Lessons From Gardening

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Flowers are truly one of my favorites!  I love the variety of colors, textures, shapes, fragrances, and sizes in which they come.

My style of learning is visual so it’s no wonder that I love flowers.  I never tire of looking at the flowers in my garden.  In fact, I have been known to walk outside several times a day just to gaze upon the beauty of the flowers around my house.

When we moved to our current house of six months, the only greenery we could call our own was the grass in our back-yard, and just four shrubs in the front of our house.

This is our fourth house, and every time we have moved to a house, I have always enjoyed cleaning out old over-grown gardens of vines and weeds and then transforming them into something beautiful by adding flowers.

This house would be no exception.  Once I had the funds available, I set to work, adding a variety of beautiful and fragrant blooms to my gardens.  I mostly invested in perennials so I could enjoy their beauty for years to come, reserving my porch pots for a few cheaper annuals.

Then, my dear mother-in-law, who loves flowers as much as me brought quite a few potted flowers from her gardens.  Before she had departed that weekend, I had already added all the plants to my flower-beds, in spite of high heat indexes.

Not only do I love gazing at my flowers, but I enjoy taking care of them.  I water them regularly and am careful to prune, weed, and do all the many things plant-lovers do.

One recent day as I was snapping off the heads of the dead petunias, I couldn’t help but think of the many lessons we can learn from gardening.

I’ll try to keep it short and sweet this time, but here they are:

1. Some flowers require old growth to be removed so that energy isn’t wasted and new growth can occur.

How about us?  God wants to remove the old sin patterns and old wounds from our lives and pasts so that our energy isn’t wasted on what was but now shouldn’t be so that new life and growth can occur in our lives.  Sometimes, the process is painful and can seem unnecessary or tiresome.  Yet, all growth requires investment and change.

2. When seeking to help others to grow are we careful how we “remove” or point out old growth so that we don’t damage new, tender blooms in the process?

As I was snapping off the dead blooms from my Petunias, I managed to snap off one or two fresh blooms in the process.  I couldn’t help but think how sometimes we do this to fellow believers and to our own children.  We are so eager to point out the areas in which they need to grow, but sometimes in our eagerness or zealousness, we forget that gentleness is necessary in order to not bruise or harm the tender buds that are unfurling.

3. Consistent watering is required for most flowers to maintain a healthy life.

How about us?  Are we consistent in spending time in the Word of God, in prayer, and in fellowship with Him?  We need the consistency of His Holy Spirit, His presence, and His Word to give us direction, health in our spiritual lives, and to keep us refreshed spiritually.

4. Light is a necessary requirement for plants to live.

Light provides growth.  It protects against dangers to plants, such as molds.  It gives guidance to the little plants below the surface so they know in which direction to grow.  It encourages blooms to unfurl, and blooms instinctively know to open in the direction of the sun.  Light also reveals and gives definition.  I believe the best analogy to light is that of God’s Word and His Presence as revealed in His Word.

  • God’s Word protects against dangers.
  • God’s Word gives guidance and shows us how we are to grow.
  • God’s Word reveals truth.
  • God’s Word defines what our new natures and its attributes should look like as His children.
  • God’s Word encourages spiritual growth in our lives.
  • God’s Word encourages us to grow in the “direction” of our Heavenly Father, as revealed in His Word.

5. Weeding is another necessary but arduous task in the life of a gardener and for the protection of the plants.  Otherwise, flowers can be “choked out.”

Weeding is definitely my least favorite task when it comes to caring for my plants.  It is probably just as equally challenging to allow the “weeds” in my own life and in the lives of my children to be dealt with.  We all want to enjoy the blooms, but the weeding…?  It’s work, plain and simple work.  There isn’t an obvious, immediate reward for it, but it’s necessary for the plant’s survival.

  • When weeds are left to grow, unchecked, they very soon can block out the light of the sun from the plant.
  • Weeds can also distract others from the seeing the beauty of the flowers.
  • Weeds can also soak up the soil’s nutrients and water that is meant for the flower.

“Weeding” out the “weeds” in our own lives is necessary for the abundant life we were meant to live to continue.

6.  Weeds often look a lot like flowers.

Not necessary a deep statement, but oh, is it true.  How many times do we see weeds growing closely to a flower that has a similar leaf structure?  For those not as expert in their knowledge of the varieties of flowers and of their individual characteristics, it can be easy to be fooled.  Before long, the weeds have taken over the garden.  The lessons to be learned are:

  • The weeds or lies often closely resemble the truth or real flower — that’s why they are easily accepted.
  • Study to understand the characteristics of flowers so you can distinguish the difference between the real flower and the weed.  (Know what the truth is, what real spiritual fruit looks like so you can recognize the false counterpart.)

7.  Weed frequently because young weeds and a few weeds are easier to pull than an overgrowth.

Don’t overlook the little compromises in your life.  Those little sins can soon produce an entire harvest of shame and destruction in your own life and in the lives of others.  As the Bible says, “… the little foxes spoil the grapes.”

