You Call This A Storm? It’s Time for a Showdown! (why Lt. Dan might have been right the whole time)

Standard

thunderstorm

Something caught my attention this morning as I walked through the garden, harvesting the morning’s asparagus.  I went out a bit earlier than usual today because we are supposed to have some potentially destructive storms come through our area and I wanted to protect what I could and harvest what I couldn’t protect.

Then the wind picked up, the storm clouds began to swirl, and rain drops began to fall.  It was at this moment, I noticed it.  Maybe I noticed it before, but it never stuck with me like this.

At the moment I was trying to shelter “my” plants from the storm, they were reaching out toward it.  Each plant was standing at attention with its leaves stretched skyward, waiting for the nourishment that this storm would bring.  That got me thinking…

How often do we cower and try to wait out the storms that come into our lives?  If we learn from our surroundings, the plants respond to storms in a completely different way than we instinctively do.  They don’t cower from storms like they do from a hot sun.  They “know” that within the storms lie a perfect opportunity for growth; an opportunity that they aren’t going to miss.  So they reach for it… making themselves vulnerable to being destroyed… taking such a risk!

And it never fails!  After each storm I don’t see dead plants in my raised beds, I see plants that are full of life and energy; plants that are ready to produce what they were created to produce.

So the next time you feel a storm of life approach and you start to feel a bit nervous, consider the plants.  What potential is there for growth?  Fulfillment of such potential doesn’t come without risks, so maybe… just maybe…

Instead of hiding and waiting for the storm to pass, maybe it’s time to reach out for the opportunity for growth that this storm might bring.

You might be surprised how full of life you are when the storm is over.

Selfies, Roses, & Zombies (and Why Giraffes Were Right All Along!)

Standard

insanity

Can we stop the insanity already?!

I am absolutely perplexed by this fascination OBSESSION with taking selfies.

Every day, I see image after image of people- mostly 20-30 somethings- on my Facebook timeline that document each step of their day.  I guess it wouldn’t be quite so bad if these photos were actually interesting, but what is being documented in this photo explosion? Is it documenting the world and people around them?  Things in society or nature that speak to them or highlight beauty?

Unfortunately it isn’t that interesting.  In fact, it goes a little something like this:

1. Take selfie highlighting groggy smile while still in bed- time stamped to document the fact that we overslept (despite the fact our boss will hear only about the “bad traffic”).

2. Take selfie in the bathroom documenting the the pre-shower state- proof that in spite of sleeping late, we really did need that shower.

3. Take selfie documenting freshly showered state- hair obviously not done (see boss, still more work to do!).

4. Take selfie showing work clothes for the day. (see boss, I AM on the way!)

5. Take selfie showing the grand achievement of actually making it to the car (late for work, but plenty of time for a selfie!)

6. Take selfie after arriving at work to let everyone know we arrived and didn’t change clothes (this inevitably creates an awkward situation while filling out time sheet that says our arrival time is much different that this picture would suggest).

And the list goes on…

Can we stop already?

Our culture has become so obsessed with self, that we ignore the beauty around us in favor of us emphasizing our importance in our own eyes.  The phrase “stop and smell the roses” has changed to “stop and selfie while crushing the roses so we can take advantage of the soft light”.

We have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we can’t just enjoy, but we have to distract ourselves from in order to snap a selfie and find a good cell phone signal so we can share with everyone else how good we look at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we are going to start enjoying again after this image finishes uploading!

We are turning into social zombies.

We no longer relate to one another as humans.  Conversation is becoming a fine art form that few are skilled enough to actually engage in.  It seems that if we can’t engage our fingers on some tech device, we have nothing to say and nothing we can relate to.  Instead, we choose to highlight our social ineptitude by taking a selfie in a lobby full of unique people with unique stories that are waiting to be told- if only they had someone to share them with.

We walk around aimlessly, focused on something other than what would be considered healthy and normal by any rational third person standard, looking for that thing that feeds us- US.  The inability of these social zombies to positively contribute to society as a whole leaves those of us that aren’t infected frustrated, tired, and even worried about how we need to protect ourselves from the madness.

Think I’m wrong?

Try driving during rush our with some of these zombies who are paying more attention to turning for the camera than using their turn signals to let society know that they are changing lanes at 70mph on the interstate.  When this happens, you begin to worry about how you can safely make it back to the sanctuary of your zombie-proofed fort.

giraffe

And THIS is why giraffes have been right all along.

They spend their day immersed in the world AROUND them.  They instinctively recognize that if the focus totally on them and how great they look reflecting off of the local watering hole, they will fall victim to a predator that is willing to take advantage of this very distracted prey.

