(Click below for this beautiful song I've had on repeat lately.)
The Meeting of Rubber and Road
Several times in the past months various circumstances have arisen, as they no doubt have in your life as well, where it has hit me that if I can't love in this situation, can't obey right now in the midst of this, then my faith is pretty weak and disingenuous. It's plenty easy to love and obey and quote scripture in the smooth times when all is well and everyone's nice. But how about when none of that is true - when life is hard and feelings are hurt and we really want to control with all our might instead of trust?
It's in these difficult moments when the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Will I practice what I preach? It's then, right there at our weakest, that we have to cry out for His strength to be made perfect in our weakness. We pray for the strength to forgive, to sacrifice, to obey, and love because of Christ. Not because any person deserves it. Not because we deserve anything in return. Our responses and actions are to reflect our love for Him. They're not to be based on the merits of anyone else, or the mood we happen to be in at the time. His love will not fail us, nor will His promises. As we submit to Him, and respond in humility to those around us, we understand all the more deeply how it's His love that truly, truly satisfies.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Gardening for the One Who Does Not Garden
I have tried half-heartedly a few times these past couple years (in our first home to own) to plant things but declared myself inept after about 100% of the plants failed to flourish. Nevermind the fact that I forgot to water them, didn't consider the amount of harsh sunlight they baked in all day, and didn't know the difference between annuals and perennials (no shame if you don't either)... I was not destined to garden, I thought, so would just wait until, I don't know, someone else did it. Or something.
To justify the dead beds, I also used the excuse that I didn't have time. With all these children and chores and soccer games and errands, who has time to garden?
While it's true time is minimal, the real truth is we usually can make time for things important to us, right? And sometimes we have to cut out other less important things. (As I've mentioned before, for me the past year that's been mainly online-related things.)
I don't have a magic tip for all those who lack green thumbs (like myself) but would like to turn their dry and dusty flowerbeds into an English cottage garden.
But I came to a realization a few months ago that if my neglected flower beds were going to be even the least bit pleasing to look at, it was I who needed to get my hands dirty and make it happen. There was no way around it. So for the past several weeks I have tried to give it my best shot, browsing books in spare moments, searching Pinterest for tips, and seeking advice.
My good friend and neighbor walked over with her mom last month to help me plot and plan. They both are wonderful gardeners and have a tropical paradise to prove it. And since that paradise is literally down the street from me, I had to stop blaming my gardening woes on the weather. (Darn it.)
They gave me loads of great ideas, and maybe more than anything, bestowed upon me the encouragement needed to make it happen.
Since then, the boys and I have been out in the yard with shovels and dirt, tiny plants and pots, as much as possible. They have enthusiastically taken care of the garden snakes for me, and love watering the plants and each other daily.
And this is truly why I decided gardening was for me. As in all aspects of home, I want to cultivate a love for beauty in the everyday, small things. Home is my hub for ministry in this season of life, ministry that primarily entails enriching the lives of children who live here or who might be passing through in foster care.
Tending to life is quite literally the Genesis. The garden was God's welcoming gift to Adam and Eve. Though things have gone awry since then, we still have the ability to bring beauty to our spaces. Flowers, fruits and vegetable grown with our own hands teach us about the seasons, cycles, and systems God has set into motion. It's really astounding to watch it all unfold. And it's thrilling to jump in to a pastime that has existed for all of history, and for the most part transcends cultural and socioeconomic differences.
That being said, I'm on about week eight of my gardening endeavors, so we shall see what happens once the scorching Texas heat hits. But I do know I won't give up so easily. It is actually quite addicting I've found and there are endless things to learn. We won't be winning "Yard of the Month" and you certainly won't be all that impressed if you visit my house, but our little space is creating memories for our family and beckoning us outdoors everyday.
Future goals include a vegetable garden and some kind of fort for the boys created with vines like this.
Reading This month
My favorite book this month was The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. If you are a mother with children still at home, I highly recommend it. This will be one I return to often through the years. What a gift we possess as mothers to shape the hearts of our children. (I say get the hardcopy rather that electronic version if possible!)
I've also enjoyed finally reading and/or listening to these classics by Jane Austen. They are free on Kindle and you can add on the audio for a dollar or two. Perfect for dish-washing and laundry-folding!
Reading With Children
Books we are enjoying together this month include:
The Treasure Tree, By John Trent (A delightful and colorful adventure highlighting unique personality types.)
The Magic Tree House series, by Mary Pope Osborne (We are usually in the middle of one of the many stories in this series.)
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (My 6 year old and I are enjoying this one.)
My Great Aunt Arizona, by Gloria Houston (Simple little plot based on a true story, which we love around here.)
The Bear That Heard Crying, by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey (Sweet and fascinating true story!)
Adventures in Odyssey: Parker and Jones Case Files, by Christopher P. N. Maselli (Kristian and the boys have been reading these at bedtime.)
The Pooh Storybook, by A.A. Milne (A favorite for all ages, it's reread in our house over and over.)
A few thoughts on book selection for children HERE.
And remember to check thrift stores for books! Almost our entire collection has been found for mere cents with a little digging.
Lord bless you and keep you, cause His face to shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.
(from Number 6)