Christianity · Daffodls · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Daffodil Strength

My daffodils are here and they give me hope.

Years ago when we first moved into our old house, we began transplanting daffodils around the yard. Patches of them grew in the woods around us, leftover from the days when tenant houses were there. I think of them as wild, although I don’t know if daffodils actually grow wild. I like thinking about awoman planting them outside her little house a hundred years ago, when it was just a swept dirt yard with chickens and children running around. Did their cheerful yellow faces give her hope as well?

 

These little daffodils are not big and showy, but they are tough and consistent. They push their heads up when the ground is still hard and frozen, as if determined  to come up no matter what the weather. Usually they make their appearance toward the end of February, but they showed up early this year since we have had such a balmy winter. Their bright sunshine color and distinctive aroma announce “Spring is coming!”,  even though we still face possible snow and ice.

In this age of noise and bluster, the little daffodils remind me of people I know that are strong in their quiet ways. I think of my friend Tiffany who struggles with Cerebral Palsy.  Just getting out of bed and putting on her clothes is a challenge each day as she deals with muscles that don’t cooperate and braces on her legs and a walker that she hates. Yet she doesn’t give up and comes to work each day with a smile and a laugh. I think of another friend who was recently widowed. She has that lost, fragile look of someone fighting through grief, yet she forces herself to get out of the house, put on some makeup and face the world. That is true strength.

Tiffany and me at Christmas

What botanical urge causes the daffodil bulb to decide it is time to bloom when it is sleeping underground, even as the temperatures dip and the snow comes? A scientist could explain it to me, but to me it is a mystery.  In the same inexplicable way, people push through hard times and survive against the odds, pulling their strength from deep within.

In Ephesians 3, Paul tells the readers of his letter that he is praying for them to experience the power that only comes from Christ in their “inner being”.  I like the New Living Translation:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Notice that God’s resources are unlimited and that through the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to do whatever is before us. Too often I don’t take advantage of this power in my life. Unlike that little daffodil flower that is being pulled up by a desire for the sun, I don’t let myself be pulled and led by the Holy Spirit. But notice verse 17 – that “your roots will grow down in God’s love and keep you strong.” The daffodil spends all year building up its resources underground in order to bloom for a few weeks. Our strength must come from putting down the roots we need, securely anchoring ourselves in God’s love.

I’m thankful for the daffodils that promise Spring and for the people in my life who inspire me each day with their courage. And I’m thankful also for the Holy Spirit in my life, promising strength to face life’s struggles.

 

Christianity · Daffodls · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Daffodil Strength

My daffodils are here and they give me hope.

Years ago when we first moved into our old house, we began transplanting daffodils around the yard. Patches of them grew in the woods around us, leftover from the days when tenant houses were there. I think of them as wild, although I don’t know if daffodils actually grow wild. I like thinking about awoman planting them outside her little house a hundred years ago, when it was just a swept dirt yard with chickens and children running around. Did their cheerful yellow faces give her hope as well?

 

These little daffodils are not big and showy, but they are tough and consistent. They push their heads up when the ground is still hard and frozen, as if determined  to come up no matter what the weather. Usually they make their appearance toward the end of February, but they showed up early this year since we have had such a balmy winter. Their bright sunshine color and distinctive aroma announce “Spring is coming!”,  even though we still face possible snow and ice.

In this age of noise and bluster, the little daffodils remind me of people I know that are strong in their quiet ways. I think of my friend Tiffany who struggles with Cerebral Palsy.  Just getting out of bed and putting on her clothes is a challenge each day as she deals with muscles that don’t cooperate and braces on her legs and a walker that she hates. Yet she doesn’t give up and comes to work each day with a smile and a laugh. I think of another friend who was recently widowed. She has that lost, fragile look of someone fighting through grief, yet she forces herself to get out of the house, put on some makeup and face the world. That is true strength.

Tiffany and me at Christmas

What botanical urge causes the daffodil bulb to decide it is time to bloom when it is sleeping underground, even as the temperatures dip and the snow comes? A scientist could explain it to me, but to me it is a mystery.  In the same inexplicable way, people push through hard times and survive against the odds, pulling their strength from deep within.

In Ephesians 3, Paul tells the readers of his letter that he is praying for them to experience the power that only comes from Christ in their “inner being”.  I like the New Living Translation:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Notice that God’s resources are unlimited and that through the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to do whatever is before us. Too often I don’t take advantage of this power in my life. Unlike that little daffodil flower that is being pulled up by a desire for the sun, I don’t let myself be pulled and led by the Holy Spirit. But notice verse 17 – that “your roots will grow down in God’s love and keep you strong.” The daffodil spends all year building up its resources underground in order to bloom for a few weeks. Our strength must come from putting down the roots we need, securely anchoring ourselves in God’s love.

