Under the Apricot Tree

Savoring the Abundance of Simple Living

Category: Soul & Spirit

Transience

This place continues to teach me. We’ve had quite the show this past month as one by one, the plants dance joyously into spring.

From the brown-gray winter landscape, each emerging blade of green and flowering petal has been like a victory song of new life.

Daffodils in a dozen varieties encircle the house in a golden ring of sunshine. Round tulips bob their crimson heads in the breeze. Lilacs I’ve awaited since we moved here in July spritz the air with lavish purply perfume; their scent sparks a memory of a grade school field trip when I smelled these flowers for the very first time. I carry my baby into the sunlight, let him reach out. “Flower,” I say as his tiny hand grasps at the delicate color. I wonder if he likes the fragrance as much as I do.

What delights me with beauty one day, though, is fading the next. It’s startling how quickly it happens.

The daffodils and tulips are all gone now, papery brown membranes droop from the green stalk. My purple lilacs have shriveled, the slower white ones take their place. A strong wind scattered the petals from the fruit trees weeks ago, a pink and white snowfall on a hot afternoon. Seth and I take turns, unintentionally, reporting the latest casualty: “Did you notice the Bleeding Heart is fading already?”

Who planted the big apricot tree that shades my porch? Was it fifty or eighty years ago? Does anyone remember his or her name?

I am reminded that life is transient. The most precious moments in time pass by too quickly. But I do not want to waste it. Although it fades fast, I want the richness of this time, this moment, to last long into the future. How do I hold on to the sweetness if I cannot slow the clock? How do I secure a guarantee against regrets for what will too soon be remembered or forgotten?

The only answer I know is to savor. There are so many ways to savor.

I walk among the flowers with my little one. I take pictures. I look up from the manuscript for a moment to watch birds outside my office window. I gather armloads of lilacs with a friend and send her home with most of them. I bring them into my home, gracing every room. I kiss my baby’s velvety head for the umpteenth time today and watch him sleep. I hold my husband’s hand when while he asks the blessing at the table. I breathe deeply and commit to memory the scent of my family’s spring.

None of this prevents the passing of time. The flower still withers and fades. But, it does prevent regret because when I look back I will know that I didn’t take it for granted, I celebrated the gift, I realized my fortune and gave thanks for it, and shared it, and delighted in it.

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16

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The Dark Side of Sunshine

For the first time in a long time, I took my coffee on the front porch this morning, with birdsong and sunshine.

Warm blue-sky days this time of year are a gift, like receiving a bouquet of flowers “just because” in the middle of an ordinary work day.  Most of us can’t help but feel a little happier about life in general when sunshine chases off the cold gray of winter.

But do you hear that dark little voice warning you not to enjoy it too much, because summer’s still a long ways off? Here in Central Oregon, spring is a big tease, mostly comprised of winter weather, with an occasional gorgeous day like this to hint at summer. “Still plenty of wet, gray days ahead,” warns wisely pessimism, “so don’t get your hopes up.”

Well, isn’t that all the more reason to enjoy this momentary sunshine? The attitude almost implies this beauty is a mirage and the naive optimists who bask in it’s glory are merely duped. Our generation is so steeped in skepticism and aware of the world’s harshness that many times we don’t know how to simply enjoy goodness when it shines upon us.

Instead of looking for the dark side of sunshine, I intend to get out there and revel in its brightness today. I have a bunch of work lined up this morning, but after lunch I’ll be strapping on my baby and meeting my friend for a long walk. “Still plenty of wet, gray days ahead,” muses wisely optimism, “so enjoy this moment for all it’s worth!”

I hope you’ll be able to lift your face to the sun sometime this weekend, too.

A Secret to Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy.

In America, we are even guaranteed “the pursuit of happiness” as a sovereign right. And most of us are pretty darn good at pursuing what we think will make us happy. Everyone has their own way of going after what they want–some work hard; some cheat, steal, and lie; and others are simply lucky. And occassionally, after all that striving or manipulating or at the end of a rainbow, we actually find our pot of gold, the thing we’d set our heart on to finally make us happy. But at some point in life, everyone realizes the bitter truth in The Rolling Stones’ lyrics, “You can’t always get what you want.” 

