Ellie Manly

It's always somewhat difficult for me to receive God's love, but less so up north where the world is a little quieter. Abba called me to adventure with him this summer in the Upper Peninsula: to heal, sabbath, and discover my strength in independence as a young woman. So, I packed up my car, hugged my parents goodbye, and started my journey to Tahquamenon Falls State Park- what I would call home for the next 3 months. I was beaming with excitement. I was practically kicking my feet the whole drive up, ready for something completely new. However, just days before I was in tears as I realized that I don't really love myself. I actually tend to really dislike myself. I said to my parents one night, "it's easy to believe that God loves me, I have always been able to do that, but it's especially hard for me to actually apply that and love myself, especially when I am failing." If you could spend a bad day in my head, you would hear criticism after criticism, hopelessness, and disappointment. And that just spirals further: then I hate myself for hating myself! I am a patient person for many things, but never myself. Especially since I am still grieving things that happened from this past fall. Gosh, you can nearly hear my self loathing within this writing. It is so clear that God's timing is intentional. He called me to a place filled with evidence of his love through my favorite thing: nature.

While I had loads of fun taking many shots of waterfalls, trees, lakes, and sunrises, nothing really quite caught my eye like these little flowers. Not to mention, this was after being out on the most still and quiet lake I have ever been on. It would have been enough, but just as I was leaving, Abba had more for me as a white sparkle caught my eye. This leatherleaf plant, a plant I had never seen or heard of, posed in all its elegance, and I was in awe. How could I have missed such a detail? And detailed they were. They looked so perfectly and intricately crafted, yet so small.

"your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it." psalm 139:14

Abba and I read psalm 139 on the lake, and I knew he wanted me to sit with that verse: that I may look at the beautiful creation around me, then look at myself, and believe that his workmanship (me!) is marvelous even more so. As soon as I saw the little leatherleaf, I understood even better, maybe for the first time in a very long time, that verse. If God could be so careful and intimate to create and place this little flower, how much more is he careful and intimate towards me? God created the plants and the animals, and said, "it is good." He created me (mankind) and said, "it is very good." This flower had me stop in my tracks, yet it is not an image bearer like me. Could I be so much more lovable than the beauty that surrounds me? I suppose I am still learning to believe the answer is yes, but this is a good start. As I started to walk back to my car, I could see leatherleaf everywhere. I had not noticed them on my way there before, but now I could see how they filled the fields. Perhaps God's love is like that too? It doesn't take much until our eyes are opened and we see what was really there all along. But as I am on my journey to really believe what God says about me, I suppose the leatherleaf is there whether I see it or not.