Pots n Pinwheels

updated 3.24.16

I know they’re just pots, but they do more than hold dirt. They retain memories and are a symbol of intentionality for our family.

6 Easters ago, we set up a scavenger hunt. The final clue led to our neighbor’s trampoline, which we had piled with four giant plastic pots, bags of soil, flats of flowers, gardening gloves, shovels, trowels, and a four unique pinwheels.

Each child thoroughly enjoyed filling their pot with a lower level of rocks, then some dirt and some carefully, some exuberantly, arranging and planting the flowers they had chosen.

We wanted these planters to be a visual reminder of the fact that Jesus died for us, that his body was placed in the ground, but that he rose again and something beautiful came out of that wondrous event.

Two years later as we packed up our belongings to move from Michigan to Georgia, I could not leave those pots. And it was a dilemma because if we wanted the pots, we had to get rid of the flowers.

I came up with a solution that seemed the best thing we could do with both. We unplanted the flowers from the pots and took half to my sister-in-law’s house and planted them in various spots around her garden and planters–hopefully they would be a sweet memory of her nieces and nephews. We watered those plants in tears that day–such a beautiful bittersweet goodbye.

The other half we took to dear friends who had just moved into their new home and added them to what we called a “friendship garden”. It colored up their back yard beautifully and we enjoyed taking a picture of the 6 “friends” in front of their newly planted friendship garden as a sweet memory before saying our goodbyes to them as well.

I emptied the big pots of their dirt and debris, washed and dried them in the sun, then made sure they–along with the pinwheels, gloves, shovels & trowels–made it into the pod for moving.

POTSOnce we unpacked, I thought the pots ought to be used for a bit more than giant baskets in a ball-toss game on the lawn. Our new house needed to look like us.

After cruising all the ads online to find the best prices, we drove to a few places and gathered a handful of plants and a few bags of dirt. We got out the pots, the gardening gloves, shovels, trowels and watering cans and we planted. Once planted, each child proudly placed their pinwheel in their garden then skipped away in glee.

579599_10151366059186725_706450828_n

It’s been 6 years since we started planting flowers for Easter. Two moves later, our kids are still looking forward to the tradition of planting something new and beautiful in their pots.

I know they’re just pots, but I hope they will last forever. That for the Great Scotts–who have more than graduated from being the Scotts Tots–these will be a constant reminder that no matter where we go, we too, are just a vessel for something beautiful that is alive in us because of Him.

 

I’m not losing my marbles, I know right where I planted them

picstitchI didn’t get to attend the Orange Conference this year, but tracked along–mostly while waiting in carlines for the four Scotts Tots– via Twitter and the #OC13 hashtag.

Trending during Reggie Joiner’s session was a quote from a book he wrote called “Losing Your Marbles: Playing for Keeps“. Basically, if you put a marble in a jar for each week of your child’s life from birth until high school graduation then remove a marble each week, you’ll see how many you have left. It’s a powerful visual. So much so that there’s even an app called “Legacy Countdown” that lets you see how many weeks (or marbles) you have left with each of your kids!

Throughout conference week, people used the app to calculate the weeks left with their children and posted this quote along with the picture of how many weeks they had left:

“When you see how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.”

Comments being left on these infographics, Instagrams and TwitPics were along the lines of,

  • “Wow.”
  • “Please make it stop!”
  • “It’s going too quickly.”
  • “I have so little left.”
  • “Scary.”

I have to admit, these diffident comments upset me.

You see, I’ve been making a concerted effort to fully engage with and invest in my four children. I chose to leave a career that I triple-heart loved to intentionally focus on each individual child since day one of them being home from the hospital or the airport. I felt that they were more worth my time and effort than a paycheck.

I’m not a robot, and I will miss my children when they leave home to embark on new post-graduation adventures. I think the tinge of wistfulness I felt about sending each child off to kindergarten might return at high school graduation, but I have to hope that the tiny drop of sadness I feel for myself will again be completely and utterly deluged in my elation for them.

I have so much confidence in the work that I’ve been doing in their growing up years that I admit, I’m eager to see my investment pay off. I can’t wait to sit back and watch them navigate the world on their own two feet putting the skills and practices I’ve helped them learn to use in the “real world” outside of our four walls.

