The Gardener’s Pain

For those of you who read my personal blog, Signs of Life: Adventures of an Everyday Soul, you have seen this post before. I just felt led to share it here.

I love spring.  I love the bursting forth of new life. I love the possibility of new growth. I love green and bright yellow and red and blue. I love the bright rainbows of color after the white and gray of winter. I love to grow stuff. Stuff in my garden, stuff in my flower bed, stuff in the yard. I am NOT a fan of the allergies that come with spring, but I understand the necessity.

I am new to gardening/plant caretaking. It’s only been in the last few years that I have learned to heed my father’s (he is a builder of parks…he knows a thing or two- or a million- about getting things to grow) advice about being a gardener. I remember the first time he told me that I had to prune my rosebushes all the way back to the original stalk to get the best growth. Or when I grew my first tomato plant and he told me to cut all the runners off except for the top two.  I was aghast!

“REALLY, Daddy? I have to chop down my entire rose bush? It will never grow back!”

“Well, it will still grow without it, but it won’t get strong. There is a great power in pruning.”

And after my first couple of years with leggy, pouty roses and 4 tomatoes to a plant, I wholeheartedly agree. There is power in pruning.

This morning, I noticed that my flowerbed in the front yard is coming to life- YAY!  I also noticed that I had done a poor job of putting it to sleep last fall and had not pruned back all the growth last year. In an effort to let it flower just a little longer I let my Morning Glory and Clematis twine together and continue to grow through the very mild fall. By the time I realized they had started their winter hibernation, it was cold and so I left the dry vines on the trellis. But there she is, starting to climb, my pretty purple Clematis.

When I arrived home this morning, I decided to take down the dry brush and make way for the new spring growth. So I don my gloves, my pruning shears and head to the trellis to cut through the dead branches.  The Clematis is growing beautifully….twining it’s way around all the nasty, dried up, last year’s growth.

Wow…what a visual for my life.

I am growing, beautifully…producing fruit even, beautiful large purple flowers that praise My Great Gardener’s Care….but, somewhere along the way, I forgot to clear out the brush. The dry, brittle, straw-like branches that don’t bring life. And I am climbing and twining my way up those dry branches. Twisting and turning, grabbing hold tight to the ugly, dead parts of my life. Parts that will hold me back, tie me down and choke out the beauty that I am capable of showing.

Just as I don’t want that ugliness in my flower bed, God doesn’t want it in our lives either. So what does a good gardener do? A good gardener prunes away the dead, to make room for the Life.  And, sometimes…there are casualties. Sometimes, the  live, fruit producing branches are so entwined with the dead ones that there are only two choices:

1)      Let all the ugliness stay

OR

2)      Prune both away.

IT HURTS!

Does it hurt the Clematis…yes a bit…but she will have more energy to produce more flowers…big beautiful, glorious flowers.

But it really hurts the Gardener! As a gardener, I feel sad for the Clematis…she has done good work, but it is necessary for her to continue to grow. I feel a bit of anxiety, that she will stop growing all together, and thus never fully step into the potential that I see for her. I wonder how much I can prune, without killing the vine altogether.

As my Great Gardener prunes away the dry and dead brush from my life, I wonder if he feels this pain…no wait, I know he must feel this pain. The pain a Father feels when he is disciplining His daughter. I am saddened that I left the dead brush in place and in my zeal to grow for Him have enmeshed my new growth in my old,dead flesh.

Dear Lord, come and prune away the dead and dying brush from my life. Make way for new life in me. I am sorry that I have entangled the gifts that you have given me with the my old habits of doing things. I am ready to cut away the old, even if I must sacrifice some of the new so that I may reflect only your beauty,  only your glory. Make me beautiful in Your eyes, O God, and train me how to grow to Your potential for my life. I love you. Amen.

What dry brush do you need to clean out in order to make way for new growth?

A Divine Love Story

It is late. Or early (depending on your “half empty/half full” viewpoint. About 4 am.  I  have been lying awake for nearly an hour now…restless…and repentant.

I have been working this ministry for the last 7 months now…taking this God given message and kneading it like a piece of dough. What happens to dough when you work it over too much and don’t let it rise within the pan…yep, it gets all stale and hard and not at all appealing. Dear God, I am so sorry…

I am haunted this morning by a post I read at (In)Courage, a challenge of sorts, to write your divine love story.  When I first read it, I thought, “self, you should so do that!” and then I closed my email and when off about my business.  But I kept coming back to  it, and as I lay in bed tossing and turning and asking God to forgive me and give me strength to run this race called life, he whispers, ever so softly in the night, “I still love you.”

