Friday, April 22, 2016

When life has you in 'Check' and your head's stuck in a bucket

Note that this is my belated Easter post I wrote at the beginning of April.

 It rained a few nights ago, and the earth is still wet, moist, dark, and ready to unearth the miracles of spring, ready to reveal the hidden seeds deep inside of it.


It is a word often used to evoke the meaning of new birth.

A new time. A new age. Something alive, and awake.


            Hence the reason for this blog post. I just felt like it was time to grow some new words---Sprouts, ideas I want to convey.

            Over the Easter weekend, I contracted the flu, something I'm sure I contracted from my sister who also got the flu.

            The beginning signs of said flu were as follows. I started sneezing. Then towards the evening, my nose swelled up, and water came pouring fourth out of my nose.

            Then came the drippy, drippy miserable, sinus pressure. You know what I mean. Headache, sore throat, watery drippy eyes, aching ears. At such times I really do wish I had something to knock me out---something to "Rip Van Winkle" me away until I felt better, and then I could resume life when the worst had passed.

            But there's no such luck in this mortal life.

            Suffer we must.

            I'd say that it stinks, but when you can't smell to good, it mostly feels like your head is going to explode.

            I used my sick time to lay in bed, and hot pack my face with a water bottle, which helped a great deal, and also Cumin tea, along with salt water rinses for my nose.

            I also made sure to sequester myself to my room, with the window drawn, so as not to infect my brother, and his kids who came down over the weekend. So I lived in a cave of sorts, feeling rather sorry for myself.

            It did not feel like spring.

            Not at all.

            It felt like the season of limo blah.

            I used this time to re-discover the amazing qualities of my modern day gadgets, such as my ipod and tablet. Now there's a world of wonders for you. Seriously.

Who knew you could connect yourself to the entire universe at a click of a button. Just a app download away from games, books, ideas, and more information than any one mind can contain.

            I found solace in playing chess with the computer. Actually, solace is NOT the right word. Torment is more like it!

            I would like to know who----what clever soul has beaten the computer at chess, without clicking undo a million times?

            Maybe you have because you are especially clever. In that case, you should go play chess with my sister who is equally clever.

            I made sure to click the "Play a casual" game. But no. The computer does not play causal. Not so. It does not make emotional moves, if one of its pawns is in danger, it makes correct, logical, calculated, planned moves. At every turn, it seemed this computer knew my next move. It was aggressive, and seemed to laugh in my face, and insult my brain's computing powers.


            I didn't think I could get so worked up over such a game.

            Thank heaven's for the undo button.

            It's cheating, I know.

            But it at least gave me some hope of winning.

            Even if my win wasn't a real win.

            Somehow Undo made me feel a little better---or worse. I'm not sure which.


             A game where you must see ten-hundred steps into the future, must see how one move can effect the entire board. A game where you must look for all the possible outcomes of your choices.

            But sometimes no matter how hard you look, sometimes you can't see the traps your opponent has planned for you. Sometimes it's all you can do to keep on playing, even when you feel like you've already lost the game.

            Summer, winter, autumn, Spring.

            I can breath now.

            Lots better.

            Seasons change.

            Life goes on.

            And so the game of chess continues, no matter the season, or age. We move our little pawns, in hopes of reaching the other side, and trading ourselves in for better versions of ourselves.

            We want to keep the King safe. We want to win.

            The Bishops have a lot of power.

            So do the knights, and the castles.

            But the queen. She's the one who can move in every direction.

            And when we feel like we can't move in the directions we need to go, we don't feel like it's spring. We feel trapped.

            We feel like we've lost.

            We feel stuck.

            Cornered, in Check.

            Lost to the powers that be.

            Frustrated by our lack of foresight, of planning of , the things we couldn't possibly foresee.




It's weird. But we keep on playing the game. Because, that's what we do.

            We may want to give up.

            We may even want to undo something we've done.

            But in life, the only undo button we have is Christ.

            He is our inheritance, our future. He abolishes our past mistakes, and makes our winter into spring. He is the manna in our desert.

            It's something I sometimes forget.

Right after being sick, I felt especially in the pity pot. Which is way too easy for me to do, especially when I get over tired, and weighed down, and things don't go the I want them to, when I do everything in my power for something to go a certain way, and still things don't work out.

            That's how I felt just a few days ago.

            I felt angry, and frustrated, and downright sad. I mean, when you work hard on something, really, really hard, and things just don't go the way you wanted them to, when things don't take off like you had envisioned.

            That's when I just want to scream at the wall and say,  "I quit! I don't want to play anymore!"

            When life doesn't give you the rewards you thought you earned.

            When you plant seeds, you water them, you guard them, you sing to them, you let the sun shine on them, you work the ground----yet the seeds just sit there.

            And you shake your head, waiting for your seeds to produce fruit, a flower, anything---something tangible that you can see, touch, smell, and get a harvest from. Then there are the times, when you work hard hoeing your garden, putting in all the work, and your seeds produce beautiful fruit, and someone else takes the credit.

            Someone else gets awards for the fruit, for the seeds that came up in your garden.


That really hurts. What kind of unfair game is this we wonder?


            Where is it?

            I thought....

            When the clouds rain down snow, and frost, you look up at the sky and wonder, what kind of trick is being played on you.

            What season is this?

            Is there really a spring?

            Do I make a difference?

            Do I matter?

            Is the work I do worth it?

            Is it?

            Will anything I do produce fruit?

            Will the seeds I plant ever flower?

            Those are the questions that haunt us in such times.

            Our want of reaching the other side of the board crowds out our love of the game, the joy of the journey, and the growth we ourselves gain from not always winning. As we play through or losses and wins we learning how to be a better player, regardless of the outcome.   

