The Accidental Entrepreneur 2.3.17

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here but something beautiful is growing.  One of my gifts is being able to see potential and this humble little endeavor holds a lot of promise.  That’s what I tell myself when I hear myself saying things like this to my clients:

“Well, I mean, I’m not exactly licensed at anything…”

“In my Master Gardener Classes, they told us we had to kill 100 plants to qualify as a Master Gardener.”

“Oh, you don’t need me at all.”

“How long have I been doing this?  Well uh, this is my 3rd week.”

It’s a good thing I can laugh at myself and that I’m also imparting massive amounts of plant wisdom.  I’ll get the hang of this.  Growing to greatness, that’s me!

The Accidental Entrepreneur or The time I tried to buy an ink cartridge and ended up starting a business.

img_6381A week and a half ago, after setting the intention to be more budget-conscious I found myself needing a black ink cartridge.  Those things are expensive and I didn’t have enough left in my weekly home management budget to buy one.  I could’ve used money from another account or my savings and it would’ve been fine but I tend to do that a lot so I decided to stick to my budget and get creative.  I printed everything in blue ink instead of black for a while but as the week wore on this strategy got increasingly frustrating and I found myself with a list of “things to print when I get an ink cartridge.”  I needed a black ink cartridge to live efficiently.  I decided I could try to earn one.  Now I’m a little rusty when it comes to earning money since I’ve been staying home with Jessica (and preparing for Jessica and trying to conceive Jessica) for the past 11 years and I’m particular about the time I commit outside our home.  So I decided to post a message on my community Facebook group offering to cut back the myriad brown and crunchy frozen plants in people’s front yards.  I listed my qualifications (Master Gardener Training, Landscape Design practice/consulting) as well as my availability (3 spots on Thursday) and price ($20).  I hoped 3 people would want to take me up on my offer so I could buy my ink cartridge and get on with my life.  In less than 3 minutes I had 3 customers and I was elated.  Within 8 minutes I had 5 customers so I said I could do 2 front yards on Friday too (Hey, I thought, I can also buy the essential oil I’ve been needing to replenish).  By the end of the night I had about 20 messages and by the next morning I was up to 30.  The following week saw an additional 10 people added to my list, each wanting a different service (tree pruning, lawn consultation, landscape design, winter clean-up).  As I met with different neighbors I realized that I inadvertently stumbled into a ready market for my landscape love.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten dirty, I bought a hedge-trimmer and wielded it with pride (because I spent 60 hand-cramping minutes cutting back ornamental grass with hand pruners and that hedge trimmer gets the job done in less than a minute!).  So this past week I filed papers with the Texas State Comptroller to officially establish Beautiful Village Landscaping LLC.  Now proudly (and humbly) operating in Bulverde Village.

Gratitude for Resurrection

It is Easter.  I am 35 and it feels like maybe I’m wholly celebrating it for the first time.  I’ve spent the past 2 years seeking to put an autoimmune condition into remission.  In the process of working with healers, both in heaven and earth, to accomplish this seemingly miraculous feat, I have cultivated a deeply affectionate and respectful relationship with my body, this friend of my soul.  I have sought to understand the way it communicates to me, to come to terms with it’s vulnerabilities and utilize it’s incredible strengths.  I have learned how to nourish its different systems and respect the interplay of this intricate work of God.  I have had a front row seat to some of the inherent rebalancing capabilities that are built into it and I have grown to love it in a way that you love an old worn set of scriptures or a favorite book, one that you re-visit many times because it contains more wisdom than you’ll ever glean in a lifetime of study.  You see, this body of mine, it carries both the signature of God and the story of my life, manifesting so much of how I have lived and been treated and what I have chosen to make a part of me, all of it written in the fleshy tables of my heart.

