Posts Tagged ‘garden’

It happens every January 1, a new year like a blank page begging for a story.  It stretches out before you, not yet sullied, not yet marked by disappointment, not yet peppered with regret.  You look back and analyze the past year and there are always parts you’d like to erase.  You look forward and begin to make resolutions that will guarantee improvement.

There is excitement and enthusiasm for a while.  If you are like me, you get into a cleaning frenzy.  You reorganize.  You dust corners you’ve forgotten about for the past several months.  I would love to start every year by throwing out the old wardrobe and starting over with everything brand new, never worn. 

The first day of a new year is perfection – for about five minutes.  Hard as you try you can’t keep it that way. Before the day ends you’ve probably said something you wish you hadn’t, neglected something you should have taken care of, and shoved an item into a place it didn’t go. All those wonderful resolutions already starting to crumble and you have another 364 days to go.

Still, I am a hopeless resolution maker. I am a dreamer of better decisions, kinder thoughts, more generous actions and a deeper walk. I am a seeker of more meaning and richer relationships.  I am a planner of more organized days and fewer busy nights.

For several years now I have been reading through the Bible, beginning January 1st and finishing triumphantly December 31st. I have not failed to live up to this commitment yet.

And God has not failed to reveal new ideas and thoughts to me through His amazing words.  Here is the perfect example.

It’s January 3, 2013 and I have just read through the story of creation again.  I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve studied this particular section of scripture. However, this is the first time I was struck with how it parallels the start of a brand new year. Picture God looking out on nothing and deciding to create something, so He starts with light.

Now here is the clue God gave me for how to improve my life in 2013. God didn’t create light and jump to the next step. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good,…” Genesis 1:3-4a

God took time to look His first step over and make sure it was good before moving on. What a thought!  Take time to make sure where you are is right and good before you move forward.

To me that means when the realization comes that I’ve stumbled in thought, word or deed, I need to stop and make amends. When I’m short with my husband, who is one of the few people who can push me from my normally tolerant and gentle self to irritation, I can’t just walk on.  I have to stop and ask forgiveness because I desire to please God in all things.  I want Him to look at me and say “that was good, move on.”

When I neglect my devotions or don’t take time with someone who needs time, or spread gossip, or fail to put all of my effort or talent in what God has called me to do, I need to go back and make it right.

God stopped several times in the creation process and assessed His work. Did the world He created stay beautiful and unsullied? Nope.  Man messed it up within a very short time, and continues to distort it every day. But that doesn’t change what God did.

Take some time this first week of 2013 to look for the original good in God’s actions that first week of the very first year ever.  Here’s what you will find:

  • There is still heart wrenching, soul moving beauty in a sunrise. 
  • There is still tranquility in the still waters and breathtaking power in a waterfall.
  • There is still majesty beyond description in the mighty mountains and cool, soothing peace in the lush valleys.
  • There is still hope in the shimmer of moonlight, laughter in the antics of animals, wonder in the effortless soaring of a bird, faith in the ebb and flow of the ocean.
  • And never doubt, there is still goodness in man. The news may try to hide it, evil will try to cast a shadow on it. But it’s there, every day, in the heart and spirit of the ones who choose to walk with God and live out love, forgiveness and grace.

Look for it and you will find it. When you do, remind yourself “it is good”.

 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good….” Genesis 1:31a

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I love Anne Voskamp’s book titled One Thousand Gifts (http://onethousandgifts.com)  because it beautifully reminds us not to take for granted the small things of life that give us golden moments and carry us through every hour of every day.  She speaks of things like rainbows reflected in soap bubbles and a child’s unexpected laughter, things that happen quickly and are just as quickly missed if we aren’t careful.

God calls us to a life of continual thankfulness.  Yet the world throws so many negatives our way it is difficult to stay in the grateful ring.  We are so busy we never pause to see the minute by minute abundance of God’s goodness.  Or we are so programmed to look for big things we bypass small things.

Giving thanks for small things is really telling God we are satisfied.  We aren’t asking for more. We are accepting that each tiny gladness is more than we deserve and therefore enough. 

I believe God may have given us zucchini as the perfect illustration of this concept.

Hold one single zucchini seed in your hand.  Lift it up to God and declare it to be enough.  Plant the seed and what happens?  Abundance.  A harvest large enough to feed your family with plenty left over to share.  Have you ever known anyone to grow “just enough” zucchini?  It’s impossible.  Zucchini produces more product from a single seed than any other vegetable I know.

I still remember the first time my mom planted a garden when I was about ten years old.  She put in a few tomato bushes, a few radishes, a few carrots and a row of zucchini not realizing a row of zucchini could feed the world.

She harvested and harvested and harvested zucchini.  She cooked it, baked with it, and froze it.  She gave it away to our friends and relatives until they refused to take any more.  She found an old wheelbarrow, filled it and parked it at the end of the driveway with a sign that said “Help Yourself”.  People did but the wheelbarrow never emptied.

That row of zucchini was like the never ending pot of porridge.  Every day mom picked it clean and everyday there was more to pick.  It wasn’t until we got our first hard frost that we were finally able to store the wheelbarrow for the winter.

God’s blessings are like the zucchini seed.  If we will take the time to see them and thank him for them, they will multiply until we have to share them with others.  Every time we pick the blessing bush clean, more blessings appear.  That’s how God planned it.  That’s how God likes it.  And that’s why God instructed His children in the way of thankfulness.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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If it’s true a watched pot never boils, then it’s a miracle my roses have bloomed.  From the first tiny sign of a green leaf following my spring pruning I have checked and rechecked daily, measuring progress. I’ve watered and fertilized, weeded and sprayed.  I felt personally attacked the day I found aphids trying to take up residence and I rushed to the garden shed to grab the proper insecticide. I have been over-diligent.

