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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

I admit it.  I don’t do change well.  This is something God and I are working on, and He has given me many beautiful opportunities to trust that change, though it may involve letting go, is not in and of itself a bad thing.

We had our first frost this week.  Sunday morning, I peeked outside to see if anything in our garden had survived.  My heart sank a little when I saw the leaves of our summer basil blackened and once robust squash leaves looking like limp dishrags on sticks.  How I loved our summer garden!  And now, it is gone.

But the first frost of the season also means harvest.  That same day, I plunged my gloved hands into the soft earth and pulled out the sweet potatoes that will soon be on our Thanksgiving table.  It was a delightful, subterranean treasure hunt.

sweet potatoes!             

This is only one example of the changes I have seen this fall.  Though the letting go always makes me wistful, I am trying harder to look ahead – to smile for what was, instead of crying that it is no longer.

There was a time in my life when change, especially the endings of things, would have sent me into all-out panic mode.  Not anymore.  I have learned to trust the hand that turns the seasons.  I have lived long enough to see that things have a way of working out.  I have grown in faith enough to know that there is treasure under the surface of whatever change I may be facing. 

I feel that I should pause here to offer a caveat.  I don’t mean to suggest that grieving is wrong.  Quite the contrary.  Grieving is normal, healthy and biblical.  I am referring here to day-to-day, season-to-season, year-to-year changes which may cause discomfort, but do not devastate.  In either case, a little faith goes a long way to soften the blow.

What changes are you facing this fall?  Do you welcome change, or do you fear it?  Do you see the loss or the harvest? Perhaps most importantly, do you believe that whatever change God allows you is ultimately for your good?  (It is, you know.)

There is a season for everything.

There is a reason for everything.

Trust now the hand that turns the seasons…

…and leave the reasons to Him who is for you. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

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I love sunflowers.  It is impossible for me to look into their cheerful faces and feel depressed.  I have several varieties of sunflowers near the entrance to my garden to set the mood.  My garden is my happy place!

The other day, I sat on the steps among the sunflowers, just to enjoy them.  And I had a few observations:

1.) Sunflowers actually turn their heads as the day goes by to follow the sun.

2.) The goldfinches that visit our yard sit on them and peck the seeds out for breakfast.

3.) Bees and butterflies are attracted to sunflowers, too.

4.) Sunflowers make people happy just to look at them.

Hmm.  Maybe I can learn from this…

What if I kept my face to the Son all day long

 sunflower sunrise

 

Maybe it would change me.  Maybe I could attract others by being a reflection of what (whom) I follow. 

 sunflowers and bees

 

Maybe my life would produce fruit, which would, in turn, feed others. 

 seeds

 

Maybe people would be uplifted by being around me.  Maybe they would look for the Son, too.

 others

 

Digging deeper:  Is this analogy too simple for you, or just simple enough?  Have you ever known anyone who has such a faith that it seems to radiate from their face?  Could you grab some for yourself?

Let’s pray:  Dear God, sometimes it feels like everyone else has their face to the light, and I’m groping around in the dark.  Help me to seek your face all day long so that I may be a reflection of your glory.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

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Please excuse my absence last week.  My family and I were having a fun-filled vacation in the beautiful state of Maine.  You were not far from my mind, though, especially on Wednesday when I usually post.  I thought of my garden, too, and worried about whether it rained, if bugs were eating the plants, or if critters were taking veggie booty into the forest. 

But when we got home, there was a wonderful surprise…

 

Abundance!

 

Here is what came out of the garden in just one week:

veggie abundance 

The weather was hot and rainy while we were gone.  The plants were well tended (not by me, but by God), and they responded by producing much fruit.  The sunflowers had opened their cheerful faces.  Even the poor, dying zucchini plants managed to crank out two big ol’ gnarly squash.

I knew this would happen, and I have been waiting for the day that it would so I could share this idea with you:  God does not provide one wimpy cucumber, or a few mealy tomatoes.  No!  He provides abundantly more than we could possibly use ourselves.  (There is a joke in the south that folks are advised to lock their car doors at church, or they may return to find a bag of zucchini and tomatoes on the seat.) 

The garden proves to me repeatedly that God desires to inundate us with blessings!  He is not a God stingy in His love for us.  He gives us everything, and still gives and gives and gives.  He desires only the finest for His children, and He won’t settle for anything but the best.  And lots of it!

You may not feel abundantly blessed.  You may not see abundance in your life.  You may feel like you got left with one moldy potato.  I understand.  I really do. 

But please…

Look harder.

Abundant blessings are there – with your name on them!

Digging Deeper: Do you see an abundance of blessings in your life, or do you see only the moldy potato?  Do you believe that God only blesses other people?  Check out these verses: Luke 11:5-11, Malachi 3:10 (Yes, I know this one talks about tithing.  You can still get a good word in there.), and if you have some time on your hands, Jeremiah 31:1-14.  These are only three small examples of God’s promise of abundance.

