Tag Archives: seasons

Mango tree

I hate waiting…

Since I moved to an island I’ve realized that they way to get the very best fruit is to eat whatever is currently in season. Strawberries appear in May, cherries in July, figs in September, and clementines in December- fresh and delicious, and at their very best in their own season. But if you want cherries in September, well, you’re probably just going to have to wait.

I’m a bit like the cheeky children in a story I heard from my friend Bron.
In the front yard of their old house in a remote town in Mozambique they had a wonderful mango tree. It was heavy with fruit and they were looking forward to sharing a bumper harvest with their friends and neighbours. They patiently waited and watched as the fruit grew, happily anticipating the day when they were sweet enough to eat and dreaming about jam, pies and fruit salad!

Unfortunately, the children of that neighborhood are not great at waiting. Much to my friends’ frustration, these kids would sneak into the yard and eat the mangos while they were still green, hard and sour. That first year, most of the fruit never had the opportunity to ripen!

God’s word for me this week has been simply this- to eat fruit in the right season.

Eat fruit in the right season

Sometimes we can see what God is growing in our lives a bit ahead of time. But if we are in a hurry to harvest what we see growing on the tree, if we push into something ahead of God’s timing, we risk missing out on the sweetness it would have had if only we had waited to the right time.

Don’t eat fruit that isn’t ripe yet

On the other hand, I don’t want to let caution, laziness, or lack of awareness stop me from bringing in the harvest when it’s ready.

but don’t leave ripe fruit to rot on the tree

That’s all very well, I thought, but when it comes to the opportunities in front of me, how on earth am I supposed to discern which ones are ripe for picking and which aren’t yet?

I stumbled across the answer on Wikipedia while I was looking for a picture to paint from:
you can tell when a mango is ripe because it smells really, really good.

Pray this week that God would give you the nose to smell out which ‘fruit’ is ripe so you can be aware when you are tempted to jump ahead of God’s timing, or when you’re being too cautious to reach out and enjoy what’s in front of you.

Enjoy whatever is on the tree this week. May it one way or another be a blessing to you.

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Haybales and farewells

It’s June, and around here that’s the season of rising temperatures, goodbye parties and little round haystacks.

The haystacks sit rolled up in fields inside and around the city, straw-yellow rolls on a landscape of parched stubble.  The swaying grass has been cut, rolled up and now waits patiently in the sun for the day when it will be piled up precariously on a back of a truck and taken away.

I’ve been thinking about these haystacks a lot as I’ve watched friends pack up their homes and say their goodbyes this week. They too are experiencing the end of a season and wondering what the next one will be like.  Their lives have been cut down and rolled up, and they sit now in this field, in the odd period of in-betweeness, waiting, and saying goodbye.

One day it will be my turn.  For now, my heart is aching for the friendships that will be missed – empty fields in the landscape of my life.

The haybales that I’m seeing everywhere mark the end of a season, it’s ok, right even, to be sad that the grass no longer ripples at the touch of the wind, green from the winter rains or white from the spring sunshine.  It’s ok to be sad, but it’s also a time of year to be hopeful.

Because God’s word for us at this time of year, for the leavers and the left-behinds, is this: the goodness is not lost.

The goodness is not lost.

The grass is cut and rolled up because it’s made it to the end of its season.  If it were to stay in the field it would dry out, and the goodness stored up in it during this season would be lost forever.  But the haybale keeps the grass inside it fresh.  The goodness and growth is locked in so that it can be of use in a new season.

All that you’ve learned, all that you’ve grown, all the love and grace and hope that you have received and then given out to others… all that is not lost.  Somehow it’s just rolled up and put away for another season.

I’m sure I don’t completely understand this picture. But even as the cumulative grief of friends leaving is catching at my heart, so I can feel the hope in these haybales.  God knows what he is doing – the goodness will not be lost.

FullSizeRender

There’s no place like home

It’s our nomadic season!

Once a year we run from the summer heat and leave the small island of Cyprus for the slightly bigger one of the UK, where we live out of (several) suitcases for five fun, but long, weeks.

Sleeping in a tent or on the guest beds of our fantastic welcoming friends and family is wonderful, but I can’t help missing the feeling of being ‘home.  Of course, the point of being here in the UK is not to feel ‘at home’, but to have fun, invest in friendships and do things that can’t be done when we’re in Cyprus.  But, although I’m having a great time, it’s actually quite difficult for a homebird like me to be on the move for that long.

I’ve been reflecting on that strange tension between the longing to be home and not feeling ready to leave yet.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was really wishing that I could pop home for a few days, run the washing machine ten times, sleep in my own bed and then pop back to spend more time with the friends I love (and the massive to-do list!)

It’s made me think again about Paul describing our bodies as ‘tents’  (in 2 Cor 5).  He seemed to think of his earthly body as ‘temporary accommodation’, to be replaced by a permanent building in heaven.  I’m fairly sure that most of the people Paul sold his tents to weren’t weekend leisure-campers either.  Tents were for people who for a long time or a short time were living on-the-move.

 Heaven is where our home is – life on earth is just camping

It’s made me wonder whether my life is, in reality, quite a lot like my family’s summer trip back to the UK.  It’s an interesting thought. …Maybe the point of my life is not really to be comfortable, or settled or easy; but to do (and enjoy) those things that won’t be possible in heaven… Chasing after the lost, loving the outcasts, defending the oppressed, caring for those in need.

