Kingdom Beauty Growing…in My Own Backyard

musings of the King's work in this daughter's garden, heart, home & beyond

Lessons from Vote 2016 – Lesson #3 November 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — mamabearbouch @ 10:59 AM

Lesson #3:  Learning to Listen

logoIf there is anything ‘certain’ about this election, it is that a whole lot of people do NOT feel listened to!  As analysis of ‘who voted and why’ is shared, we’re seeing just how deep the hurt has been to the every day workers who are the backbone of this country.  And now watching disturbing news reports of college students and many other groups not just protesting but rioting in the streets suggests that everyone – young, middle aged and old – have reached their limit.  We can only ‘stuff’ our pain in the bag so long until it erupts.

Yesterday I came across an article written by John Pavlovitz sharing the ‘deep grief’ and fear that Clinton supporters feel in their loss.  A commenter invited people from ‘the other side’ to share what they would be grieving if the results were reversed.  Both the article and the comments are an insightful read … if we’re willing to put our hands in our laps, take a deep breath, look the ‘other side’ in the eye and FIRST listen.  Deep breath … then give a heartfelt insightful response … and keep the conversation going.

Here’s a link to the article:

Here’s my response:

First, I would want you to know that I can feel the pain expressed here – it is real. Loss is loss and pain is pain, no matter the source, and I hope you will find strength to move through each stage of grief, and in time, find the ‘other joys’ that pain can bring. I want you to know that even though I voted for Trump, I am grieving over what this election process has revealed is no longer valued in a country I love. Honest hearts. Truthful speech. Kind speech. Integrity. Trust in public officials. Justice. Rational thought. Common sense.

If Ms. Clinton was President, I would deeply grieve over people as well, the smallest most fragile people whose lives are taken from them before they have a chance to breathe earth’s air. 60 million of them and counting … And for the loss of the common sense that sees this child sacrifice on the ‘altar of convenience’ as ‘progressive’ and labels those who seek to address the root issues of crisis pregnancies rather than deal with ‘symptoms’ as ‘backward’.

I grieve the loss of the beauty of purity and a healthy innocence that honors the gift of marriage as given by the Creator of marriage. In assuming we have the right to make it into what we think it should be, we have forfeited the pleasure & protection God intended for it to provide and are destroying the very fabric of our society. It makes me weep to see such pain and brokenness in homes!

I grieve the loss of the basic freedoms granted in our Constitution which has been defended with the blood of millions of patriots. I have the right to free speech – to teach my children and grandchildren and share respectfully in the public arena my heartfelt conviction that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman, and that sex outside of that marriage relationship is not good, without being labeled a ‘hater’ and without the fear of being sued for ‘hate speech’. If I own a florist or bakery or event venue, I should be able to run my business without being forced to violate my conscience. I don’t hate anyone who thinks differently, but I have a right to disagree and act according to my beliefs. When that right is challenged, I tend to become defensive, and I really don’t like living that way. Tolerance & respect is a 2-way street, not the billy club it’s become. It seems to me it’s being used in the same way Mr. Pavlovitz decries … to threaten & silence.

I grieve the loss of safety and security in my country. I love internationals – I have hosted many in my home for short & long-term stays, including Muslims, and have friends I love around the world. My heart cries for the refugees – I give money to organizations who are on the ground helping them. But opening our borders to anyone and everyone and refusing to call Muslim terrorism what it is for fear of ‘offending’ is irresponsible and benefits no one except those who would do us harm. Guarding our borders by respecting established legal processes for entry while opening our hearts and helping these countries solve their problems so their people can live there in peace will be messy, but is 1 of the primary functions of government. In my Bible, no ‘institution’ is ever commanded to care for the poor and hurting … individual people are. There are many good organizations doing that and people should be encouraged to get involved. Giving freely has far more benefits than be ‘taken from’ by big govt. taxes.