But there is a truth, deeper still, that surprises. To many, this truth is a terrible disappointment, an emptiness where fullness was needed. To a few, this truth comes as a welcome surprise, a gift of unexpected abundance.

What is that truth, this secret to happiness?

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.

Yup, that’s it.  Go ahead and chew on that for a minute. Now, I wish I could say that I came up with this concept on my own, but it is actually a direct quote from the greatest philosopher of all time, the Greek poetess Hieronymous Anonymous. (In other words, noone seems to know who originated the concept and you could find 101 variations of it online. But I digress…)

Do you see how this truth could be a bitter pill for some and a sweet balm for others? If we fix our hope for happiness on getting, having, achieving, we will never reach it. Sure, we may be successful at those things, but we will quickly realize they didn’t bring the lasting joy we were longing for. However, if we open our eyes to see that everyday life is a radically extravagant gift and that the ordinary air, objects, work, people we’re surrounded by hold tremendous value, then, in that process we will surprise ourselves with happiness.

It has to do with contentment and delightcreativity and humor, gratitude and selflessness. Which one of these words most jumps out at you? Hold onto that one word for a moment…

Now,  think of a challenging situation in your life right now, something that you’ve allowed to rob you of some happiness. What would it look like if you applied your word to “make the best” of that situation? It might surprise you and turn something loathsome into a beautiful thing.

My word for now is delight.

~Jenni

PS: A warning: don’t be the donkey or the ostrich. By donkey, I mean don’t act like a martyr, moping about pretending you’re sacrificially making the best of everything to get people’s sympathy. By ostrich, I mean don’t bury your head in the ground, pretending everything’s fine and ignoring a situation that you know needs to change. This secret to happiness is meant to empower you to live abundantly in the midst of “ordinary”, not to keep you from truly living.

The Gift

It‘s Christmas Eve morning and all is quiet in our house. A fire is blazing in the woodstove, the dog is sacked out in front of it, and, although he got up an hour ago to feed the dog, build the fire, and change the baby’s diaper, my husband is back in bed with our little baby boy curled up next to him. I offered to relieve him of baby duty so he could take a shower, but he glanced down at his son sleeping peacefully by his side and said, “There’s no way I’m leaving this.”

Soon the quiet moment will pass and we will gather up our gifts and overnight bags and head out of town to enjoy Christmas with my family. We’re all staying overnight at Mom and Dad’s house (aka “Mimi & Boppy’s”). My family gets loud when we get together; lots of joking, laughing and hugging. It’s William’s first Christmas and little Mary is now three years old, the age where Christmas gets really fun. And this Christmas is special for our family because we will all be together in the house where my sister and I spent nearly every major holiday of our childhood. The house my parents just moved into was built and lived in by my grandpa and grandma. So we all associate it with warm family memories and the scent of pumpkin pie.

On top of all that family goodness, this Christmas has special meaning to me for another reason. This year I understand in a fresh way the precious extravagance of that first Christmas Gift. When I think of how tenderly Seth and I love our only son, and how fiercely we would protect him from any person who threatened to harm him, it blows my mind that God the Father was willing to give us Jesus. As immense and perfect as their love for one another, they came up with a plan to win us back, to free us from the darkness. Their love was so big and so perfect that they suffered much in order to invite us into that love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)

If you have ever associated Jesus Christ with condemnation and judgment, please re-read that second verse. He came to save us from condemnation.

This Christmas, I am amazed at the Gift and thankful to the Giver. Wherever you find yourself this weekend, I hope your Christmas is meaningful as you reflect on God’s extravagant love for you and all the world.

Merry Christmas!

Gratitude: A Mystic Exchange

There is power in gratitude. In fact, I believe that when we give thanks, we receive much more than we give.

