I’ve been thumbing through my recent book order — a revised and expanded edition of how to raise and sell cut flowers the organic way. The irony is that I don’t really need an expanded version. There’s nothing in my repertoire to expand since my success rate with gardening is pretty abysmal. Springtime always sprouts my grandiose lifestyle dreams of living off our land all “Little House on the Prairie” like, but by July, practicality sets in and the reality of North Carolina scorching summers deem me too lazy to have such high aspirations. (Chuckle at this experiment from years ago.)
I want this year to be different, but I wonder what will finally spark change. While January typically holds fresh ideas, goals, and inspiration, I’m still limping along. I question how I can still feel this way, but I know many of you understand. For months I’ve been preaching to myself the need to give myself grace. Often I repeat my motto, “Grace on, Guilt off.” While it’s okay to admit that we’re a bit fragile as we continue to balance the isolation and tension that COVID challenges raise, the Holy Spirit has also convicted me, “Jen, you can’t stay in a season of short cuts. Trust me and do the hard things.”
So as I glance out the window, frost glistens on our grass with a crystalized beauty, but everything else is brown, dirty, and dead. Flowers are a long way off. Snapped branches and downed trees lay toppled from a recent ice storm alongside mounds of mud that our mischievous dogs had dug. It feels overwhelming to even start.
Yet amidst this barren scene, something new is stirring. The first chapter of my gardening book prioritizes the critical importance of the soil preparation. To the naked eye there’s no beauty to be found in the drudgery of manual labor, yet without an entire season focused on tilling, mulching, fertilizing, and composting, nothing much grows except weeds. History speaks to the plethora of weeds in my garden, and I’m certain this is why my homesteading lifestyle never amounted to much. I love my short cuts.
In January and February when everything is dark and dreary, cold and hard, I’ve never invested the time necessary to allow my crops to flourish. I tend to jump over that part. I procrastinate until spring when the weather is beautiful. I wait until working outside brings a spring to my step, and I envision filling my vintage mason jars with cut flowers that I grew myself just like the cover of my gardening book. But 300 pages in, I realize the hard work starts when the ground appears dead. If I want flowers to flourish this summer, I need to start now with work behind the scenes that no one witnesses.
So I’m starting something new. I spent this week outside — cold and lonely — tilling, digging, and planting unique bulbs. I hated it. Honestly, I kept assuming I’d grow to love the process, but nope. It’s not happened yet. There are no guarantees it ever will, but I’m putting in the hard work, only worrying about those things that I can control and burying the excuses I’ve held onto for so long.
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
Now I wait for these flower roots to grow deep. Sometimes the hardest work begins in the waiting, but I’m hopeful, expectant, and still giving myself lots of grace. Though I’m focused on the physical act of gardening, I’m convicted again of how it mimics my spiritual life.
My desire is for others to see the love of Jesus in me so clearly, but I can’t expect my roots to grow deep and flourish with joy, peace, and gratitude amidst increasingly difficult times if I’m not willing to discipline myself and prioritize the necessary time with the Lord. To understand and step into living within the fullness of His nature, I must know Him intimately. That requires time with Him, and not just reading an Instagram post about Him. It requires discipline. My free spirit personality doesn’t like discipline. I wish I could wrap this concept up in a cozy New Year’s bow, but that kind of discipline is hard, my friends. In many aspects of my life, whether I’m working on a physical, spiritual, or emotional goal, it often feels painful.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (CSB)
Did you catch that? For those trained, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. It’s worth the exhaustion to cultivate our beings.
So when I’m feeling fragile, God is my only foundation. When anxiety sets in, He is the answer. When moments of doubt erupt, His truth is what moves those mountains.
Being rooted in His Word and remaining in His Spirit brings the redemption story to life. It sparks a rebirth and revival which is what I’m seeking for 2021. Aren’t you?
There are no guarantees for this next season and I still have much more to do, but it starts amidst the work and the waiting. The beautiful tension that’s always found before things flourish.
Will you join me in starting? When the spring flower blooms, we’ll remember their beauty began long ago with dedicated hours of work and waiting about which no one knew. Come find me then. I’ll let you know what’s growing in my garden.Leave a Comment
This is so good! Thank you for the beautiful reminder!
You are so welcome, Emily. 🙂
Oh I needed this reading. Cultivating my relation with God! Thank you
I wrote it as a reminder to myself too. 🙂
Jen, thank you for this!! It is what I needed in my journey
You’re welcome, Missy. Have a wonderful day.
Ruth Mills says
Flowers & plants come to my house to die. SO thankful the Master Gardener knows exactly how to tend the mud & muck of my soul to produce the fruits of His labors to bring His beauty to my life & be deepening & fattening my roots in Him!
oh Ruth – I got a chuckle and am right with you on bringing plants into the house to die. That has been me too, until this year, I got a few hardy ones that have been nearly impossible to kill and I’m loving it. 🙂
Ann Woleben says
A beautiful analogy of gardening and growing in our relationship with God~
Thank you, Ann. It’s so neat to be able to watch things like that come to fruition in real life.
What a Beautiful reminder!!!!
