Green the Grass

We watered our lawn too much. My husband told me this after consulting other lawn experts, otherwise known as neighbors. He talks about lawns like I talk about cooking.

If we water our lawn too much the roots don’t learn to grow deep and seek out water on their own. Who knew? Well, other people is the short answer.  Seeking roots are important when it gets hot and dry. It’s Texas. It gets hot and dry.

So, we backed down on our watering, but not before we felt the pain of our utility bill. Yikes! The first year of home ownership is a year for learning. What that really means is a year of doing lots of weird things because you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Now its summer again and I find I like my lawn to be green and its starting to get a tad light green in patches. I really want to ramp up the watering so it gets dark green again. I’m scared the grass won’t find the water.

What if it dies?

My own life, my kids lives, the lives of students I work with on campus. I see the same truth play out. Surface green looks so good and there’s really nothing wrong with seeing outward growth and health.

The big question is what kind of roots are being trained? Are they seeking roots trained to strain towards sustenance? Am I? Or weak shallow roots that don’t know what to do when drought comes?

When dry threatens, I want to ramp up the watering schedule. It looks good and works fast. And its appropriate at times, too. The lawn gets green pretty quick when I water it more. More attention pays off in the present tense.

But hot and dry always come at some point and not just in Texas.

How have I trained the lawn? How am I training my spiritual life? My children? Am I trying to help so much that I train shallow and weak people who don’t know what to do when hot and dry come in life? Am I afraid that answers won’t be supplied from the depths so I feel I need to supply from the surface?

Watching my kids struggle to stretch roots down to the foundation of things is difficult. Feeling the pain of it myself is confusing.

Searching for depth is just that…a search.

It is a lack of knowing exactly where the sustenance is but sending out feelers, shoots to investigate. It looks like absorbing long passages of God’s word, the Bible, gleaning and sifting for who God is in new ways. Sometimes searching is finding nothing that feels helpful but absorbing more truth. Later it makes more sense. Or, seeking is trying new things to discover where I fit in the body of Christ.  Learning new skills necessary for a new circumstance in life is a form of stretching to new depths.

The assurance I have is that I will find sustenance, and others will too, if we search for that which truly sustains. It may not always seem enough or produce a green enough lawn to look pretty to everyone, but God will keep me growing spiritually when I am connected to Him, the Giver of life.

My lawn may not look as green as everyone else’s. That’s a challenging reality at times. I am learning again to trust that the exterior appearance of life doesn’t always correlate directly to spiritual health.

Next time I will write about the tree that looked dead for months. Spoiler alert. It’s not dead!

Deep roots, searching roots, trained to send out feelers into the depths during the hot and dry times is health more than shallow and green during ideal conditions.

Not all brown things are dead.


The Perfect Bag

Somewhere in my consciousness I think a perfect bag hangs on a rack in some unnamed store or open air market waiting for me to find it. This bag weighs as much as a feather, holds as much as a trunk, hugs my neck like a warm embrace, reveals its contents immediately upon opening, and causes the sin of envy in all of my peers for its matchless style.

It is the wonder bag for the life of a style-conscious mom on the go in a foreign country. I need not sacrifice any style, comfort, or convenience when I carry this bag.

I’ve made many bag mistakes.  In the beginning of my life overseas I tried out a truly horrible huge fanny pack thing. It worked well for all my bike riding but our relationship was forever damaged when a pick pocket stole $300 from it while it distended off my back. Trust broken is difficult to reclaim in bags.

Then, for a while I tried a small backpack but began to move away from the athletic style and noticed a growing interest in actually looking fashionable.  Unfortunately, my children still required me to carry a diaper bag and carrying two bags…well…I already carried enough.  Fashion gave way to utilitarian concerns until recently.

DSC_0001My current bag is a wonderfully feminine messenger bag that receives many compliments and makes me smile when I see it decorating my entry way coat rack. However, it quickly weighs down my neck and I lament this one imperfection.

My former bag, a beautiful pewter colored tote, graced my shoulder with much panache but failed to stand up when placed on the floor. In America, this is a minor problem. In Asia, the floors are…well…quite dirty in most places.  In my current daily life, a bag must account for such realities as split pants on toddlers.

The bigger failure of the American bag, though, is its flagrant disregard of danger. On subways and in train stations it begs the attentions of thieves because it attempts to close its foot long opening with one meager magnetic clasp. Alas, I save it for safer countries.

The cute messenger bag does me well these days but I still long for the perfect bag which it is not…quite.  This perfect bag only exists in my imagination, I know, but I still hope that in this perfect bag heavy things are light and favorite pens never disappear and thieves are a thing of the past.

When I look it boldly in the face, my search for this perfect bag reflects an aspect of my longing for heaven.  I desire safety, beauty, harmony with the world, and enjoyable work…all things I see a hint of on earth but that heaven fully realizes.

My search for the perfect bag is a hobby now.  I still search knowing perfection remains out of reach this side of heaven.  I do long to find a bag that comes as close to heaven as possible, though!

But as with any search for perfect, I glean more knowledge about myself and my world and my God in the searching.

Things Lost

After 12 years of constant interaction, my passport is a familiar sight. Until a few weeks ago that familiarity lulled me into forgetting the importance of my proof of identity and my permission slip stuck inside.20130719-135640.jpg

My husband’s passport went missing and the hoops we jump through right now to get a new one…well…let’s just say we planned to do other things with our summer. Instead he looks forward to multiple days carrying papers around that prove his identity so he can one day receive back official proof of his citizenship and permission to live in a foreign country. Most of the process involves just showing up at the right place with the right paperwork so the official with the big red stamp gets the pleasure of bringing it down with force on the properly filled out forms.

Some things go missing and I give them up quickly as lost. Other things I turn the house upside down for like those gold earrings I misplaced for a time. When I lose things I closely retrace my steps in my head. We lost a fancy camera at the airport once and I didn’t notice for a week. I gave it up for lost with a sad heart but still checked when I took another flight that next week. I received it back from lost and found with tears! Some things come back.

But the passport never came back. We looked and looked.  We asked.  People helped us.  We reluctantly returned home.  Then we called from home.  Then he went back to look himself.  Security officers showed him the surveillance video and he discovered why we never found it.  Someone took it off the floor where it dropped minutes after it landed.  A man ignorant of its importance or purpose.  A man who stood to gain nothing from his theft while it costs us much.  Our hope that it slid under a trash can vanished.  We lived through the time to search and entered the time to give up for lost.

Trading stories this past week with friends about things lost brought a smile to my heart as I saw more clearly.  In searching, in wading through bureaucracy, in looking for things lost I share in the things of the Lord just a bit.  An understanding enters my heart.  He searches too.  He searches for people…he seeks to give a regal identity to the lost.  He searched for me.

I do long for the day when passports and visas and proof of citizenship fade away but for now I remind myself of the importance of contemplating things lost as I fill out yet another form or look up yet another important address.

He searches for the lost.