I’m thankful for the daffodils that promise Spring and for the people in my life who inspire me each day with their courage. And I’m thankful also for the Holy Spirit in my life, promising strength to face life’s struggles.

 

Christianity · cross country · Gardening · prayer · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Just Like Moses

God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and this week He spoke to me  through a gaura plant.


I bought the gaura last spring when I went to the plant sale at Northwest High. I had bought some pepper and tomato plants and a few flowers and then picked up a cup with a little mound of purplish spikes. “I’m not going to charge you for that,” said the AG teacher. “We’re experimenting with it and I’m not sure how it is going to do.” Since I love to experiment in my garden, I took it home and planted it by my rock wall.  Over the summer it grew into a little bush with green leaves and was okay, but nothing great. As August dragged on I started thinking that it was getting kind of dull looking and maybe I needed to cut it back. It wasn’t speaking to me yet.


The gaura early in the summer, on the left.

So last Sunday I felt heavy – not physically, but emotionally, spiritually. It was one of those mornings when I would have liked to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I was feeling the weight of too much to do, trying to finish up some painting at home, planning for my first cross country meet, behind on things at school, but it was more than that, a deep tiredness in my soul.

Little wonder that instead of taking time to pray and read my Bible that morning I had balanced my checkbook and paid bills. When I get busy, God often gets pushed to the side. So when the sermon was on prayer I knew that I was tired in my soul because I had been cutting myself off from my power supply.

Monday morning I got up early and for the first time in a while spent a good long time with The Lord. I read my devotional and tried to be still and listen. I apologized for putting Him to the side and prayed to see Him, to be reassured that He was there and that I was walking in the path I needed to. Then I prayed individually for each of the 48 middle schoolers on my cross country team. 

The heaviness left me and I felt calm and at peace that day. 

All week I kept looking for God to show Himself and He did, in little ways. This will sound silly, but I found  a pair of earrings I had lost a week ago during practice. I had prayed about those earrings, a favorite pair given to me as a gift, and they turned up on the cement picnic table at our walking trail at school, having survived monsoonal rains for a week. I felt God was saying, “Here I am.”

Then one day as I was coming in from a long day at school and practice, I noticed something different in my flower garden – little pink flowers were coming out on the tips of the gaura. When I looked closer, I saw that the shriveled up ends that I thought needed to be chopped off were actually holding flower buds just waiting to open! As the week has gone on, more and more have opened up so that now the gaura is beautiful and full of pink flowers waving in the breeze.

That”s when I heard God speak and He told me to not give up, but to wait for the prize. I coach the cross country team because I want to instill a love of running in these kids and I want to hopefully make a difference in their lives in some small way. But the nitty gritty of it is I spend lots of time doing paperwork, then go to practice and try to reign in middle school boys with lots of energy and I come home feeling inadequate  and defeated. Seeing those pink flowers reminded me that these children are like those flowers wrapped up on the stalk of the gaura plant – ready to bloom but not yet! That’s one of the things I love about middle school kids – they are literally bursting at the seams with excitement for life, but need that encouragement to move forward, to embrace who they are becoming.


When Moses heard God calling him through the burning bush, he offered excuses and questioned God on why He was calling him. I feel the same way – couldn’t someone else do this better, God? Don’t you need someone younger, maybe someone who is a real coach? God’s answer to Moses was “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12) and that is His promise to me as well. This is the place He has put me for now, and every time I go out my door and see those pink flowers dancing in the wind, I know He will give me what I need to keep going. 



Christianity · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Our summer garden

Summer 2014 has been the year of the garden for Keith and me out here in Sugar Valley. The rain and sun have worked perfectly together for us to have our best garden in years. Our cup runneth over with tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and green beans, with corn coming soon. It is the richest feeling in the world. 

Each morning is a treasure hunt as I go out to see what the day’s harvest will bring. I pull back vines and leaves in search of the crisp cucumbers and squash, then move onto the tomato plants which are straining at the twine we wrapped around them in June. I love finding the green beans hanging at the bottom of the plants, just waiting to be pulled off. The okra is not as much fun, requiring long sleeves and a certain bravery to head into the heavy foliage, which makes me itch.  I leave that to Keith as much as possible.  

 

I was raised in the suburbs, but I was always attracted to the country life and I am blessed to live here. I love the simplicity of picking food from a plant in my yard and eating it. Working in the garden gives me such a connection to people from the past. We don’t plow with a mule and I don’t wear a bonnet and long dress, but otherwise not much has changed with growing vegetables in a hundred years. Fortunately though, I am not dependent on our garden for food over the winter. If the early frost comes or the rains don’t fall, I know that I will be able to buy what I need at the store. I can’t imagine how stressful life was in the days when the garden meant life or death.  