When my spirit is called home, it will still the beating of that heart which has guided me to so much goodness.  It will lay aside this mind which has sought to make sense of my experiences in ways that lead to learning and growth. The eyes that have watched many a sunrise will close and the ears that have heard laughter and birdsong and music will cease to collect sound.  The departure of my soul will quiet the breathe that allows life to flow to all of me. Life will withdraw from these bones which have structured my work and it will leave the muscles which have given strength to my endeavors.  It will leave the arms that have cradled my child and held my spouse and the hands that have opened books, written words, prepared meals, dried tears, planted seeds and pulled weeds.  The legs and feet that have kicked soccer balls, walked the dog and held me firmly to the earth each day will cease to carry me.  Without the atonement, that separation of my soul from my experiences would be permanent.

Inviting myself to make peace with the inevitability of this moment has encouraged my soul and body to weave themselves together to create a life where I don’t waste the moments I spend in this body, I own and cherish them. It is with tear-filled eyes that I consider the gracious redemptive work of the Savior that we commemorate today, wherein He gave me the opportunity to inhabit this body and to choose how to use it to grow and experience living as I seek to glorify and serve Him.  What a blessing that the labor of connecting my soul and body need not be a finite work, but a timeless and eternal one.  Happy Easter.

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

The gift of sight

Jesus-heals-blind-man

In the middle of a numbness so shocking and deep, I was blessed with a measure of grace for a few days but I soon found that peace alluded me as I muddled on with life and holidays and vacations.  It is so hard to seek heaven and hear silence.  Left to my own devices,  I could glimpse moments of preparation, mostly in the form of my connections with other people.  As I continued to grasp at any strands of heaven that came my way, I was offered the opportunity to weave together a new understanding of God and to seek Him where He is instead of where I wanted Him to be.  From a broad perspective, this endeavor has turned out to be one of the more enlightening journeys that I have found myself on.  But as is so often the case, the enlightenment has been accompanied by soul-searching and a depth of awareness that is sometimes staggering.

Many times throughout His ministry, the Savior offered His listeners the opportunity to find the things they were seeking.  I think we live in a time when it is increasingly easy to find ideas, information, opinions, such that one can cultivate community around any ideas he or she wants to.  I think one of the pathways to spiritual growth is the belief that one can be a lifelong seeker of God, continually piecing together an understanding of heaven during whatever experiences one finds oneself in until the day that soul and heaven are eventually reacquainted in full and we have the opportunity to see Him as He is.  With a bit more life experience, I have a better understanding of how much effort it takes to make this reconciliation sometimes, to seek out and believe in goodness, love and mercy in the face of devastation, to courageously grow and live when there are so many reasons to fear.  With the effort has come the realization that each unique journey offers surprising beauty.  Here’s to bravely seeking to see.

The Becoming Years

Reflecting Pool

The other day I was having a conversation at the pool with a dear friend.  As a fellow traveler on this road of healing, she could relate to the place I find myself in with such gracious understanding that I reveled in the tidbits of divinity we were able to exchange.  Among them was the thought that I’m in my “becoming years.”  I’ve had many an active, doing year and I’ve hit a stretch of life, of unknown duration, where my task is to use discernment about the things I actually do and to instead utilize the opportunity I have to become.  The fullness and grandeur of this phase presents no fewer opportunities but the work, instead of being visible or concentrated on others, is an internal task.  As such, the measurement is solely my own, as is much of the effort and reward of this work.  It is my intent to take the experiences I am offered or that I seek out and incorporate them into my being in an effort to better understand life, creativity and the Creator.   These becoming years seem like a good place to breathe for a minute and reflect on that.

 

Image Courtesy of Veg Plotting

This I know. One year later.

Sunrise

A year ago I shared some thoughts with my local congregation and close friends and family after suffering the loss of a briefly held but long-cherished and promised pregnancy.  In my anguish and confusion, I testified of my faith in the love of God and of His patience with my growth and understanding.  In the throes of that grief, tinted with hope, we entered a year where our little family, my body and my spirit have been challenged in ways that have required more of us than I could’ve imagined.  Sustained by a beautiful tapestry of heavenly grace, personal strength and loving support, I can stand here today with a different kind of faith and knowing. There is something about being nearly undone that makes one realize where true sources of strength can be found.  I would like to testify of these true things.

