone do that.”

I loved old Harvey, and Marjorie Hey was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. The beautifully simple ranch house with the cedar posts and the tin roof that sat buried in a field of bluebonnets was one of the most peaceful and happiest places we ever lived.

We had never been both so poor and so rich.

It was an innocent time when we had nothing but love for each other and the blanket of stars the Dixie Chicks sang about. I can still hear the quiet of the crickets and the slamming of the screen door when the girls came back in from swinging in the front yard. We were brave then, pioneers practically.

And one day, after many failed attempts, we finally got up the guts to cross the river where the road ran out. We saw the zebras. And made it to the bat cave.

Before you know how prickly life is going to get, you dig cactus, and are happy about it.

The other day I was out walking and found a delicate leafy piece of green just coming up out of the ground. So while the dogs stood patiently by my side, I dug it up with a stick and brought it home to plant.

It’s the start of something.

And a new start always helps me to think and remember that even when we feel fragile or life is more than a little rocky, strong roots run deep.

You are stronger than you know.

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November 28

Vintage Beauty: The Old & the New

ornament

Everything old is new again.

This past weekend at Dickens on Main, there was a resurgence of something familiar that I’d forgotten.

My love for old things.

We thoughtfully meandered in and out of the antique stores, the ones I love so much more than the shops that are shiny and pricey and new. As I was eyeing an old clock, I heard a group of twenty somethings say, “It smells like my grandma’s house in here.”

And maybe that’s one of the things I love the most.

If I could turn back time. 

My eyes could hardly take it all in and I felt like that precious childlike wonder of the season had found its way back into my heart, just in time.

And that’s when I decided to start collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.

Luckily we still have a few of these most fabulous antique shops in downtown Boerne and walking through them feels like the next best thing to real treasure hunting, without the pirates.

I’ve also been searching for sets of old Russian nesting Dolls to give to my girls for Christmas. I know they’d rather have Kendra Scott earrings or a new James Avery charm, but long after I am gone, I want them to remember what Shawna Niequist illustrated so beautifully at the Belong Conference.

We are the most happy and whole we can be, when we remember to change and grow and bring the joy of our smaller selves inside of us, with us. Always.

While Christmas carols played on the turntable in the background, the smaller me loved to stare at the fragile ornaments on the tree.

I knew not to break them before I knew what it felt like to be broken.

I wish I would have known to be as careful and purposed with my life as I had been with the ornaments as we took them out of the box and placed them on the tree.

Of course, now, we think we no longer have to be careful like we used to. They are plastic and unbreakable. Not easily shattered on a hardwood floor.

And so I looked in and out of all the shops, past the delicate china and antique dolls, up and down the aisles with paintings and broaches in search of the old ornaments with the less than perfect, Christmas bling.

The lone survivors of a set from the 50s. Or the 60s and 70s. I found a blue bell with silver garland hiding on the inside and a pearl white ball etched with darkened silver. I almost walked right by a unique wooden set of Santas and Christmas trees, but spotted them on the table as I turned a corner and bought them in their stapled baggy for $4.99.

Joy to the world.

I hold the delicate decorations in the palm of my hand and can’t help but realize the wonder of it all, this life, so temporary and fragile. I notice the scratches and the imperfections and think of the families and the living rooms they adorned.

Living and life, sometimes dangling from a string. It is both worthy and beautiful to see old things become new again. The way I think God always intended for us to live.

 

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