Finally, I grieve the loss of integrity in my world. I find it very unstable to live in a world with no ‘True North’, no compass, no ‘I-beam’ that holds a complex structure together. Absolute truth is that I-beam, that compass … when a person’s ‘yes is yes’ or ‘no is no’, when what’s right for me is right for you, when I give the same answer today as I do tomorrow, when there is right and wrong, when I submit to authority even if I’m guilty instead of blaming someone else for my choices … that is a stable foundation on which to live. Without that, it’s a ‘dog-eat-dog’, ‘every man for himself’ kind of world. I grieve the loss of a culture that valued truth over ‘convenient truth’, service to others over self, and self-control over pleasure and self-indulgence. May we all find our way forward to that kind of wonderful life.

Let’s keep a respectful conversation going!






Wisdom from Vote 2016 – Lesson 2 November 9, 2016

Filed under: vote2016,wisdom — mamabearbouch @ 2:59 PM

 Lesson 2: The Value of Praying my Passion

logoMike & I will celebrate 35 years of marriage next month – woohoo!  We wrote our own wedding vows, and about the only phrase I remember by heart is promising to be ‘his cheerleader’ throughout life (and I remember speaking it with all the enthusiasm of a cheerleader !)  I fully embrace the truth, “Live life out of your passion!”  It’s a good way to live, but the downside is the propensity of passionate people to forget that we live in a world of people with differing ‘passion bubbles’ that pop! when they inevitably collide, as they do with full force in areas that matter most – faith, family & country.

I am incredibly grateful to Franklin Graham for showing me a different way – a better way – to live with passion during this election.   Quite simply, he prayed his passion.  He didn’t just talk about it, he invested thousands of hours and an incredible amount of money traveling to all 50 State Capitals to pray with and symbolically ‘cover’ the people of each and every state with God’s presence.  My sister and I met in Columbus to pray with him and 7,000 Ohio ‘neighbors’ over our great state.  We confessed sin, we prayed for healing, we prayed for local leaders, state leaders and national leaders, and for the eyes to see this election and our role in it as He sees it.  From his example, I learned the value of pouring more of my passion into prayer than into splattering my wisdom (i.e. fiery or fearful words) all around.   He spoke powerful words each day on FB as well, because words have influence and his is broad.   I shared some as well, but I can honestly say I spent far more time praying than speaking or worrying this time around.

My prayers were answered … but NOT because Donald Trump was elected!   There is enough ‘unknown’ surrounding him that I did not even pray for that ‘result’ because I may find out in a year from now I really don’t like whatever he turns out to be!   As barbs traded between candidates became more disturbing and the unwillingness of the media to reveal unbiased truth more evident, I began to pray diligently that wickedness would be exposed in spite of it all so we could see things as they really are.  Did He ever answer that one!  I asked for discernment as to what issues mattered to Him and confirmation that Trump was teachable, and God answered with Mike Pence as VP and excellent perspective on vital issues shared in the spirit of humility & wisdom by proven godly leaders. I prayed that the process would not be ‘hacked’ and a decisive result for either candidate … no more fuel for the enemy!  It appears that has happened, along with 2 of the most refreshingly honest, gracious, gentle speeches ever.  Who would have thought that possible!?!

But the answer I treasure most was His PEACE.  I went to bed Monday night with no clue as to who would be chosen, no fear or dread of the future, no anger towards people living in a different ‘passion bubble’ with whom I had collided, and it was wonderful!  We have been studying Isaiah in our SS class, particularly the task God had given him to announce to Israel, Judah and surrounding nations that God’s judgment was coming and it wasn’t going to be pretty.  Much like our world today, most people, even ‘God’s chosen people’, had no knowledge of or space for God in their lives, and as a result, they were a hot mess!  Isaiah (and his contemporaries like Jeremiah) were struggling to keep the faith – life was HARD!  And in spite of their faithfulness, they knew what was coming and had to share a hard word … it’s going to get worse!  In the middle of all the promised destruction, God speaks these words through Isaiah in 14:1-3a:

“But the Lord will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel.  The nations of the world will help the people of Israel to return, and those who come to live in the Lord’s land will serve them. Those who captured Israel will themselves be captured, and Israel will rule over its enemies. In that wonderful day when the Lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains…

God will have compassion on his people, on me! … if  Trump builds a wall and alienates our neighbors, if Hillary starts World War 3, if Trump turns out to be Hitler in disguise, if Hillary further ruins healthcare, if Trump turns out to be the sexist the media wants him to be, if Hillary is in prison and Tim Kaine is in charge!  We don’t know what’s ahead, but God knows, and for those who love and trust Him, He promises He will have compassion on us … and our neighbors.  It may get hard and we may suffer for a time under his hand of judgment, but there will be a ‘wonderful day’ when He will give rest from our sorrow and fear.  And unlike either candidate, He is able and WILL keep His promises!