I know that because I chose to follow the Savior in the pre-existence that He has blessed me with a body.  This body is mortal and is subject to all sorts of influences in mortality, some self-imposed and some beyond my control.  Cultivating attunement between my spirit and body has given me beautiful insight regarding my work on earth and the specific things I can learn and offer.  I know that Satan does not have a body and that many of the ways he tries to influence me have to do with the use and care of my body.  I believe if he can thwart, interrupt or distract me from my connection to my body or put my in a position of opposition to my body that He can disrupt a measure of my growth.  I know that whatever gifts I have been given or whatever talents I have cultivated can be used for good, unifying, growth-promoting things or for destructive purposes.  If Satan can offer the primary influence in my life, those gifts, talents and skills are put to use for his destructive and divisive purposes, whereas if I am constantly and humbly seeking to obediently follow the Savior, I am in a position to grow and my growth is multiplied exponentially, along with the peace that I have access to.  I can also serve as a resource to other souls who are seeking growth.

I know that the Savior Jesus Christ is the author of peace which passeth all understanding and that He offers us that peace in the very moments we sincerely chose to follow Him or at the very least hope to believe in Him regardless of where we have been in the moments before.  I know that through His atonement, the ashes that we either find ourselves in or create in our lives can be transformed into unimaginable strength and opportunities for growth. However, the ashes have to be recognized as such in order for the cleansing relief of the atonement to be truly felt.  I know that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price all have powerful and true insights regarding the atonement, the Savior and the ways to integrate those two things into our personal lives.  Through study of the scriptures and my efforts to see the hand of God here on earth, I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and each of you.  I know that there is incredible strength that can be derived from our collective faith and our unity.  Like one of my local leaders taught a few weeks ago, I know that the roots of our faith are intertwined and in the midst of fierce storms, the strength that we can draw from each other can literally be life-saving.  I reiterate that I know this.

I know that the strength, goodness and truth that I enjoy today in my life, my home, my chapel and our local temple was set in motion by a 14-year-old boy who was confused and wanted to communicate with Heaven.  I have been in the grove where he offered that first prayer, and I know that Joseph Smith was graced with a view of heaven, particularly of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, that few people experience in this life.  I know that he received further revelation and that that revelation led to the re-establishment of a beautiful religion with Jesus Christ’s robust doctrine, merciful and insightful answers to mortality’s questions and a clear authority to teach from heaven.  I believe in the power and efficacy of that priesthood authority from Joseph Smith to our prophet Thomas S. Monson today.   I know that my local bishop is a man who receives revelation for our little group of believers here and I am profoundly grateful to be led by someone who seeks the guidance of the Spirit as much as he does.  I testify of the grace and mercy of a God who wants to continually reach out to His people to offer them glimpses of heaven in this life.  It is hard for me that these glimpses aren’t permanent but that they come and go and that there are times of wandering and confusion that naturally result from trying to access heaven from a fallen world but that doesn’t change the veracity of those true moments when we experience them.  These are things I know.  And while the path to this knowledge has been at times seemingly unbearable, I am so grateful for the knowing because that’s why I’m here.

Vehicle of my Soul

In early January, I found myself face-to-face with some surprising bloodwork and in an effort to understand what was going on with this body of mine, I began to see a new endocrinologist.  She made some pretty severe diet recommendations and encouraged me to follow them for 6 weeks to see if we could adjust a few metabolic processes.    Little did I know this would be my baptism into the world of genuine body awareness.  I have always had a belief that my body is the house of my soul but never have I felt (noticed? appreciated?) the inherent unity that my soul has with it’s earthly vessel.  As I received people’s regrets regarding the state of my health, I felt such a sense of defensiveness about this mortal tabernacle that is an integral part of me.  It has definitely been really hard and frustrating but sometimes I also say “You don’t need to feel sorry for me, this is my body and it’s struggling right now.  I am going to figure out how to help it heal if I can but even if I can’t it’s the only body I have.”  As I joined the same team as my body I began to realize different ways that I’ve been in a combative relationship with it at times.  Whether it was injuries, body image, illness, infertility, I’d begun to think of my body as a drag on my existence instead of my tether to existence.  I have been graced with a dawning awareness that this body, just as much as my spirit, will give me cues regarding my divinity and the work I have on earth.  Whereas my spirit used to be the supreme dictator over my flesh, the two are becoming a more balanced team as I recognize the parts of me that are heaven and earth.

