Project 52 #40: North Carolina

I now interrupt regular Alaska reporting to bring you this special news bulletin from the opposite side of the country…North Carolina!

This month, I had the privilege of taking a rare solo trip cross-country to meet my first little niece and visit my sister Havala and her husband Andrew for the first time since they got married and she moved out east. I am so grateful that my husband who was willing to hold down the fort with four kids, taking over my responsibilities while also keeping up with his own job for a week and a half, so I could go. I’m also thankful for our church family here who pitched in to help him with babysitting and meals in my absence—what a blessing they are to us!

The time that it worked out for me to go also happened to be peak color time where they live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. What a happy coincidence! It was a riot of glorious autumn color, and I shamelessly joined all the other “peepers” (yep, the locals have a specific nickname for the fall leaf tourists) to gawk at the beauty.

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a picnic and a hike, where I took the majority of these photos. Honestly, though, I spent more time taking pictures of the cutest little niece you ever did see, and making a fool of myself talking baby talk because it would make her smile and coo. I’ll leave most of those pictures for her mama and papa to share as they wish, but I’ll just drop this one here. You get the idea.

I learned how to grade eggs for their egg business while I was there, and enjoyed experiencing a bit of Southern culture, like sweet tea, chicken and biscuits, pimento cheese sandwiches and being called “honey darlin'” by perfect strangers. I even got to sit in a brick church with a 200-year history and listen to an entire sermon preached in Southern drawl. Our long conversations, often late into the night, about God and babies and marriage and the state of the world and life in general, were my favorite, though. These times with family are all the sweeter now that they are so rare, and all the richer for our common bond in Christ. The whole visit was a gift of true rest and refreshment for me—and I’m so grateful!

“We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” (Psalm 55:14)

In Spite of the Cosmos

IMG_6813.JPGThe theme of my flower garden this year was, officially, low cost and low maintenance.  Low maintenance, because I knew I’d have less time than ever with a newborn this summer, and low cost, because why spend money on something I might not even have time to take care of?

A few days before our third daughter was born, I thinned out all the baby cosmos plants that had self-seeded from the year before.  Then I filled in the holes with miscellaneous flower seeds leftover from previous years.  And then I abandoned it to grow, hoping the emerging seedlings would somehow trump the inevitable emerging weeds without any help from me, and that when I came out of the fog that is life for the first month or so after a baby is born, there would be a garden full of flowers.  It’s not exactly my recommended method of flower gardening, but I figured it still might be better than nothing.

A month or so later, when I remembered again that I had a flower garden and went to see what had become of it, I was surprised to find that the flowers had actually triumphed over the weeds.

The only problem was—the conqueror had been the cosmos, and the weeds were not the only victims to languish in it’s shadow.  I looked in vain for the calendula, foxgloves and cone flowers, and finally located a few pale lupines.  Deep beneath the jungle of feathery giants, were some sickly zinnia plants.

Oops.

Obviously I had not thinned the volunteer cosmos quite as well as I should have.  So much for my idea of a mixed flower garden. Sigh.

Well, anyway, I was just happy to still have some flowers growing on a year I didn’t have much time to invest in caring for them.

Then, one day in August I glanced out my kitchen window and noticed something glowing brilliantly coral in the midst of all the pink.  I hadn’t planted any coral colored cosmos.  I don’t think there’s even such a thing.  I went out straightaway to investigate.img_6822That’s when I discovered that the pale zinnias I had dismissed as failures hadn’t languished in the shadow of the cosmos after all, but had pushed through sturdily and bloomed.  And they weren’t even stunted.  They were magnificent!img_6740img_6736IMG_6824.JPGAnd so, the moral of the story is:

When it feels like the entire cosmos, er, universe is against you, don’t shrivel up and languish like a calendula.  Don’t wither away like a halfhearted cone flower or foxglove.  Be a zinnia.  Dig your roots in deep into Christ, push your way through the overwhelming obstacles, and grow.

It’s a beautiful thing.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)

 

Save