Giraffes work to find food and shelter and they enjoy social gatherings- recognizing their benefit not just as companions, but as a safety net.  A lone giraffe is a foolish giraffe. They live in a state of beauty and grace.  In fact, their existence inspires people all over the world to travel just for the opportunity to take pictures of them.

So I guess it all boils down to this for me:

More than my desire to see selfies eliminated from society, I desire to see social zombies come to life and live lives that others would find inspiring enough to photograph, document, and share.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned for my age.  Maybe I’m just not up into “tech stuff” they way I used to be.

Is it just me or can others out there relate?

 

The Importance of Pruning

Standard

 pruning_adamr

Image courtesy of [adamr] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

prune

verb (used with object), pruned, prun·ing.

1. to cut or lop off (twigs, branches, or roots).

2. to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim.

3. to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable).

4. to remove (anything considered superfluous or undesirable).

Ah, finally!  The weather is now showing signs that spring is rapidly approaching central Georgia.  For most of the USA though, winter is still trying to maintain its firm hold on the weather patterns.  The threat of frost is still too real to fully commit to most outdoor planting, and surely many are growing tired of the cool, damp days and are longing for the warmth that comes with the spring sunshine.

That said, instead of moping about inside and wishing for things to come, now is a great time to invest in ridding our fruit trees of unwanted growths making sure that the tree isn’t hurting itself by getting its branches crossed.

Pruning is an extremely important step needed to help ensure proper growth, development, and sustainability in fruit production.

Pruning can sometimes be very easy – requiring only the removal of things that are obviously damaged.  Often though, pruning requires a much more discerning approach. It can be confusing at first, but with experience the process becomes much easier.  While not necessarily enjoyable, the rewards are well worth it.  So take time to learn about your fruit and how to best prepare it for success.

What exactly do I mean?

Some things might look visually appealing at first glance, but upon further inspection you’ll notice that if these things are allowed to continue growing on the current pattern, it can actually be quite harmful, not only for that tree, but it can introduce disease and weaken all of the trees around it.  These things are sometimes hard to reach and painful to remove, but their removal is essential to the health (and sometimes survival) of the tree.

You know, now that I think about it, it is not too different from us on a personal level.  Things that might look good at first don’t always turn out to be good for us.  In fact, sometimes these things can be downright harmful to us and those around us.  Sometimes things are easy to spot as being bad and we remove those easily.

Sometimes though, it takes an experienced eye to let us know that we are headed for problems.  These things are often painful to remove and are hard for us to reach.  They are also very important though and, if not removed, can weaken everyone around us.

Before the weather is warm and we are distracted with all of the attractions of spring and summer, maybe it would be a good time to do a once-over of ourselves and see if there are things we need to nip in the bud to prevent harmful patterns from developing.

May the fruit in your garden (and the fruit in your lives) be plentiful and healthy this year!

Blessings!

Breathtaking: Making You Autistic in 2 Minutes

Standard

Sometimes I feel the need to add “words of wisdom” to make something ordinary seem profound.

Today, I feel the need to let this speak for itself.

Please take 2 minutes to see Autism through the eyes of one who deals with it daily.

Finding Your Way to Paradise Falls Without the Balloons!

Standard

paradise-falls

Here I sit.

Wondering… dreaming.

An adventurous spirit caged in the frame of someone more than twice my age.  My Ellie still lives, but the end result feels much the same.  This dream that has been long sought after, I’m afraid, is waning away.

Each year- as physical limitations make their presence more painfully known- the likelihood of taking my wife by my side and reaching that Colorado mountaintop to finally live the dream of homesteading in a very real and tangible way seems less and less achievable.  We are getting too old and our bodies too worn down- unable to bear the physical load required to create a life in such a remote place.

More likely than not, it seems as though these dreams will wind up as a box containing a deed, house plans, and detailed diagrams of things once discussed with hopeful anticipation.  I fear this box will sit on a shelf somewhere, collecting dust, until a painful day, many years down the road, when this box is opened- only to reveal things that could have been.

Or will it?

The dream was to live a unique and remote lifestyle that would showcase the beauty of hard work, of relying more on what you can do (or learn to do) and less on what others do for you, and of a holistic lifestyle devoted to caring for those people and things around you while learning to enjoy the simplicity of making a life without forsaking “life” in order to earn a living.

Of course, having acreage on the top of a mountain in Colorado provides a pretty great view while all of this is going on!

That said, I’ve come to a realization.

Where we are is determined, not by where our feet are, but by where our eyes are.

