The Venus Flytrap and Her Invisible Seeds

Recently, we went to Hobby Lobby and bought a Venus Fly Trap kit for the oldest kid. Supposedly, inside it was everything you could possibly need to grow your very own carnivorous plant from your window-sill. I don’t consider myself a complete novice in the garden, but I’ve certainly never grown one that eats other living creatures, so it’s a little (or a lot, if I’m honest) out of my expertise.

Please don’t tell her this, but I’m leery of the fact that my child can grow this tropical plant in her bathroom because she hasn’t ever grown something from seed before, and this isn’t the easiest plant to start with. It has an incredibly long germination (aka seed to sprout) period. Also, it’s a plant that EATS BUGS.

However, far more important is the fact that we aren’t sure we even planted any seeds in the little container.

Yep, you heard me correctly. We read the instructions, and did everything they said. Then when it was time to carefully pour the seeds on top of the soil to bury them, we never actually saw where they landed.

There’s a chance they went right on the dirt, but there’s an equal chance that we missed completely and they landed on the counter or the ground. We don’t know. We couldn’t see or hear them fall. THE SEEDS ARE TINY AND LOOK LIKE DIRT. Give me a break, k?

The final instructions on the box read:

Place indoors near adequate sunlight and you will see a sprout in 6 weeks-3 months.

3 months.

That’s a long time to wait for a seed that may or may not have been planted to grow into a baby plant.

We’ve decided that we are going to stare at this neon planter for [up to] three months to see if we did, in fact, plant these seeds. I know most sane people would throw the thing away at this point. Or at the very least, they would buy more seeds and add them to the pot so that they could be absolutely sure that it had seeds in it. But where’s the fun in that?

All joking aside, I think there’s probably a couple life lessons that my kids can gain from this whole thing..

If we don’t get any plants out of the ordeal, Emma will probably be sure that her seeds make it into the pot next time.

But even more important is the fact that we will all wrestle with the unknown until then . We will all sit, and hope, and wonder. We will wait, and wait some more. And those are important things to do.

When I walk into that bathroom and look up in the windowsill, I can’t help but wonder if this is the stuff that faith is made of: the unknown, and the waiting, but the wonder and the hoping, too.

 

Hills, grasses, and the like

Have you ever felt like you aren’t quite fitting in?

Like you’re the only person in a crowd who thinks the way you do? Maybe you seem to always make choices that seem odd to the masses. Maybe the path you’ve decided to take in life looks different than most of those around you.

I think most people would say that they feel different sometimes. But I’m talking about something more specific than that. I’m talking about feeling like you are on the fringes for years, decades even.

For as long as I can remember, I have always felt a little different. It hasn’t necessarily always been a bad different. In fact, there are some ways that I’ve loved going “against the grain,” like they say.

But then there have been the other times: all the times that people have looked at me a little cock-eyed after hearing ways we’ve made choices that are different than most.

I’ll never forget the time we met our new neighbor, and she mentioned hearing that we had birthed our babies at home. Then she looked at us like we were the negligent parents that she heard about in nursing school, because why else would someone do that? Have I mentioned that we had NEVER met before? I digress…

Most days, these types of criticisms might make us laugh a little. But, on days when we’re feeling rocky, when we’ve forgotten who we are and whose we are, these types of judgments can be tough for first-born people-pleasing types, like me.

Have you ever been on a road trip and looked out the window just in time to notice one lone tree in the middle of a wide pasture?  There’s a whole panorama of life outside your window:  cattle, cacti, maybe wildflowers. But, for whatever reason, your eyes seem to focus on this lonely tree.

The reason the tree stands out to you is not because it’s the first time you’ve seen one like it.

You could live almost anywhere in world, and you will have seen hundreds or thousands of different tree varietals in your lifetime. This oak, or pine, or tall spruce isn’t interesting because it’s new to you.

The tree catches your eye because of how it stands in contrast to the plants most near it.

For as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve seen a lone tree in a field, I have felt an odd connectedness to it.

There’s something  profound and vulnerable about this massive organism standing there juxtaposed against the gentle hills and short grasses around it. If she had eyes, she could see for miles what the soil could only dream about.

Maybe the fringe people aren’t crazy.  Maybe those of us who live a little differently are really just standing next to grasses and hills. They each serve a purpose, in their own right. They each have value.

But, if the world tells you that your differences make you less-than, weird, or other, you can just tell the world to shove it.  You, my brave and vulnerable friend, were never meant to blend in. You were meant to catch our eye.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ring

I’m going through the process of sharing old posts that were written but never published, for one reason or another. This one is from 2014.

