Recently, I told God my plan and He said "I don't think so, Tam! I want you to stay where you are a little longer and learn to bloom where I have planted you." What's a girl to do? Can't very well ask for guidance then argue with His directions, so I'm blooming right here - at least I'm working on it.
A few weeks later, my sister challenged me to find a word to act as a "theme" for the coming year. I have sort of done this in previous years - 2014 focused on change (graduations, weddings, etc); 2015 was supposed to be focused on "growth" (mine) from stagnant mom to intentionally, moving forward and re-discovering me. But, I didn't really have a vision for what I want or expect in 2016. Stay with me - this is going to connect in a minute.
Next, I was browsing Pinterest for a picture or graphic with the words "Bloom where you're planted" to use as a background on my cell phone - kind of a reminder. I ran across the beautiful image above. Because it's landscape rather than portrait format, it didn't work for my phone, but it is just so pretty! It made me curious about the "The Life of Faith" website that is imprinted on it. I was surprised to find that the title refers to the actual life of a woman named Faith.
Specifically, the link took me to a post from 2012 in which Ms. Faith was receiving her own "bloom where you're planted" message from God. She quoted 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and you will not be dependent on anybody."How did that verse speak to me? Let me count the ways:
- A quiet life - This has been my ambition for several years - in several forms:
- To live quietly in a "non-flashy, non-attention grabbing" way;
- a more literal choice to turn off the TV and other background noise of life;
- and in a "shut your yap" kind of way - "Be quick to listen, slow to speak" (James 1:19)
I began searching for scripture references to "blooming" and ran across this sermon from Deer Park United Methodist Church, in which the writer looks deeper into "bloom where you're planted" by examining it's parts:
bloom - An action - participation is required - involving your abilities, your will to grow.
where you are - Not just your house or your job or your city, but everywhere your life takes place. Where you exist. All of the things which surround us, each day---the good and the bad, some that we had no part in choosing.
planted - It implies Someone, outside of ourselves, purposely placing us exactly where we are. An act that requires a lot of care; a lot of thought; and a lot of hope. He chose this place as the perfect place for this hidden, non-descript, little capsule of life to blossom into the world as something bigger and more beautiful.
The author referenced the words of Jeremiah, spoken to those who had been exiled into slavery. In this moment, God’s people are stranded in a foreign place. Their temple destroyed. Their sacred space in ruins. Their lives in a place they’d never expected. And Jeremiah tells them to bloom where they are planted - build houses, plant gardens, get married and have children.
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on it - Jeremiah 29:7He told them to live fruitfully in that seemingly barren place, and spread the goodness they can make of their lives, into the life around them.
I returned to Pinterest and continued my search for a picture for my phone. This time I found a slight variation which, evidently, is a French proverb: "Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace." Don't just bloom - bloom with grace. Isn't that pretty? It conjures images of Grace Kelly in that breath-taking black and white gown from the movie "Rear Window" - The picture of elegance and . . . well. . .Grace. I have always wanted to be like Grace Kelly - I want to bloom with grace.
Here's the big finale - the part where all the parts fall into place to reveal one coherent picture.
- God's response to my plan
- My sister's challenge
- A 3-year-old blog post by a total stranger.
- A sermon from an unknown pastor in an unknown church.
- A French proverb
These five random things brought me to my "word" for the upcoming year - grace. I will never have the beauty of Grace Kelly. I will never have the graceful movement of Fred Astaire. But grace comes with a variety of definitions:
- Poise, dignity - "She is clothed with strength and dignity" - Proverbs 31:25
- To do honor or credit to (grace with your presence) - "Her husband has full confidence in her . . . her children arise and call her blessed." - Proverbs 31:11, 28
- Courteous good will, decency, respect (have the grace to...) - "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." - Matthew 7:12
- The condition of being favored (in good graces) - "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart; then you will win favor and a good name with God and in the sight of man." - Proverbs 3:3-4
- A period of rest or relief from something difficult; respite (grace period) - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
- A prayer of thanksgiving and/or blessing - "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it..." - Luke 22:19
- A form of address for royalty (Your Grace) - "And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6 "Since we are his children, we are his heirs" - Romans 8:17 If I am a fellow heir with the Prince of Peace, I am also royalty.
- To be attractive, adorn (grace the cover of a magazine) - "The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" - 1 Peter 3:4
To be graceful and gracious, as defined by these scriptures, is my desire; and is only possible through the God's amazing grace:
- The free, unmerited favor of God - "For it is by grace you are saved" - Ephesians 2:8
Wishing you all a grace-filled new year!