Blooming in the Desert: An Uneloquent Post of Appreciation

The Lord’s kindness takes so many forms.

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My 2018, so far, has been full of kindness.  My situation has not yet changed for the better, but it’s as if the Lord is determined to shower me, in the midst of all the chaos and unknowns, with sweet little reminders of his affection.

  • Random strangers shouted, “Bless you!” from across the street, two different times, two different places, as I sneezed.
  • A good friend has committed to checking on me once a week, until I no longer want or need her to.
  • Facebook friends and family were astonishingly generous with their praise when I (uncomfortably) posted a photo of me all dressed up for a night out to see Hamilton with my kiddo.

Small gestures, these, but I have felt them like water on a thirsty ground.  They are reminders that I have value.

Speaking of thirsty ground, one of my favorite places in the world has been offering up its kindnesses, too: the Anza-Borrego Desert.  I discovered it in the spring of 2017, during the superbloom that resulted from unusually heavy winter rains, and it was instant love.

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Superbloom in Anza-Borrego Desert

Its 600,000 wild acres of mountains, sand, canyons, and badlands seem to whisper to my soul.  I find I can breathe freely in its wide-open spaces.  (And the night skies, oh my goodness.  The tiny little village in the middle of the desert, Borrego Springs, is an International Dark Sky Community [more info here], so there are no streetlights for 50 miles in any direction.  You’ll never find a more perfect view of the Milky Way.)  So I get out there as often as I can, sometimes to stay the night, sometimes just to take my little Renegade off-roading, but always to hear the Lord and regain a bit of equilibrium.  I dream of building an artists’ retreat there someday – there’s a robust art scene in Borrego Springs – where people can come and be inspired by the harsh beauty of the land.  And, of course, I will use it, too.

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The Milky Way from Galleta Meadows in Anza-Borrego

I was wandering around the Borrego Art Institute last summer, and I began speaking with one of the ladies who worked there.  I found myself telling her about my artists’ retreat dream, and the next thing I knew, she was showing me vacant lots all around the area.  We had an instant connection, something that rarely, if ever, happens to me, and I came away from that day feeling the Lord’s hand over me like a warm shelter.  I looked for her on subsequent visits, but I always seemed to miss her – until this last weekend.  I had a tough week and drove out to the desert on Saturday, journal, Bible, and snacks in hand.  I spent some time writing, but as the sun began going down and the winds picked up, it got chilly, so I decided to go check out the latest exhibit at the Art Institute.  And there she was at her desk.  Her cheery “How ARE you?” led to me unloading about my life, which led to her and her coworker praying over me right then and there, which then led to an invitation to her home that evening.  And when I walked in her door, it was as if I had known her and her husband my entire life (in fact, her husband had said something similar when she showed him the photo of us she had insisted on).  Soon I was covered with cats and little, yappy dogs, and a fantastic conversation ensued.  By the end of the evening, this older couple had wrapped me in a cocoon of love and total acceptance, had opened their home to me anytime I should want it, and prayed over me again.  I think that night’s sleep was the best I’ve had since coming to California.  The next morning, I got texts detailing what a blessing I was to them.

Y’all.  I barely know what to do with all this kindness, but something deep in me is so hungry for it.  I, too, am thirsty ground, and here come the gentle, soaking rains.  It feels like I have things to learn yet, but they are not harsh lessons.  I can hardly believe that I might get to learn what it feels like not to be cracked and dry.

“And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave [me] rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [my heart] with food and gladness.” — Acts 14:17, New Pellucere Version 🙂

I am so thankful for his kindness.

Gratitude and Self-Care, Inspired by You and Fart Girl

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions, ever.  I think they’re well-intentioned but very silly.  That said, I like to stay open to new ideas and experiences, and for whatever reason, this turning of the year seems to have a freshness to it, a sense of promise that 2018 WILL be different.  So, I’m going with it and really taking a look at my life.  2 recent things, in particular, have got me thinking.

First, I was blown away by the amount of support I received after my last blog post.  Frankly, I didn’t know that many people even read my musings!  But so, so many of you reached out to me with messages of love, encouragement, and prayer, and I can’t adequately describe how much your words mitigated that “utterly alone” state that I described in the post.  One friend wrote,

“It’s not always easy to put our experiences, pains and struggles in writing for all the world to see, but it is a step in healing and a more joyful future.”

You know what?  She was right.  As I wrote that post, I felt both extremely vulnerable and also like the proverbial weight had lifted off my shoulders.  I’ve had a sense of being lighter, free-er, since then. My deepest gratitude goes to everyone who was a part of this “step in healing.” ❤

And that leads me to the second thing.  I’ve really been thinking about the concept of self-care, and truthfully, I’m terrible at it.  It’s even difficult for me to acknowledge that I need to do it because I’ve always been one who saw everyone else’s needs as far more important than my own.  But I had an opportunity to spend the New Year’s weekend with my best friend from grade school, the “Fart Girl” of this post’s title (named by my son, so funny, and so appropriate – she’s had the best fart stories as long as I’ve known her!), and I came away inspired, as I usually do on the rare occasions we get to see each other.  FG has always been very driven and successful in virtually every area of her life.  Last year, she found out she was a type-1 diabetic, and she immediately began learning everything she could about the disease.  I got to watch her take care of herself all weekend, and she was very matter-of-fact about it.  There was no fanfare, just her own assurance that she was worth taking care of.  We went on many walks after meals because she has learned that doing so levels out her blood sugar, and I remember the moment it clicked for me:  I need to find the things that help me manage stress and DO them.  Right then and there, at the moment of high stress, I need to be proactive.

So, my lovely readers.  Here I am in another moment of vulnerability.  Because the thing is, I know all the “shoulds.”  I SHOULD get adequate sleep.  I SHOULD write/paint/go for walks.  I SHOULD eat regularly.  I SHOULD set boundaries for when I’ve had enough of something.  But I have difficulty implementing the “shoulds.”  I need some practical advice.  How do YOU take care of yourself without feeling selfish about it?  How do you carve time out of your very busy schedule to tend to your own needs?

My 2018 already feels better than 2017 did, and I think coming to these realizations is partly why.  But I know I’ve got to follow through on them, not let them stay realizations.  I am beginning to understand that things really are going to be okay – I’m going to be okay – if I take time to implement necessary changes.  So let me know your thoughts.  Help this girl get out of survival (reactionary) mode and into living (responsive) mode.  I’m looking forward to your suggestions!