Let me explain!

You see, while our feet are only a few hours from the Eastern coast of the U.S.A., it was only recently that our eyes were located elsewhere.  Still confusing?  I’ll clarify.

While are eyes are focused on our feet, we will not move beyond our current situation to realize our dreams.  It is not until our focus shifts that we begin to see where we truly are and where our path is leading.

If I focus on my feet, I am located in Central Georgia, USA.  I am many hours away from this place in our dreams.  I do not have the resources necessary to make this dream a reality.  I don’t even have a wilderness adventurer knocking at my door looking for a badge in helping others.  In the movie “UP”, Carl at least had balloons to help float his house across the Americas to wind up where he ultimately wanted to be.  I HAVE ZERO BALLOONS!

But what I do have is this:

While I am located hours away from a physical location, I realized that I am already living this dream today.  How so?

  • We are involved in planting a church for families with special needs.  Our lifestyle doesn’t get much more remote than that and hard work is definitely required!
  • I am living in a house full of windows (natural light is a key component in our Colorado plans).
  • I just finished planting 9 of 10 raised bed gardens at our home (also key in Colorado plans).
  • This home is equipped with a chicken coop and goat shed (you guessed it- Colorado plans).
  • This home also has multiple fruit trees, space for the kids to play, and clean air (again, check).
  • While we could still remove ourselves from more technology, a simple life doesn’t have to mean a life devoid of electronics.  Simplicity is a choice. (doing good so far)

It seems to me that the key to finding my Paradise Falls without having to have all of those pesky balloons boils down to one word:

contentment

I wonder how many of us are closer to realizing our dreams than we think?

I wonder if Paradise Falls is more about a journey than a destination?

I wonder where you are?

Do you even know?

If you feel like your dreams are a bit beyond your reach, keep digging- but not just where your feet are.  Sometimes taking a moment to shift our focus is all that we need to see that we don’t have far to go.

And sometimes… sometimes we’ll find that we’ve been there all along.

UP-Thanks-for-the-Adventure

We’re back! (and why I didn’t miss you)

Standard

Biltmore_Estate

It’s been a week since my last post and I’m sorry, but I didn’t miss posting at all.  In fact, I didn’t miss anything by not taking the internet and all of my devices with me.  Not having those distractions was a wonderful break from the scheduled reality that will set in as soon as my other child wakes up for the morning and our home school routine starts once again.

But last week…. last week was something much different.  My wife and I got away for the first time since getting married 11 years ago.  The Army changed our plans from the start, so a honeymoon didn’t happen.  Then kids started appearing and before you know it, a decade had passed us by.  This trip was a great opportunity to reconnect and remember how much we actually like each other all these years later.

Asheville, NC was a great place for us to go.  There was much to do and much to see.  We did visit The Biltmore, but there is so much more to Asheville than that.  Now- this is not to understate how gorgeous The Biltmore is, it is simply to say how great Asheville is.  Visiting The Biltmore is definitely on the “to do” list if you visit this area.  As far as I’m concerned, the long and winding driveway is enough to warrant the cost of admission, let alone the spectacular house and grounds.  The trees were just starting to open up and prepare for spring.  Everything seemed to be waking from the deep sleep of winter and it will all be in full bloom in just a couple of weeks.

We stumbled upon community theaters and art galleries on just about every block of downtown.  I was pleasantly surprised to see downtown was full of local shops and not chain stores that have overtaken much of the U.S. these days.  Oh… and we had great food!  You MUST stop by The Red Stag if you are in town and have a special occasion to celebrate.  It is a little pricy but both the atmosphere and menu are so unique, it is well worth the cost to check it out. And… with a reservation you get free valet parking.  That was a nice perk!

In fact, the only disappointing part of the trip (which still confuses me) is finding both a coffee shop and a pastry shop full of employees, but closed for business at 9:40 in the morning.  I’ve never heard of such an atrocity!  Coffee and pastries unavailable at breakfast-  For shame!  After halfway joking about our very first-world dilemma, we laughed and thanked God that we would be so blessed to be in a place that had these shops to begin with.  We trekked back the few blocks we walked to find the closed shops, climbed in our car, and we started our journey back home.

I’ve always heard about how great getaways like this are.  Being a special needs family, we weren’t afforded the ease of finding childcare or funding for things such as this, but it was such a refreshing change of pace I’m sure it won’t be 11 years before the next trip.

Now, it is time for another cup of coffee and and time to get back to a sense of normalcy which, as I think about it, isn’t that bad.  I’m feeling very blessed today.