Something amazing happened this summer. In the backwoods of Arkansas, I discovered that I really do like New Jersey. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy over the past year complaining to my family, friends, and even God about how much I was less than thrilled to be living 3000 miles from the west coast….things are expensive here, I wish we lived closer to family, the winters are cold, the summers are hot, the property taxes are too high to even think about buying a house, etc, etc….
But the more and more I focused on the one thing I thought I needed to be happy (living on the west coast), the more miserable I became. And not only did I become increasingly unhappy, but I blinded myself to actively receiving other blessings that Heavenly Father wanted to give me because I was too preoccupied with what was lacking in my life.  I can see now that what the Lord desires to bless me with is much better than anything I could have dreamed of. I was so silly–I thought i needed one specific thing to be happy when in reality, the Lord had already prepared something 100 times better for me…I feel like I was so busy searching for a lost penny that I didn’t take the time to see I had a winning lottery ticket in my hand.
 I learned a good lesson from my dinner plate dahlia this summer.  It was uprooted a few month ago right before blooming. My landlord mistook the floor for a weed and pulled it out of the ground. When I noticed, I was heart broken. I was pessimistic that it would re-root and bloom after spending day in the dumpster, but with the help and faith of a good neighbor, we replanted the sad looking stem. It took a few days, but eventually the flower thrived and produced half a dozen of the biggest dahlia blooms I’ve ever seen in my life.  Bloom where you’re planted, right?
I think I saw NJ much the way that New Yorkers do…as a big, fat weed. I didn’t want to be associated with any part of it. But with the help of the still, sweet Spirit and some patient friends, I finally feel like I’m seeing this ‘weed’ bloom into a splendid array of experiences, opportunities, and friendships.
I guess now I realize that New Jersey is my home. After all, it is the land of my child’s nativity! And sure, it’s home to crazies like Snooki, the highest percentage of Lyme disease carrying ticks, a huge population of bears, and Chris Christie, but it’s also home to Kath and her generous studio, lightening bugs, the best sweet corn I’ve ever had, and scenery that the Hudson River school painters couldn’t pass up the opportunity to paint.  I’m happy here.