Practicing Compassionate Patience

Since last fall our household has been navigating a substantial disappointment.  In the aftermath of our experience, amidst the agony of confusion, self-doubt, and just plain hurt, I feel unsettled about my ability to trust myself and anyone else, including God.  As I acquaint myself with this rift that has torn my spirituality to shreds, I comfort my soul with the assurance that there is no animosity directed at me.  There is no condescension or judgement aimed my way and this moment I speak of didn’t represent a “lesson” or a “trial” that I had to endure.  Rather, it’s an experience and it will be what I make it of it.  And it doesn’t have to be all sorted out right now.  I believe someday I will I look back on this stretch of my life and really respect the substantial work that I’m attempting to do in settling my spirit so that it can begin to heal.  Even now, with a small amount of space, a bit more heartbreak and further introspection, I can sometimes see these months as maybe as a prodding, a gentle nudge.  It’s surprising, even to me, that moments have the potential to move from ‘near death blow’ status to ‘gentle nudge’ in the space of a few months.  In addition to simple time, I think a lot of that has to do with not berating myself or forcing meaning but rather trying to wait compassionately with an eye towards recognizing the hand of God while the rest of my story unfolds.

 

 

Parented by Heaven

Last week I watched the beautiful daughter of one of my dearest friends.  This sweet little thing has been a gift in my life in so many ways so our family was enthusiastic to welcome her into our fold for several days.  Throughout the week, I watched her closely for any signs of missing her parents, feeling distress at the separation or other indicators that she may be questioning her well-being.  But her darling smiles and happy play made it clear that she was comfortable in our home.  During one of our evening conversations, I expressed to my friend that her parenting must’ve instilled in her daughter a trust that she would be well-cared for, listened to and watched over because she expected as much from us and received it without batting an eye.  I found so much beauty in the work that had been done to assure this child that she was cherished and important because I recognize that represents a lot of intentional parenting.

Several days later I was relating this story to another friend as we watched this same babe jump with enthusiasm into our neighborhood pool.  She mentioned that it was an interesting observation to consider given the scriptural admonition to “become as a child.”   My usual interpretation of that scripture leaves me feeling a bit powerless and desperate to cultivate that kind of “submissive humility” that seems to be desired by the author.   As I looked at it with fresh eyes, though, I felt the beauty of that new meaning wash over me.  Perhaps that’s what divine parenting can look like, a simple trust and regard built over time with experiences and mutual exchanges, to the point that eventually the mortal child can rest assured that heaven hasn’t forgotten him/her, despite physical and sometimes spiritual distance.  Remembering that the Savior is the same yesterday, today and forever, and knowing Him to love me dearly and care for me exquisitely at times in my life, this interpretation didn’t seem so far off.

O Pioneers

The summer I turned seventeen, my mom and dad borrowed a pop-up trailer and orchestrated a study of Mormon pioneer history for our little family of 7.  In our occasionally trusty, bright blue 12 passenger van, they carted us across the country to wander through the sacred grove, tour visitors centers and listen to kindly guides.  We traversed trails and hiked rocky mountains, visited jails and blacksmith shops, walked around temple sites, and forded rivers.  Our mother, always big on vacation preparation, had some stories at the ready for each of the sites we stopped at.  She would engage her 5 girls in conversation about the people, what it must have been like for them and what they might’ve learned.  Though the details of the stories are a bit foggy and the exact images of the locations we toured are sometimes hard to recall, the feelings of humble faith and community that I felt during those three weeks have never left me.

This past week I was asked to share some thoughts with our congregation about the pioneers and their humility.  As Ritchie helped me think through my ideas, we both humorously realized that I am not necessarily speaking from a fortress of strength as I address the topic of humility.  I’d like to think I’m not the only one of us who sometimes struggles to bend my will to leader’s direction or ideas or revelation.  My agency is a treasured gift and I appreciate direct communication from heaven as I try to understand why things are the way they are but there are times when the “why” of a commandment or invitation is not readily accessible and my thirsty faith has to continue on with only the hope of a drink on the horizon.  It is in those stubborn moments when it is my task to choose humility.  With that in mind, I decided to re-visit the stories of the pioneers with the hope of nestling into a more comfortable arrangement with humility.  I was intrigued as I contemplated ideas of personal humility, parental humility and community humility.

