Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Houseplants and a head cold

I am terrible with houseplants.  Rewind to when I was responsible for watering my folks' houseplants.  My only goal: getting done as quickly as possible so I could get back to the book/movie/friend that I actually cared about.  They had this gallon container that I was supposed to fill and add plant food to.  Some days I would literally water each plant with a teaspoon of liquid, just so I wouldn't have to refill the jug.  I'm not proud of this.  Just bein' real.  And giving you some insight into my innate priorities.  Keeping plants alive= not one of them.

Fast-forward to today... Are you in 2015?  Good.  I currently have two houseplants.  One I received several years ago at my grandfather's funeral.  The other I rescued from a friend who was going to pitch it in her backyard when she moved.  It's named Fonzie.  That alone made me save it from sudden death by dumping, even though I am TERRIBLE with houseplants.  I know I'm supposed to water these plants, but I feed and water a lot of things throughout the day.  There's a lot going on here, and there are days (okay, weeks) when I don't even remember that I have houseplants.  I mean it.  I don't even seen the 4 1/2 foot tree in my entryway.  Sorry, Fonz.

Today is a rare day.  We are home all day because I have a cold.  And Baby Emily has a cold.  And we are not. going. anywhere.  It is incredibly weird.  No playdates.  No errands. No appointments.  Praise the Lord.  I miss my people, but my nerdy heart cannot wait to read the next Inspector Gamache book while my kids nap today.  It's a self-care day of rest.

Back to the point... since I had all morning at home today, I actually saw the plants (small trees to be exact) that desperately needed water and a little pruning.  Here's the miracle: I really did water them.  AND.... I did the monumental task of going out to the garage to get my pruners so I could trim the wilting branches caused by my lack of watering.

Yep.  You heard it, Katie.  I'm killing your tree.  But I expect no judgment since you were going to pitch him in your backyard. Okay?  And the other tree?  Well, here's what I've realized.  It is exactly the same height it was when I got it three years ago.  Oops.  I've had to trim off dead branches frequently because they just didn't get enough water.  It's not the tree's fault.  They are just not flourishing for lack of basic necessities.  I'm guilty of tree neglect.  Please don't call the authorities.  I swear I feed and water my kids.

After I had pruned Fonzie and was throwing out the dead branches, I realized something.  I took off what was dead and draining the life out of the plant, but I had also removed some perfectly healthy branches. Why?  Because I knew that the tree would not grow well in the space that it is in my house if those branches continued to grow.  They would push into the wall and cause the tree to be lopsided.  They would eventually die, but since the tree didn't realize what was coming down the road like I did, it would continue to pour energy into these branches.  Stop.  Right there.  Did you see it?

God totally hit me over the head this morning with those pruned branches.  As a mom with four young children, I often feel like I should be doing all the things I've always done as well as adding on a few new pursuits.  Sometimes I literally feel like God stands over me and says, "Well, I'd like to use her right now, but she's got little kids so I guess she's pretty useless to Me."  I KNOW that sounds stupid.  Totally unbiblical.  And a perfect recipe for despair and bitterness against my children.

Sometimes God has to give me a head cold so I slow down enough to listen and hear the truth, which sounds a little more like "Bloom where you're planted.  Love well the people in your reach.  Serve your children with gladness.  Know that I have given them to you and your home is important to Me.  Allow Me to trim off things in your life that may be perfectly healthy but aren't for where you are right now and are draining the energy I'd like you to put somewhere else.  Remember I'm the Master Gardener?  Trust Me.  I can see the future.  For real."

Oh, and in case you are wondering about all those dead branches, I'm about as good at self-care as I am at plant care.  Truth: the last two and a half years of my life have knocked me out of most of the good practices I had in my life.  It's that third kid, people.  It's brutal.  Anyone who tells you otherwise just wants more grandkids.  My quiet times with the Lord, my regular evenings for exercise, and my carved out spaces for rest had completely fallen by the wayside.  And it's only been recently that I have found a way to have my quiet time with the Lord in the midst of the chaos of my life.  I've always known I needed it, but I'd remember and then just keep on with the busyness of my life. Please tell me I'm not the only one...

That tree from my grandpa's funeral has not grown at. all. because I haven't consistently given it the water it needed.  I've pretty much just given it what it needed to survive and not die completely.  And the same could be said for myself.  Just enough rest.  Just enough prayer.  Just. barely. enough.  It's just not working.  So I'm carving out time in my mornings that is for me and the Lord.  I'm making time to run with my family and stay strong.  And I'm scheduling blocks of time to pursue rest and relationships because otherwise, life is just going to keep on and I'll be at the same place in three more years that I am now.  Please. No.

I don't say any of this to sound spiritual or to seem like I have it all together.  I'm sitting in a mountain of Kleenex right now, listening to my children destroy the house in the background.  Even with new life-giving habits begun, the stuff of this world (please hear perfectionism, selfishness, bitterness, etc.) still gets in my road and slows me down.  But I've taken the time to remember what I need to grow, to be healthy, and to flourish where I'm planted; and even if my new plans only work out half the time, I will be so much better off than if I'd done nothing and continued to only take care of myself when I felt like I was falling apart.

Yep.  All this good stuff from taking care of my houseplants.  Can you believe it?  Lucky you.  But, for real... I hope you take time today to remember that you are called to flourish exactly where you are planted.  To love the people within your reach and to give yourself daily doses of God's life-giving Word.  I hope you can give yourself the grace to cut the things out of your life that He leads you to so you can pour your energies into where He has you planted.  I hope you feel valuable and loved.  Because you are.  God is up to something good in and through your life.  And, for bonus points, I hope you water your houseplants.