Bamboo and Notebooks: Reaping and Sowing (Take 2)

Writing is easy. You just open up a vein and bleed onto the pages.  –attributed to Red Smith

 I was a bit flabbergasted when I opened my e-mail boxes this morning.

Merriam Webster:


verb \ˈfla-bər-ˌgast\

: to shock or surprise (someone) very much

While on my lunch break yesterday, I had spewed out a very quick blog post and hit the publish button. Didn’t edit and didn’t pause. About forty-five minutes later, I had a bit of a panic, thinking it was too much of a personal, self-centered post. I snuck off to the bathroom, where I frantically found it on my smartphone and deleted.

Apparently not before a number of you read it. And I was flabbergasted at the responses and those who were asking me to repost so you could share. This is for you.


 Bamboo and Notebooks: Reaping and Sowing (Take 2)

Last week-end was full of unexpected surprises and a wide range of emotion – from dropping Mermaid Girl off for her first year of college (melancholy) to the surprise return of College Boy (excitement).  A random conversation with an acquaintance called forth some old ghosts that had long ago been laid to rest. And ghosts don’t like to party alone so they dragged nostalgia into the mix.  Knowing that I probably wouldn’t sleep Sunday night, I crept into my bedroom hoping I wouldn’t disturb the HH, and searched for my Kindle for a little reading and Scrabble.  Amazingly it was right on the nightstand, where I TRY to remember to put it.  When I grabbed it, I noticed an old spiral notebook beneath it.   I picked it up and flipped through the pages.

And felt a punch of precious remember-whens hit me in the gut. The early entries were written in the cramped, barely legible penmanship of a nine year old boy and didn’t get much neater as he aged.

Dear Mom,

…I don’t like science fully but I like it more than I used to.

Dear Mom,

…I missed you a ton, so did Alyssa I could tell. When you sent us e-mail she kept saying tell her to come home.

Dear Mom,

 …When you get mad at me it makes me feel like everybody thinks I’m stupid and everybody hates me.

Dear Mom,

….I kind of like school now. It is fun with you as are (sic) teacher.

At a very early age, I discovered that the vocal chords of a child can become paralyzed, unable to release words and sounds that when left inside, rust and rot and can destroy a heart, paralyze a life.  I didn’t want that for my kids, I wanted them to have a safe place to share things that might be too difficult to speak out loud, a safe place to learn the art of communication.  So we started notebooks .Simple little books that we filled with notes and silly drawings.  Truth is, we weren’t super consistent and half of mine and College Boy’s entries began with “Sorry it’s been so long…”

This boy, who somehow became a handsome. compassionate young man, became so good at the art of, um, communicating, that we had to ban the phrase “technically speaking…” from our dinner discourses. And when I turned to the last two pages written in the little notebook he had communicated a brand new message of encouragement and exhortation to me (in MUCH more legible handwriting.)

Dear mom,

            If you look back at the last couple of entries we were definitely wrong. It has been a lot longer than 3 years (how long I predicted it would take us to fill the pages) and I have long since graduated high school.   I don’t know if you remembered about this notebook (I hadn’t thought about it for years), but I’ve held on to it for a while and have enjoyed looking at it from time to time. I thought it would be only fair to let you keep it for a while…

Knowing that I had been struggling with wanting to give up this blog and writing in general, he went on to offer some keen insights and exhortations, suggesting that I write every day and “share just what you want to share.”  God can’t use what isn’t there, he reminded me.

I wanted to laugh.

I wanted to cry.

How did the parent become the child?

Earlier that night, he had shared with me the story of the Chinese Bamboo tree and some interesting facts about it.  It seems it is one of the fastest growing plants on earth with reported growth rates of up to 98 inches in 24 hours.  But the growth isn’t immediate. It takes years of watering the plant – with no evidence of anything happening – before the surge begins.  I’m not really sure what College Boy was going to tell me about the Bamboo because our conversation got interrupted and we never got back to it.

But I’ve been chewing on it.

(Not the bamboo – the conversation.)

I’ve been facing a season of “what-ifs” and other pointless questions.  What if I’d continued in the Air Force? What if I’d gone to college? What if instead of home-educating my kids, I’d started a career?

Each one of those instances would have meant investing my time and energy in something other than what I did. And giving the law of reaping and sowing, I would have likely harvested money and degrees and other fruit. Tangible things.