I believe that one of the things each of the pioneers lay on the altar were some of their ideas about how their lives would turn out.  Like all of us with a determination to follow the Savior, oftentimes we face moments where we are asked to let go of the lives or jobs or finances or health that we’ve dreamed of or worked for and we’re asked to be open to new things.  I believe that in response to these mental, emotional and physical challenges we can either hold staunchly to our former plans and cry foul (which I have been known to do on many occasions), or set off on our own journeys of faith where unknown paths coupled with some humble seeking can lead to surprising beauty.  But the beauty is often detected after struggling through heartache, pain, and seemingly impossible stretching.  Though we speak of the pioneers collectively, assuredly the men and women who crossed the continent in mid to late 1800s were as varied as all of us in this room.  I imagine they had dreams and ideas about how their lives would go and they worked hard to make those dreams reality.  Some of them were establishing farms, working year after year to clear away trees and create more land for farming.  Some of them had gone to school, learning professions or trades that would enable them to provide for their families and thrive in society.  Some of them were overseas, deeply entrenched with people and a culture they held dear.  Some of them were just getting established, barely making ends meet and working every daylight hour to provide themselves with the basic necessities of life.  Regardless of their background or station, when the call came to move, again and again, there were so many of these very strong folks who responded with obedience born of humility.

As I’ve made my way through a bit more life, it’s easier for me to imagine the process they perhaps went through to become those faithful men and women, for surely, they didn’t begin the journey in the same way they ended it.  With the benefit of hindsight, I have contemplated the blessings they received and the beauty they witnessed as a result of their decision to obey.  A decision, that I imagine for many of them, was fraught with doubt, uncertainty, full-fledged fear and maybe even a little resentment.  The beauty of our perspective is that we get to see all of them on the other side.  We see the accomplishment dressed in all it’s historical glory and we rejoice in their experience.  However, if we had caught them in their moments of decision, moments I’m confident came again and again, I imagine we would’ve seen them experiencing the kind of conflict, turmoil and frustration that comes in “the middle” of a challenging circumstance.  The outset, filled with excitement and the promise of adventure, quickly faded into blistered feet, broken wagons and tired children.  The faithful fortitude we cherish was probably something they really did muster up, step, by precious step.    During those long hours of walking with the threat of Indian attacks, with cattle slogging through mud and torrential rain, I wonder if any of them echoed the thought I find myself thinking so frequently, “Is it really supposed to be this hard?”  I used to think that the decision to venture out on the trek was a decision that was made once.  But now, like any act of submission or obedience, I imagine it had to be re-made at each stopping point along the way. The decision to keep moving had to be made again each time the oxen needed to be hooked up to the wagon and each morning when the bedding needed to be folded and gathered and carefully tucked into the handcart.  And then again when it was time for sunburned arms to heave the weight of the handcart.  The decision had to be made when slipping worn and half-soled shoes onto the feet of a worn and tired-souled child without any answers as to when the walk would be over or what the day would bring.  Surely there were mothers who looked at their babies and wept at the monumental task that obedience was requiring of them.  And yet, each morning, so many rose, prayed and worked, just trying to move forward, day after sweltering day. In the words of a dear friend, they just kept trying.  It’s hard for me to believe that there weren’t moments of grumbling or times of disagreement and when those times came, on a starry night in the middle of a prairie or at a tricky river-crossing, there was a decision, yet again, to submit ones will and the well-being of one’s family in order to follow the inspiration of a prophet and those he had called to lead.  And when that obedience meant frozen toes, crushed limbs, lost children and trailside graves, I can’t help but think the decision to obey felt like a weighty one.  And like Joseph’s prayer, I imagine sometimes they were left wondering where the Lord was.  Where was His help and why were they being asked to struggle so hard and for so long?  Much like us, I think of them tired, devastated or discouraged, unsure of how to pick themselves up and move away from the crude grave of a small son, or an aged mother.  I believe those moments they put one foot in front of the other, really represent the most beautiful and accurate testimony of humility that there is.