So I don’t look at those countdowns and feel sad or sick or scared. I’m excited for the launch! I get Jerry McGuire “Show me the money!” ecstatic thinking about the ROI that will be my kids in their future years.

That thought has me digging deep and investing generously in anticipation of the payoff. And I’d like to change my visual metaphor from marbles to seeds. Each time I take one out of the jar, I’m planting it. Knowing that I’ve prepared the soil, gone after those weeds with a vengeance, nurtured that seed, paid attention to the climate and adjusted accordingly.

I’m  not losing my marbles, I’m confidently and carefully sowing them knowing that astounding, exquisite, breathtaking things are getting ready to grow in their seasons.

rockabye redemption

imgresMy  5 1/2 year old son asked me to sing him a song like I used to when he was a baby. We adopted him at almost age 2, so there aren’t as many baby rocking songs or memories as there were with my older three children.

It just so happened that my oldest daughter wandered into the bedroom during this nighttime routine, so I asked big sister to pick one of her favorite “baby rocking” songs for me to fulfill his request.

She chose “Rockabye Baby”.

I folded my 40 pound son up like an acordian to get him into my arms and began crooning and swaying.

I never do anything by the book and always try to add an element of fun to what I do. So of course in the song when we get to “the cradle will fall”, the “baby” is jostled, faux dropped and jiggled til there is copious giggling as we crescendo to the super silly, vibrato-filled finale of “cradle and aaaaalllllllll”, which ends the experience.

After catching his breath from giggling, my chocolate-eyed boy asked, very seriously, “but mom, who will save me? you have to finish the song and say who saves me”.

My jaw dropped open, but I couldn’t utter a word. On the inside, I was jumping up and down shouting “Yes!”, as epiphanies lit up like fireworks inside my head.

There’s something in each of us, not matter how young, that longs for redemption. 

Something groans inside our beings that won’t let us settle with a story that ends with a baby falling out of a tree. Something pokes us from the inside that won’t let us get comfortable on our pillows and jilts our peace not letting us settle for “well, that’s the end of that.”

You see, my little guy, he can’t live without knowing that something or someone comes along to save Him and finishes the story properly. He’s not content with falling out of a tree and being left there on his own with “The End” stamped on his forehead.

I pine for this for him. I long for this for him. I pray for this for him. For that moment when the he hits the ground and realizes that he needs someone to save him. To pick him up, brush him off, and tell him it’s not the end, but rather that it’s just the beginning.

Dear Gomer,

imgresI don’t think I had ever read your story before, but it only took a few sentences for me to be totally sucked in.

My heart soared with excitement for you as I read in your love story that you had been specially chosen to become a preacher’s wife. And not only how this marriage rescued you from the sex trade, but how you were actually chosen to be Hosea’s wife because of your “profession”. Did that not just blow your mind? It did mine when I read it!

Your story reminds me a little bit of a movie called “Pretty Woman” that was made many years after your life. It was about a well-to-do businessman who fell in love with a prostitue he had hired and after just one night together decided he wanted to have her all to himself and not have to share her with other men. It was a sad and compelling and shocking yet wildly popular movie. I’m surprised your story doesn’t get more attention since it’s very much in the same vein.

Anyway, as I was reading your story, I couldn’t help but think that you must have felt so lucky when Hosea proposed to you. That because this man of God chose you to be his mate, you were handed a new, fresh start. That doesn’t happen all that often, you know.

Then I read that you left your beautiful new life to return to the streets. Not only did you leave your husband behind, but 3 children as well.

When I got to that part of your story, I scrunched my eyes shut and tried to imagine what in the world could have been so horrible in your new life that it had driven you away from it and back to the streets. Did your husband not really pay any attention to you? Were you bored? Was momming too much for you? Was your spouse more married to his job than he was to you?

Although not very many would be brave enough to admit it, I think a lot of women can identify with you and that’s why your story was chosen to be included in one of top-selling books of all times. Marriages grow stale and boring. Parenting is really, really hard. Changing locations, stations in life, even a change in occupation can wreck you. Not to mention all the hormones after childbirth and lack of sleep ever after.