Sometimes it has felt as though all the time spent digging and planting and watering to become physically, spiritually and emotionally whole enough to raise physically, spiritually and emotionally whole children had produced little, nothing I could hold in my hands.  Sometimes I have felt like nothing more than a teeny-tiny mite in this great big universe.

But now in this season of harvest, after years and years watering, I’m discovering that love is a pretty bountiful crop, one of the sweetest, most tender, satisfying crops. And the more I interact with people, the more folks I encounter from various walks and stages of life,  the more I realize that genuine joy is a rare thing indeed and I am blessed beyond measure.

Don’t get me wrong. Some folks can work huge plantations and produce tremendous, tremendous crops that include time-consuming careers and fame and family. Successfully.

But me, I’m just a simple girl who never had a green thumb, who struggled with her little backyard plants.

Yet, I feel as though I’m in a season of harvest, of greater abundance than I ever dreamed of, that God has graciously rewarded me for my pitiful efforts.

All those years of waiting and watering. All those years of wondering what in the world I was doing.  Now I know. And my heart is filled with gratitude.

How about you?  Do you sometimes feel like you are spending your days with the sun beating down relentlessly and your back aching  and your throat parched and is it really worth it?

Look at what you are planting and then decide.  ‘Cause you WILL reap what you sow, even if you can’t see it right now.

What do you want to produce?

 For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  Galatians 6:7 NAS

Grateful for this abundant life,

Marie with a 🙂


8 thoughts on “Bamboo and Notebooks: Reaping and Sowing (Take 2)

  1. I really needed to hear this. I’ve been playing the ‘what if’ game a lot lately, and it’s been very depressing. My health was ruined by my last (seventh) pregnancy, and I’ve been wondering where I would be if I had never married or had children. Although I could never give up any of my children, the ‘what if’s’ were taking me down a very dark road. Thank you for helping me to focus on the good that has come from my choices as well as the bad. My youngest son, almost 27, just said Yes when his girlfriend popped the question. It takes a strong young man to publicly admit she asked him, and I’m proud of him.

  2. Blessings to you. Wow! This is coming just at the right time for me. After many years of working 6 long days per week, I found myself with only Sundays and a few hours every night in which to prepare dinner, wash dishes or do laundry (thank God, my husband helps out with this!) or just relax. It is rare that I have time to really do a thorough house cleaning. I have had a little over a week of vacation since returning from an overseas trip and it seems like the days I spent cleaning have not gotten me very far. Now, I look at the time I did not spend cleaning. I spent that time four-wheeling with my husband and son, shopping for an expected grandchild, eating dinner with my family, making cards with my sister, meeting with a friend to shop, make cards, walk and just go with her for support when she had a doctor appointment, making church programs, doing church activities and planning a craft pattern for a holiday swap. I also went with my husband to an automotive store. He surprised me with the gift of a brand new sewing machine since my other two (that are both over 30 years old) decided to quit working. Maybe my house won’t ever be picture perfect, but I have enjoyed the time immensely. Life is too short, as they say, and connecting with the people I love is far more important than a clean house. I will not look back on that time with regret. Ever grateful! – Jacki

  3. This is one of my favorites from you. It’s a personal story, but one that applies to all of us if we think about it. My sister has been a computer tech learning, studying, getting her bachelor’s degree in middle age. I’m so proud of her. Her husband divorced her for a younger woman. I married young, we made stupid mistakes, but we managed (with difficulty for #1) to have 2 children in two years. They’ve had rough times health-wise, and good times. Hubs and I have as well. Now my girl who’s 30 just had her first pregnancy, for about 8 weeks. And she comes to me. I wish I thought of a notebook idea similar to yours. There would be big gaps in it, too. But my daughter is now a wonderful young woman who is also my friend. I wasn’t her friend when she was growing up. Our son has autism and still lives with us, which is fine. He’s turned into a great young man, too. Despite some pretty big challenges. Through it all, I don’t think the corporate life or degrees or anything else could have been more fulfilling to me that these 2 lives, so linked to mine.

  4. Marie,
    Thanks for all your posts, especially ones like this that speak to the heart of those who are discouraged by being real and reminding us of God’s promises. I have been pressing on having lost my health over two year ago. I have 5 kids, the youngest is 5 and I homeschool, so it has been difficult. But God gets me through year after year. I wish I felt better so I could enjoy the kids more. I am just so very tired, but I know that God is working in each one of us and his promises are all true. Thanks for the reminder from someone who is further down the road than I am.

  5. Pingback: I didn’t wanna do it… | isaiah64four

Let's make this a conversation. Please leave some thoughts and feedback.