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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Nature of Callings

It's been a while since I wrote something specifically for the purpose of posting it here.

I am a crappy blogger. It's ok. You don't have to assure me otherwise. Let's be the kind of friends that are honest with each other. I'm really just not good at this. 

See, since before I could remember, I was always a journal girl. In the years since I opened this blog and have struggled to post in some semblance of regularity, I've filled dozens and dozens of journals. I may possibly be pushing triple digits. Writing is my therapy. It's where I talk to Jesus and it's where I allow Him to work out the tangles my soul has a tendency of getting itself into. 

But I've never been one for the stage, and let's be real, this is as much of a stage as any wood framed thing. This blinking curser carries as much power as any microphone. Sometimes, even more. 

I think I'd probably be content to forsake all of it. There are days I seriously consider deleting every media account I own and just focusing on the flesh and blood in front of me. There's enough of it to keep me busy. Just the laundry produced in this full house of mine could count as a part-time job, one with 30 hours a week of work and no benefits. 

But the thing about callings and mandates is very simple. They are not easily abandoned. 

Tonight, I made the kind of dinner that makes foodies like me cringe. It was hot dogs and goldfish crackers served on paper plates, and I found myself standing at the counter, in my pajamas at 7 p.m., sighing at the sight of it. The kids had to eat on the living room floor because my kitchen table is covered in heirloom seeds that will turn into a years worth of beautiful, healthful food. I'll be planting the garden this week and I've been so engrossed in the preparation of it, that we've eaten total garbage for days. Ironic? Maybe a little. 

In moments like that, the little voice that sings of my failures takes the stage and the house lights go dim. Then Tobias came in, as if by cue and said, "Mom you're the best maker and the best planter and the best mom." The spotlight shut off, house lights came back and I carried the plates to the living room. 

Then, as I stood in the midst of a scene where love had silenced the voice of the one who accuses, the One who Identifies spoke up. See, callings do not stay quiet. And my calling has always been to be real, and honest and vulnerable in a world that tells you no one could possible love you if you are.

I took a photo of my dirty, half-dressed boys then and there. Them, licking their lips to what they considered a fine meal that was surely much appreciated since it was an hour late. Both couches were piled with clean laundry in the background. The floor hadn't been mopped in at least four days. Ezra was smearing copious amounts of mayonnaise on Ben's hot dog, because Ezra is on a mayonnaise kick, eating it on everything from eggs to blueberries, coming up with creations like Peanut-Butter-Jelly-Mayo Sandwiches and frankly, I've got bigger battles than to try to stop him. And Ben, I don't know that he's even that fond of mayonnaise but he's really, really fond of his big brother and I figure they'll work it out. 


It wasn't really a romantic moment at all, but that pesky calling tells me in moments like those to take the picture and then to drag it out on the fairly substantial social media platform He's given me. 

There's a dramatic part of me that would like to declare that this has been the hardest year of my life, but I think that would be an exaggeration, and here we've agreed to be honest with each other. 

It has been hard, but probably not harder than the year that included crippling postpartum depression, or the year that I earned the title "divorced" or the year that I watched my friend bury her kids. No, this year hasn't been that kind of hard. But it's had its moments. 

I can confidently say that I've never before faced the amount of rejection that the last twelve months have held. I've never before experienced the kind of character assassination I have this year. And though I've experienced a handful of times what it feels like to be the hot topic of the church's gossip-mill-masquerading-as-a-prayer-chain, I'm pretty sure this last season breaks the record for that as well. 

Do you know that the enemy comes after the very area of your life that God intends to thrive you?
As a gardener, I've become incredibly familiar with seeds. Given a mixed bag of seeds, I could easily separate out the tomato seeds from the peppers, the watermelons from the cucumbers, the squash and the lettuce. Without the label on the package, I'd have no way of telling you the color of the fruit or the size of the plant but I could easily identify the type. 

I am confidant, when God set to knitting us in our mothers wombs, it might not have been obvious to anyone but Him the exact details of our fruit, but I think it was detectable what we were made to be. I think the enemy is able to tell from the time we are in seed form what we will become, and he does everything he can to keep us from reaching the mature stage that will see our intended fruit brought into the world. 