            That is something I was reminded of the other day, while watching a Joyce Meyer talk. She said something along the lines that, God cares more about our growth, than us getting everything we want.

            Bomb shell.  God cares more about my growth, not just me getting what I want when I think I deserve it.

            He wants me to grow. And growth is the foundation of real true happiness? To grow and be better than I was before?

            I found this in my readings the other day. It was something I really needed to hear.

"Anything we have to have besides God to keep going is something the devil can use against us."---Joyce Meyer.


            It really struck a chord with me. Because I realized that what I wanted was getting in the way of me having faith, of me continuing onward. When you don't get your desired results after putting in the work, it tries your motives, purifies and tests your soil, to see if you will even bother planting again.

            When starting out, it's easy to say, "I'm doing this because I love to plant. Planting is so much fun. I'd do this all day, even if nothing comes up."

            Oh, I swear, anytime you say those words, the devil's like, "Okay, let's just see about that."

            It's easy to eat strawberries, and gather in lushes ripe fruit.

What's not easy is watching your neighbors eat red, ripe, strawberries, while you, eat dust, and cut your hands on salt grass working your own soil. Sometimes our wants (especially if they are not always fulfilled when we want them to be) can be huge stumbling blocks. 

            Sometimes our wants can be so demanding, so loud, that they drown out the voice of truth, and blind us from seeing the things we have been blessed with, with the seeds that do grow, with the space you have been blessed with, and the peace of your own, simple garden.

   Sometimes our desire to be married by a certain age can make us marry wrong person. We can want things, and want them bad, so badly that it diminishes our spring into cold cobwebs, and icy frost. The picture above is of my goat who wanted the grain inside the bucket so much that she stuck her head through the broken bucket lid, without waiting for me to give it to her when I thought she should have it. The result was that she was miserable, and she was very stuck. The other goats around her began bunting her, and she ended up wandering around the barnyard confused, and frightened, stumbling around moving in such erratic movements that it was very difficult for me to get her to settle down to get the bucket off her head.
      When I finally did manage to get hold of the bucket. I lifted it up and tried to pull it off her head, but that slight motion caused a few bits of uneaten grain inside the bucket to drift into her line of sight, and instead of her wanting to get her head unstuck, she dipped back down, and began frantically eating the teeny bits of grain she wanted so badly. 
         It wasn't until all the grain was gone, that she began to want out again, and I was able to get her the help she needed. 

        Sometimes we remain stuck because the 'teeny, weeny bits of grain' the things we have to have, the things we want no matter what, keep our heads stuck, and we stumble around looking doofy, and miserable. 
       All the while, the whole problem could have been avoided had we waited patiently for the right time. 
And no, I don't mean, you shouldn't go after what you want. I do believe you should be diligent in perusing your goals. But I also believe that sometimes the things we want, like the grain bucket, can be a trap, if we do not wait for the "Master" to give it to us in do time.
       Otherwise the things we want, the things we have to have, can become our greatest stumbling block.

  We want to be admired, or respected, or known, or seen for the good things we do, and in effort to make it so, we may prematurely lose ourselves in the bargain, sell out too quickly, lose our authentic voice in order to make our wants happen on our timetable, not Gods.

            God wants us to grow, and sometimes that means that not all the things we do will grow in the timetable that we want them to, because he wants us to be gardeners that can garden in rough weather, through storm, spring, autumn, fall, no matter the season. And sometimes that means a small harvest, bugs, pests, wind, and rain, drought, floods, and tempests. But we hate stuff like that. I hate it. I want to foresee into the future. I want to know how fast I can win, how many moves until I get to the other side of the board. I want to have the control. I want to watch my seeds come out of the ground, and make sure that they grow like they should.

            I want to look at the calendar, and know exactly when everything will turn out in the end. 

            I don't want any of this unforeseen potato bugs, or tomato worms clogging up my life.

            When we play the game of 'life---of chess,' "We don't want to be in "Check."


            Double No!

            Triple and quadruple NO!!

            But God, says, "Yes." Because he wants a harvest too. Sometimes being put in "Check" is the only way God can get our attention, and make us turn from our desire to protect our castles, and kingdoms, to turn our attention the true King of Kings.

            Better than just us reaching in the other side, or outsmarting our opponent, he wants us to find joy in the game---to master ourselves. I believe that he wants us to play like we know every part ourselves, the board, the pieces, the soul, the soil, the seeds, the dirt, so that we will have won, even before we started.

            We will have mastered the game, because we have mastered ourselves. 

Spring will be inside us, no matter the season. We will be full, because he has filled us. So that when we are faced with the line of buckets full of opportunities---things we want, that we won't just stick our head recklessly into any ole' bucket because it looks like there's something really good inside it. We will be able to carefully, and intentionally choose the 'buckets' in our own life, and what not to
stick our heads into, because our own bucket will be so full, that we can take and give of ourselves, freely, like he gives to us. We will be able to partake of the good things in life, not barreling into all the grain buckets just because we can, and want to, because we are so starved, and think that one bucket we see in front of us is the only bucket of good we will ever get. 

        We will wait patiently, fill our own bucket from the source, in his timetable, so that our wants will not entrap us, or make us lose sight of what is truly important.
           Buckets come in all shapes and sizes, some with lids on, some with lids broken and sharp so that when you stick your head in, your head becomes trapped inside. There are some buckets with holes in, some that are cracked, and can't hold anything. Some buckets made out of strong metal, others out of brittle plastic, some buckets that are large, and can fit an entire person inside, some buckets that are un-labled, others with good things inside, and some with poison.

Whatever bucket you are faced with in the game of life, be it full or empty, remember to think twice about what you're sticking your head into, because the most formidable opponent we will ever face in this game of life. Is. Ourselves. Period.


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