I don’t know what drove you to run away from what seemed like a fairytale life, but you did.

What’s the most interesting part of your saga, besides the “sacred raisin cakes” mentioned in chapter 3 (man, I’d love the recipe for those…), is the fact that your husband didn’t let you go.

You were loved, despite leaving. You were wanted despite not wanting to be there. You were pursued, relentlessly. Brought back. Bought back. Fought for. Gomer, do you have any idea how many women wish to be loved that fiercely?

I’ll bet there are a whole lot of women who feel invisible and want to act out to get some attention. Was that your story too, Gomer? Did you feel unnecessary? Unexciting? Unappreciated? Unwanted? I can imagine that even today there are some lonely, swept aside women who feel like if they ran away no one would come looking for them, or even worse no one would even notice that they were gone.

But not you, Gomer. You were something special. You have so much in common with all of womankind, many of which would probably rather die than claim to have anything in common with a hooker.

gomer

I’ll come out and say it: I’m enamored with your story. Maybe because it’s almost Valentine’s Day. But Hosea’s relentless love tugs at something deep inside of me and forces me sit up and take notice. To close my eyes and wonder about you. To wish for every woman to feel as loved and wanted and pursued and redeemed as you were. To know that for each and every one of us, despite our past or our present, there is hope. 

Click HERE to read Gomer’s story

Dunkin Donuts, the Pentagon, and Ethiopia


mzl.gjdzvroj.175x175-75When you’re on a 14 hour road trip, you have lots of time to think.
Especially when you’re the driver, your spouse is sleeping off his 4am driving shift, and your 4 kids are absorbed with their technology in the back of your vehicle and not making a peep.

The iExit Lite app on my phone alerted us that we were coming up on a Dunkin Donuts stop near Pentagon, VA. Finally–we were nearing sugar, caffeine, and civilization again! When we turned off the highway, it seemed like many more turns and miles before we finally reached Dunkin Donuts. I’m always racing the “ETA” on our GPS, and this out-of-the-wayness was losing us valuable minutes off our time!

The  donut shop was empty, except for two cops sitting at a front table talking up a very amicable storm over coffee. I encouraged the kids to be on their best behavior since there were police officers in the shop–telling them to make themselves proud in case the patrolmen were watching them.

A bell on the door tinkled upon entering, and we were greeted by two svelt ladies, whose age I couldn’t quite discern. They had beautiful cream tea colored skin and their hair was mysteriously masked in loose turbans of muted white cotton cloth with with the tiniest hint of rosy pink flowers dotting a pattern through the material.

I said hello looking directly into their shy, tipped-down faces before heading to take up my position outside the bathroom door to usher the kids through their “duties” while Dan based himself by the cash register to place donut orders after each child finished at my “station”. I could see that there was an interaction going on at the register with lots of smiling. When all were finished and I approached the counter, I saw each of my kids happily munching on two donut holes apiece, and figured that was the interchange and reason for the smiles.

I placed my donut and coffee order, helped the indecisive child decide on something, and thanked the ladies that had served us wishing them a wonderful day as we walked back to our van to load in for another few hours of driving. The police officers acted as if they hadn’t even noticed us.

“That was so nice of them to give the kids donut holes–they didn’t have to do that!”, I said.

Dan replied, “They said it was a ‘Happy New Year’ treat. And they asked me if Taye was from Ethiopia, they said they could totally tell where he was from!”

I was amazed. I try not to assume all people of color are from Africa, but I HAD noticed their bone structure, the shape of their faces, shy downturned glances, and way they wrapped their hair. Something in me knew but was too afraid to assume or ask in case I was wrong.

As I spent the next few hours driving, I thanked God that I lived in a country wrapped in rich history, oozing with freedom and blessing, safety despite the tragedy that happened more than a decado ago and could have been worse in the city we had just driven by. And for taking us right to that particular Dunkin Donuts at that exact time. We were supposed to be there–to feel safe in an unfamiliar city thanks to the presence of those two policemen. To see and be recognized by people who share a birth country but enjoy the freedoms of American living.

