Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the hurting Mamas, these things I know for certain: wait on God, trust He’ll work it out, and know that  worshipping God changes everything…In His time and His way. I hope all the various types of Mamas and children of all ages have a meaningful, ever-blooming day despite life’s prickles.  God sees all and reveals truth. He also is writing your story and planting a garden of hope in you.

The 4 buds featured in this photo symbolize my 4 rose buds (children).

Let My People Grow

Many forms of captivity may manifest in our lives beckoning our very own exodus. One such form of captivity I personally experienced was domestic and familial violence, that is violence or other forms of abuse committed towards me by a spouse as well as a close family member. Sometimes people who you thought would protect and provide for you choose to oppress you much to your shock and horror. Nevertheless, the story of Joseph’s family oppressing him (in the Bible) reminds me that God can use all circumstances for your good and the benefit of others as well. Later on in Scripture, God hears the cries of the oppressed descendants of Joseph and his family and sends Moses to let God’s people go. Hence, the exodus story. After cultivating my exodus from such “pestilence”, God used gardening to help heal my heart and mind. With a heart full of gratitude towards God for graciously hearing my desperate prayers, I want to use my life to help cultivate growth in others who may still be awaiting an exodus of their own.

Due to these traumatic experiences and wanting to help others still in captivity, I became a certified domestic violence advocate that not only held faith based support groups in my home for victims of domestic violence, but I also went on to found a non-profit that housed pregnant survivors of domestic violence and their children. Although I no longer house hurting women, I find myself still wanting to encourage those who are suffering. Perhaps my garden-themed articles throughout this site will plant seeds of hope and healing to those still in captivity.

Additionally, if you are a loved one of a person currently in a toxic and abusive relationship, it is critical you do the following to best help your loved one:

  1. Educate yourself on domestic violence. There are many variables involved and no easy solutions. Refrain from saying things like, “Why don’t you just leave him/her?” or exuding any form of victim-blaming. To learn more, click here http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/avoiding-victim-blaming/
  2. Ears open. Understand victims of domestic violence are often gaslighted and bombarded with lies and negative comments from their abusers as well as ignorant, insensitive people. How you respond to the victim is a matter of life and death. The best thing you can do for your loved one is simply listen.
  3. Explore and Empower. You cannot fix their situation and you do not know what is best for the victim. They, however, know their circumstance and abuser best. It is important you help them explore all options and think through potential outcomes for better or worse and then empower them to make the best and safest series of decisions for themselves and their specific circumstances. Refrain from making decisions for them or forcing them to take action.
  4. Encourage the victim. Please be patient and encouraging as you listen to the many exhausting emotions, patterns, and variables the victim will experience. Be aware a victim of domestic violence often attempts to leave or indeed ends the relationship only to return on average 7 to 9 times before finally terminating the relationship. It is important you do not say anything negative about the abuser to the victim for she/he will not return to you for advice or help once she/he reconciles with their abuser. Leaving is a process – not an event. Also, be aware when a victim of domestic violence attempts to terminate the relationship, that is when the victim’s life, as well as her children or pets, are most in lethal jeopardy. She cannot “just leave”. By encouraging her to do so, it could be signing her death warrant – particularly if weapons are in the home.
  5. Evolve. Eventually, by planting seeds of love and hope in your loved ones as you implement these methods listed above, in time, the victims will hopefully free themselves from such pestilence or suffocating weeds when they believe it is safe to do so and evolve into overcoming, “ever-blooming roses” despite life’s prickly pain.

“My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.” Psalm 71:7

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!

It’s A ‘Miracle Grow for Roses’!

I tried ‘Miracle Grow for Roses’ fertilizer for the first time recently. My mini-roses are producing more than they ever did before! This particular fertilizer provides 18-24-16! Yes, this is a floating garden @ my sailboat. Soon we are moving from Texas to Maryland to be near family. We are shipping our personal items while putting the roses in the car with us as we relocate north. For me, these are my priorities #relationships #roses #religion .

If you are curious about these ‘miraculous’ blooms, this is what the fertilizer looks like. You just mix it with water in a watering can and follow directions with how much and how often. I used regular generic brand potting soil with some purchased bagged garden compost.

Happy Gardening! May we continue to be ‘Ever-Blooming’…

‘Florentina’ Transplant Update

Since relocating my climbing Kordes rose, known as ‘Florentina’, last fall, she is showing positive signs of healthy growth this March. In a previous post, I noted that Florentina was failing to thrive on my beach balcony, but after permission from the HOA, I was able to transplant her into a sunny garden bed here in my condominium community.

Thus far, the foliage looks healthy and she certainly is growing sprawling canes. I hope to see her produce luscious blooms of brilliant red in the near future!

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Receiving Full Sun

Previously, I discussed the importance of roses receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight
also known as being in Full Sun in order to maximize their bloom potential and to help fight off disease.

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“Oregold” is planted in Full Sun.

We know that some roses can get by when planted in areas that will receive somewhere between just 3-6 hours of direct sunlight known as partial shade, but their growth tends to be limited, the blooms are smaller, and the foliage more apt for fungi to cling to.

Similarly, when people of faith receive several hours a day of God’s direct light through prayer, reading His Word, listening to positive music, worship, or attending a Bible study for example, they are positioned to reach their maximum potential. Unlike those who rarely receive God’s Light, their decision to remain in the partial shade will limit their growth and their blooms will be smaller while being more likely to fall prey to sin and disease. Today, ask yourself, am I firmly planted in a position to receive Full Sun or am I limiting myself to Partial Shade?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

The Darkness

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My new rose, “Angel Face” in bare root form.

While I patiently waited for a Spring cold snap to pass, I stored my impulsively bought bare root rose in my basement to keep her from becoming dehydrated in my toasty home until conditions are favorable for planting. As I took a load of laundry down into the chilly dark basement, I was surprised to see my new rose addition had quickly developed swollen leaf buds despite the dark and damp conditions. It was then while tossing in the laundry detergent, I pondered the often overlooked truth that our personal darkness – ya know the struggles, the hardships, and the issues of life can still be opportunities to grow. Within the garden of my life, my biggest revelations and more importantly, transformations have happened in my soul when I’ve been forced into the darkness. We usually don’t realize or want to realize God sometimes calls us INTO the darkness for our own benefit as I did for my infant rose. In fact, Isaiah 45 invites us to seek out treasures within the darkness and tells us God created both the light AND the darkness! So the next time you find yourself in dark and damp conditions, know that God has you there for a reason. It may be to protect you until conditions are more favorable. You could be like my little rose by considering the darkness an opportunity for growth!