Wherever You Are Planted

“Blooming Fields,” ©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Necessity birthed creativity.

Since my parents had little money, they taught me to create rather than buy stuff.  As a family, we made do with hand-me-downs and “Penny Saver” finds.  Life had planted us in some  difficult financial circumstances.

Yet, Mom and Dad remained upbeat.

In jest, my dad always bragged that he bought new socks once every 25 years whether he needed them or not.  My dad’s mother, an immigrant to America during World War I, had obviously taught him the fine art of darning socks.

At the very least, it could be said that Dad and Mom’s finances were a bit thin.  And only by virtue of Dad’s “fix-it” skills did they keep everything going.

But I was completely unaware of the potential financial tsunamis my mother feared as she leaned over the old mahogany secretary desk to make careful marks in her large, black ledger.

My dad always bragged that he bought new socks once every 25 years whether he needed them or not.

When I came home with tales of the new toys I’d spied at school friends’ homes, Dad encouraged me to make my own.  And I learned from Dad that there was nothing I wanted that couldn’t be constructed from whatever we had on hand.

Yeah, there was nothing material that a little duct tape couldn’t remedy.

I especially remember being enamored with a carry-along, doll house.  I wasn’t really interested in dolls–just the doll house. Miniatures fascinated me.

Thus, one Saturday morning over Kellog’s Rice Crispies I described the carry-along house to my father.  In response to my daydream, he pulled out a miraculous cardboard box, an Exacto Knife and of course, duct tape.

Using the tape, he attached a cardboard roof, and cut a drop-down flap that could be secured shut with the simple turn of a paper fastener.

Soft nylon rope, strung through holes in the box top, served as the case’s handle.  And Crayola added the necessary, finishing touches–that pop of color.

I was as proud of the finished product as any child who had received a pricey doll house.  Actually, more proud.

My dad and I created that doll house with love.  We laughed and shared the joy of creativity together.  And time with Dad was worth more than all the store-bought, doll houses in the world.

Unfortunately, I starting doubting that valuable wisdom in high school.   I longed for store-bought clothing like that of my friends.  And with earnings from part-time jobs, I purchased stuff.

There was nothing material that a little duct tape couldn’t remedy.

Don’t get me wrong. Working hard or trying to improve oneself can be a good thing. The apostle Paul, in fact, admonishes, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Colossians 3:23).

But when those things draw my attention away from Abba, the “worries of the world” begin to strangle my faith, (Matthew 13:22).

At some point in life, the lure of “more,” or “new and improved” plagues us all.  Often, we long for positive things.

However, as we compare our circumstances to others,  an impatient and discontented spirit may grow. Then, faith falters.

Scripture records a whole host of saints who have fallen prey to the unhealthy “I wants it”: Adam and Eve, Cain, Lot, Rachel, Achan, King Saul, David, Solomon, John and James–the sons of Thunder, and of course, Ananias and Sapphira. Each wanted something different–knowledge, approval, wealth, success, love, power and prominence.

But for each, trouble began with seeds of discontent.

Discontent invariably makes a mess. I know this.

Even so,  the monster “Malcontent” periodically rears its ugly head.  And I find myself impatiently running ahead of Abba.

That always spells big time trouble.

Scripture records a whole host of saints who have fallen prey to the unhealthy “I wants it.”

Fortunately for both you and me, God “gives greater grace,” (James 4:6). He is, after all, a compassionate High Priest.

Indeed, Christ understands our weaknesses and the pressures we face.  His first temptation in the desert–to turn stones into bread–capitalized on his human needs.

Yet, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,'” (Matthew 4:4).

From the outset, His earthly circumstances did not promise much.  Our Savior had planted himself in difficult soil when He took human form.

His response? He focused on His Father.  He trusted His Father to supply what was needed at the proper time.

Me?  Well, I wish I could say that I follow my Savior in all things.  But I have a long way to go. As it is, I frequently resemble Sarah.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, became discontent as she waited for God’s promise.

Yes, they had waited.  And waited. And waited some more.

Then, seeds of discontent began to sprout.  I imagine Sarah began to wonder if she had misunderstood God’s promise.  She impatiently began to scheme.  She may have excused her behavior with the thought that God wished her to actively forward His plan.

Thus, instead of persevering in faith, she took matters into her own hands, (Genesis 16).