Canning our tomatoes

 

Working in the garden makes me feel close to my family. Both of my granddaddies put in big gardens and loved to watch things grow and I think about them when I am out pulling weeds or checking the beans. My 85 year old aunt Mary Frances once stayed up all night with my mother in the hospital, then went home and planted tomatoes. My uncle Maynard loved his big garden, and was working there one March day when he fell over and died from a heart attack. Daddy loved to garden but by the time he was retired, he and Mama were living in a neighborhood with big shade trees which were not very good for vegetables. He filled his yard with impatience and azaleas instead.

 

In a few short weeks, I will be back to school, getting up before dark, wearing my long pants and nice shirts in place of shorts and tshirts, and being forced to be inside. I will miss the peace and quiet of my garden, the hawk who calls each morning, and the dew on my shoes as I hunt for cucumbers. The plants will soon start to shrivel up and quit bearing their treasures. As the days shorten and a few cool breezes start to blow, we will pull them up and plow them under and the fall will be here. Gardening teaches me to enjoy the bounty I have right now, because tomorrow it can be gone. 

 

One of my favorite things from my parents’ house is a metal sign Mama gave Daddy to put out in his flower bed. It reads: “The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth,  one is closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth.”  I have it by my flowers at the back steps and look at it every day. I think about my daddy filling his backyard with flowers, my granddadies bringing in bushels of butterbeans and corn, and all the ones who tilled this garden before me. We are all connected by our love of getting our hands dirty and watching things grow. Just as Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the morning, I hear Him rustling in the leaves and we enjoy our time together. 

 

 

Uncategorized

Time to play in the dirt

As the ad for the garden center says – “Time to go play in the dirt!” – now that summer is here, it is my time to play in my flower garden. We started working several years ago on a large area for my “play garden”. Keith marked off a large kidney shaped area, had dirt brought in and I spent one whole summer mixing peat moss in and spreading the dirt around. Then I started transplanting from different plants we had in our other overgrown beds and looking for anything unique and colorful.

Over the years, I have come to feel like our flowers are old friends, and I look forward to seeing them each spring. Around the middle of February, our little daffodils quietly push their heads up and say “Hang in there, spring is around the corner!” We have transplanted hundreds of what I call the “wild”daffodils, little yellow guys that are kind of quiet, but are so welcome! They truly give hope during a time when we are tired of cold. A few weeks later, their “store bought” cousins come up, big and showy, with several pretty combinations of pale yellow and deep orange centers. Then about the end of March their other cousins, the small sweet smelling narcissus come out. I love to pick these to put in the house because they make the whole place smell wonderful. The daffodils keep us going through the still cool days of March.

As April comes along, our irises make their appearance – tall and gorgeous, but short-lived. Some of my irises came from my grandmother’s house and I love the different colors mixed together.

Next come the daisies. For years before we started the garden, we had a little patch of white daisies that bloomed at the side of the yard until Keith would mow over them. So after we started the flower garden, he dug a few up and we planted them. The next spring these nice little flowers that we had rescued from the lawn mower turned into gremlins! They ran and cavorted all over the garden like a bunch of unruly kids! They have taken over, but because this is my play garden, I don’t mind. I have enjoyed their cool crisp white flowers against the coneflowers that have started blooming, and soon I will pull them up and cut them back to get ready for the stars of the garden – the daylilies.

Keith and I fell in love with daylilies when we first started sticking stuff in the ground. They have got to be the easiest flower to grow as long as they have a sunny spot and the different types are endless. We have a long row that gets overgrown with weeds, so we chose the prettiest and rarest ones to put in the flower garden. Last year we bought a few more and I am anxiously waiting to see their colors. They will bloom for most of June and that is when the yard is at its finest.

As the dog days of summer come along in July and August, I will enjoy the multitude of colors blooming. I am always looking for something new and different to stick in my garden. Driving back and forth to North Carolina when Mama was in the nursing home, I would stop at farmer’s markets and garden centers and get a new flower every time. I have a neat plant called a balloon flower that sports purple flowers that look like little Chinese lanterns. Orange coneflowers, yellow lantana, burgundy dahlias, and a beautiful lavender butterfly bush are already coming up. I am going for the English country garden look, not formal or rigid – a place without rules. When I am feeling the pressures of meeting everyone’s expectations and dealing with the stresses of work, my flower garden is a place that is just for me, done how I want it.

Gardening teaches me patience and makes me look to the future. We recently got a bunch of free trees at the Garden Club Arbor Day giveaway and planted some dogwoods in the garden. I will be 70 or 80 before they are any size! I hope if I am not here to look after them that someone will. Like my Daddy and Granddaddies before me, I love to watch things grow. My cat Nellie sits by me as I pull weeds and pinch back flowers, and I listen to the birds and God and I talk. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend the summer!

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