Ever-Blooming Roses Despite Life’s Prickles: Weeding the Weeds

Weeds surround the climbing rose, ‘Fourth of July’.

Weeding the Weeds

Where a glorious rose bloom, a gregarious weed burgeons! A rose garden would not be complete without its share of weeds anxious to suck the life out of sprawling, flourishing canes. All rosarians accept the tedious reality that weeds will inevitably compete with their darling rose bushes. With a variety of means to thwart such attacks, the gardener must carefully select the most advantageous yet scrupulous methods for in doing so may cause greater harm than good. Commercialized weed killer sold in franchised home improvement stores worldwide could seriously hamper, if not utterly, destroy a rose bush. Instead, many gardeners choose to place rolls of landscape paper down or newspaper with layers of mulch or wood chips on top to prevent weeds. Some choose gravel while others prefer getting on their knees and either individually hand plucking the weeds or using a hoe to do their dirty work. Regardless of the gardener’s preferred method of defense, every rosarian knows there will be annoying weeds, which must be prepared for and appropriately addressed.

​Upon entering my mid-thirties, I decided to use my experiences to help other hurting women by founding a non-profit faith-based domestic violence ministry. Although most welcomed a rare jewel of a ministry, I found myself ill prepared for the weeds that would pop up attempting to choke out my flourishing ministry. Naturally, or perhaps supernaturally, I expected some obstacles and negativity, but was rather surprised by spoken word curses spewed from select family, friends, and even those of faith. Much of the negative responses spawned primarily from ignorance and fear. After all, domestic violence is sadly a taboo subject within the faith community. Although, thankfully, many are diligently working to break such traumatic and oppressive barriers to cultivate healthy, thriving households. ​

Meanwhile, I suspect other negative responses were stirred from jealously and competition. Isn’t it sad when ministries, people of faith, or families strive to compete with one another or oppress one another instead of embrace and support each another? How we respond to one another’s strengths and weaknesses as well as all life presents reveals the burgeoning weeds taking root or lack thereof in our hearts and homes.

“Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.” Genesis 50:20

Consider the Biblical character, Joseph, and how his family could not appreciate his gift of having prophetic dreams and being able to interpret such peculiar dreams. Instead, the weeds of jealousy developed in the hearts and minds of Joseph’s siblings attempting to choke out his gifts from God. For many years, it appeared their negativity indeed hampered Joseph’s God-appointed gifts, but God merely allowed all of the adversity and affliction Joseph encountered to cultivate a greater good for not just Joseph, but his family, Israel, and all of the surrounding nations including Egypt all the while indeed manifesting Joseph’s earlier prophetic dreams. Even more revealing was the gracious response Joseph had for the brothers who betrayed him.

As you embark on something special whether it may be a career move, adding a new member to the family through marriage or adoption, going back to school, writing a book, or going into ministry or simply walking along your custom God path, be prepared for various weeds to sprawl up and out intended to trip you or hamper your growth as you evolve into the person God intended. Like any gardener, you may need to be creative in how you protect yourself from invasive weeds that manifest in others or even how to best uproot weeds manifesting within you as God cultivates new blooms in your garden. ​Create appropriate barriers to remove them from your garden of life and recall what others perhaps meant for harm, God uses for greater growth!

‘Joseph’s Coat’, climbing rose, burgeons!

Ever-Blooming Roses Despite Life’s Prickles: Summer Storms

‘Oregold’, a yellow hybrid tea rose, is pounded by heavy rains.

Summer Storms

After an unexpected summer storm struck my rose garden, I reflect on the weighted canes drooping with defeat. The once glorious petals litter the ground crying out for vindication. Though not entirely destroyed, each bush whines in the aftermath as they obviously would have preferred a slow steady rain than a fast and furious gusty storm. Given some time, I’m confident such defeated canes will overcome the unexpected afternoon flash. Although they can’t appreciate the drenching rains now, the hot boiling sun will soon stir thanksgiving as they draw on the well saturated roots beneath the steaming heat.​

The long canes of ‘Fourth of July’, a climbing rose, succumb to the pounding rains.

Just as our roses can experience an unpredicted and drowning storm, we too are taken by surprise when Abba Father allows fast and furious storms, like betrayal, abuse, lay-offs, cancer, or death to brew in our garden of life. Upon such devastation, we often whine in their aftermath, “Why me?” or “This isn’t fair, God!” But what if instead, we could raise our canes in praise and say, “I don’t know what You are doing, Abba, but I trust You!” What if despite such heartache, we could cling to the words of Isaiah 26:3-4, “With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you. Trust in the LORD forever, for in Yah, the LORD is everlasting strength.” Other translations say the “Rock of eternity”.