My seventeen year old self considered those pioneer stories with a focus on the initial decision to go and the glorious arrival in the valley.  My 33 year old self realizes that those stories are mostly full of “the grueling middle” and it probably bears a close spiritual resemblance to the middle that most of us experience.  The peace that comes with understanding, may not have graced their souls in the immediate way we attribute it to them.  It’s likely that they experienced their revelation piece by piece as they chose to seek it.  I believe many kept trudging forward based on faith in the promise of a prophet that what they were doing would lead to something beautiful and good and so often, that beauty and goodness ends up being manna for a starving soul, rather than a change in circumstance.

I think about what a gift it was to those children who walked alongside their parents. And maybe, on the mornings when weary bones could barely handle another step, an exhausted mother or father might look up to see a tow headed boy, kicking a rock as he walked beside the wagon.  And like so many things, the thought of someone else may have kept them going because if nothing else, this trek was an undeniable testimony of humble obedience for the children who watched their parents muscle on through untamed lands and angry rivers.  And for so many, whose tired bodies gave out before the trail did, the effort was the important thing.  The process of faithfully moving as far and as long as possible, regardless of the outcome, that was the testimony.  And now, all these years later, humbly wearing my own parenting mantle, I want nothing more than to guide my sweet Jessica’s steps to the Savior and it is likely that any humble actions I can accrue will speak louder than any sermon I offer.

On the culminating day of our trip, we stood atop This Is the Place Monument in Utah feeling such a profound respect for the trek that these faithful men and women endured together.  The understanding that they had with each other as a result of the shared experience was beautiful to contemplate.  Feeling buoyed up by being part of such a beautiful collective faith, I remember purchasing a t-shirt, emblazoned with the “Faith In Every Footstep” logo.   A short time later, our family came across a pioneer scene depicted on canvas and the emotions I felt then are still poignant, half a life later. In the foreground there’s a steep muddy hill on the bank of a swollen river with treacherous rain clouds above.  There are wagons, with torn canvases flapping, men and women, straining to heave them from the river’s water up onto the meadow grass.  The steepness of the bank is evident in the faces and muscles of the pioneers.  There are several wagons struggling to make the ascent, cattle slipping with each step, and several wagons in the distance that have already begun to work their way forward in the prairie grass.  Towards the back of the scene, the sky lightens and inside the brilliant setting sun you can make out a blurred outline of the Salt Lake Temple with her majestic spires.  Hinted at, in the evening clouds above is an image of Joseph Smith, clasping a Book of Mormon to his chest with one arm and holding out the other hand in a guiding gesture indicating in the direction the wagon train is traveling.  By that time, Joseph was but a memory for these faithful saints who were spurred on by his love for them and the testimony He was asked to share with them.  And the temple was a distant hope on the horizon.  With the benefit of hindsight, I knew that those strong men and women, depicted in a moment of desperation, were on their way, through an arduous trek, to a beautiful place where they would continue to face challenges but where they would build temples, thrive and enjoy many blessings.  I felt the beauties of the stories and poignancy of the losses and the gift of faith that these men and women offered by simply continuing to move forward.  That faith, and the belief in the prophet they loved so dearly was what spurred them on during a journey filled with many hard things. They went because he told them that it was what the Lord wanted and they chose to believe Him, and then to believe his successor.  They had followed the prophet, time and again, because of the conviction they had that he would lead them to good things.  And when they had moments of doubt or fear, or even rebellion they figured out that obedience was just a simple step away. They knew that their conviction didn’t excuse them from facing hard things along the way, but their continued effort was a testimony they offered in humility as they worked to be part of something larger than themselves.

Ultimately, that is what humility affords us right?  The opportunity to slowly and carefully make our way through mortality with the promise of a steadying connection to heaven.  We do this as individuals, in families and as a community of Saints led by inspired leaders one faithful footstep at a time.

Thank you pioneers.

Lindsay