And her plan sowed long-term trouble (Genesis 21).

Despite Sarah’s failures, our God remained true to His promise. Grace trumped Sarah’s discontented disaster.

Me?  Well, I wish I could say that I follow my Savior in all things.  But I have a long way to go.

Sarah, nevertheless, reaped ongoing heartache. Her plans had not satisfied her need or hopes, but rather had created a monstrous and complicated mess.

Alas, I certainly have been there and done that.

Ignoring God and going my own way is like that. It’s tremendously empty despite what the world promises; it’s an endless chasing after things and transformations that never seem to fulfill. In fact, the pursuit often makes things worse.

Perhaps like me,  you’ve periodically pursued Madison Avenue’s mirage instead of Abba’s Living Water.   It’s easy to become distracted by the “worries of the world.”

Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wandered.

Yet, as I noted here, Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes with hope: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Pondering Solomon’s conclusion, I realize that in this instance my interaction with my earthly dad particularly parallels my relationship with my heavenly Father.

You see, the cure for my childish discontent was time with my dad.

And this leads me to a simple truth…

When Abba and I creatively approach life together, I find peace and contentment.  What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own.

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4: 11-13).

When Abba and I creatively approach life together, I find peace and contentment.  What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own.

Herein lies the key:  discontented in the “whatever” life hands us or in the “wherever” our journey takes us, we need only talk to our heavenly Father about it.

We may not like our current circumstances. Yet, He gives grace and peace that surpass all that you and I long for…

He leads beside still waters and restores the soul, (Psalm 23:1).

In Him, we shall not want.  He is Living Water.

In His time, He graciously provides all that we need.

Indeed, as we wait for His plan to unfold, Abba will show us how to create beauty from the “whatever” we encounter “wherever” our walk with Him takes us.

Without a doubt, you and I will find greater joy in what we do with Abba  than anything this world can give.

And in Him, we find grace sufficient to bloom wherever we are planted.

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

94 Replies to “Wherever You Are Planted”

  1. I had my first mobile phone when I was about 7…two tin cans and a long piece of string.
    We could “talk” inside or outside…we were so ahead of our time 🙂
    It’s taken me the better part of life to truly figure out less is more and so so much better 🙂
    I read somewhere recently that stated you never see a u-haul following a hearse..meaning we can’t take with us all this “stuff” we’ve accumulated and thought at the time so utterly important…
    great lesson here Lynn—thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love it, dear Julie! Yes, those tin can phones were the best! I had more fun creating things than I even did buying stuff. 🙂 And isn’t it so true… no U-hauls behind hearses! Thank you for your wonderful insight and encouragement! By the way, I’m a bit behind reading posts… trying to catch up and so, in the coming days, you may find me commenting on some of your posts that from several days ago. 🙂 Love you, dear friend! ❤ ❤

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  2. Your dad sounds wonderful! This is a beautiful tribute to both your earthly father and your heavenly one. 🙂

    “When Abba and I creatively approach life together, I find peace and contentment. What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own.” —So true! Thank you for making me smile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, he did, dear Kathy! That creativity got passed down… as immigrants to the U.S. during WWI, my dad’s parents were very creative. In fact, my grandfather was an artist. 🙂 And to be honest, I would much rather create something than purchase something from a store. Created items have stories to tell that newly manufactured items lack. Thank you for your beautiful encouragement, dear Kathy! I love sharing with you; you always understand exactly where I am coming from! God bless you, my wise and empathetic friend! ❤ ❤

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      1. And unfortunately the arts have greatly suffered during this age of electronics. Original art is. It valued as it once was. Today you can buy s Renoir or Picasso on line for basically nothing.

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      2. Yes! I didn’t see this comment before I responded to your other comment. You are so right! I think professional photographers have suffered even more than artists since everyone can now take photos with their phones and edit those photos beautifully. :-/ ❤ and hugs!!

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      3. The term starving artist isn’t new,but it’s becoming a fact of life for those who love to make art. Many folks just consider it a hobby – not a livelihood.

