I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here

When life threatens your Peace and voles steal your Joy.

I planned my flower garden a few months ago.  I was so excited for the flowers I chose from the little garden shop up the road, different colors and varieties from what I had ever had before.  Kevin graciously planted them for me as my pregnant old self was not feeling up to it.  It was beautiful and I could just imagine how it would look in August when all the plants truly came into themselves.  Every time I left or came home or even just rested on our front porch I would be able to look over and enjoy all the loveliness and all would be right with the world.

I went to bed that night content.

The next day I noticed a few of the flowers looked a little less full and saw a couple of blossoms had actually broken off.  I investigated a little and after calling together the boys and asking them if any of them did it (they were convincing in their denials) I noticed some snap dragon flowers tucked into the crevices of the stone garden wall.  Hmmm.  I had seen that we had a vole living under the porch as it would duck in and out occassionaly, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it would like flowers.

Well little by little 3 varieties of flowers in the same way lost their blooms.  I had chosen three types that the thief did not apparently like, two purple ground covers which thrived and a type of white zinnia that managed to eek along either not enjoying our soil, it’s daily amount of light, or something else.  So the garden wasn’t quite what I expected, but I lived with it and enjoyed the flowers that managed to succeed.

I had mentioned to Kevin later in the summer possibly getting more flowers to renew the space, perhaps some cold hardy varieties that would last through the end of summer and fall, but I hadn’t done it.

About a week and a half ago, when I was feeling a bit down Kevin came back from the store with 6 pots of flowers.  There were marigolds, yellow mums, and purple mums.  They were the perfect colors to revive my garden and I felt loved and appreciated and thought of by the gift of them.  Kevin immediately got to work and planted each in the spots I directed.  The garden again looked beautiful and I could imagine fall with color and beauty.

It started the next day with a couple of the yellow mums stems broken…  That same day I noticed the broken stems, I spied a brazen vole skitter up to one of the mums, sniff it and run away.  After I had regained my composure I decided to take the “clippings” and use the closely cropped blooms to place at the foot of the statue of St. Mary in our kitchen.

It was a tangible way to show love for this woman living eternally who listened and responded so openly to God during the time she called earth her home.  Putting flowers at her feet is a way to honor her like I would my own mother, an acknowledgement and appreciation for someone who inspires me, knows me well, and wants the best for me.  It made me feel a little better.

About a week later we were heading out the door to church.  The whole crew was in the car, everyone but me.  As I headed out of the house and walked past the garden I peeked in.  The destruction was complete,  the vole had taken all but a couple of blooms from the new flowers and every last one of the purple mums which had been my favorite of the recent bunch.

My face contorted and I stifled a cry.  It all felt so cruel.

I had been struggling the last few weeks with feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, and exhausted.  Each day a chore to get through, my spirit was fragile.  The garden stood as a reminder of the peace and joy that was eluding me.

However as I finished walking down our path to the car and my family it was like a light had slowly turned on.

I couldn’t give Mary any more of those flowers as the vole had taken them, but I still had something to give, my persistence.  I can live without the flowers (yes, I thought earlier about an untimely end for the voles, but somehow it didn’t feel right).  The destruction in my garden had managed to renew me and remind me to persistently turn to God, even when it didn’t feel good.

What does that mean?  For me it means taking time each day when my littlest ones are napping and the big kids are outside for the afternoon, to read what He/God has to say, and listen in my heart to what that means in my life. To take time for silence because it is only in silence that I can hear His whispers.  It means to let Him take my worries, my anxiety, my exhaustion, and stop giving the world a lift on my shoulders.  It means making the effort to eat better and get more sunshine.  It also means to take pockets of empty time to pray for other people, family, friends, and those I don’t know and to reach out in concrete ways to lots of different people.  Looking outside yourself when you are feeling low can be so healing.

