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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Growing

April is almost here, and after such a looonnngggg winter, I’m getting a little antsy to do some yard work. I’m pretty sure that the urge will be long gone in June, when it actually warms up enough for the weeds to start growing faster than I can pick them….


I have one bed outside my living room window that needs some serious work. I had a couple of ideas about how to fix it, and then my husband decided we needed to do a little more landscaping to encourage the water to flow away from the house so as to limit the amount in the basement each spring. Great idea! It hasn’t really been an issue up to now, but like I said, it’s been some winter! I was thinking maybe just some amending of the soil and adding some more peat moss would do the trick, but he’s talking a complete dismantling of the whole bed.

So in turn, I’ve been doing some planning, and some plotting, trying to figure out where to transplant some of the things that are actually growing there. (Exciting, I know...).

I’m always excited when the greenhouses begin to display their spring offerings. I usually have to check out all four stores in our little town to see who has what, at the best price, before I make any purchases. I peruse my seed catalogues starting in late January and ooohhh and aaaaahhh over different plants, wishing that I could grow Zone 8s here in my little Zone 4 that’s closer to a Zone 3. Then one day in May, I bite the bullet, get out the checkbook and come home with little short boxes full of six-packs, sporting six plants, each showing off one big blossom. Unfortunately, one of the things that plants have to do in order to grow and flourish, is endure a little ill-treatment. And that big blossom just absolutely has to go. Yep. I just pinch off the whole purple petunia, or the petite yellow pansy.

It’s heartbreaking really. Those fervent little plants that cheerfully stood up and said “Pick me! I will look beautiful in your whiskey-barrel planters beside the climbing purple clematis!” have to go through some trouble in order to do what they were designed to do. Yes, they are colorful, and my beds and pots won’t look nearly so pretty with just the greenery, but the plants need the opportunity to focus on developing their root system, instead of putting their energy toward keeping the big blossom open and at attention. Then they will be able to produce more abundant and healthier blooms down the road.

The perennials also get a little shaken up each spring. The plants that have grown and flourished often times need to be divided. Which is great for me, because I get more plants for more beds, and I don't have to spend any money on them. So I dig them up, pry apart their roots as gently as I can, and plunk them down in a new location, careful to make sure the plant and the new home are suited for each other. The delicate plants have a really tough time on the south side of the house on the deck, and likewise, the moss roses and other succulents don't do as well in my clay bed that doesn't drain very well.

Looking at the plants in their new locations directly after the transplant is always a little discouraging. They always look a little droopy and uncomfortable due to the stress on their root system. The colorful blooms that once identified that plant are gone. Given the right soil, the right fertilizer, enough water, things begin to turn around. Perennials are my favorite because a year later, you’d never know the plants were uncomfortable or struggling. New shoots of the plant are poking up through a snow bank, fighting through the dead growth of last summer that someone neglected to cut away. Once their roots are firmly planted and anchored, there’s almost nothing to stop them, and they even multiply!!

In my study time this week I've been reading some in James:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

As I was looking at James 1:2, the trouble that will come our way as believers reminded me of the work that takes place in my little garden beds and various pots each spring. Anyone who has been a follower of Christ long enough to take it pretty seriously, understands the part about the inevitability of ill-treatment, of trials, of troubles. But the “consider it all joy” part is a little harder to swallow. I mean I can understand the trouble, but I’m supposed to appreciate it? Huh?

Just like a plant, we will be healthier and hardier, if our "root system" is well-established. Verses three and four say that we know "testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." As we are going through the difficulties, we learn to lean more and more upon the Lord. We talk to Him and our relationship develops and strengthens as we pray, seek scripture that comforts and encourages, and learn to rest in the quiet with Him. After so much testing and trials, we will be able to handle anything that comes our way in Christ-like fashion. That's our end goal: to be like Christ. We won't reach that point here on earth, but we are in the process of becoming more like Christ as we live out our lives. Trials help us to develop a stronger faith so that we can produce Christ-like fruit.

As we look back over the process of growing, we learn through our trials that the Master Gardener has been right there, pruning here, pinching there, adding mulch, and fertilizer, sheltering us from some of the wind and hail, in order for us to be strong and vibrant. That's where the joy part comes in. Just like those beautiful flowers, we can hold our heads up high pointing in the direction of the Son, reflecting his glory.

Now I'm fully aware that this is a little different type of post than I typically post on this blog. Bear with me! I discovered a contest for a scholarship to a speaking/writing contest for Christian women. Recently I have been presented with a couple of opportunities to speak. One event is a tea for high school and junior high young ladies, and the other is for a luncheon for some ladies in another community. I have been prompted and encouraged, by some women in my church, and other ladies that I know, to explore the option ofserving God in this capacity. I don't know if this will even go anywhere, but I thought if I was given some opportunities, the least I could do is work to do a better job at both skills.

The link to the contest is here: http://www.holyexperience.com/2011/03/how-christians-create-art-she-speaks-scholarship/. The conference is a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries and its purpose is "connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God."



She Speaks Conference