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  3. Beautiful post, thank you so much. I too learned so much from my father, who immigrated from Aleppo many years ago. Hard work, ingenuity, and creativity are such lost virtues. But my parents resist the Lord, that’s where our lives part
    in many ways. I pray fervently that they receive the Lord. Thank you again, Lynn, for your inspiration and wonderful art – so appreciated. 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Lisa… I am so sorry that your parents have not yet received the Lord. I will pray as I press the reply button here. I know you must love them dearly and that it must break your heart that they are missing out on all that knowing Christ means! And thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful comment and kind words about my post and art. It means the world to me! ❤

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  4. I really loved the post…and hearing about your childhood! We all have to deal with discontentment and have to learn to be content wherever we are! How many “children of our discontentment” do we have running around in our lives? If only we would have waited and done it God’s way!

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  5. Such a beautiful painting. AmaIng detail girl …

    Anyway, loved your Father stories. Im sure it brought back many good memories too for those with present fathers. I know that I fell into the latter camp but GOD has been a very ‘present Father’ to me during my life, often appearing in many different earthly guises.

    All in all, I’m sure that GOD loves to ‘manifest’ Himself to us in our need. Sometimes he comes as ‘Jesus with skin on,’ most times, like Jesus at the end of the Gospels, he turns up in a different form. But He DOES turn up. X

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words, Warren! And your wonderful thoughts about my painting have made my day! Thank you; thank you!

      Yes, I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a close relationship with my dad. Actually, his illness (so severe and life-threatening) that prevented him from working from his mid-forties until his death was a blessing for me because it meant that he was home. And when he was well enough to get out of bed, he often helped me with projects around the house; He always had time for me.

      But Dad died when I was in my thirties… and so, as a result, I have turned that much more to my heavenly Father. And that has been a blessing, too.

      I’m sorry that your dad wasn’t present in your life. My heart breaks for you. And yet, I’m so glad that God drew you close to Himself. I believe that closeness accounts for your tremendous wisdom and compassion toward others. Such understanding as yours doesn’t just “happen.” And what a gift it is that you give to others through your kindness and your blog… you have truly made a difference in my life and I’m sure you have blessed many others as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As I was reading your beautiful article, my mind went back to the time our adult children were children. My husband and I are medical doctors. We had a very successful private practice in Warri, Nigeria. We made money and fame. Our three children grew up in a happy home were the parents could provide what they needed and financial stability. They went to private schools. We had drivers and house servants. This was normal in Nigeria. Few homes were ‘better’ than ours. But we did not spend money foolishly. maybe it was my Romanian (Communist) background that made me love a simple life. We choose not to buy the latest fashion clothes or the most expensive Tv set. Then the devil attacked. Our children made friends with other children who came from wealthy homes. They came back talking about the expensive things they saw in their friends’ houses. My husband and I were worried. We had two options: to stop our children visiting these homes where the parents were extravagant or to buy our own ‘big flat screen TV’, to compete with our neighbors. We choose the first option. We put boundaries on who our children should visit. That created bitterness in the hearts of our children. Expensive things were valued more than love. Materialism is a demon. It was only after my husband and I became saved that we could start the process of healing and repairing the damage ‘the love of this world’ has done to our family. We are now much better as a family. Glory to God for the peace and joy, for the new life and love He had injected into our wounded family! Hallelujah!

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    1. Praise God, dear Lia! I’m so happy to hear how God restored and healed. It is so difficult to battle materialism… difficult enough for adults to resist it, but so hard for children who wish to be like their friends. I’m so glad that God worked to restore the broken hearts in your family as I know you and your husband only sought the best for your children no matter how they may have responded. You are a beautiful person… inside and out…and Christ shines through you to all who know or meet you! ❤ ❤

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    1. Oh, I’m so very glad, dear Vivian. And no, I haven’t read Mr. Burroughs’ book… but I will look for it and read it now that I know about it. 🙂 It’s going on my reading list right away! Thank you for the recommendation and for your lovely comment! ❤ and appreciate you!! ❤ ❤

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  7. Well said, Lynn! It’s interesting to me how much the story of Sarah’s attempt to “help” God has been coming up lately. Very recently, the Lord used that very story to open my eyes to one way I’ve been trying to “help” Him as well. Wow, do I ever get in the way of His work sometimes – even with the best intentions!