Let’s pray:  Holy and loving God, I want to believe that your promises of an abundant life are meant for me.  Open my eyes to the many blessings you have already poured out upon me, and help me to share them with others so that they will know your generosity, too.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

We now interrupt with this update: The doomed zucchini plants from last week survived the powdery mildew plight, only to succumb to an infestation of squash bugs.  Please observe a moment of silence today for the zucchini bread that might have been.  Thank you.

 

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

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Something isn’t right.  My zucchini plants should be churning out the fruit by now.  (Anyone who has ever grown these prolific veggies knows that one plant will supply more zucchini than one family can use.)  Out of three plants, I have one fruit.  One lonely zucchini.

The leaves haven’t looked right to me.  They are spotted and powdery.  I thought maybe I watered too much, or perhaps not enough.  I figured, like most things in the garden, the problem would eventually work itself out.

I was wrong.

Since I am somewhat of a novice gardener, I didn’t know about a disease called “powdery mildew.”  For cucurbits (squash, melons, cucumbers, etc.), it is serious.  It is a nasty fungus which can spread and decimate crops.  It is so bad, that one should not even compost the affected leaves.

According to the information I have gleaned on the internet, the prognosis is not good.  There are several methods I can try to save my plants from the disease, but my dreams of copious amounts of squash are dimming.

Boo.  😦

(Please allow me a moment of grief.)

No zucchini bread?  Zucchini muffins?  Chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini cake?  Zucchini cookies?  (Hey, don’t knock ‘em until you’ve tried ‘em.)  No zukes for our ratatouille and pasta? 

I am crestfallen.

Isn’t this just life, though?  With high hopes, you tend your dreams, invest your time or money in them and expend all your energy.  Maybe things are going well for a while, then without warning, BAM! 

Something happens. 

Your dreams are dashed. 

Your hope is lost.

What do you do then?

If we are talking about dreams and not zucchini (ok, maybe zucchini, too), for me, the plan is as follows:

1.)   Trust that God is good, and that even the smallest happening in my life is not without purpose. 

2.)   Search for what God might possibly be trying to teach me in the midst of my disappointment.

3.)   Focus on what is working.

Of course, saying these things and living them are two different things.  I’ll give you that.  But I’d rather strive to find some good in my disappointing moments than to become bitter from them.

Digging deeper:  Have you had any disappointments lately?  Read Isaiah 55.  Yup, the whole thing.  Read it slowly.  Savor each word as you would savor a chocolate truffle cheesecake.  What richness!  Let these words from the Lord wash over your disappointments and wrap you in comfort.

Let’s pray:  Dear God, how easy it is to trust your ways when things are going well – and how difficult it is when they’re not.  Show me what You have for me in my disappointment.  Teach me.  Comfort me while I learn the hard lessons.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

pathetic zuke

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

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Finally!  The garden has started to produce!  Every morning is a bit like Christmas.  I run out to the garden to see what gifts are there.  I peek under leaves.  I sidle up to stalks.  And look!

The blueberries are popping…

 blueberries

Cukes are almost ready…

 cukes

Look at this cute baby cantaloupe!

 baby cantaloupe

‘Maters!

 maters

Deep aubergine Japanese eggplant…

 eggplant

I can almost smell the zucchini bread!

 zucchini

And look!  We even have hairy ears!  (Of corn, that is…)

 corn

Oh, that nasty pride monster tries to convince me that I can take credit for all these wonders, but I don’t listen.  Nope.  Can’t do it.  Sure, I’ve planted, watered and weeded, but seriously… did I have one thing to do with the gorgeous color of that eggplant?  Or how the zucchini grew an inch overnight?  Or how that cantaloupe blossom turned into a baby fruit seemingly in an instant?

God does it, and I get to delight in it.  What gifts!

(Please excuse me for the gratuitous exclamation points.  I can’t help myself.  I get so excited about the subject of fruit. (!)  Anyway.)

I wonder if He delights in the fruits He produces in our lives as much as I delight in what He produces every morning in my garden.  Does He get giddy when we show generosity, or exhibit patience, or control our impulses?  Does He laugh with us in our joy?  Or smile when we are kind?

As much as I would like to take credit for these glimmers of fruit in my life, I can’t.  He is doing the work in me, as surely as He is coloring the eggplant in my garden.  My part is to create the best conditions possible by reading His word and keeping Him close company.

Do you see any fruit growing in your life?  Look closely.  Don’t you see His handiwork in your life?  Have you seen His work in someone else’s life?

Digging deeper: Our lives are meant to bear fruit.  You’ve probably read this before, but take a close look at Galatians 5:13-26.  This is a brief explanation of what it means for us to bear fruit.  Are there any fruits missing in your life?  Where does your garden need some tending?