Passionate Prayer connects me to Jesus who always brings Peace … guaranteed … and there is no gift in life that even comes close 🙂


Wisdom from Vote 2016 – Lesson 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — mamabearbouch @ 1:19 PM

I love to splogo.jpgend time in my garden … God speaks to me there in powerful ways, maybe because it’s ‘quiet space’ that invites listening.  For 5 years, I have had good intentions of sharing those ‘buds of truth’, but alas, life happens and writing does not…  But then Vote 2016 happened – I mean,
what just happened?!?!  That’s what all the ‘experts’ are saying today anyway…

I don’t know what this historic election will mean for our country, the world, my life … but I do know that the gift of God’s mercy  shown us in this moment is not something I want to miss or squander.   He has ‘loosened the soil’ and pulled some ‘weeds’, but whether we prosper as a result is dependent on how we … how I cultivate this moment.   Choosing to reflect and glean wisdom from this season seems an appropriate 1st step.  If this ‘journey’ encourages you or resonsates with you in any way, it will be worth the time taken to put it in writing.

Lesson 1:  The Value of ‘Standing Against’

I had the privilege of a birdseye view of how our government ‘works’ from an early age as my dad spent nearly a decade as an Assistant to a US Congressman who was truly a servant leader.  I observed the cost and the value of standing FOR people, FOR principles that have brought God’s favor on this country from its beginnings.  Of course, I heard of a few who did not handle their Congressional appointment in the same manner, but the majority of those serving back in the 70’s & 80’s in both parties stood FOR people and policies that upheld common sense and decency.

Fast forward to the present … I really can’t say that either candidate’s speech nor behavior nor reputation nor many of their ideas was something I could vote FOR.   Sadly, the situation was exacerbated by the media’s total implosion … knowing neither candidate was being accurately portrayed and yet not being able to separate fact from fiction from outright manipulaton was the truly deplorable thing about this election!  

As I drove home from casting my ballot, God’s Spirit gently spoke … “It is a good thing to stand FOR what is right, but standing AGAINST EVIL also pleases Me…”    Lifestyle choices and uncontrolled speech are flaws, but at the end of the day, there were greater things to stand against:  the continued sanctioning & funding of murdering babies (modern-day child sacrifice!), a pattern of  grossly illegal actions with no remorse for wrong doing, leadership that refuses to say ‘The buck stops here’, pathological lying, unethical financial dealings, disregard for our country’s safety when that is your ‘Job #1’, proliferation of a ‘ruling elite’ who steal from the workers to preserve the wealth & power of those in ‘the club’, flagrant disrespect for God and the principles found in His Word … 

I do not know yet the full cost of my choice to stand AGAINST EVIL.  Being misunderstood and thus devalued or even ‘de-friended’ may happen, resulting in hurt and loss.  The risk of pride and becoming complacent – ‘living life in neutral’ rather than purposing to intentionally stand FOR those who are hurting or hungry or lonely in ways that are ‘felt’ – is definitely there, and it will cost me my personal comfort to overcome that.  

I think this 1st lesson of ‘Standing AGAINST EVIL’ is a good place to start … in humility, I confess the evil in my own heart and give God the awe and worship He is worthy of …

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”   Proverbs 11:2


Every Spring … May 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mamabearbouch @ 12:56 PM

… that ‘itch’ returns.  You know, the one you get when those splashes of color catch your eye as you enter the grocery store or drive past the local garden center.