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    1. Oh, you are not alone, dear Heather! I think it is in our nature to try to “help” :-/ And I get into so much trouble that way! I’m so glad I’m not the only one. 🙂 Thank you for your authenticity! You inspire and encourage me, Heather! I’m so glad you are back! ❤ ❤

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  8. This really resonated with me today. There have been so many times when I have impatiently jumped ahead to do immediately, what God had clearly planned for me to do in His time. It is a daily struggle to not get caught up in having and doing what the world tells us we must, instead of letting God provide us with what we need. We allow ourselves to believe our wants are the same as our needs. Such a lie. I always enjoy, take to heart and learn from your lessons, even when I don’t visit here and comment. You are a blessing always! XO

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    1. I’m so very very glad, dear Vicki! You are such a blessing to me as well! I’m afraid I have been so very busy that I haven’t been commenting much either. Forgive me for that, but know that I read… your blog, your instagram and FB posts. And they are all great! You never fail to encourage and uplift! Love you, my talented friend!! ❤ ❤

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  9. Wonderful memories from your father, Lynn! We all tend to get the grass is greener in the next pasture feeling whether it be with property, gadgets, travel, relationships, status, and on and on. It seems some of the happiest times of life, and some of the happiest people, are the times and people with the least amount of “things” to have to do keep up and deal with! Love this post and wonderful insight! Keep up the excellent artwork and deep posts little sister in Christ!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, Jeff…I haven’t commented on a post I saw of yours just yet… but I’ve been meaning to do so. It seems you recently turned 55? Guess what? That means I’m not your “little sister in Christ.” Yup. I’m older than you are…so that actually makes me your big sister. Ha! Ha! But “shhhh!” Don’t tell… and in fact, you can keep calling me your “little sister” if you’d like. After all, I’m probably shorter than you! Ha!

      On a serious note, I love your insights here. You have reminded me of some wise truths that my parents passed on to me. And yes, you are absolutely correct: human nature tends to assume that things are better elsewhere. Sigh. My mom used to remind me that if I took all the best characteristics from each person I thought had it better and combined those characteristics in one person, I’d create a “Frankenstein.” In other words, God knew exactly what He was doing when He put together the pieces of my life. 🙂

      So thankful that God made you to be you! Your friendship is truly a blessing, brother! 😀

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      1. Lynn, first…you can still be my little sister if you are taller than me. It may be hard tell from the picture, but I’m only 4’5″ tall…my nickname is Pgmy, but some just call me “Pig” for short. Ha! So you tell me, “little sister” or “big sister”? 😉

        Second, I love your mother’s wise description of “Fankenstein”! I’ve never thought about it that way before. It’s simple, but absolutely profound!! Good word!

        Peace to you little, big sister — for siblings in Christ are all the same size in heaven, and all short when down down on their knees on earth! Peace to you, Lynn!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are too funny, Jeff! 🙂 Yes, I’ve never forgotten my mom’s words… they were especially encouraging to me as a young teen when I was despairing over my appearance and comparing myself to others.

        God bless you, my wonderful brother! 🙂 🙂

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  10. Thank you Lynn, for voicing the things that our heavenly Father teaches us. There are so many memories, and for so many years; looking back to see how we as God’s children are creative, even as He was “in the beginning,” and continues to be. Living in anticipation of what He will do next is HIs spice in my life ~ Blessings as you continue to walk with Him.

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    1. Hello, dear Frances! Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words here! I have read your recent posts, but have not had time to leave a comment… at least not as I would wish. So, I promise to swing by your place in the next couple of day to write you what is on my heart regarding your wonderful posts! Thank you for being faithful to truly encourage us from the Word! You and your blog are a blessing! ❤

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  11. “What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own”.
    He leads beside still waters and restores the soul, (Psalm 23:1).
    you really “Get It” Lynn.
    Our known universe, much less our little selves, is not big enough to completely hold those truths in it’s borders..yet, it’s easy to have a truth vacuum in my own life. (a curious thought) .I suppose truth does not naturally permeate skin or brain cells. I will quit while somewhat ahead on that line of thought.If only those truths could grow a little faster, bigger, taller.in my life.
    Great post as usual.

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    1. Amen! It does take time to fully comprehend in the depths of our souls exactly what treasure God has given us, doesn’t it? Thank you for your honesty. You encourage me with your authenticity and grace-filled perspective! God bless you, Gary!