Let’s pray: Dear God, I want to delight You with the fruit of my life.  Do Your good work in me.  Tend all the dry and fruitless places in my heart so that my life may be pleasing to You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

 

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Sometimes I wonder if I have any faith at all.  But I am a gardener.  Anyone who plunges seeds into a patch of dirt and expects them to magically turn into food has to have some measure of faith. 

I know that if I put these into the ground…

 sunflower seeds

… they will turn into sunflowers.

 

I believe that when I see these bright, orange-yellow blossoms…

 squash blossom

…I’ll see a squash in the near future.

 

But how do I know this?  And how can I be sure that these will turn into tomatoes?

 tomato blossoms

I mean, what if instead of tomatoes, I got beets (which everyone knows are yucky, unless raw)?

Gardeners believe in what we can’t see. 

Hmm…  I guess that’s called faith.

We believe in the promise of seeds and squash blossoms and green tomatoes and sweet potato vine.  We have faith in the promise that sunflowers, zucchini, tomatoes and sweet potatoes will indeed arrive.

What if we could believe the promises of God as much as we believe the promises of the garden?  Fellow gardeners and non-gardeners, we can! 

There has not been even one time that tennis balls or lemons grew from the cucumber seedlings I have planted.  If God is faithful to bring forth cucumbers from the vine, won’t He be much more faithful when He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)?  This is a promise we can believe!

I believe God is working His magic in the dirt, and even though I can’t see sweet potatoes growing under the ground, I believe that this fall, we will have them coming out our ears.  I also believe that “He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion…” (Phillippians 1:6).  What He began in my garden and in you and me, He will finish, just like sweet potatoes.

If you have ever felt like an epic failure, a mess-up or a mistake, grab this promise for yourself.  He is working on you even now. 

If you feel alone, grab the promise that He will never leave you.  Never.

If you feel unloved, grab the promise that “His love endures forever!”  (Ps. 100:5 – one time of 44 that these words appear in the Bible, NIV)

These promises are yours to keep.

 

Digging deeper: Make sure you are not within earshot of someone who might think you are crazy for muttering under your breath.  Now slowly repeat these words three times: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His steadfast love endures forever.”  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Done?  OK.  How did you feel saying these words?  Did they fill you with joy because you believe them?  Did you feel like a fraud because you don’t?  (No judgment here.  Just notice how you feel.)

Let’s pray:  Dear God, there have been many hurts in my life – so many that it is hard sometimes to trust even You.  Please show me that my faith in what I cannot see is not misplaced.  Help me to believe your promises, claim them as mine and hold them tightly.  Thank you for never giving up on me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

One more thing:  How are you doing on those weeds?  😉

 

 

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If you happen to be taking a stroll through my neighborhood on any given summer morning, you will probably see me working in the garden.  (This Montana-grown, transplanted-to-the-south gal has to have her hands in the dirt!)  While I’m working, God often takes the opportunity to teach me.  This summer, I thought it might be fun to pass on some of what I’m learning, à la mini-Bible study, from the garden.  Grab a shovel or a cup of coffee and join me in my garden!

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Ladies and gentlemen, let the record reflect that I am mean with a cultivator.  It’s a good thing, too, because besides being a rigorous tricep workout, cultivating is one of the most important tasks in the garden.  I am by no means a gardening expert, but here are the two main benefits, as far as I can tell:

  1. It keeps weeds and grass (which rob plants of water and nutrients) out of the garden bed.  Clawing at the dirt with a cultivator will reveal weeds and grass that you didn’t even know were growing.  By the time a blade of Bermuda grass shows above ground, its root system is already established.  For a healthy garden, cultivate frequently so that weeds and grass don’t get a foothold.
  2. It aerates the soil.  I like to keep my garden soil fluffy.  Cultivating keeps the ground from getting packed.  Fluffy soil can accept water and fertilizer, and the plant roots don’t have to work so hard to push through the dirt.

One morning as I was whacking away at the dirt, God was showing me a parallel between cultivating a garden and cultivating a life.

I don’t know about yours, but my life is fertile ground for weeds and grass.  Resentments, grudges, irritations, pride – all of these rob me of the abundant life I am meant to have in Christ. They threaten the health of my relationships.  They rob me of joy.    

I need to be vigilant so that these crummy weeds don’t get a foothold.  If I neglect to uproot them, they will get bigger and suffocate my growth.

Metaphorically speaking, frequently cultivating my life also keeps me from becoming so hardened that I cannot accept the watering and fertilizing – the good things – with which God might bless me.

What about you?  What are the weeds in your life?  Is there something you need to release?  What is robbing you of joy?

Digging deeper:  Locate your Bible.  Blow off any dust which may have accumulated there.  Go to where there are things growing in some dirt, either in your yard, or in a pot on the windowsill.  Read Matthew 13:1-23.  Now reflect for as long as you like upon the soil of your life.  What is growing there?  Are you satisfied with this?

Let’s pray:  Dear God, there are so many weeds in my life!  I name them silently now…  Help me to uproot them so that nothing will hinder my walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

garden

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