Redeeming the Time

It was a Monday out of the routine.
No childcare responsibilities.
No church responsibilities.
No family responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong – all of those are good things in our lives,
things we treasure and are grateful for.
But occasionally,
it’s a very good thing to have a day
to ourselves.
A day set aside for nothing other than dinking around.
It is my firm belief that there is not enough dinking
happening in this world.
There is far too much busyness,
too much obligation,
Once in a while, it needs to stop.
All the noise, the inner grinding of gears,
the siren call of one more person to check in with.
The computer needs to be closed,
the phones need to be silenced,
the calendar squares need to be left blank.
Blank, I say.
Because when there is ‘free’ time,
that’s when the good stuff happens.
The really good stuff.

The this-is-me-at-the-heart-of-it-all stuff.
The let’s-do-something-spontaneous-
and-see-what-happens stuff.
The take-off-your-cloak-of-ought-and-
should-and-must-and-look-at-life-without-it stuff.
Our children gave their father a gift certificate for his birthday.
His birthday was at the end of March.
The end of March.
Each week when he dropped off Lilly at our house,
our son would ask,
“Have you used that certificate yet?”
Well, no.
We hadn’t.
It was overdue for redemption.
And so were we.

They gave it to him so that we could select some large pots for our living room,
pots to house the very large orchids 
my husband has been tending for a number of years.
This is what they looked like this winter – 
from just after Christmas until about a week ago:
They were stunning this year,
a daily reminder of the creative genius of our God.
And they are contained in some very ugly black plastic things.
So…some good-sized, good-looking pots.
And our kids knew just the place to look, too.
It’s in Carpinteria, up against the foothills,
about 10 minutes from our home.
So Monday was the day.
And what a day it was.
Seaside Gardens is simply amazing.
Nursery supplies displayed creatively,
covered areas for pots of all colors and shapes,
and behind and around it all?
Gardens – fully planted with trees, grasses, color – 
representing a variety of different 
South African, Asian, native Californian,
succulent, Bioswale – all laid out for the walking,
for the looking,
for the re-charging,
for the dinking around.
And it was all free.
Yes, we found two matching pots,
in a soft green to sit quietly in our living room.
They’re lovely and we’re so glad to have them.
But, it was the walking,
and the looking.
The oohing and the ahing.
The did-you-see-this-one’s
and the what-the-heck-is-that-one’s
and the oh-my-such-glory one’s —

that’s where the redemption truly happened. 

Each of us could feel it.
Each of us could hear it, too.
The soft sound of the soul, opening.
Opening to the beauty,
the orderly chaos,
the flamboyance,
the brilliance of living things.
Opening to the shared creativity
of a good God and a few greatly gifted human partners.
It was only a couple of hours,
but it was exactly what we needed.
A blue sky,
a warm sun,
a shared space.  
We followed our time at the gardens with an early
dinner near the beach.
Sitting where the sun could warm our backs,
watching a few young ones playing in the outdoor sandbox,
eating fish tacos and sharing a milkshake. 
 Redeeming the time, indeed.

Joining with Michelle, Jen and the sisterhood, Ann, Laura and L.L tonight,
grateful for their invitation to nurture gratitude,
to have a playdate with God, to write about place,
to talk about Sunday blessings made real in the rest of the week.
Yeah, I think most of that is in here somewhere.

Get a personal letter from Diana twice a month

Sign up for *More Wondering. . . * a monthly personal letter from Diana to you, available only to email subscribers. As thanks, receive a copy of Diana's new ebook,30 Ways of Aging Gracefully.

powered by TinyLetter

To receive blog posts in your inbox, sign up below.


  1. Oh…thank you so much for letting us walk with you. Utterly lovely.

  2. pastordt says

    Thanks for stopping by so faithfully, Connie! And you’re right – it was utterly lovely. Utterly.

  3. What a beautiful spot! I don’t do nearly enough “dinking around” (love the phrase) – but I plan to in the next 10 days as we head out on a family road trip.

  4. pastordt says

    Oh, have a WONDERFUL time, Michelle. Road trips are great – we’ve done a lot of them as a family – to the southwest, the northwest and all around the country, too. And your kids are a great age for that kind of trip.

  5. I remember when my life was so CRUSHED that I actually selected two frozen foods to cook together only because, had I chosen the ones I wanted, it would have taken me three extra minutes (or some such nonsense) to prepare  them (if you call that preparing). Yes, indeed… not enough dinking around in those days!  Your post took me right there, back to the freezer case, chuckling at how important I thought that three minutes would be.  And you and your husband… a dinkity duo! What a great way to dink away a day! Spectacular images give us that added peek into the beauty, but honestly, your words were so rich I almost missed the photos!  Whoa! I caught myself… ‘go back and look at that!’   So, thank you… What a lovely day.

  6. pastordt says

    Oooh, that is a very badly crushed day, Donna. And I’ve had my share of those, too. Even in retirement, I find myself over-committing if I’m not careful. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such encouraging words.

  7. Glenda Childers says

    Beautiful description and photos to make all of our souls long to slow down. 

  8. pastordt says

    Thank you, Glenda.

  9. lindalouise says

    These beautiful pictures, your perfect words – they made me feel the simple beauty of “dinking.” What a blessing Diana – and such wisdom.