The human heart is wired in such a way that our spirits can be lifted up–or cast down–depending on what we focus our attention. Even if I do not feel grateful, I can choose to cultivate a spirit of gratitude. In my own life, I have found that when I struggle with frustration, anger or sadness, the act of giving thanks transforms my perspective. It’s a mystical exchange!

Whenever I sing or write or speak or even just think of the specific blessings in my life, the color of my world brightens. In place of longing for what I do not have, I receive contentment. Instead of feeling rushed and restless, I realize I am exactly where I need to be at this moment. In exchange for selfish apathy and a dull heart, I receive a spirit of generosity and compassion for others.

What better time than Thanksgiving week to practice gratitude?

I encourage you to find a few minutes to jot down 20 things you’re grateful for. (You know  I love list-making!) Here’s my Gratitude List:

  1. God’s lovingkindness to me
  2. The deep peace and joy He’s given me
  3. Seven years of marriage to my best friend Seth
  4. Seth’s patience, wisdom, and strength
  5. The new life of our son, William, who’s asleep on my chest as I type this
  6. William’s health and the sweet spirit we’re already sensing in him
  7. Seth’s stellar daddy skills and partnership in raising our son
  8. The loving relationships we enjoy with our parents and siblings
  9. That our parents and siblings are all alive and healthy
  10. Old and new friends who share our joys and lighten our struggles
  11. Living in the warmth, shelter, and spirit of this old farmhouse
  12. The luxury of a 3-month modified maternity leave to focus on my baby
  13. The people, projects, variety and flexibility my career allows me
  14. My health and no longer being immensely pregnant
  15. The half glass of chilled Pinot Grigio my father-in-law just brought to me
  16. My mother-in-law cooking dinner in my kitchen right now
  17. Not having to worry whether I’ll eat or where I’ll sleep each night
  18. The beauty of nature that surrounds me
  19. English breakfast tea
  20. Good books

What are you grateful for today? I’d love to hear about it and celebrate that with you!

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

A Poem for the Weekend

In college I discovered e. e. cummings, one of America’s most interesting poets. This is my favorite poem of his and the lyrics often come to me when I’m out on a walk or gazing at a blue sky through the window. To enjoy this poem to the max, I encourage you to read it aloud one time, and then again a second time with some feeling as you gain a sense of the cadence.

Have a great weekend everyone! (We are braving a first trip into Bend, an hour away, with William to run errands and do some shopping today.)

i thank You God for most this amazing

day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e. e. cummings (1894-1962)

The Passing of a Season

What’s your favorite season? I am definitely a summer girl. I love the long warm days and the carefree sensations of walking barefoot in grass, BBQing with friends, and staying outside late at night to watch the stars…without getting cold! Yesterday as this blog post idea came to me, I was sitting on my porch bed with the sun warming my back and a blanket on my lap, my body a living illustration of turning away from the long hot days of summer and facing the cooler, cozier months ahead.

Each season has its benefits and drawbacks, its pros & cons. And during times of transition, I think it’s valuable to reflect on what we’ll miss about the days behind us and what we look forward to in the days ahead. Reflection enriches the chapters of our lives with a unique identity and meaning, instead of just a continual blur of random, meaningless, unconnected events. This is true whether the transition is a turning of the calendar, the change of a job, a move to another town, or even the addition or subtraction of an important relationship. By naming what we’ll miss, we give ourselves permission to honestly mourn the loss of what was good, thereby allowing it a place of meaning in our personal history and honoring the rhythms of life. And by identifying what we gain, we can rightly celebrate the good to come and set a positive tone for the days ahead.

