Gardening Lessons

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As the earth brings forth its shoots, and a garden makes its seeds spring up, so will the Lord God make justice spring up, and praise before all the nations. Isaiah 61:11

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Decades ago, when I first started gardening, I planted seeds versus buying plants already grown and nurtured in a greenhouse. I wanted the full experience of seeing those small, green shoots poke through the dark soil for the first time.

The moment that happened, I wanted my flower patch to be as spectacular as possible. I immediately added Miracle-Gro to my watering can—and did so every Monday. I even dubbed the day “Miracle-Gro Monday.”

Weeks later, I had cosmos as tall as I was. It was spectacular … for about a day. Then, because the growth was so forced by the chemicals, the plants began crowding each other out. Even worse, the tall flowers were literally falling down. The fertilizer had helped them shoot up fast, but it did so before they could grow deep roots into the ground to sustain their weight.

We can learn so much from my gardening experience.

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Lifting Our Veils

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:42

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The abortion issue is front and center in the media right now with the Supreme Court revisiting Roe v. Wade. With that comes the question of how people can deny that abortion is the taking of a life. Those in the abortion industry who have “seen the light,” talk about the inability to recognize that as a “veil.” When it was lifted, they were finally able to see the truth, repent, and advocate for life.

It’s easy to identify when and where that veil exists whenever we look at “them.” But it makes me wonder where the veils are in my own life.

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Our Daily Bread

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“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:51

There are a slew of foods and beverages that restore us when we’re ill or frail. Good old-fashioned chicken soup can be medicinal when the healing nutrients are extracted from simmered chicken bones. Ensure® is a calorie-packed milkshake that includes almost every vitamin our body needs. My sister swears by Pedialyte®, the infant hydrating formula, to replace what we’ve lost when we’re hungover.

When we recognize our bodies are depleted we reach for remedies like these. But do we do the same for our souls? When we’re weary, overwhelmed, fearful, or lost, do we recognize our spiritual need and feed it?

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A Personal Letter

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In an English class in college, we were challenged to write a story using the “cut-up” technique (“dècoupe” in French). It’s a style of literature where you write a linear story, but then cut it up and let the reader rearrange it however he or she sees fit. Although the content is always the same, when the reader rearranges the order, it personalizes it to him or her.

What a wonderful parallel to the Bible! Although it was written over 2,000 years ago to the world, when we pull out a certain passage or phrase, meditate on it, and insert it into our lives, it’s astounding how it speaks to our individual circumstances. It’s as if God penned a person letter of guidance, support, and love just to us.

Yet, far too often, we leave those letters unopened and unread, and it breaks His heart.

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A Soft Place to Land

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:13-14

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When Mason started high school a year-and-a-half-ago, it made me realize how much he’s grown up. Yet, my heavy involvement in his academic life was keeping him young. Sure, being involved gave me purpose, but it wasn’t doing him any favors. It was time to push him out of the nest. Should he fall, I was still there to be his soft place to land.

So, push him out I did. It took everything I had to resist pulling him back into the nest as his grades plummeted. Despite his video-game privileges plummeting right along with them, he just couldn’t find his wings. It’s been a LONG and painful year-and-a-half.

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Called to Action

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17

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When I worked at a retirement community before kids, we had a “Decisive Dates” list. It was a month-by-month list of all the events we hosted, routine maintenance that needed to be done, and all the other tasks it takes to run a place that is home to over 100 seniors.

Once I became a home owner, I started my own version of that list. Like everyone knows, we have to keep up regular maintenance on our houses and personal lives too. That list worked great, until it didn’t.

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Creatures of Habit

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

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I can be stuck in my ways. I like to think of it as loyalty and commitment – staying true to what I like and what works for me. But too strong a stance in any direction can make us stubborn and inflexible.

For years now, my grocery store has been inconsistent in how it stocks its shelves. There can be a product and brand I’ve bought there for years, and suddenly, they don’t carry it anymore. It drives me nuts! Throw in the supply chain issues and I’m all out of sorts. Ultimately, I have to be grateful I have access to what I need even if it isn’t what I like.

Or so I thought…

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Contradictory Behavior

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

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Jocelyn’s been bit by the cleaning bug lately, but it’s manifesting itself in very unique ways. When she should have been going to bed last night, I found her cleaning the outside of the washer and dryer, as well as the space between and around them. Yet, when I walked into her room, it looked like a bomb went off. Her clean and dirty laundry was everywhere, and every surface was cluttered with something.

This isn’t the first time there’s been a contradiction in her actions. It seems she hyper-focuses on something that’s beyond her realm of responsibility, and completely overlooks that which falls within her domain. I think there’s a whole host of reasons why: avoiding/rebelling against what she feels she’s forced to do, a need to still be perceived as doing the right thing, a sense of satisfaction when she goes above and beyond, etc.

I can’t help but see myself reflected in that mirror.

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Reclaiming Our Voice

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He was driving out a demon [that was] mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute person spoke and the crowds were amazed. Luke 11:14

I believe that the emotions we view as negative can still be gifts from God if we keep them moderate. Fear keeps us alert to danger so we recognize and avoid it. Guilt is an excellent check and balance if we use it to question our behavior and keep us on the straight and narrow. Sadness helps us recognize the contrasts of life, making us mindful and appreciative of the times when we feel joy.

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In Retrospect

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Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. John 2:22

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Hindsight makes for excellent 20/20 vision. There’s something about waiting for the haze of our emotions to lift to see things clearly. 

In John 2, Jesus had just made a whip and was using it to drive out the sheep and cattle from the temple. His anger rose to such a degree, He even flipped the money changers’ tables and drove them out too. 

You’ve got to imagine His emotion spread to the disciples. They’d never seen the gentle and compassionate Jesus lash out in anger before. I’m sure they felt His fury, and it caused fear and turmoil in them. 

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