I loved this. Such a timely reminder. Thank you.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
So well wrote. I find it hard being a follower of Jesus at times. I find it hard read God word at times saying my prayers at times. I want to do things right for the Lord. Because the Lord gave me so much. By his one and only son Jesus to go Calvary for me. In fact the whole world. What greater love was there than this. I seem to do things and say things I shouldn’t. Out of nowhere. I say today I going to pray ask God to help me change be the Follower of his that he wants me to be. Then I have too ask God to forgive me. I have mess up yet again. Then I have to go God again and say here I am again. God is so forgiving. But in those moments. I feel bad. I feel God here I go again. I being honest with God. I do find it the hardest thing in whole world being a follower of Jesus. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am my Lord’s and He is mine his banner over me is Love. As the songs goes. I and I am glad. Even if I mess up. The Lord Love has for me never fails. That Love for you also Never fails either. I have to go to the Lord in prayer and ask him like a Gardner too take out all the bad roots in me help me start again. Especially when I messed up. Help plant me in his Beautiful Garden of his word that is his roots and get into prayer. Let the Lord be the Gardener of my life in the area’s that need the rotten roots pulled out. Replaced with good one’s in him. You can do that to and start fresh. All because the Lord Loves You. Wants to be the Gardener in your life and pull out the bad roots and replace them with good ones in him. You will be a better person for it. All the bad stuff will be gone. You will be rejoicing you did this and feel so much better as the rotten roots will be gone. You will be a new person in the Lord. When I do this I feel so much better. As the rotten roots the bad stuff is gone in my life. I have the word of God in me and Prayer. Love today’s reading Jennifer. Love you all incourage. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
“Let the Lord be the Gardener of my life in the area’s that need the rotten roots pulled out. Replaced with good one’s in him. You can do that to and start fresh. All because the Lord Loves You”
Yes, Dawn!! 100%
Man woman God knew how much i needed to hear this truth today! I can’t thank you enough for being His light and encouragement to so many…thanks for making my day a little brighter beautiful human✌️
Thank you, Carrie – I wrote it three weeks ago and needed to read it again myself today. 🙂
Missy Robinson says
It would seem I have some winter work to do. I love all that gardening teaches and I love the hope it signifies!
You and me both. Let the winter work begin.
Christine Hernandez says
So grateful for this today, Jennifer. Thank you. With such a gray day outside matching my gray mood, these words have uplifted my spirit. I too was brimming with hope for January but we’re only 14 days in and honestly, I’m fighting to stay positive. SO, thank you for putting me back on track this morning!
Be Blessed – Christine
Janet Williams says
Thank you Jen. Great reference to gardening and discipline. I love to garden, but I too fall short of the discipline. I’m only on target when I’M in the mood then my yard looks amazing of course!
“My free spirit personality doesn’t like discipline” perfect description of me…again.. if I’M in the mood everything that requires discipline is amazing. “Thank you God that you are available in the garden, on the couch on a walk and even on the run I’M in the mood for”….lol
Thursday Blessings sisters
I bought my (in)courage bible last week, but I’ve yet to sit down with it and dig in deep as I envisioned when I bought it. While waiting for my breakfast to cook, I logged on here out of curiosity, and came across this beautiful post. I’ve been feeling as though I’m in a spiritual desert for a good while now, but I was wrong. I’m in a season of dormancy, like the garden you describe, and there is work to be done. When I bought this Bible, I now realize I had the same feelings of expectancy as you did when you bought your gardening book. Trust me, I know. I have more than one gardening book on my shelf! Your words are confirmation to my heart that, indeed, this time in my life is a time of preparation, and it is time to put in the sweet work. Like my backyard landscaping that was planted by the previous owners, I cannot wait to see what surprise blooms next! Thank you!
This was beautiful Jen, thank you.
Blessings to all,
Note from a lazy gardener: once everything you want is up in your garden, then mulch, mulch, mulch, all around the things you want, to block out the weeds and keep the water in! 🙂 (email if you want details, but there’s also tons of information online, and it can be cheap/free – 6 layers of newspaper, held down by a half to one inch of dirt, for instance, will block weeds – basically nothing can come up from under the newspaper, and tiny weed seedlings that start on top can’t break through the newspaper layer until it has rotted a lot, so they end up staying tiny or just plain dying.)
Spiritually, maybe mulching means cutting off the oxygen to things that are drawing us away from God; so, for someone, maybe that means no longer following a feed that keeps prompting envy and working with God on how to become less envious, instead of yanking up (or succumbing to) individual temptations but not dealing with the sources, internal and external, that keep feeding them?
Anyway. Thank you for this, and sorry I’m so excited about mulch. 🙂
Christina Fullerton says
Jen, thank you for sharing this. I too, for many years have done the same thing when it comes to a garden. I checked out several library books last week (and a dvd!) all about starting a garden. I think it’s time to get out there! I’ve not been an avid gardener, but the times when I get outside to garden, I find God is always showing me beauty and helping me understand life lessons in a new way.
Becky Leenheer says
Love this blog post. I am a horrible gardener, but see the parallels perfectly. Love your motto “grace on, guilt off”.
Thanks for your Just Open the Door book- pre COVID restrictions- it really helped me with my hospitality and really did just open the door so much more. God is using you in my life. Thanks!!
Beth Williams says
Everything in life worth doing takes discipline & hard work. Once we put in the hard work we can reap the many benefits. I can get lazy sometimes also. Don’t like putting in the training & effort to read, study the Bible & really “know” God intimately. Find myself getting distracted by many other things. In the end I realize the blessings from all the time & effort spent. Being rooted in God is super important now. I’m joining you in putting forth the extra effort, including doing the Courageous Simplicity Bible Study, to help abate any anxiety or fears I may have. Wanting to see a cultivated garden full of beautiful flowers.
Jen, this post came at a time when I have recommitted to having a close personal relationship with God. Thanks for the reminder that it is so worth the effort I must make to have that relationship with God. Your posts alway speak to my heart.