To me, autumn and spring feel like transitional seasons, whereas summer and winter seem more definitive and self-sustained. Maybe this is because I grew up in Central Oregon, where spring and autumn tend to be winter one day and summer the next. But all four seasons hold traditional and metaphorical symbolism shared across many cultures:

  • Spring represents rebirth and new life (the promise of what’s to come)
  • Summer represents vitality, nurturing, life (the celebration of vibrant life)
  • Autumn represents harvest and maturation (the preservation of what’s been achieved and preparation for subsistence)
  • Winter represents sleep, covering, and darkness (the sheltering and rest of hibernation)

Isn’t it amazing that our world is wrapped in this beautiful rhythm? It makes me grateful to live in a temperate climate, where we experience the extremities of the seasons. (Although, in February, I’ll be jealous of my Texas friends who enjoy two seasons: hot and hotter!) 🙂

Some things I’ll miss about summer:

  • The garden
  • Our weekly CSA box of organic local produce
  • Breakfast and dinner on the porch
  • Swimming and sun bathing
  • The sound of the breeze in the tall trees
  • Endless sunshine
  • Casual outdoor get-togethers
  • The scent of a summer shower on hot asphalt
  • Kids running through sprinklers
  • Summer dresses and flip-flops
  • Hiking

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Some things I’m excited about for winter:

  • Pulling apples from my stash in the cellar
  • Hearty, oven-cooked dinners and soups
  • A white, sparkly blanket of snow
  • Baby’s first holidays
  • Deep heat from the wood stove
  • Family & friends gathered in a cozy house
  • Sweaters, jeans & boots
  • Running again
  • Bundling up our baby until he resembles a giant marshmallow
  • Hot tubbing in the woods at Mt Hood
  • Long quiet evenings of tea and reading on the couch (Oh, wait a second…that’s what we used to do pre-baby…check back with me on this! 😉

What about you? What will you most miss about summer? What do you look forward to this winter?

(By the way, today is my birthday! There’s yet another good reason to reflect on the past, dream about the future…and celebrate today! Honestly, with the baby on the way, I haven’t given much though to my birthday this year. My family is coming over tonight and bringing dinner. Looks like we get to begin on the Winter Wonders list already, as family gathers together in our house, with plenty of food, warmth and festivity. Party on! If William should decide it’s time to go into real labor, all the better.)

Pregnancy Update

I am still pregnant. As in 41 weeks + 1 day pregnant =  8 days overdue.

I should have known better than writing a post extolling the virtues of waiting patiently and actively, celebrating the gifts of the moment even while longing for what you really want. Was I daring God to put my patience to the test?! If so, this past week has definitely given me ample opportunity to practice what I wrote about in Waiting for “It”. Some days, hours, minutes I’m successful and other times I start to flounder and feel impatient or negative–“Will this baby ever come?!”–only to have my wonderful husband or a phone call from a family member or a blog comment from a reader help me to readjust my focus again. This moment really is a gift and I’ve enjoyed some special memory-making times this past week which I could’ve missed if I’d been too focused on “getting there”…including a few bouts of hysterical laughter with Seth, which must be a great stress reliever. 😉

On Sunday, I had two older women share a piece of advice which I’d never heard before: “When the fruit is ripe, it falls.”

There’s good wisdom in that folksy saying. I looked it up online and learned that it originated with our friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. In other words, let things take their natural course and in due time, they’ll work themselves out.  Or, as it applies to my particular situation, this baby will come when he’s good and ready. So even though I’m doing all the little things I can to help encourage him along, I’m also trying to stay relaxed and remember that it isn’t up to me to step up and “make it happen.” As a natural type-A / recovering perfectionist, it is tempting for me to place the burden on myself as though I just need to do something or perform.

This weekend I picked another bushel of apples from the orchard, mostly Golden Delicious. It felt great to be out in the sunshine, with the chickens and turkeys comically clucking around my feet to see what I was up to and if I had any scraps for them. Picking those apples returned my thoughts to “When the fruit is ripe, it will fall.” Because sometimes instead of waiting for a piece of fruit to fall, it’s best to pluck it from the branch, right?

As you know from Our Birth Plan my goal is to deliver this baby naturally. I believe the female body is brilliantly designed to be able to carry and deliver a baby healthily, and that medical interventions often impede that process in a normal situation. But I’m also grateful to have access to medical advancements if truly needed. Since studies show an increase in unhealthy outcomes for babies delivered after 42 weeks, we will go in for an induction next Monday if William hasn’t arrived on his own by then. I’d prefer not to induce because once you start down that road, it tends to lead to one intervention after another and even an increase in Cesarean sections.

