One Small Way to Steward Your Life Well

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“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~Prov 29:18

Some time ago, Christie and I met for lunch in a little village in the middle of Pennsylvania. After lunch, we strolled through an eclectic street fair selling afghans with huge dog faces printed on them, hanging next to cheap t-shirts and dreamcatchers with trailing feathers. It wasn’t really our scene, so we made our way to a garden center filled with the scent of soil and growing things.

Gardening tools, bags of bulbs, and books on planting lined the shelves inside. As we browsed and ran our hands over the garden gnomes, Christie told me that she planned and dreamed of her garden well before she knew it would exist. She gathered books, studying the care of flowering trees and the best time to plant bulbs. Long before her garden existed, the vision for it took root in her heart. She gathered garden stories like the trees gather the wind in their leaves.

Today, she tends to the garden of her dreams with a back bent toward the earth and dirt beneath her fingernails. She continues to imagine what it could be, but there is growth now, it is alive today because she dreamed and planned and read it into being.

…..

I’ve been on a entrepreneurial bender lately. I’ve listened to multiple podcasts on starting one’s own business, and I read a few books like #GirlBoss and Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It. At first, I thought this sudden interest in being a self-employed artist was an attempt by my subconscious to avoid doing housework or writing (this remains a very real possibility).

I don’t have any entrepreneurial leanings, nor do I have any skill set that might lead one to believe I could create and sell something. I make a wicked lop-sided coconut cake, but that’s the extent of my creative abilities. But, lately I find myself continually drawn to these concepts about using one’s gifts, setting goals, sticking to a path, and using one’s time well.

Listen, I do dirty dishes and laundry for a living. My sudden interest in running a business doesn’t make much sense in the context of my current life situation, until I began to see a recurring theme in all of the information I consumed. It sounded like a bell ringing in the distance, and it rang with the word Stewardship over and over.

The Parable of the Talents has popped into my inbox and my earbuds lately, and it’s so familiar, I tend to brush it off. However, the heartbeat of the story is stewardship–stewarding our gifts well so that we receive a return on our investment. All of this brushing up on time management and using creativity to actually create something of value doesn’t seem to have much of a practical application for me at this stage of my life. But, when I view it in terms of stewardship, I see how easily the smallest choices of how I spend my time, what I think about, and how I steward my writing and my relationships have an impact on my hope for the future.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of now. I don’t have a garden now, so why study the seasons? I don’t have a business now, so why learn how to manage my time better? I don’t have my dream now, so why stir up my belief in it? I want to live in the present, but I also want to plan well for my future.

Over the years, I’ve learned to lean into the direction of my interests and whims. When I find myself drawn to a particular subject, I lean in, I read, I study it. In doing so, I often discover useful nuggets of wisdom, and I plant them like seeds for the future. This is how a vision takes root, and grows into something alive and life-giving and fruitful.

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What are you drawn to today? What are you reading and listening to, and what themes do you see emerging? How does it fit in with your future vision? How are you stewarding your gifts and your time?

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  • I love this SO MUCH. First of all, same here with the weird entrepreneurial leanings lately. Second, I love the idea of this gentle preparation, how we don’t need to have all the answers or a 5-year-plan but we can lean into knowledge with hope and anticipation.

  • What are you doing at The Kelly Writers House? Say hi to Al for me!

    • I was visiting the UPenn campus with my daughter. Just a photo op from the outside;)

      • Ah, you should drop in sometime, if you go back. They love poets and poetic types from what Al Filreis says. Every fall I sign up for Modern & Contemporary Poetry through Coursera, and every time I get about halfway through and have to stop because of life circumstances. It’s filmed at The Kelly Writers House. I feel I know it well. https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

  • KimberlyAmici

    There is something to be said for preparation. I have read a ton of books on a ton of things and every once in a while I find myself ready for something I forgot I had the knowledge for. I would however like to be more intentional about getting ready for the future seasons of my life… for instance the teenage years. 🙂 Having the perspective of stewardship is key.