I’ve been feeling better and am now kind of proud of my garden with its’ lack of blossoms and rickety zinnias, and persistent purple ground covers.  It is not for its’ outward beauty, but because my garden is now a living reminder that the voles can certainly lay claim to my flowers, but with Him by my side they cannot take my joy.

Love to y’all.



An Ant in the Garden.

Peonies and Forget Me Nots

I’ve been a bit grumpy, tired, blob like, and out of necessity pared down and focused. You are likely to find me laying on the floor while our youngest Mr. ~G (17 months) does his little pivot butt motion that he has discovered gets him quickly wherever he wants or he may be using his new “traveling” powers to traverse the landscape of couches, chairs, and walls. He is getting gloriously and frighteningly close to walking. Yes, I am slowing down at 29 weeks pregnant with our 7th son as Mr. ~G is getting quite zippy!

Just getting Mr. G’s diaper changed is like running a marathon. He doesn’t want to pivot over to me as I cloyingly call to him with diaper and wipes in hand. He knows better by now, but quite frankly I am dangerously close to feeling cemented to the floor by the weight of this new child I am growing. Sometimes one of the older boys will take pity on me and bring Mr. ~G to me so I can catch a chubby leg and tackle him down till he is clean again.

Right now the smallest things take such effort. I still have over two months till this newest little fella makes his way from my belly to the world, and I just want to yell “no fair no fair!”.

With limited fuel in my tank, each day my main focus is these six kiddos, feeding them, making sure they are relatively clean, sometimes entertained, engaged in participating in the household necessities of living in our large family, and above all that they each feel uniquely and fully loved.

Many days lately all this has felt beyond me. My energy level just isn’t there. I feel a bit pathetic and think of the things I miss. I’m not going to list them here, honestly I think it would be counter productive, but there are many things as many of you know that are put aside when you have young children and/or are pregnant and I’ve had young children for 12 years now, and been pregnant for almost 7 of them.

In this quite limited sphere I have felt uninspired to write or even let one stroke of paint fall on the blank canvas that has been sitting in my studio for months now. Plans for a redesigned website for Little Lisa Studios go no farther than the planning stage and then the re-planning stage. I’m feeling stuck into a very tiny, albeit very important role.

It is in this state I have visited Facebook, normally a domain of joy and sharing, that when I feel stuck becomes something quite different. The job you busted your butt working towards, your promotion, your new degree, new job, all these great things I really want to rejoice in for you, instead make me question my life and its’ importance.

It’s not Facebook’s fault, (though it does seem easier and more pervasive than before), I did the same sort of comparison when I was 21 and had just finished college. I was ready to take on the world, or at least become the art teacher I had studied to be. Instead I substitute taught by day and worked at a local convenience store by night. It was not an easy period of time for me, I constantly felt the pressure of what “everyone else” was doing. When I finally recognized that “everyone else” was not me, I started to feel ok in my own skin again. I accepted that life sometimes takes times and my life apparently did.

How do I deal with Facebook comparing today? I try to take little breaks from checking my newsfeed, a day or two so I can truly “be” in my non virtual world and love it for what it is again before I sneak a peek into yours.

I have many many many blessings in my life. I won’t list them here, but I am certain that we all do if we care to look close enough. My blessings may not look anything like yours and vice versa…

And my challenges may not look anything thing like yours. No matter how hard I kick and scream through them, it is the challenges in my life that have forced me into the person I am today.

So I encourage us all to own our struggles, they are, though it is often hard to see, our own unique blessings. Curl the weight of those struggles like the world is your gym and biceps your soul.

Go forth each day knowing that your kind word will help that butterfly fly stronger or that tree grow taller. It doesn’t matter if that butterfly already has it all going on being able to fly or that the tree is already wicked tall and your just an ant. Be the ant!

Here Saint Therese says it way more eloquently than me:

“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord’s living garden.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux

Love y’all and congratulations on all your new jobs, promotions, etc. and solidarity to you if you are feeling a bit less than and stuck, us ants are important to the garden too!


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