Perhaps we are all ‘temporary nomads’ in the world for a while before we head back to our Home in heaven.  The long-term-travelling-camping thing is fun, but not easy.  It can be uncomfortable and difficult and inconvenient and we may never feel quite settled.

This time next week, we’ll be on our flight back to Cyprus.  There will be tearful goodbyes, and regrets about the stuff we didn’t get done… but it will be OK… we’ll be going home.

blue tent

Emerging : about change

Every now and again something happens in your heart or your life which is so significant, so major, that you know that nothing will ever be quite the same again.

Sometimes, in just a few days or moments, your life can become so different that for a while you find yourself out of step with the rest of the world. “How?” you ask yourself, “Can everyone else’s life still be so much the same when mine has changed so radically?”

Sitting here I can think of six moments in my life when I have felt this really powerfully:  Asking Jesus to be a part of my life; getting married; the births of my three children and then the death of my Dad.  All of these things have so profoundly affected me on the inside that I have struggled to understand why people around me can’t see or sense or be a part of the revolution that has taken place.  I’ve felt a bit detached from the rest of the world for a while, and I haven’t always understood or awarded myself the grace that I needed.

I’m kind of in that place again this week.

Last week, at a crazy-beautiful conference in England, Father God revealed to me a little bit more of who he is, and then a little bit more of who I am, and before I knew it, another revolution had taken place in my heart.  I’ll get to writing and painting about that soon (when the dust has settled) but for this week, I need to take a ‘wing-drying’ moment.

You see, I read this morning about this butterfly, a monarch, which after hatching out of its cocoon, sits for an hour or more in the sun, allowing its wings to dry and become strong.  This moment of rest, of warming, and of taking stock speaks to me really powerfully right now.

So often I experience a revolution in my life or in my heart, and I expect myself to be able to be up and out and flying straightaway.  Today I think Jesus is telling me to wait a while, to let my wings dry out, to get used to my new shape.  This picture is permission to rest in him for a moment or two before I launch out again.

 

And that’s good… There’s going to be a lot of time for flying.

 

Imagine my surprise
when I emerge from the struggle
the beautiful revolution
the inner rewriting
with wings..

Still reeling
but knowing
that one day soon I will stretch out
into what I've become
and fly.

But till then
I'll sit here
in the light and the warmth of your gaze
and let you tell me again
who I am.


butterfly2

reflect greens

 

 

It’s always good to rest for a while in the warmth of the Father’s gaze.  Make sure you take a moment today to ‘sun yourself’.

 

For your Journal:

If you’re not in this place right now,  store up the thought for the future… Decide now that if and when it happens you will give yourself permission to rest and to ask God to shine his light on your wings.

If you are in this place, go easy on yourself.  Write a letter to God in your journal about the change that you’ve just been through.  Take the moment to say goodbye to what you were before and to stretch out into the new thing you’ve become.  Absorb the light of God’s presence in whatever way works best for you right now.  Be blessed x

 

Rooted – on surviving the dry season

I really like to read the Bible aloud, and last week I was reading from Ephesians when this phrase caught in my mind.  And it’s been sitting there ever since…

roots

I keep coming back to wondering what it must be like, and how(!)  to send roots down deep into God’s love.   I really want to be like the tree described in Jeremiah 17 that’s fruitful in all circumstances.  Its root system goes deep into the water table, so even when there’s no water to be seen on the surface, it’s able to draw refreshment and life up from deep places.

Spiritual life seems to run in seasons. One day I’m flying, Jesus has never seemed so close, miracles are happening around me, I’m undone in the presence of God and every page of the Bible comes alive.  A few months later everything can suddenly seem much more difficult.  Faith might not waver, but enthusiasm and energy certainly do.

For a long while I thought this was a kind of malfunction.  That I should be able to maintain a level of passion and fervency and intimacy with God all the time.  Truthfully – I can’t.  But I’m starting to believe that it might not be so abnormal.  All around us seasons come and go, plants grow vigorously and are then pruned back, people are active and then sleep.  It seems to be the way of the world our Father has created that things have a rhythm to them.

The picture of being rooted says to me that perhaps it’s OK for spiritual life to be seasonal-  That an ebb and flow of feelings and experiences is natural – but that it is possible to be rooted in God’s love in such a way that no matter what season you are in, living water can always be drawn up from the deep.

Are you in an easy season or a dry one?  Are storm winds catching your branches or are you resting in a time of peace?  Either way the advice is the same – send your roots down deeper into the river of life.  Joseph advised Pharaoh to store up food during the times of plenty in order to be able to survive times of famine.   If you’re in a plenty time – enjoy it – store up food for the future,  practice trust.  And if you’re in a drought – look deep, the water of life is still present, seek and you will find.

Plant me Lord

on the bank of a river

Show me how to send roots deep into you.

So that in good years

in bad years

in wet times and in dry

There will be fruit to feed the hungry

There will be leaves to give shelter to the weary

There will be the promise of water nearby for the thirsty

And when the storm comes

Though I bend in the force of the wind

My heart will remain – anchored to yours.

like a tree planted by the water

rivertree

reflect white

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you can do to drive roots down deep into the love of God. Please leave a comment -either here or on Facebook- Ellie