Started My Third Book Today!

typewriter_rose_article As the rose gardening season winds down for winter, today I sat down to write the book that has brewing within my heart for the past year or so. My third and final rose devotional book will be called Ever-Blooming and Ever-Rejoicing: Through Seasons of Change. Just as in all my books, this one will offer rose gardening tips, particularly of how to care for roses in each season, along with a spiritual parallel.

Here is the first draft of its introduction:

In my 40 years of life, especially as a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve discovered while growing up in God’s garden, there will inevitably be seasons of change. The question is will I remain ever-blooming and ever-rejoicing through it all? How easy to praise my Creator and Master Gardener through Seasons of Hope and Seasons of Celebration, but can I praise Him through the uncomfortable and exhausting Season of Perseverance or through a Season of Patient Rest? It’s through such seasons that seeds of His Spirit evolve into fruit to be harvested, shared, and enjoyed.

Furthermore, I’ve found when I am content in all areas and all circumstances, it is then I am free to transition into the next season He has for me. What season do you find yourself in today? More importantly, are you able to be “ever-blooming” and “ever-rejoicing” through it all?

 

Putting Down Roots

While eating lunch in a small diner today, I couldn’t help but over hear our gregarioustree roots waitress invite another patron to try the peach pie, which eventually led her to share how frustrated she was that her own peach and apple trees perished over the winter upon encountering the first hard freeze. As I continued to inhale my much deserved lunch, trying to mind my business, my ears inevitably perked up. Meanwhile, my mind listed the probable reasons her fruit trees failed her. One such reason being, fruit trees, like roses, need their root systems well established prior to when the first freeze strikes or they will likely die. It is probable the waitress planted her trees too late in the season while not also preparing them for the whims of winter. Upon the end of her gardening chatter, she confessed to giving up on fostering fruit trees and planted Crape Myrtle shrubs instead. Oh, and by the way, the customer never did get the peach pie. Ha!

tree-with-foliage-with-the-shape-of-a-heart-and-roots-as-text-love-on-white-background_gg67012197Much later in the evening, I contemplated the spiritual importance of being rooted. It doesn’t really matter what city or what church we lay our roots in, because if we have God’s Holy Spirit, we can go anywhere and thrive. What matters is being rooted in His love. Too often, we are rooted in false identities, wanting the approval and acceptance of other’s love. Then, when others assault us with their first hard freeze or whipping words of winter, we shrivel up and die. We fail to know our own worth because unknowingly our roots sought strength and nourishment in another’s acceptance instead of God’s. Conversely, when we know our true identities rooted in Christ’s love and approval, we will be firmly planted able to flow with a heart of thankfulness while operating in true love despite the changing seasons and hardened hearts we may encounter  (see Romans 10:10; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 2:6-7).

“By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved.” Romans 10:10 (God’s Word Translation)

Delighted To Find You

After much researching and deliberation, I set out to find a specific rose of particular beauty and fragrance known as “Double Delight”. As I slowly perused the rows of selection at a local nursery, I was disappointed to not find the rose I had my heart set on. Nevertheless, I lingered about intrigued by the variety of colors and scents displayed before me. Upon walking up and down the aisles, I decided to look a little more carefully just beyond the arrangement of roses for sale. To my utmost surprise and delight, there was my desired rose hiding in a dark, forgotten corner. She was the last one left, wrapped up in bare root form, just waiting to be redeemed. Upon finding this rose known as “Double Delight” and redeeming her as my very own rose, I experienced double delight indeed!

double delight

“Double Delight” {photo credit: unknown}

Did you know, the Spirit of the Lord searches for those He desires? He long-suffers, patiently pursuing us with the desire to redeem us, heal us, transform us. He’s not afraid to reach into the dark, overlooked corner we’ve been hiding in. He sees beauty in us no other can possibly see. He longs to adopt us into His collection of fragrant roses because He knows in time, we will dispense a unique fragrance of love into a hurting city of barrenness. Once we are found and come into His kingdom, Jesus tells us in Luke 15, all of heaven rejoices over such a delightful find! If I delighted in finding such a rose, surely, He doubly delights in finding you!

