Sunday, September 20, 2009

Grow Baby, Grow

The air outside today was a bit cooler than it has been in recent weeks, a sign that the season is changing- and one of the only signs as the leaves here do little more than shrivel into brittle, brown remnants of their former selves and fall unhappily to the ground. It's a sign that the growing season is coming to an end. I think of my dad's garden at home in Indiana and all the beautiful, fresh vegetables and colorful flowers he always plants to accompany them. Soon, he'll be tilling it all under again.

My thoughts today, however did not flush with the impending doom of summer. I am in growth mode. And who wouldn't be with a little brood of flourishing children, a packet of cherished herb seeds, and a soul in need of the Gardener's touch.

Grow Baby (Spinach), Grow
So, when I set out to find myself a little herb kit this summer to take back with me to China, I found that I had to pick from sets- none of which contained exactly the combination I wanted. After some agonizing moments, I settled on my top priority- basil. It seemed a little odd to me that she (basil is feminine, right?) was paired with none other than catnip. Catnip? Seriously? I didn't realize that this was allowed to be consumed by humans. I guess I just naively assumed it was only put in those nasty little cat toys, not grown as a savory herb for the adorning of dishes eaten by homo sapiens. I guess I was wrong.

So, reluctantly I attended to my little soil pellets, watering and watching anxiously for several days until the seedlings started to poke their heads through the topsoil. Now, a couple months into the project, wouldn't you believe which one is flourishing like a bed of overgrown weeds... that's right, the catnip. Anybody have any recipes you want to send me?

I also started a small container of spinach. The growing season may be a bit late so we'll have to see if it finished okay indoors. My dream is to someday have a little container garden on the narrow patio outside our apartment. I read last year in the biography of Nelson Mandela how in his final place of imprisonment he had dozens of 5 gallon buckets in which he grew a whole slew of fresh vegetables. I'm not imprisoned for standing against apartheid, but I do aspire to be a gardener even though I have zero soil/land to my name. So in that regard, Nelson Mandela is my hero.

Grow Baby (Girl), Grow
When she arrived I have to admit that I did not think she was that attractive. She was a bit beat up, huge (10.3 lbs, or 4.75 kilos), bloated, and the word that best seemed to describe her to me was "beast." I apologize if this offends any of you mothers who deems it crime not to fall instantly in love with the sight of your child, but I knew I would come around in time and she just honestly scared me at first.

We're good now though- in fact, although we had some rough months of travel and sleep-deprivation this summer- I just can't get enough of cuddlin' and kissin' her now. She makes the funniest, expressive little faces- scrunching her nose and puckering her lips at me in mock frustration, then smiling with a twinkle in her eye- I swear she has a good sense of humor already- something I highly value in other people. I love that she already likes to kick a ball around with her feet and wants to tackle and wrestle with her brothers. She's rockin' the girly thing with her pierced ears and pretty blue eyes, but I think she's going to be fun and sporty and full of spirit.

Grow Baby (Faith), Grow
I am nearing the end of a personal decade this year. That's right, I am 29. If I think about it too much or for too long, I can start to get really discouraged about where I'm at in comparison to where I should be at as far as spiritual maturity. I'm pretty sure this is the WRONG way to be thinking about it... didn't C.S. Lewis say something about the truly humble person is not the one who thinks little of himself, it's the one who doesn't think of himself at all. So, I'm clearly not that person yet because I'm thinking about what a loser I am!

But, even though this "I'm not what I should be" kind of thinking does seem to plague most of us once in awhile, I am equally encouraged by seasons of change that I sometimes sense God is bringing about in my thinking and faith. Last year Josh and I were so thankful to be a part of a small group that really challenged and changed some of our thinking through a great study of Galatians and a good friend who led the way by sharing his own journey and growth in faith.

Recently, I've picked up a book I've had forever and have even read parts of before- but only in the last month has it clicked in a really impactful way. Sometimes a good book needs to be met at the right time, that moment in life when you are somehow ready to receive it differently than if you just took in the information for the sake of writing a paper, or to grow in knowledge. For me, this is just such a time and the book is The Believer's School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, a classic on prayer- and highly recommended if you are also at just such a place in your life.

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