Time will tell if the fruit of my womb is going to ripen and fall on his own, or if we’ll need to go fruit picking.

So please say a little prayer for us, that this baby would come soon. My 30th birthday is on Thursday and a baby in my arms would be the best birthday present ever! Meanwhile, I am seeking to live fully here and to savor each day as the unique and once-in-a-lifetime gift that it is.

Postscript–some technical details:

  1. Yesterday we had an ultrasound and non-stress test. Baby’s size, heart rate, amniotic fluid levels, etc, are all showing perfectly healthy and I feel good.
  2. I continue to have light contractions, but I guess you could call them Braxton hicks or prelabor, as they’re not increasing in frequency or intensity.
  3. I think it’s helpful to clarify that a “normal term” pregnancy is considered 38-42 weeks. Wouldn’t it take pressure off expectant mothers if we quit referring to the “due date” and started calling it what most medical professionals do now, the “estimated delivery date” or EDD? I personally am going to make that switch, starting now. 🙂 

Waiting for “It”

In the wee hours this morning, I finally started feeling contractions! At 4:35 am I awoke to an intense tightening of my abdomen; not very painful, but enough to let me know it was a contraction. Laying there in the dark, first caution and then excitement welled up in me as I thought to myself, “This could be it!” They continued every 10-15 minutes as I tried to rest quietly, checking the clock, thanking the Lord, and finally, waking Seth when I couldn’t keep the secret anymore around 5:30.

Being three days over my “due date”, I am eager to get this baby out of my womb and into my arms! So I was ready to call the doula, have Seth tell his substitute to cover him at work, and get this party started! “Let’s see, 6:00 am now, get through early labor here in the comfort of home, head to the hospital later today, and maybe have our son before midnight. October 27: that’s a good date to be born!” I had it all planned out in my head. 🙂 And yet, here I sit seven hours later, feeling a little too good to be in labor. Hmm… Tick-tock goes the clock.

Isn’t that just like life? We are always so eager to get to the next stage! Whether it’s graduating, getting the job, finding the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, getting engaged, getting married, getting to retirement, getting the kids out of the house, or just getting past this crazy day…it’s so easy to focus on getting there, wherever the next “there” may be. Before I was pregnant, I so desired to become pregnant; and to be honest, I really have enjoyed this phase of life. But now that society has communicated that my baby should have arrived by now, I struggle to stay content and focused in this moment. It’s natural to feel that way. But really, isn’t all we really have this moment?

Ann Voskamp writes beautifully of the gift of this moment concept in her recent book, One Thousand Gifts and on her blog (http://www.aholyexperience.com/ann-voskamp/). Look how she describes this phenomenon of always being in a hurry to get there:

“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” 

I know I do that sometimes. In my impatient waiting for “next”, I completely miss out on now. If I’m not careful to be fully present and grateful for the moment of life I am in right now, I am blind and deaf to the beauty that surrounds me, I am throwing away time. What small act of love can I perform today that might echo throughout eternity? How can I nourish myself and others with the abundant grace that is offered today, which I may find myself in need of for tomorrow’s journey? 

Now this doesn’t mean that I won’t prepare for the future. It’s definitely important to have goals and dreams and to take the steps required to reach them. I am not advocating laziness or aimless living. Our goals for the future should guide our choices today. But still, we cannot live in tomorrow.

I choose to live now. I will not just “get through today” until that miraculous moment I long for. Yes, I look forward to what’s to come–you’d better believe I’m excited to look into the eyes of my son, and that I’ve double-checked that our bags are packed, etc! But it’s easy to glamorize the future and miss the miracle of this moment. The truth is that, once my labor does start in earnest, I’m going to experience a lot of pain before we get to the other side. Maybe that’s why Jesus counseled us “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Speaking of which, I just felt another contraction!)