When the first tightly coiled buds began to form I announced it to my friends and family like a prospective mom announces her pregnancy.  When those green buds grew to bursting and I saw the first traces of color, I danced among the bushes. The first delicate pink rose began to open, exposing sweetness and velvet layers.  I wanted to park myself right there in the garden and watch it finish unfolding into breathtaking beauty.

Now my bushes are loaded with yellow and peach and red and white tributes to the rose horticulturists who painstaking developed each strain. 

I’ve poured a lot of time and effort into my roses and they have paid me back tenfold. I will enjoy them, take pride in them, share them and glory over them until they once again withdraw into their time of dormancy and dryness only to be coaxed into full bloom again once they’ve survived another winter.

My life has been a rose garden of winter trials and summer blooms. God has been the dedicated Gardner.  He cares for me gently and with great attentiveness, pruning, coaxing, watching for attack, nurturing, and hovering over each sign of new growth. He encourages small green buds of hope and ministry, beauty and song into promises of great beauty and the scent of spiritual growth.  My heart is overwhelmed when I think of Him, the Great God of the Universe, hovering over me with expectation and pride, waiting for me to fully open to the beauty of my current season.

I recently read Wildflowers from Winter, a debut novel by Katie Ganshert (http://katieganshert.com/blog/).  She so beautifully showed her main character emerging from a season of cold and dark to the beauty of one who fully lets God hold her heart.  It is a lesson we learn over and over in the ebb and flow of life.

Dark times will come, must come.  But God promises newness and beauty will follow.  Have you allowed Him to tend the garden of your heart?  Have you seen beauty bloom when you thought nothing could ever come from your brittle branches?  I’d love your comments on how the great Gardner brought you to life again.

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.  “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” Acts 5:19-20

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This was truly Weird Weather week in Yakima.  Sunday and Monday we had 90 degree temperatures – in April!  On Wednesday we had genuine should-I-build-an-ark rainstorms – in Yakima (basically a desert climate).  Don’t you just love Spring with all of it’s surprises?

Actually – I do.  There’s something about spring that speaks to my heart about freshness and promise, hope and new life.

The trees have been standing barren and bleak for months but all of sudden in spring they perk up, life starts coursing through their branches and tiny buds appear impatient to unfold in lush leaves.

The hills have been snow covered and sleepy but at the first hint of spring sunshine they drink up the snow melt and start growing a green crew cut.

And the tulips – oh the tulips.  They are inspirational.  They hide inside those dried up bulbs underground until God whispers “It’s time.”  At the sound of His voice they are so excited they fight their way to the surface through earth still partially frozen.  They strain and push to break through and they don’t stop there.  It’s like they can’t get close enough to God soon enough.  Those sturdy stalks will grow inches in a day, stretching straight up until their little heads burst into glorious bloom, wide open faces smiling right at their Creator.

Can anyone look at a bed of tulips and not feel joy? 

Tulips remind me of that first love spoken about in Revelations chapter 2.  Do you remember it?  The early stages of your relationship with Jesus when you were so enraptured by Him you couldn’t stop talking about it, singing about it, rejoicing in it?  You were like the tulip shaking with impatience to get closer to Him.  You soaked up His living water until you were so filled you had to start growing.  You pushed through every bit of what was trying to hold you back, keep you underground,  and you just kept stretching upward to get closer and closer to God. 

Have you lost that newness?  Have you become complacent?     Because I can tell you this – what God has done, what God’s Word says, what God has planned – is as new and fresh today as it was on the day of creation.  God in all of His glory, the God who has existed since before time began, the God who watches over us every minute of every day – has not one time become complacent in His duties. 

The Bible tells us His mercies are new every morning,  His compassions never fail, His love is never ending,.   I invite you today to stretch as tall as you can, lift your face to God and be like a tulip – eager and anxious for more Him. 

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;    great is your faithfulness.  Lam 3:22-23 

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I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up my rose garden.  I pruned, raked out the dead leaves from last fall, pulled new spring weeds and tilled the packed down soil – opening it up to receive the sunshine and moisture needed to make sure I get beautiful blooms.  My hands worked the earth but my mind was on Easter week and getting ready to celebrate the resurrection.

I realize my bushes would have leafed out and bloomed without the pruning.  But to get full and abundant production it’s always better to cut out the dead wood, cut back the spindly spring growth, and let the bush pour all of its energy into new growth.  My bushes could have survived among the weeds but again, if I want all 100% of the nutrients I provide throughout the growing season to benefit the roses, I need to get rid of the things that might suck some of that away.  And while loosening the soil might not be absolutely essential, scraping away the packed earth on top just makes it so much easier for the water to reach the roots of my roses.

The parallel was obvious.  I want to stand at the foot of the cross in full bloom next Sunday.  I want my heart open to the amazing message of the resurrection.  I want everything Christ has for me to go to the very root of my being and nurture growth.  I want the dry covering of dead left by chill winds and winter storms to be cleared away.  I realize to accomplish this I have some forgiving to do, some outreach to happen, some ingesting of God’s word to take place, and some letting go of old wounds to occur.

My commitment for the next seven days:

  • Wash my soul while getting my knees dirty in a renewed emphasis on prayer. 
  • Make a serious effort to experience in a small way what Christ felt on the cross when He generously forgave those who had hurt Him.
  • Snip back the spindly growth of my last few study sessions, return to them and  dig deeper for those pockets of “Miracle Grow” found only  when you put everything you have into what you are trying to uncover. 
  • Trust God to resurrect in me that beautiful bloom of my first love just in time for Easter Sunday.

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

Psalm 45:11

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