After months of midwestern drab and cold, they capture the imagination, infuse warmth and hope in your spirit … and they end up in my cart, along with the latest magazine of gardening ideas.  Equipped with a new tool or 2 and an eager confidence, I am determined this is the year my landscape will ‘look like that’ oasis (‘budget version’, of course 🙂 )

Fast forward two soggy weeks later – 15 hours in the mud, 5 large black bags of weeds and 5 fingers throbbing with thorns, I reluctantly admit this really is not ‘fun’, and again ask myself, ‘WHY?!?’   Why this ritual of dreaming and digging, spending  more dollars on flowers and dirt and mulch than I want to record in the budget … knowing full well that ‘July’ WILL come with its drought and explosion of ‘dormant’ weeds that flourish in it even if my flowers don’t.  Again, ‘WHY?!?!?’

2 Reasons:

1.  I love flowers!  Plain and simple, I am addicted to their bright colors and sweet scent.  And even if there are fewer in August than I planted in May, at least they are there to brighten my days until I am tired of fighting back the frost in late October.

2.  I am a homeowner and I succumb to peer pressure!  Having concrete or worse, ‘bare dirt’!, up to the brick walls of my house is just unacceptable, unthinkable…at least in my thinking.

WHY?  Really it is about  passion.  My passion to bring beauty and warmth to our home (and, admittedly, to not be seen as a ‘tacky’ neighbor!) outweighs the pain, the work, the ‘defeats’.  As I wrestle through the weed patch and once again lovingly pat those baby beauties in their ‘new home’, I can’t help but think if a refined passion will help make their short life in my garden a little better (and longer!) this year.  I’m thinking the answer is to see myself and this garden a little more as my Heavenly Father, our Creator, does.  He has given all of us humans, the best of His creation, both the desire and directive to ‘subdue the earth’ so that we can reflect His character.  He created with purpose and joy … I can find purpose and joy as I ‘re-create’ some of His beauty in my little space in this world.  I can give these plants a special place in my yard, unselfishly keeping those weeds at bay, nurturing the plant through water and fertilizer,  rather than just selfishly focusing on how much those ‘blooms’ mean to me.  I can passionately represent the Creator’s unselfish love and commitment to nourishing the connection with His creation to my world – my neighbors, family and guests, and me.

And what about life … faith.  I have to ask myself the same question:  Why DO I follow Christ?

2 Reasons:

1.  I have had the privilege of being guided towards the love of my Heavenly Father since I was a child.  What a treasure – to know He has chosen to passionately love me, I can choose to receive that love, and I can choose to love Him back … and I DO!

2.  I’ll be honest on this one, ‘peer pressure’ to NOT choose hell as my final destiny IS definitely a motivator to be a Christ-follower!

But if I’m honest, I’ll also have to admit that I often show the same ‘reluctance’ in my following as I do in gardening.  Just as ‘July’ comes around every year in the gardening calendar, so seasons of doubt come around in my life as a Christ-follower, dampening my passion for believing and following Him.  The answer?  I’m guessing it is the same … redirecting my passion towards God’s bigger purposes in my life and His world.   He loves me and desires to bring abundance and beauty and blessing to my life.  But just as I tend to find the most delight with the beauty flowers bring to my yard,  I also tend to focus on those ‘beautiful blooms’ in my walk with God … you know, the ‘up’ times, the times everything goes MY way, the celebrations, the ‘amazing opportunities’ and answers to prayer, the cool ways He ‘shows up’ in my life.  But as I reflect on John 15, I realize HIS focus is on ‘the vine’ ... the plant itself … the ‘connection’ / my long-term RELATIONSHIP with Him.  If my ‘passion’ is only for ‘the blooms’, I am going to be disappointed and ‘lose heart’ … just as I will with my gardening.

If my passion is only for ‘the blooms’ in my yard and my life and not the PLANTS themselves, neither of us will ‘survive the  heat’ and fulfill our Creator’s BEST plan for us.

It is spring and I have hope.  Once again, I proudly become A RELUCTANT GARDENER... and hopefully a more ‘successful’ one as I start the season with a re-focused passion.