Today really is a gift. The fact that you and I are alive right now, breathing air, considering these words together, is a miracle in itself! So let’s live fully in this moment, with its blessings and its challenges. 

I’d love to hear what that means for you today.  


Strong Enough to Bury

Have you ever considered how much faith it takes to plant a tulip bulb? To plant a bulb or seed in the ground is to take something full of life and promise and then bury it under dirt, leave it for dead, and trust that it will somehow rise to new life at the right time. It seems downright counter-intuitive, but we see this principle in nature all around us.

spring bulbs

Even though I’ve never been the mistress of impressive gardens, I’ve always considered myself to have a gardener’s soul. Maybe by default, since my precious Grandma Mig was an avid gardener who invited me into the melee. (Upon arrival at Grandma’s house, she’d say with a twinkle in her eye, “Let’s go survey the kingdom,” and we’d walk out back to see what was blooming or ripening.) So throughout school and my early years of adulthood, I’ve always had something on hand to keep green–the Chia kit herb garden in middle school, house plants in my college dorm, and some of Grandma’s perennials that I’ve transplanted & towed with me from house to house.

But this spring it dawned on me that I’ve never had enough faith to plant spring bulbs. Even though the emergence of daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and crocus at winter’s end delights my heart every spring, in five years of owning our townhouse, I never once took that step of faith in our yard. Though I thought about it each fall, I’d reason that it wasn’t worth the effort because 1) I’d plant them wrong and they wouldn’t survive the cold winter, 2) the deer would eat them, 3) our front yard wouldn’t provide enough sunlight, 4) maybe we’d move and I wouldn’t be there to enjoy them anyway. But looking back now, I see that I’d been robbing myself and anyone who passed by of an opportunity for joy…just because I was worried it might not work out, that I might fail, that the conditions wouldn’t be right. So I never tried.

Fast forward to this summer. We finally moved away from our townhouse (leaving narry a bulb behind, of course) and landed here at this 30-acre garden of Eden where people had been pouring their hearts into this soil for more than a hundred years. I find myself surrounded by mature fruit trees bearing apricots (my blog’s namesake, of course 😉 ), peaches, plums, apples and pears; roses smelling heavenly in a dozen different colors and sizes; ornamental trees generously adding shade, texture and color; and different kinds of flowers popping up to surprise us each week. I didn’t do any of the work, but I get to enjoy the results of their labor. It’s a gift.

When Seth and I got down on our knees to add my Grandma’s perennials to the front garden, guess what we unearthed there? Spring bulbs. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of them. We couldn’t sink our shovels into the ground without pulling out handfulls of the little brown nuggets. Someone who came here before me had faith.

(c) Yvonne Cunnington, flower-gardening-made-easy.comI want to be that kind of person, someone with a generous faith, more than enough to share. With so much love and joy and acceptance that I’m confident enough to give it all away indiscriminately, without holding back. What would the world look like if we chose to sow these gifts generously, instead of allowing fear to hold us back? There would be nothing left to fear if our faith rested on Someone so strong and full of Life that even death & burial couldn’t stop resurrection!

I also wonder, what else in my life do I need to let go of, to let it “die” for a season so that it can hibernate and possibly be raised to new life at the right time? Since I am very close to entering motherhood for the first time (our baby was “due” yesterday), I suspect I will have the opportunity to let go of many things during this season of life. Help me remember the beauty in that, okay? I may need the reminder.

Now that I’ve unearthed my predecessors’ bulbous promises from this ground, they must be planted again, of course. And it’s time to do that, before winter’s frost hardens the earth for its long hibernation. I hope I plant them right. I hope they get the sunshine they need to grow again. But even if I wasn’t here to enjoy them myself next spring, I would be okay with that. This place is teaching me to bury my bulbs more generously. I want to add to the beauty for others to enjoy some day.

Some inspirational verses about a love strong enough to bury:

“I tell you the truth, unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24)

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

 Question to Ponder: What has fear held you back from doing? What is the worst and best that could happen if you chose to act in faith instead of fear in that situation?