 

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Family, Fun, Flowers, and Farming

This past weekend was a busy time as a family but also fun.  Jonathan had off for Memorial Day so we spent the extended weekend, planting our garden, getting some stuff together for the bathroom, taking the boys to soccer and softball games, doing yard work, and trying to have some fun time as a family.  It was a busy time, and we didn’t get  all the bathroom work done like we’d planned, but we did get our garden done, and we did have special family times.  As Jonathan said, “Our kids are more important than a new bathroom.”  He has his priorities right.

I was going to blog something more interesting, but I am feeling brain “freeze” as I am overly tired.  Plus, I have a bunch of things waiting to get done so I need to stop blogging and get busy.

Jericho, Goliath, and Gardening

It’s interesting how everyday situations create the perfect opportunity to teach life lessons and spiritual truths.  Perhaps, the very best ones are learned this way.  Recently as we were putting in a garden, we saw first hand how important it is to be aware of “teachable moments” with our kids.  As our family was digging small holes and carefully places the seeds inside, I began to teach the boys about our early American history.  It was fun to share how the Native Americans, Samoset and Squanto helped the pilgrims learn how to grow gardens in the American soil.

I then went on to share how God compares our hearts to types of soil.  I asked Will questions concerning how well he thought a seed would do if it was planted with a bunch of rocks; we then compared that to a “hard heart” that is closed to truth/”seed of eternal life.”  We spoke of what a seed needs to grow and compared that to Spiritual truths — how we need God’s Word, God Himself, “pruning” in our own lives, encouragement, etc… to flourish and thrive.    We talked about the plants that wither when heat and drought come.  We compared that to our lives — when we “wither” when adversity comes our way (e.g. persecution, criticism, hard times leads to “losing faith”).  It was neat to see how Will clearly understood spiritual truths from seeing their application to our daily lives.

Another lesson we recently discussed was during our family devotional reading of the Battle of Jericho.  We read about Joshua’s conquering of Jericho through God’s help and of Joshua and Caleb’s response to Jericho versus the other spies.  We went on to apply Jericho to areas in our lives that need to be conquered (e.g. pride, anger, selfishness, unkindness, impatience).  Each of us went around the table and named something that we need to have conquered by God’s help.  We then talked about how God can help us tear down those “Jerichos” in our lives and give us freedom!  The boys immediately grasped the truths of this lesson and shared their “Jerichos”.  Later when conflicts arose, we were able to refer to the Bible lesson and to ask the boys if they were conquering their “Jericho” or allowing “Jericho” to conquer them.

A similar lesson was also studied and applied from the life of David and the familiar story of his battle against Goliath.  Again, Goliath was compared to our own areas of sin and how we need to go in God’s strength and use the right weapons to defeat our spiritual giants.  It was neat to hear the boys of their own volition mentioning these lessons in later events.  God’s Word is definitely powerful and practical!

Country or City?

Today as the boys and I were enjoying working outside, Will said, “It’s nice to be out in the country.”  I guess we do have our own bit of “country” with a nice yard, gardens, and even some vegetables and herbs.  My gardens aren’t amazing, but I do enjoy them.  I just added another 28 plants — thanks to a friend.

June 20, 2008

I was thinking about the date yesterday, and it struck me that never again will there be a June 19, 2008!  That thought propels me to think of how I spent my day and whether I made it “count.”  Well, today so far has been busy — for me that is.  I finally folded the two loads of wash sitting on my chest upstairs.  (Laundry is non-stop around here, and it’s hard to keep up…)  I remade my guest beds in time for more company this weekend.  I took the boys outside to play and invited neighbors to join us.  When they left, the boys and I worked on weeding and planting five plants and then watering the plants.  I was happy that I got a lot of weeding done.  The boys had fun and were able to use up some of their energy in a positive fashion.  Tonight, we watch friends’ kids so my day will stay busy.  Time to attend to a fussy baby…

Gardening, Garbage, and Growing Things

Today, the boys and I had fun planting two potted plants, picking up garbage from our lawn, cleaning up leaves from our storage door, weeding, and then playing on the swing set. Drew can now climb up the rock wall by himself to the sliding board. I guess he improved his climbing skills overall from learning how to climb out of his crib.

What a glorious day it is today! Everything is green, blue, or sunshine yellow! Whenever I weed, I often think of a devotional Jonathan once shared at our old church on weeds in relationship to our spiritual lives. Every day activities often produce some of the deepest spiritual lessons. Jesus’ parables were always regarding something practical from His listeners’ daily lives. May I be in tune to the Spirit’s teaching, transforming the mundane of the daily to the glory of eternal truths being made evident in my life!

More Messes…

As if the previous messes weren’t enough this morning, the boys emptied their breakfast on the floor and later unscrewed the lids off their sippy cups and spilled the milk all over themselves and some nearby blankets (they’d made play beds on the floor).  Ugh!  Always something with them!!  On the positive side, we kept some messes outside today.  I took the boys to plant glad bulbs and daffodils.  We also cleaned up some gardens — still a lot more to do in that respect, but it was a nice start.  Time to put the boys down for naps…!!!