Lessons From a Garden

purple petunias
purple petunias

Recently I created a rose and flower garden, for the first time in my life. I found out quickly that gardening is hot WORK, but I’m very pleased with what I accomplished and love looking at the beautiful flowers from my sunroom, as I drink coffee in the morning.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned working on my gardens:

  • It’s hard, hot work. The Christian life isn’t easy and Jesus never said it would be a “rose garden.” (Pardon the pun, but I couldn’t resist!) In fact, He warned us that we would have trouble in this life, even persecution and suffering if we followed Him, but we don’t need to feel afraid because He has overcome this world. (John 16:33) I’ve had my fair share of trials and heartaches, and then some. What about you? Let’s face it, marriage is hard (really hard!). Parenting is hard. So is having a ministry, grandparenting, paying the basic bills, staying healthy and fit, dealing with people at your job or church, not losing your temper in traffic, speaking at conferences, writing your book, blogging, taking care of pets, finding life’s real meaning, simply getting out of the bed in the morning, and any number of things we face in this world. But one thing for sure, Jesus will never leave or abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will help us to do what we need to do each day, if we ask Him. He will help us get to that finish line! Just don’t quit.
  • Have a vision. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, “Without a vision the people perish.” You need to have a vision for your garden. Before I started shoveling dirt and buying a bunch of flowers, I thought about what I wanted my two gardens to look like. I googled online and drove around cities to see what other gardeners had done and theirs pretty gardens looked like for inspiration. You can ask your family and friends for their ideas, too, like I did on Facebook. My friend Rose on Facebook and others were a great help to me, since I’ve never done this before and told me how they had made theirs with very helpful tips–what to do and what not to do.
  • Dig deep. You can’t just go throw seeds on the dirt, or plop some flowers from the bucket on top of the soil to create a beautiful garden. You have to prepare the soil first and dig! My friend Rose encouraged me to first clear the area where I wanted the garden of grass, pebbles, and what appeared to be “Creeping Charlie” weeds that were in abundance by the patio and garage. Then she said to lay down cardboard flat on the dirt, which is biodegradable and works better than landscape fabric, and put bark mulch on top of it for my rose garden. For the annuals and perennials, I cleared the area, spread out compost and potting soil, and mixed them together to prepare the soil for the flowers to take root. In order to plant the roses and my flowers, I had to dig–in some places deep. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 42:7: “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” God doesn’t want you and me to have a shallow, superficial relationship with Him, but a deep, intimate one each day. Go deeper with God in prayer, worship, and studying the Bible every day. Choose to grow closer to God.
  • Water and weed daily. I’m treating my rose and flower gardens a little like I do my kids and grandkids, worrying over them. My grandmother Moore had a green thumb and could grow anything, but I’ve never done this before and don’t want to kill my flowers! They need sunlight, watering and weeding daily. I need to give them enough water, but not too much. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what exactly they need and want (again, like our children!). I have to watch vigilantly for weeds and pests. They both can destroy a garden. In our lives, we need to watch for pests that can destroy and weeds that can quickly overgrow in our hearts and minds, such as unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy, gossip, pride, resentment, discouragement, depression, unbelief, and more. These can cause great spiritual destruction in our lives and cause us to get off God’s plan and path for our life. We want to yield eternal, good fruit for God, not waste our lives or have sins choke out the good fruit (flowers). Ezekiel 17:8 says, “It was planted in good soil beside abundant waters, that it might yield branches and bear fruit and become a splendid vine.”
  • Fertilize. Sometimes plants and flowers need a little extra boost with fertilizer–replenishing lost nutrients, ensuring they have the food they need to flourish, stimulate root growth, helping the plant set buds and flowers, and improving vitality. I bought rose food for my roses and applied it the first week, per the box’s instructions. As believers, we face times of crisis (much like strong winds and relentless rain to the flowers) and need to apply the principles of spiritual warfare, being sure to keep on the armor of God, which you can read about in Ephesians 6. I recommend my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles, available for sale at Amazon, which is about 8 women’s greatest spiritual battles. Another great book is Priscilla Shirer’s study on The Armor of God, also at Amazon. I also recommend watching the movie War Room, in which Priscilla starred with Karen Abercombie and T.C. Stallings. Staying grounded in God’s word and prayer will be the fertilizer we need to stay strong through faith in Christ.
  • You’ll get tired. When I started working on the gardens, I used muscles that I certainly had not been using in awhile, so I felt it in every part of my body afterward—I was so sore! What I needed was a hot shower, good food, and to sit down and relax watching a movie! Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, AMP, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened[by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” God wants to give your soul rest–peace and quiet from the hectic, busy, noisy pace of today. Sometimes a garden is the perfect place to do that. As my friend Rose reminded and encouraged me yesterday on Facebook, Jesus spent a lot of time in gardens. At other times, it’s watching a chick flick, eating chips and salsa with Mexican, taking a bubble path, getting a mani or pedi, ordering pizza and laughing with family and friends, going to the beach (my place of peace!), or just getting a good night’s rest. God wants to refill and restore you when you’re tired and weary.
  • Enjoy the view. I was worn out making these gardens. I had to go to a lot of different nurseries and garden places to find the supplies and flowers, in 90+F degree, sweltering heat. I’d never done this before and, frankly, I’m out of shape! It is WORK! I sweated a lot and had to take breaks, since I was planting quite a bit of flowers. But once I finished (I just have one rose shrub left to plant, which hasn’t arrived yet but it’s ordered online!), I was pleased with the overall effect. I love it! It makes me happy to look at the pretty roses and flowers from my sunroom, drinking coffee in the movie. I am praying I can keep them alive and they will thrive; please pray, too! But remember to enjoy the view. Savor the moments in your life. Love your family, friends, and others. Glorify God in all you do. Humankind began in a garden. It is a place of beauty and life.