Ever-Learning

aphid

{photo credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey}

Now that it appears Spring has fully sprung, I discovered an influx of aphids enjoying my aspiring rose buds. Aphids are tiny insects that smother the tips of rose canes, foliage, and buds while sucking the life out of any given plant. Left unchecked they can damage a rose bush and therefore, prevent a hopeful bud from blooming. Aphids often camouflage with the greenery of many plants, although they can come in a variety of colors. Perplexed as to why an abnormal amount of aphids were clinging to my canes this Spring, I reached out to my local rose society for answers. Despite my roses’ healthy foliage, nutritious soil, and lack of disease, most likely the mild winter didn’t suppress the previous year’s aphid population and their eggs allowing for more to flourish this year. Thankfully, with rose gardening comes an informative community of rosarians ready to help one succeed in growing beautiful roses whether through your local rose society or online. Facebook groups offer a fun way to see blooms from all around the world while getting answers fast! Regardless if one is educated through the web, books, experience or all of the above, gardening, particularly rose gardening, requires an attitude of ever-learning!

Similarly, I have found as a rose in God’s garden, we too need an ever-learning attitude for there is always more to learn about God, His Word, and His principles. After all, it shouldn’t surprise us that there is an infinite amount to learn about an infinite God. If you aren’t growing in God, then you probably are shriveling just as the aphids do to the foliage of a rose. Perhaps now is the time to reach out to your local body of Christ, being the church, to get the answers, accountability, and the encouragement you need to thrive just as I needed to reach out to my local rose society for help.

To learn more about treating aphids and other insects commonly found in the garden, get a copy of my book Ever-Blooming During the Good, the Bad, and the Bugly.

Fighting With The Wind

Yesterday, the strong winds violently shook my solid holly tree, whipped my small garden flag, and swirled my hair all around me as I took out the garbage. Today, a gentle breeze soothes my roses from the warmth of the Spring Sun. And as the bees buzz around searching for new buds and the butterfly flutters, they fight with the wind. Meanwhile, the roses sway in the motion of the wind as if relaxed by it’s movement.

Peace.4thofJuly.web

Peace with Fourth of July in background

I wonder why it is we all too often fight with the wind for the wind signifies the Spirit of God. Jesus informs us God is Spirit and where it comes from and where it goes we cannot easily determine. We can only do so by listening to the sound of it (see John 3:3-8). Christ teaches much depth in such analogies, but one could decode the importance of listening for the Voice of His Spirit  or His Wind in order to follow Him wherever He blows. Furthermore, we cannot see His Holy Spirit as the Jews could see His flesh, but we can see the effects of Him blowing around us, in us, and through us. Do you fight the sound of His wind as a struggling insect or do you welcome it like a relaxed rose? What does His Wind sound like to you? What does He look like in your garden? Life is too short to fight with the wind.

Getting Dirty For God

bareroootsoakingUpon letting the roots of my newly purchased bare root rose soak in a bucket of water for approximately 24 hours, I decided to recruit my 11 year old son in helping me plant it. Although willing to help me out, my son was not keen on getting his hands too dirty. After all, his hands prefer Legos and videos games. Nevertheless, I figured he could use the sunshine and learn a thing or too in the process. After choosing the desired area of where I wanted to plant my new rose, we saturated the ground to make the digging easier while also testing the drainage of soil. My son and I then took a few turns plunging the shovel in the dirt till we reached the width and depth we needed. By this point, we were ready to transplant the bare root rose from being in the bucket filled with water to it’s permanent home in the ground. Because the ground was reasonably muddy, I put on pink rubber gloves to protect my freshly painted nails. Apparently, even I don’t like to get my hands too dirty!

I proceed to create a mound of soil in the shape of a pyramid within the hole so I could rest the rose on top of the mound while sprawling it’s roots out as best as possible for optimal growth. barerootplanted.webWhile holding the rose in one hand, or glove I should say, I used the other to pack the dirt around the roots as well as the dirt around the base of the rose till she was firmly secure. Overall, the process of planting our newly adopted rose was a success, but we sure did make a muddy mess.

Many days later, I reflect on how we as Christians often like the beauty of our Christian traditions and concepts much like we enjoy the beauty of roses or the idea of a lovely garden. pinkdirtygloves.webHowever, we don’t usually like to be too inconvenienced by getting our hands dirty. It’s far easier to be comfortable in our faith journey or to be what I call “convenient Christians” than followers of Christ willing to follow Him all the way to our own cross and eventual resurrection. More often we prefer to stand around like my son and watch others get dirty for God. Or if we do take the plunge, we set limits on our love by wearing gloves so the depth of our devotion doesn’t stain our nails, alter our appearance, or even transform us.And yet, Christ’s devotion willingly took the depth of a few nails to remove our sinful stains with the hopes we’d be firmly rooted in His garden.