Sometimes I bravely praise my “Rock” in such storms while other times, I’d rather hide under a rock in my anxiety. I may even look for temporary relief of such unexpected sorrow by hiding in my isolated, secret garden. But during such harrowing times, I am tenderly reminded, “I alone am the one who comforts you. Why, then, are you afraid of mortals, who must die, of humans, who are like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12). Whatever tragedy you face, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:11 or 46:10 in the Christian Bible). After all, our God, our Creator, our Aleph and Tav, knows our beginning and our end and every purpose in between. Breathe in the smell after a saturating storm and choose to trust that Abba Father’s still got this.

‘Oregold’, a hybrid tea, brightly blooms with Paul’s Scarlett Climber glowing in the background.

Ever-Blooming Roses Despite Life’s Prickles: Prickles and Predators

A grasshopper avoids this rose’s fierce prickles!

Prickles and Predators

Did you know what we commonly refer to as thorns on rose bushes are botanically speaking actually prickles? Thorns run deep within the sap of a branch whereas on a rose, the prickle is just along the surface of the rose’s bark and can be snapped off. Nevertheless, the purpose of the prickle is to protect the rose from predators. Various animals including rabbits, deer, and even horses would find roses a delicious snack if it weren’t for protective prickles. The piercing prickles also protect the plant from caterpillars and other insects that would welcome the climb up with a leafy treat as its reward. ​

“…God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31

As a young woman, I discovered evil can sometimes manifest in the likes of wile handsome devils looking to devour your heart, or more accurately stated, your undergarments. After I found myself divorced, sexual temptations only grew worse within my wanton heart. Feeling defeated emotionally, physically, and most definitely spiritually, I decided I needed to stop “playing the harlot” and get it together! Lo and behold, if a so-called angel of light didn’t come across my path just in time to save me from my new found resolve. You guessed it! A gorgeous man pursued me like no other despite my repeated refusals. In one of my rejections, I explained my commitment to work on an important area neglected in my life… my soul! Shortly thereafter, in yet another persistent attempt to win a date, the devil-in-disguise craftily confessed he was in a Bible study earlier that morning. With this tid-bit of knowledge, my young naïve heart perked up questioning my harsh judgments against his sexy self. Needless to say, when you combine good looks and God talk, with promises to take care of me, I was SOLD! Wish I could say it was a dream come true, but with all the drama this guy brought, I needed Triple A to help me deal with his Triple A’s: Addictions, Affairs, and Abuse! You see, had I been strong in my relationship with Abba Father, bound and guarded with His truth (Proverbs 3), or prickles meant to protect, I would have seen that predator coming! The latter verses of Deuteronomy 12 into Chapter 13 warn that God will test us to see if we will choose Him and His Torah or choose to follow other false gods, false messiahs, or people in error. Instead, I found myself picking and choosing which of God’s boundaries I was going to hop on over like fornication or mingling with false people rather than binding God’s instructions to me to help me remember His Torah, which is His Voice, His Word, His Way, His Truth. I failed to realize as people commissioned to be the light, that the light is living God’s Torah, a set-apart lifestyle.

​”For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life…” Proverbs 6:23

The truth is, beloved, spiritual captivity often leads to some form of physical captivity. Just read the accounts of the wicked kings reigning over the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and their outcomes found in the Hebrew Bible to verify. Or, you could erroneously have weak boundaries and consequently rebel against God’s boundaries while falling in lust with addicted, abusive, player type of men like I foolishly did and you too will glean this wisdom soon enough.

​If rose bushes aren’t covered in prickles, they would be devoured by all sorts of pestilence and predators. Likewise, do yourself a favor, get rooted in God’s Word and grow some prickles for you too will be tested!

“Dream Come True”, a grandiflora rose.

Happy Fourth of July

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had not one, but two ‘Fourth of July’ climbing rose bushes. They got huge and were fantastic in preventing intruders from entering my urban garden. I wove their long, thorny canes within the pillars of my black aluminum fence to make a wall of color. Each bloom explodes in shades of pink, burgundy, and white with yellow streaks. It would seem nearly every bloom would be a surprise of color. Here are a few photos of this ever-blooming rose. Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July!

Life Thrives In My Rose Garden Today…

Despite the threat of violent storms today, my garden speaks of life.

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Fourth of July climbing rose enraptures the bumble bee.

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A House Finch delights in a tasty snack.

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Angel Face, an award-winning floribunda, boast immense fragrance for such a little rose.

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Capturing the past, present, and future of roses.

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Sweet Drift are in full bloom!

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Sweet Drift