Round one. This love. Intense. Endless conversations. Can’t catch my breath. Can’t sleep. Can’t eat. Obsessed. Heart pounding in my chest. You see me.

Round two. No one fights fair. This passion. I swing and I miss. More and more. Over and over. You see me.

Some changes. A new adventure. Life upside down. These fingers. So tiny. Can’t sleep. She won’t sleep. New job. Can’t focus. Please whisper. New sibling. More laundry. Interruptions. These dishes. Don’t wake the baby.

Some days it feels like us on pause.

Wanting to push play.

Waiting to push play.

And then forgetting to push play.

What round is this?

I can’t see you.

I can’t even find you.

Where are your hands? Mine are so lonely.

Find me again.

A tribute to you, love. For remaining. But for so much more than remaining.

Hands

I’m going through the process of sharing old posts that were written but never published, for one reason or another. This one was written in 2014.

These hands of mine

wouldn’t stay to myself,

tickled you,

slapped you,

but missed.

and then didn’t miss.

They got a ring,

threw it at you,

then put it back on to stay.

They held you close,

and pushed you away.

They’ve pointed fingers,

wiped away my tears,

and a few of yours.

They’ve held our babies,

rocked them to sleep,

rubbed sleepy eyes,

changed diapers,

cleaned spit up,

then done it all again the next day.

They’ve cooked meals,

shared wine,

and even more coffee.

But my favorite thing they do is hold you.

 

the one about to-do lists

I’m going through the process of sharing old posts that were written but never published, for one reason or another. This one is from March 2015.

So, life has been more busy than usual lately. And some things have been put on the “less important than feeding your children, doing finals, and learning a brand new job” back burner. You know the one. My urgent list currently has school, helping the hubby start a business, coordinating a fundraiser and breaking both my children’s fevers on it. The 2nd place list has wedding anniversary and getting my chickens to stop eating their own eggs.  Continue reading “the one about to-do lists”

Birthaversary

Warning: birth story ahead.

Our third baby turned 2 this week. And it’s bringing back all the feels. Especially the ones about how it’s taken two whole years to not feel a bit shaken from his entrance. After having two natural births, I felt like I knew what I was getting myself into. But it’s true that no two births are the same. And laboring with Charlie was very different than it was with my girls.

Two years ago the midwives almost didn’t make it in time. So in between contractions that were two minutes apart, I prepped Adam on what do in case the baby arrived before they did.

Two years ago I reached the end of my rope and then some. My midwife told me I had to push harder, and with a death stare, I non-verbally told her where she could take that advice. [hint: a place of eternal fire] I screamed at God, “YOU have to do this because I can’t.”

And then just like that, in less than 3 hours, my terribly average body gave birth to all 10 lbs 6 ounces of him in our home. With no complications.

It was a miracle.

Childbirth is a miracle.

I live in an area where nearly everyone is terrified of birth and/or resentful of it. I rarely feel safe talking about how beautiful it is. I certainly don’t admit that I’m thankful for it and feel empowered by it. I’m usually afraid I will offend someone or hurt their feelings.

Birth is such a tender topic.  Naturally so, because it involves one of the most spiritual and intimate experiences we have in life.

And somehow, somewhere we have lost that truth.

But it’s holy. So I think that’s what I’ll call it.

The One about Having Small Children

I’m going through the process of sharing old posts that were written but never published, for one reason or another. This one is from 2015.

In case anyone is curious, or simply wants to know that they are not alone or crazy in the whole thing called child-rearing, here is one depiction of parenthood from our family.

Last week, the five year old brought the most sentimental and precious family heirloom quilt into the backyard for a picnic. I didn’t know that it went outside with them. And they, like perfectly normal

edit: case in point.

Surprises in the Garden

The following post is the beginning of something that I’ve mulled over for a while now: my desire to find the sacred in the dirt. The Creator in His creation. 

So often when I go and work the soil, Holy Spirit reveals part of Himself to me there. So here’s my humble attempt at putting words to what I’m learning in the garden.


In the backyard, there is one long raised bed that I’ve designated for strawberry plants. It’s only two thirds full, so far. So the back third has room for small weeds and grass that I am constantly pulling out. This past weekend, however, I discovered some new basil and tomato plants appearing that I had never planted. These new mystery plants, aren’t actually all that mysterious. They are there because I let last year’s crop go to seed at the end of the harvest. And because we live in an area that doesn’t have extremely harsh winters, the seeds were protected and able to sprout this spring.