Recently,  I went to God in the sort of prayer that looks a lot like a temper tantrum, the sort where you ask indignantly, "Why is this allowed?!" He responded in such a precious tenderness. He told me if I would take my eyes off myself and trust Him to protect me from the shots being fired at my character, I could take advantage of seeing where my adversary was shooting from. 

When Satan comes at you in accusation, take note. He's giving away his position. He's showing you were he
is afraid for you to believe God. He's seeking to destroy your very destiny. 

So I looked up. And I saw that the giant of fear had pointed his sword at the very place God was using to bring Himself glory in my life. 
If I believed the lies, I might become afraid to be real and honest, because I might assume I was already dismissed and diminished. If I believed the lies, I might be tempted to ignore my calling and instead pick up the role as my own defender, as if my Father was insufficient. If I believed the lies, I might be tempted to consider myself disqualified. 

I might have chosen silence over obedience. 

Well, my answer is very simple. 

No. 

No, I will not be silent. 
I am not disqualified and I am not perfect. 
I have made so many mistakes and on the same hand, I have done so many things right. But the real fact is, the things I've done wrong matter no more than the things I've done right when the hand in question is nail-scarred. 

Years ago, a friend of mine told me in a time of turmoil, "Rest in your Righteousness". I took it to heart, but in all my wrong mindsets of God, I thought it meant I could trust Him to be on my side because I had done all the right things. I've lived a lot since then, and I've learned a few lessons. Like that my own righteousness was nothing to rest in, but I've been cloaked in the righteousness of precious Jesus, and that the fear-driven voice that comes against it is the same voice thats been questioning the validity of Jesus long before I lived and breathed. I've learned that not wresting with flesh and bone means releasing myself from my own grappling. 
I've learned that if the enemy comes against a voice, the attack in itself identifies that voice as valuable.

You know,  I don't even know why I'm sharing this. Maybe someone needs to see my laundry or hear my struggle with the fear of sharing it. Maybe they need it today and maybe they need it a year from now. I guess that's the nature of Callings. They don't give you the stipulations. They don't tell you the worth of your "yes" on the front end. They demand you come out a little further. They don't let you settle into comfortable. 

When you stand in your pajamas and put hot dogs on paper plates, Callings send blog posts reeling through your head. And when you walk in obedience, you take the photo of your laundry and your dirty floor and you post it alongside the almost worked out tangles of your heart. And you believe, that surely, somehow, by some reason far beyond your understanding, it matters. 









11 comments:

  1. I found your Youtube channel searching for gardens, but through your presence I have found inspiration, too. What I didn’t expect as I lurked through your garden, barn, home, and thoughts was a reminder of the Jesus-sized hole in my heart.

    My household walked away from God and church after the death of nine family members in one year, and the life-threatening illness of two more. My family shattered as we all grieved and coped differently. Five years have passed and a loved one still challenges my character and the idea of a good God because they are angry that our imperfect life could have so much pain.

    Our psychologist says I need to consider that my life is “good enough.” As I think about what “enough” means, I know I cannot change the people around me, not even with love. I can change my expectations.

    The Christian content you've shared has reminded me that I can try to accept God’s plan and to walk with Jesus through however many days I have, whether that be one or 20 thousand more. Hope, trust, belief, and patience are all takeaway concepts for me.

    Thank you for your generosity and integrity. Like a trellis, you have lifted me off the ground. My messy life is ok. Its really ok. So is yours. You are making a difference.


    Here's to reaching for sunshine!

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    1. Big hugs to you Prairie Dawn, I can't imagine how you've coped, but isn't it wonderful to find caring people through the love of gardens and in some part spirituality.x

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  2. Bless you Jess, I come from a different religious direction to you, having worked out my own issues with God. But could it be that in sharing your beautiful, open hearted view of dealing with these problems, you're holding out your hand to someone struggling more than you? I was in that position when I was much younger with a young family and would have appreciated reading your words then. We're lucky now that we have social media to share our thoughts. Lucky and cursed, because others also share their opinion, which isn't always welcome! I'm so glad to have found you.x

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  3. Just as one of your commenters above, I found you through your youtube videos, and yes.. someone needed to read this article today - we need each other's testimony to know that we are not alone. Thank you for having the courage to share from your heart.