Extravagantly, He loves me. Even when I mess up. Even when I let the busyness of life take over and stand in the way of our communication. Even when I get so focussed on doing His work I forget to live His work. He cares for me and blesses me in more ways than I can even fathom, let alone recount. He holds me and comforts me, keeps me safe when I have run headlong into the path of the enemy, and He heals my hurts, my scars, my self-inflicted wounds.  He is my peace in the storm, my strength in the race, my light in the darkness. And even in my imperfect humanness and all my failed efforts to live life on His terms instead of mine, he STILL loves me. THAT, my friends is divine.

The most amazing thing about this love is that he only asks two simple things in return: that I love Him back and that I tell others. And I do both. Not nearly enough…not with extravagance that I should, but here, in the wee hours of the morning I making a new start. I am telling you.

His love is so perfect, and it isn’t just for me…it’s for you, too.  He’s already given it to you, you just have to accept the gift and invite Him in.  Will you?

If you would like to learn more about my journey with the Lord,  you can read My Testimony here.

Visit (In)Courage for more Divine Love stories….

Give me the “Better Wash”….

I should be doing a million other things right now other than writing this post, but this image struck me so square between the eyes that I could not ignore it.

Recently, we had a pretty intense snow storm- well, for Arkansas it was…about eight inches of snow on the ground. And with all the gravel, salt, slush and mud that is created in the melt off, our jeep looked like we actually took it off road (ha!)…the poor thing was crazy dirty.

Since then, the weather has finally cleared, and everyone is scrambling to get their cars clean (perhaps to rediscover what color their car ACTUALLY is beneath all that beige and dirt and grime.) The lines for the car wash have been CRAZY!

I was so excited to pull up to the order station and find I was the first one in line yesterday. I selected the “Better Wash”- you know the one without the fancy tire shine and was directed into the bay by a nice college boy who offered me a sucker to pass the three minutes of wash time.

I set the car in neutral and sat back…letting the scrubbies and giant wash rags buff away 8 inches of dirt on the Jeep. Watching the rainbow soap as it blended together and turned purple, listening as the “Spot Free” rinse rained on the sunroof and rinsed away all the lather and soap and dirt and grime.  Then through the giant blow dryer to dry all the little droplets of water left behind.  By the time I reached the green, “GO Now” light, I had a SILVER Jeep again.  AHHHHH! How wonderful it felt to be in a freshly washed car.

Now I love Boomerang because you pay a little higher price for a wash, but they have free vacuums. So, meaning to clean out the inside of the car, I pulled in next to one of the vacuums. But, it was 34 degrees outside, I was in heels and there were still icy patches in the lot, so I decided that I would skip the vacuum and just be ok with the clean car on the outside.

As I was driving out of the parking lot it hit me. I do this in my Christian walk to. I ask for the “Better Wash” and pull my life into the automatic car wash.  Jesus, being full of grace  and love for me, washes me clean. I come out all shiny and new, and because it it’s hard, or it’s cold, or it’s slippery, or I’m just plain ole too lazy, I don’t take the time to CLEAN OUT THE INSIDE. I put my Jesus coat on, and on the outside, I am clean and pristine. but inside, I am still dirty and grungy and greasy and have trash piled so high that I have no room for other people to come in, unless they want to sit on the yuck stuff.

The sad part is that I don’t HAVE to carry any of that around. Jesus provides us with FREE vacuums.  Powerful vacuums that can suck up any dirt, any debris, any trash.  That take it all away and we don’t have to worry about anymore.  All we have to do is get out of the car long enough to use them.  It isn’t easy.  It does mean you got to look at that trash squarely and decide you don’t want it anymore. That you are going to let it go and not ever look back.

But isn’t it worth it?

For that just cleaned, brand new feeling that you get. The “AHHHHHH!” of scrubbed fresh. Jesus wants to do that in our lives, but he’s not gonna stand at the end of the carwash and force you to do it. He loves us enough to let us make the choice.

What are you willing to make that choice? What junk will you give up to be clean on the inside too? What trash will you get rid of today?