In last week’s blog I talked about finding God’s joy, peace, and comfort in the gifts He brings into my life and in His Word. The need for this became evident to me when I recently examined my gianormous tomato plant. I had neglected it for a few days and upon closer inspection I noticed several large “suckers.” A sucker starts as a couple of leaves between branches. Left unattended “they will grow into their own branch but “they won’t bear fruit and will take energy from the rest of the plant.”*
Aha! That was exactly what I was experiencing in my life. I had allowed my attention, energy, and focus to be redirected to suckers in my life that were not bearing fruit and were leaving me depleted.
You know me—I had to make a list. I made a list of the suckers in my life. Here it goes:
- Negative thoughts (not hard to have in 2020).
- Critical thoughts of myself. I began to notice how hard I am on myself. If someone was as critical of me as I am of me, I would distance myself from them. Why did I treat me this way?
- Social media. Yes, there is much good on social media, but lately it is hard to find. Plus, I was spending too much time checking it.
- TV—again lots of negative and it no longer served its purpose to inform and entertain.
- Comparison—Comparing any part of my life to any part of someone else’s. For me it hits me the hardest when I compare my writing/ministry with others.
There you have it—my sad state of thinking.
Now I needed a new list—one of inspiration. On the page facing the list of suckers, I started a new list—
Who/What Inspires Me.
This list was harder to make. As I said, I was low on inspiration and high on negativity. Honestly, it is still a work in progress. At first I wrote only two things—
- Chip and Joanna Gaines’ recent show highlighting the shows on their new Magnolia Network.
- The people on the shows of their new network.
Why am I inspired by these people? They authentically follow and live their passion even though it is sometimes messy and they have no clue what will happen next. They are positive, kind, loving, fun, and giving their best to their passion. They were doing what they do even before someone was watching. Plus, I am a visual person and most of the shows are so pretty. The beauty of what they create, grow, and make inspires my own creative efforts—cooking, baking, home decorating, writing, and hospitality.
I didn’t force anything else on my list. I let the idea simmer in my brain for a couple of days. I kept thinking—where do I find inspiration, encouragement, and insights to keep me growing?
Later I added—
- The music of Fernando Ortega. After my time in the morning with God, I tell Alexa to play Fernando. Starting the day with his soulful songs and hymns is much better than the news. His music helps me focus on God and calms my spirit.
- I also realized that cooking/baking inspires me. I love doing it and I feel my mind open up to thoughts and ideas that seem obvious in the moment and at the same time I’m thinking, Where did that come from?!
- Being outside—being on our deck, working in the garden, going for a brisk walk. I feel more alive outside.
I’m still working on my list. I feel I should have many more things in the wonderful life God has given me that inspire me. I only need to keep my eyes open and discover them. One last thing on my list currently:
- Rereading books that inspired me when I first read them. This is one of those ideas that popped into my head from God. One day I was looking for a certain book in my bookcase when I noticed several books I read in the past and was reminded how much I loved them. I thought why not reread them and see how they speak to me now. I pulled a couple off the shelf and am reading them with fresh eyes.
I share my process to help you with your process. If you’re feeling less joyful and peaceful, maybe you need to identify the joy suckers in your life. And then be observant to who/what inspires you to fully be the person God created you to be—and that is the person who enjoys an authentic relationship with God. In that place of relationship with God is where we find true peace and joy.
* https://www.thespruce.com/top-tomato-growing-tips-1402587. Accessed June 24, 2020
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.