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  4. I just want you to know that today this message was for ME. I was looking for gardening stuff, saw your youtube videos and thought to check out your blog for some gardening info. Guess what? What my soul needed RIGHT NOW was THIS VERY POST of yours.

    I have also been accused and have been having my character attacked. It's happening now as I write this. Just when I thought my semi-safe little world was humming along fairly well, apparently I got a little too comfortable because the attack came and has been hitting me right where I live.

    It's made me question myself, even though I know I am not the person that I am being painted to be. Like you, I know I'm not perfect. I know I make mistakes, but my heart is in the right place and I do my very best...and yet, the attack came.

    My heart aches, and yet you have given me the inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I need to have trust and faith that I will be carried through this somehow.

    Thank you for this post today, and from one hot-dogs-for-dinner-lately mom to another, we're doing OK.

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    1. I feel this six months later. I've wandered in from YouTube, found Instagram, and then was pulled to your blog yesterday. I've read your blog from oldest to most recent in less than 24 hours. (I appreciate your sporadic posting with valuable content that has allowed me to do so. It has been just enough for me to accomplish without spending a whole week at it :) You are enough!)

      I, too, have been doing a lot of last-moment realizing that dinner time is around the corner and the school year has ended (I literally emailed my daughter's teacher at 5:00PM the night before the last day of school, against all hope, that the school might have an extra yearbook for me to purchase. You see, we are moving to our dream home. A narrow and stretched bit of 5 and a half acres. But my daughter is leaving friends, some of whom she has known since daycare some five years ago when we moved in to this apartment.) Ordering the yearbook missed my attention until the paper showed up 3 weeks late. In my usual fashion, with feeling the shame of a mom missing a deadline set by the school, I procrastinated asking if they perhaps ordered extras... until the absolute last minute of rushing down to write out a check an hour and a half before the last day of school ends.

      My husband occasionally smiles ruefully at my last minute scramblings to feed us in the whirlwind of my many endeavors and half-finished projects. I find myself feeling self-conscious and diminished, even though I know he embraces my shortcomings and loves me and our family more than I can believe.

      We have to remind ourselves to look at the overall picture, maybe they had a side of goldfish at dinner, (or my youngest insists on chocolate in every meal), but how many fresh, wholesome, clean fruits, veggies and eggs did they consume to offset that during the day. I remember reading moms coaching other moms through the inevitable ruts that some toddlers go through, insisting in chicken fingers for dinner every. Night. This too shall pass.

      The character attacks aspect really hit home for me here. I have become discouraged and anxious because of thus. I'm not giving my all.

      I am not sure what I have done to other school moms here in our current town, but I went from being invited to a mom's night to sending text messages that get no response, and awkward run-ins at the pick up line where it becomes glaringly obvious that the other mom is trying to avoid talking to me and get out as fast as she can.

      I don't think I did or said something wrong in the few hours that we all occupied the same location to get to know one another. But apparently whatever I did was enough to be judged harshly by these women who don't truly know me. I have been sick with fear that this perceived judgement has been regarding some of my physical imperfections and judgements that I may be getting for those. So thank you for this post. This has been affecting me greatly, but I needed to read this. That others words and judgements are not necessarily as much about me as much as a reflection of their character. I will move forward to our new endeavor with hope and vision. Thank you. Because I needed a good reminder to focus on the good and to not let fear rule my life and paralyze me.

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  5. I love your youtube channel and because of you I have been inspired to start my own thing that has been calling me. I have always wanted a garden and now that we have our forever home we have one and I have also started a blog. It is no where near as amazing as yours because you have such a beautiful way with words that reading your blog or watching your vlog makes me feel as if we are sitting down in your living room chatting like old friends. But I do hope to eventually get better and maybe one day have some people who are inspired by my words and by my experiences. Thank you for sharing your stories and your life with all of us. You and your family are too kind. 💜

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  6. I heard you mention your blog on your recent youtube video. I thought I would check it out because I have tried searching around to see if you had one a few months ago and couldn't find anything. Well here we are 11 months later and, dude. I needed this. <3

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  7. I received a Whatsapp message with content you had written. I came in search of more of your writings.
    And as I read through this blog, today being the 19th June 2019, this message is spot-on for where I am right now. So yes, Jessica, you were simply obedient just over a year ago, and a year down the line, here I am being encouraged by what you were led to write. Thank you. And God bless you.

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