“When I’m writing, I think about the garden, and when I’m in the garden I think about writing. I do a lot of writing by putting something in the ground.” ~ Jamaica Kincaid

Althea flower
Althea flower

What lessons have you learned from gardening? Please share and leave your comments below.

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Coffee *from* God. He cares about the little things!

This morning I was getting ready for church in my fuchsia colored/black/white dress, with the black shoulder wrap and the butterfly necklace my husband Ray bought me (I love butterflies). Then I realized as I cooked an egg that I was out of creamer for my morning coffee. Oh oh.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” – T. S. Eliot

coffee and Bible
coffee and Bible

And Ray and I were broker than broke, so I couldn’t go buy any creamer. I don’t do black coffee, like my husband Ray does. Normally I have “coffee with God,” my morning devotional time with Him to pray, read the Bible, and journal. Today I would get coffee *from* God. 

I let it go but thinking, “I’d really like a cup of coffee,” and then I went out the door to church.

Woman with issue of blood Image resource: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aeRnaVuFljc/U-dwVMDEv8I/AAAAAAAADSI/ycrWBTakZMA/s1600/hem-garment.jpg
Woman with issue of blood
Image resource: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aeRnaVuFljc/U-dwVMDEv8I/AAAAAAAADSI/ycrWBTakZMA/s1600/hem-garment.jpg

This has been a very hard week for me emotionally.  Someone I deeply love hurt me, and then after that it was like all hell broke loose against me with the enemy’s flaming arrows. I’ve cried all week and at night, I’ve had terrible insomnia. But I lifted up my shield of faith against the flames of fire, I chose to forgive, I let go, and I’m trusting God to heal the wounds (of mine and the loved one) by Jesus’ healing power and virtue

Our family, Ray's 50th bday Left to right: Heather, Eden, Ray, Leah & me
Our family
Left to right:
Heather, Eden, Ray, Leah & me

At church today, Pastor Jeff preached on the Christian family and his message went straight to my heart. I knew I was supposed to be there today for God to encourage me.

