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To My Plant Friends

              I love my plant friends. Walk into their house and there are plants. Everywhere. I am not a plant person. I am bad at taking care of plants. I just can’t keep them alive. I give them too much sun. Too much water. I am also bad at taking care of people.

              Cameron would tell you this isn’t true. He recently told me I respond to him well. I listen, I only offer advice when asked. I care for him while respecting his autonomy.

              I am good for Cameron. He wants to grow in a way that fits my methodology and thought process. He likes the amount of light and water I naturally offer. But I cannot say I am good at taking care of people because ‘people’ includes those who don’t think like me. They need different levels of sun and water.

God has recently been using a young gal to humble me. Constantly. She doesn’t aspire to the same ‘level’ of growth. She doesn’t want to work through past demons. She just goes through life changing habits without overthinking. Sort of.

I try to push and influence her behavior. But it never works.

She does have episodes of growth. She sits me down and brings up difficult topics and clearly states what she feels, what she wants, and what she is working on.

It has always been after my absence. Not my presence. Won’t talk for three or four days and then a sudden blooming of analyzed feelings and desires. I am more of a hindrance than a help.

She is the plant lady.

She grows on her own.

Paul tells us in 1 Cor that one person plants and another waters, but it is God who makes them grow. I over water and force sunlight and get frustrated when leaves wilt or get burned. But it is not my place to expect or demand growth. My place is to be good and do good.

Plants don’t communicate the same way people do. They tell you in subtle ways when they need water and sun. If you overwater they may grow mold. If you give them too much sunlight, they get burnt. When do we water and sun plants?

When they ask for it. It may be nonverbal. They may be unconscious in a ditch in need of medical care. Or crying and motion for a hug. It may be like Cameron who asks directly and clearly.

When we aren’t asked; we do good and shine as little lights for Christ. The plants that like to grow in sunlight will grow. The ones that don’t, won’t.

If they need space. Give them space. God grows plants in the darkness and the desert as much as the sunlight and the rainforest. Thankfully even those that we over water God gives grace to grow despite us.

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Relationship Skills

I had the opportunity to be friends with my ex, I’ll call Holly, and visit her over the weekend in LA. I sat behind her at the bar while she was doing dishes and cooking breakfast. She shared mixed feelings for a guy she was talking to over the last few weeks. Holly stopped, turned off the water, and turned around to look at me. I looked at her bright blue eyes.

“I shouldn’t be sharing this with you. It isn’t considerate of our relationship. I am sorry.” She said with all care and sincerity.

I muddled something incoherent in reply and looked out the window or something. She waited. I returned I contact and shrugged. Satisfied she changed the subject and returned to cooking.

I do not know anyone as adept at communication skills as she was. The more books I read on neuropsychology, communication, relationships, and emotional intelligence the more I am amazed at how she just does everything naturally. No research. No books. Just good well intentioned relating.

I have had a few dates with young girls who are very present and engaged. It isn’t a completely lost art, but it is definitely difficult to find. I think it is an affect of social media and cell phones. Eye contact has become increasingly difficult to manage. Many are so lost and disillusioned that they have difficulty ignoring themselves long enough to really listen and engage with another human being.

That is the goal. Learn the habits that lead our hearts to putting the other person first. Some of us naturally put the other first. Others need a lot of help with lots of practice. I lived genuinely selfless before others and developed a severe selfishness disorder. The last five years have been fighting to get it back. I still fail regularly.

A few months after this interaction I unfortunately didn’t think of Holly first. I put her in an uncomfortable situation because I couldn’t die to my own desires first.

I love my friends

I originally had written a much longer post, but as I wrote it turned into the substance of three or four. So finally, a short one.

I recently listened to a writers lecture regarding writing on family. He continually qualified everything he said with, “I love my family.” “I want to make it very clear that I do love my family.” “People often ask me how I can love my family”

                I found this repeated declaration odd. It rarely occurs to me that some irritating trait or negative experience would cause me to question my affection for those I love. People are annoying. Relationships are difficult. People are flawed.

                I would hate for my friends to question my devotion to them even when I may be telling them how annoying they are. I am saddened for people constantly qualifying devotion towards friends. I wish for honesty in love and confidence in loves commitment

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Friendship and The Lord of the Rings

              I have been in 7 weddings as a groomsman or best man (I regret it not being 8 as I declined once to be a best man due to travel difficulties). The last three weddings I have been in I always give the same speech. Below is a piece of it.

              In the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring we follow the characters Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin as they are caught up in a journey to destroy the Ring of Power.

              Frodo is elected to take the Ring because of his relationship with Bilbo, the one who found the Ring and left it to him. Sam is found outside Frodo’s window when Gandalf is discussing with Frodo the journey and is tasked to go with him (though also with a full commitment of loyalty). The two of them run into Merry and Pippin stealing from farmer Maggots crop and are then caught up in the adventure as they are chased by the Nazgul.

              They sort of get caught up in this adventure by circumstance. JRR Tolkien tells a different story in the book. Frodo leaves the Shire with the ring under the guise of looking for Bilbo. Merry, Sam, and Pippin all choose to go. They all encounter the Nazgul together and find themselves at Brandyhall. Here Frodo had made up his mind to leave them and was figuring out how to tell them.

              Frodo is shocked to find they have ponies ready, everything packed and all are determined to go with. They knew he was leaving on some long journey. He is shocked again when they can tell him details of his journey about the ring he had kept hidden. His friends commend him that he had been careful. But they, being his close friends were with him and new him so well they saw all the little changes and hints that let them put it all together.

              Finally Merry speaks for all of them,

“It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you can keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo”

              The theme of friendship continues through the rest of the series. When I give a speech at weddings I add in bits bout a fellowship and “I can’t carry your burden but we can carry you” and so on and so forth with emotional things and strong analogies.

              But here we see a picture of friendship that we do not see very often anymore. Friends choose to give up their lives, their rest and good comfort, to help someone else in their specific journey. They knowingly face danger to help one carry a burden or finish a task. When I read the LOTR I don’t desire to be a Frodo, or Gandalf, or Aragorn – I wish to be a Merry, a Pippin, or a Sam.