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    1. “Humanitis…” I LOVE that, Mitch! Thank you for your wonderful encouragement! Your friendship and thoughtful comments mean a great deal to me. God bless you and yours greatly, my uber-talented friend! 🙂

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  12. Another awesome and insightful post, Lynn, and a great reminder to ignore the materialistic pulls of our world! ❤️ You amaze me with the wisdom you glean from your life experiences, and I love reading about them, whether it’s as a child spending some quality time with her father recreating a portable doll house, or as an adult, taking your puppy for a walk. It’s obvious in your well-articulated posts and beautiful paintings that you are someone who’s bloomed where you were planted! Keep blessing the world with your blooms! 😉

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    1. Aww, Mia… Your beautiful words and thoughtfulness leave me speechless. I don’t know how to thank you enough for your encouragement. You have made my day! Coming from such a wonderful writer like you, this comment means the world to me! Love and hugs! ❤

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  13. Do you think those Tin Can Phones, Lynn, that you were talking about will reach all the way from Aussie Land so we can have a Heart to Heart ? Although I’m not sure if the Cord goes up in the Air or under the ground and of course also in the water???

    Great Message, Lynn, and very True: we are to store up Spiritual Treasures in Heaven not Chattels on earth. What does it profit us to gain the whole World and lose our Souls Of course, we won’t if we are known by God as His own. He will come first in our Hearts when we are Born Again of His seed (1John3:9) and all things will work together for good for us. That is His Promise to all of us, His Redeemed Children, because we Love Him. But yes, He Loved us First.

    Christian Love, Lynn, and God’s Blessings – Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, dear Anne! Sigh… but I don’t think those tin can phones have that kind of reach. 😉

      Thank you for your always wise words here, dear Anne. You are a faithful and true student as well as teacher of God’s Word! And you express His Truth so clearly and beautifully both in your blog and comments! Thank you with all my heart! ❤ and hugs!

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  14. I love this post, the story of growing up and you and your dad’s creativity in making the dollhouse and frugal living. Its a window into a different time it seem compared to those of my generation…the materialism seems to be worst now.

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  15. I must confess that for quite lengthy periods I do rather neglect our heavenly Father in my life, so I suppose often I do try to go it alone. It is never successful and sooner or later I call on Him and He always helps me. It is so easy to get distracted from the truth and a helping hand which is always there.
    My father made toys for us and sometimes they were quite ingenious, I remember he made me a steam roller out of a couple of syrup tins.
    An amusing thought crossed my mind when you likened yourself to Sarah. You are nowhere near 90 . . lol
    Love the website and I shall always come here whenever I can. I have been busy with the family and our newborn darling Molly, sister to Peter . . . . 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I am with you! I am so grateful for our heavenly Father’s grace when I have become distracted…and then, suddenly realize how far I have wandered from His side. 🙂 I am so thankful for your visit! I do know how busy you are and so it is an honor that you dropped by to visit! God bless you, Ed! You are a wonderful friend!

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  16. Amen, Lynn!!! 🙂 What lessons your parents gave you. That sounds like a pretty awesome dollhouse!!! I have a heart for miniatures as well.

    The power of cardboard. Just this past month, I’ve made a spice “rack” from an old mountain dew cardboard box, and a planter for my three planter pots out of a saltine cracker cardboard box.

    It’s easy for us to get distracted by the things and even promises of this world. 🙂 But praise the Lord for being there and willing to redirect our focus.

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    1. Yes! Isn’t cardboard wonderful? I have a feeling you like repurposing things as I do! I find tremendous delight in it, in fact. I bet your spice rack is wonderful! And your planter? What a brilliant idea!

      I’m thankful for the creativity that God has given us, and for His presence… just as you have so beautifully said here! God bless you greatly, dear TR. Praying for God’s blessing and direction for you and your husband! ❤ ❤

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      1. ❤ thank you so much, Lynn!!! I really like finding invenative ways to save money. When we moved to this apartment last year, I kept a number of the cardboard boxes and make shifted four of them into a little stand. I covered them with old towels to look a little nicer and propped them against the walls. 🙂 They make nice little small shelving units.

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      2. What a great idea, TR! I love that! Cardboard boxes are wonderful and have so many uses! God bless you for your heart of gratitude even in the midst of lean financial years! It’ll be worth it. And I know God will bless you greatly for your faithfulness to Him and to His calling upon your life!! ❤ ❤

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