I cried during a short, inspiring video about family that Pastor Jeff shared,  I lifted my hands in praise during worship (you must understand, this is a BAPTIST church where they don’t normally do this, but I do!), and hope touched my broken heart. It is well, it is well with my soul. 

And after church was over? I noticed in the foyer on a little table, they were serving coffee and doughnuts. I’d never seen the coffee before. I skipped the doughnuts (THIS time!), poured the hot coffee in the white styrofoam cup, mixed in several little cups of creamer, and in the car as I drove home, sipping my creamy coffee, I thanked my Heavenly Father God, who cares about the little things–like my morning cup of coffee.

I enjoyed it, sitting in our sunroom, watching and listening to the birds on this beautiful, sunny, spring day.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7, NLT

My coffee *from* God
My coffee *from* God

 

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Lessons from an ice storm

There has been an ice storm here in Kansas City, Missouri. Not as bad as the epic Central Plains one in 2002, which left up to over 2 inches of ice over affected areas and knocked out electrical power to more than 650,000 residents and trees shattered under hundreds of pounds of ice. Still not fun, though. I miss my hot coffee. 

coffee and Bible
coffee and Bible

As I write this in my journal, I’m sitting here on our loveseat in the front entry room in my comfy blue hoodie, pj pants, purple Hello Kitty slippers, and huddled under a soft blanket and colorful quilt that Ray’s grandmother hand-made to stay warm, since the electrical power went off about 8 AM today.

Red chair and loveseat
Red chair and loveseat in front entry room

After I read my Bible and prayed for safety for our family and all affected by the storm, I crawled under the blankets and went to sleep. Just as I was dozing off, the power came on. When I woke up, it was off again. I joked with our daughter Heather that maybe I should just stay asleep.

Ray's grandmother's hand-made quilt
Ray’s grandmother’s hand-made quilt

It’s really no joke, though. Our daughter Heather has to drive to Overland Park, Kansas, for work today and our daughter Leah has to work in town, too. My husband Ray is working at the ER and he says the electrical power is on and off all over town, and they are very busy. It makes me think of Third World nations like Haiti, which has frequent power outages and only 25% of the population has energy supply.

2017 ice storm
2017 ice storm

While the leaves encased in ice on trees look beautiful, like Narnia’s winter Wonderland, the ice is wicked, especially to drive on.  Our neighbors’ plant looks dead. The ice instantly kills.

our neighbors' plant
our neighbors’ plant

However, one thing situations like this do is create absolute dependence on God. There’s nothing I can do but wait (and I’m such a control freak sometimes, so it’s hard!). I can’t fix the power. Ray can’t fix the power. 

branches with ice
branches with ice
Are you plugged into God’s power?

It makes me muse, how much power of God do I have in my life? How much do you?

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”–Acts 1:8

Do we read and meditate on the Bible, God’s living word?

Do we spend time with God in prayer and worship?

Asian woman praying
Asian woman praying

Do we lean on God and trust Him when storms come?

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Are our hearts filled with the warmth and holy fire of God’s love, or are they cold, distant, and unresponsive to Him and others, encased in ice like the trees’ leaves?

leaves encased in ice
leaves encased in ice

Today I pray for my family’s safety and all those affected by this ice storm. I pray electrical power is quickly restored and protection from car wrecks. And I pray that you and I will be plugged into and empowered by the Spirit of God in 2017.

Lessons from an ice storm.

trees with ice
trees with ice

While I believe in preparation, I love this quote I found: 

“It is a lifelong failing; she has never been prepared. But how can you have a sense of wonder if you’re prepared for everything? Prepared for the sunset. Prepared for the moonrise. Prepared for the ice storm. What a flat existence that would be.“–Margaret Atwood

The power just came back on. Making my coffee now.

***

Me with my first book, Walking with God
Me with my first book, Walking With God

Do you need to get plugged into God? Read my book on prayer Walking With God, available at Amazon as an eBook. Click here to learn more or buy now.

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