I absolutely love gardens and gardening! Visiting the local native plant nursery is therapy after a hectic work week. The layers of colors and textures are fascinating to me. One of my favorite flowers, especially this time of year is the sunflower, for many reasons. I am intrigued by how quickly it grows, how lanky and strong it stands, making its presence known to all other garden life and how it offers back to nature much more than it requires to survive. Most of all, I find it calming to see how the sunflower always stretches toward the direction of the sun, its soul source of life and light!
It has been more than one year since I began my Luke 2:52 Project, and when I first wrote this post in September, I chose the sunflower as my memorial marker for the year. Now, in reviewing the year, reading both those blogs posted and those kept private, I am astounded at the growth in such a short period of time, simply by living with intention and consenting daily to allow God to affect change. For me, a year has been a very short time when I consider the amount of time some of the cumbersome baggage has been taking up unwelcome space. If I had to choose one intentional act which produced the greatest impact, it was choosing to release the albatross of fear which has been such a consumer of energy, joy and peace of mind. To have intentionally released this over and over again has been painstaking and frustrating as it is relentless in attempts to re inhabit, but this by far has prompted the most measurable growth as I came to realize how fear flowed over into in all areas of Luke 2:52. This continual act required me to forgive in ways I never thought possible, urged me to trust in ways I was not familiar with, strengthened me to draw boundaries in relationships I could never do before and produced a new level of confidence.
Like the sunflower, I am standing stronger today than I was when I first began this adventure. One of the main reasons is because I did not take this journey alone. God provided a close friend who kept my confidences, challenged me to stretch myself and encouraged me during difficult transitions when looking up was all I could do. In the last few months more close friends have come along side me to help me stand strong in the midst of some circumstances which threatened to break me. A sunflower is beautiful in its solitary standing, but a group of sunflowers is simply spectacular and testifies to God’s glory and constant care!
As a result of this journey, I am more equipped to give back much more than is required for me to survive. Constantly reframing my thoughts and emotions instead of recycling them helped me to stand on firm grounding once again so I could rediscover joy, gratitude and peace.
The role of intention cannot be mistaken as the sole agent of change throughout this year. Like the sunflower, I knew that in order for growth to take place, I have had to point my face, thoughts and beliefs in the right direction, and this meant “not calling to mind the former things or pondering things of the past” but instead, accepting that God will “do something new, it is springing forth now!”
Without fail, when I turn my face away, focus on regrets, circumstance, hurts, etc, I am right back in the same place of weariness and defeat. How quickly old habits, mindsets and behavior patterns intrude once again by simply losing focus. It is for this reason I have decided to continue my project and push forward to greater growth. Interestingly, September was not sunflower growing season, and there were none to be found. As I wandered the nursery this week, in the midst of all the colors and textures, I spotted the sunflowers dwarfing the other plants, and of course I had to add them to my garden as my memorial marker for where I have been. They will also serve as a visual for where I am going. I haven’t a clue where the next year will take me, but what I do know is that I welcome the stretching!
I challenge you to join me beginning in April on your own Luke 2:52 Project adventure. Don’t worry, I will give you all the prompts. Let’s see where we are at the end of a year!