Last year’s tomatoes, for example, dropped some fruit. The fruit rotted, for lack of a more delicate verb. And, the seeds scattered themselves on the dirt.

I started researching the tiny sprouts to learn more about them, and I learned that the plant savvy people of the universe (is that a thing?) call them “volunteers”, and these unexpected treasures have caused me to reflect on what it takes for a seed to sprout in the first place.

What has to happen to a seed for it to grow a whole new plant?

It has to die first.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. John 12:23-25

Foreign Policy from a Five Year Old

Last night during the girls’ bath time, I became unusually emotional. As I watched them play and laugh, with full bellies and warm pj’s awaiting them, I thought about their safety. And their comfort. And then I thought about how how fortunate they are.. that many children all over the world haven’t had a warm bath or a hot meal today. And still won’t tomorrow.

And then I became conflicted. Should I tell my ‘littles’ about the horror that is every day life for so many Syrians? After all, one of my jobs as their parent is to protect and shield their young years from the pain of this world.

They will learn it on their own–soon enough.

But then I had flashes of the faces I’ve been looking at on the internet for days on end. The beautiful little girls who are my daughters’ ages. The ones who should never have to know loss, fear, hunger and death. Why them?

They didn’t ask to be born into Syria any more than my girls asked to be born American. We don’t get a choice in this world on things like nationality or skin color, or whether our government can protect us from terrorists.

So I started to explain to my five year old, in the best way I knew how, about what is going on in Syria today.

I told her about ISIL. The bad guys.
And what the word ‘refugee’ means.
I told her that people are getting on boats in cold weather, with small children and newborn babies, and hoping that surrounding countries will let them in to be safe. I told her that some boats have turned over and people drowned.

And then I waited to hear her thoughts.

Over and over again, my little Emma just said, “This is horrible. Really horrible.”
Then came her advice.
“Someone needs to help these people.”
“We have to help them.”

So I tried to explain to her why many countries aren’t letting them in. I told her all the arguments I could think of, including “limited resources”, “it’s not our responsibility”, “what if they come over and someone from ISIL sneaks in with them..”

Her responses to these questions were profound.

Me: “Limited resources? Housing, food, water, etc.”
Emma: “We need to learn how to share better.”
Me: “It’s not our responsibility. They aren’t Americans”
Emma: (confused look)
It’s like she couldn’t wrap her mind around that one.
And then lastly,
Me: “When the refugees come over, the bad guys might come over here too, and they could hurt us.” (Try explaining the word ‘infiltrate’ to a five year old)
Emma: “I don’t know, mom. I don’t know what to do. But it’s not those people in the boats fault. The kids aren’t the bad guys. Someone has to help them.”

Now, I know this is a gross oversimplification on the whole situation. So please don’t email or comment that here.
This is a child’s interpretation. Of course it is oversimplified. To adults.
But it’s not oversimplified to children.

“Someone has to help them.

Matthew 18:1-5
Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me..”

A Charlie Brown Tree in a Pinterest-Perfect World

Hi. I’m Rachel and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to all things beautiful and ugly that have been perpetuated by and, at minimum, highlighted from the monster that is Pinterest.

Those things include having an organized home, everything DIY, cooking, baking, health and fitness, home decor, holidays, and more. And also, taking pictures of all the things you do that look pinterest-y (yes that’s an adjective now) and then posting them on other social networks that are also infiltrated by the new pressure-filled, Pinterest-Perfect lifestyle.

What.is.the.point.

It’s exhausting. It’s ridiculous. And I need help. And I know a lot of YOU do too.
So here’s my plan:
STOP THE MADNESS.

If you’re like me, you’ve been on Pinterest for years now. Years.
And changing habits takes time.
Lasting changes don’t happen overnight. They happen gradually.

So this year, I’m resisting the urge to have a perfect tree.
It’s a little bottom heavy. It’s real- so it’s uneven. It has no garland. And the ornaments are partially homemade. There is no theme (gasp?!).
And I love it more than all the trees of years past.

I’m not against pretty decor. I like a beautiful house just as much as the next person.
But I’m seeing how easy it is to start to idolize something as simple as a nicely decorated home. And I’m over it.

Lord, remind me why we celebrate in the first place.

And show me what I love more than you.
‘Cause if we’re honest, there’s tons of stuff.

R.

“Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” Tom Robbins