I hope I never get over the wonder of God’s orchestrations of life and these ironic encounters. My times are truly in his hands (Ps. 31:15a)…even on a road trip that I think I planned!

Waterfall

We recently visited a waterfall in Tallulah Gorge, where we climbed down literally hundreds of steps to get to the bottom of the tumbling torrents. The stairs were even numbered so we’d know how many little planks of torture there were left for us to endure. After descending to the foot of the falls, we huffed and puffed and popped Smarties to fuel our weary selves all the way back up to the top of the gorge again so we could hike around and view the falls from every angle up above. The scenery was spectacularly breathtaking from the myriad lookout stations that had been strategically placed and beautifully built to give you the best views of the roaring waters.

Toward the end of the trail, everyone else in our troupe had gotten way ahead leaving tiny-legs Taye and I behind. I could tell he was running out of steam, so instead of pushing him on I  paused at the last lookout before the end of the hike, got down on one knee and called him over to peek with me through the lookout fence for one last glance at the waterfall. I hugged his little middle and told him I was so glad he was here and got to see this with me, then I told him the last time I remember seeing a waterfall was in Ethiopia.

During our week of “getting to know Ethiopia” and soaking up as much of the culture as we could before meeting our son, we were taken to a waterfall that we were told was very important. Stymied about what could be so impressive about a dinky, dirty little stream, we had awkwardly and dutifully taken pictures, oohed and aahed until we had pleased our guides enough for them to let us get back in the rickety van and bump along the road to the next significant sight. The waterfall was small and completely muddy brown. It was kind of gross and underwhelming to us, but to them it was a beautiful sight. Because of their severe drought, this waterfall was about 1/10 of what it used to be. The Ethiopians were thrilled that there had recently been a rain to get it hydrated and get that water “falling” again. Seeing this waterfall wasn’t worth hundreds of birr to me then ($5-10 US dollars), but it is priceless to me now as I realize how important this sight was for me to see.

As I knelt next to my tuckered out Taye at Tallulah Falls, taking in the beauty of the powerful, crystal clear, full of water, resounding waterfall, I had to fight back my emotions as I thought back to the dry, crackled land where Taye came from, the reason he had to leave, and how blessed he is now to live in a land that has more than plenty. How blessed we are to hike rubber-mulched paths, climb neatly-numbered stairs and peek through artistically crafted viewing stations at the beauty of our abundantly blessed land for a mere $5 parking fee.

Apples ‘n onions

Our family drove up to the North Georgia mountains for some family togetherness and to enjoy the fall colors.

Our 1.5 hours of driving was filled with movie-watching, iPhone & Kindle playing, Nintendo DS’s and a Leapster. Technology. One of the reasons we were heading out to the great outdoors in the first place.

Once we got there, we all unplugged and enjoyed an incredible family picnic followed by an amazing hike. Filled with falls, scrapes, tired breathlessness as we climbed down and up an exorbitant amount of stairs and very wobbly legs as we stumbled across an old wooden suspension bridge across a gorge. We fought over who got to be the “leader”, we yelled, “hey wait up, don’t leave us behind”. We coaxed tired legs and broken wills off the benches after a rest and water break–encouraged each other to keep going that there was more to see and it would be fun to keep going. *Someone* even bribed people to keep going using candy she had stashed in her pocket for such a time as this.

It was a day of swinging from one extreme to the other–from watching a movie while playing on a piece of technology in the van to out in nature with nothing more than a water bottle and Cliff bar, then back in the van to plug in again on the ride home again. From being alone with your head down while jumping for coins or sling-shotting birds in your own little world, to suddenly being together in a group with our heads up and mouths agog in wonder at the beauty of nature out in a great big world.

As I sat down later and thought about our day of bouncing back and forth between our extreme activities, it reminded me of a favorite side dish mentioned in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Farmer Boy”–apples ‘n onions. These are two things that just don’t really seem to go together. But when given context and paired with the pork chop of togetherness, the “apples” of technology (pun intended) and the onions of a foray into nature made perfect sense altogether.

Our odd mix of a little bit of this and a little bit of that made for an extremely enjoyable afternoon for all six of us. That day left us feeling full and satisfied with stories, high scores, memories, and a priceless photo or two to boot.