My personality strengths and weaknesses are about the same. I'm as emotional and expressive as ever. But so many things about me have totally changed.
For instance, if you had shown me these pictures and told me ten years ago, "You will be planting twenty or thirty flower pots on your patio and taking pictures of them," I would have laughed out loud. I just couldn't imagine that I would ever actually enjoy having my hands in dirt. But I do. And this is just one discovery I have made about myself in the last seven years.
Some other things have changed, too. I've embraced the grace of salvation in and through Christ (steadily learning to let go of my perfectionism). I have come to know and experience the power of the cross. I don't seem to feel the need to explain myself to others quite as much as I once did. I don't constantly apologize for who I am. I no longer need the approval and acceptance of everyone around me. And yet, I have learned the freedom and rest that comes only through humility and repentance. I have learned there is a tremendous difference between constantly apologizing for and explaining myself in order to gain people's acceptance (which is self-focused) and experiencing the genuine conviction that I was in the wrong and need to humbly ask forgiveness (which honors God). I have also learned to repent and REST in grace, rather than flogging myself for days or weeks over a mistake. (My sweet son taught me this with his constant reminders each time I would go into my old ways of hammering myself for the smallest blunders.)
I love this picture because, to me, it illustrates the tranquility I have found in my new life. Peace with God. Contentment and joy in a fulfilling marriage. Being a grandma to three precious little boys. Enjoying my close family relationships...wonderful friends...being involved in a thriving, healthy church. Planting flowers...and having coffee...on my patio......admiring the blossoms on my Magnolia trees.
Life is good.
Life is precious.
I took 54 pictures this morning of the patio, the back yard and the pond. Don't worry, I'm not going to make you look at every single one of them. But this patio requires a lot of attention to keep it looking nice. So I am savoring the rewards of my efforts this weekend -- and preserving the memory.