  10. Oh, my, such glory. I want to dink around with you, Diana. This looks like the most amazing place to spend a gift certificate. Only thing is–how to choose? Sounds like you made out pretty good. Lovely, lovely. Utterly :).

  11. pastordt says

    Would love to have you come dink around anytime, Laura! And yes, we did find a good pair of soft green, sort of squarish pots. These orchids are in 10 gal black plastic containers that are 14 inches high and almost 14 inches across, so they had to be wide enough all the way down. We were looking for cobalt or aqua – but these green ones were the right shape and the color is good in the room. Now we’re looking for an evergreen pair of plants to have in them when the orchids are out of season. Maybe we need to take another day to dink around over there again. :>)

  12. pastordt says

    Don’t know about wisdom, Linda – just know we both need downtime on a regular basis. And Monday was a perfect day for it. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such kind words, friend.

  13. soulstops says

    Wow…loved the blue of those pots, and all the beauty of the orchids, and the nursery…so glad you and your husband had time to just be and enjoy..blessings, Diana 🙂

  14. Those lovely shades of blue in the pots would be enough to make my day!

  15. Dtrautwein says

    Thank you, Dolly – for stopping by and for leaving such kind words. I thought we were looking for bright blue pots – but the shape/size and matched pair we needed turned out to be a lovely, soft green – not in this picture.

  16. emily waechtler says

    my mom sent me over to read your post.  she knows that i am in full agreement with you!  when we stop planning our days to the max, and leave time for “nothing” that’s when we are inviting God to start his planning of our day.  well said!  and beautiful pictures!

  17. pastordt says

    Well, thank your mom for me, Emily – glad to have you here. (And who is your mom??) I really do feel some concern about how over-scheduled most of us are most of the time. And it’s harder for me to ‘preach’ that than for others because I’m now retired and actually do have a fair bit more discretionary time. But I believed this before I retired, too – and began to practice it the last decade of my working life. Thanks so much for commenting – you’re welcome here anytime.

  18. I’m a little overdue for redemption.

  19. pastordt says

    Me. too, sweet thing, me, too.

  20. jennifer says

    Diana, I am truly trying to figure out how to leave a few spaces on the calendar blank.

    Matt and I have planned our first vacation together since our honeymoon for our ten year anniversary. That’s a start, I guess, but I need to find those moments of redemption during the week–not every ten years.

    Your pictures are stunning, and I’m so glad you found that time with your husband for connecting and refreshing.

  21. a tired pastor's wife... says

    i’m glad i found you.  i’m glad i found this post. i’m to find others trying to “maneuver the middle” of life.

  22. Oh, this sounds like a perfect place to get away to reflect, relax, enjoy, and take in God’s beauty!! Awesome pictures!! My problem would be that I wouldn’t want to leave!! 🙂 And your husband’s orchids are so beautiful!!! You get to enjoy their beauty every day from within your house. What a blessing!!

    In His Lo♥e, Ann

  23. “The soft sound of the soul, opening.
    Opening to the beauty,
    the orderly chaos,
    the flamboyance,
    the brilliance of living things.
    Opening to the shared creativity
    of a good God and a few greatly gifted human partners.”

    That expresses everything a creative play day ought to be! I’m so glad you took that opportunity and were so blessed by it.

  24. Dtrautwein says

    Thank you, Carol. It was a lovely day – and I’m glad we got to enjoy it.

  25. Dtrautwein says

    Our timing is a little off – that’s all! We got the pots on the very day when it was time to move the orchids back outside to prepare for next fall/winter and the blooming season. And it was a perfect place to take a break and get away from the tyranny of the urgent.

  26. Dtrautwein says

     I’m glad you stopped by, too, “tired pastor’s wife.” I’m a bit past the middle, but I’ve surely been there – and you are most welcome here!

  27. Dtrautwein says

    Good for you! Time away from the kids is truly a godsend once in a while. And emptying the calendar? Tough to do, especially with little kids. But if you can, resist the temptation to schedule them for every activity under the sun during the summer months. Kids have forgotten how to get over being bored – we over-entertain them so often. And when we’re a little bored, sometimes that’s when creative imagination really kicks in. With a little encouragement, that creativity doesn’t necessarily have to get them into trouble! It can lead to all kinds of interesting things.

  28. Love those blue pots–and those orchids! Why is it when churches have people fill out those spiritual gifts inventories, the ability to grow orchids is nowhere on the list. I think it should be.

    And dinking around? I’m a fan. A huge fan!

  29. pastordt says

    I think you’re onto something there, Nancy. Perhaps you should re-design the inventory and include some really helpful stuff! Like who owns a scanner/copier/fax, who raises orchids, who has zucchini to spare…well….maybe not that last one. :>)

  30. Oh, Diana. This is so beautiful. Dinking. 

    Can dinking go on that revised spiritual gifts inventory Nancy is working on? 

  31. Diana, 
    Tired pastor’s wife needs the Sarah list of 50s…:)

  32. pastordt says

    you’re right, Sheila – and Tiredpastorswife – here is a link to that very post, at the site of Sarah Bessey, one of my very favorite 30something writers, who graciously allowed me to write a list of about 2 dozen blog sites written by women over the age of 50. Go check them out – and take heart :>)

  33. pastordt says

    I actually think that’s a GRAND idea. It for sure should go on every list of spiritual disciplines ever created. :>)

  34. Me too! It belongs there!