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 During the Good, the Bad, and the Bugly: Bee A Good Hostess

A bee enjoys ‘Fourth of July’, a climbing rose.

Bee A Good Hostess​

One may think bugs, any and all bugs, are pesky nuisances invading our glorious garden, but the truth is without many of them, our garden wouldn’t thrive. Not only do insects, such as the honey bee, provide important roles, but they provide a variety of products as well like certain medications, candles, cosmetics, furniture polish, and of course, honey! Other insects, though ugly and inconvenient, provide proper nutrients to the good insects our garden needs. Often found roaming around our rose gardens are beneficial bugs like lady bugs, hoverflies, and lacewings. Conversely, bad bugs for our roses are aphids, thrips, and sawflies to name just a few. But are they really all that bad? After all, without the “bad” bugs the good bugs would have nothing to sustain them. Did you know just one adult ladybug can devour 50-60 aphids in day?

Most gardeners just want the bad bugs gone without considering the overall environmental factors. While you could spray your rose bushes with insecticide to kill off the bad bugs, you’ll also harm the good ones. Other organic methods include purchasing neem oil concentrate from your local nursery. Be sure to carefully follow the mixing directions though and only apply neem oil during the early morning, evening hours, or on an overcast day as spraying neem oil on your rose foliage during high heat days will burn the leaves. Another option in preventing bad bugs like thrips and the dreaded Japanese Beetle from infesting your rose plants would be to release Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora Nematodes into the soil. These small worm like creatures will seek out and destroy many annoying and dangerous threats to your rose garden before they have a chance to be seen!

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​Moreover, assuming you will want your rose garden to thrive for years to come, it would behoove you, the Master Gardener, to be a good hostess by creating an inviting environment for the beneficial bugs to reside. In some ways, bugs are much like us in the sense that they need food, shelter, and water. They also appreciate convenience.

By providing a steady food source, you’ll keep your lady bugs, lacewings, and hoverflies happy. But before the aphid buffet shows up in the Spring, you’ll need to provide plant life that will nourish your good bugs earlier in the season. By planting herbs that bloom early and also provide good nectar, the good bugs will want to move into the neighborhood! Herbs such as mustard, dill, and parsley will be sufficient. You many also want to plant lavender, but leave room for growth as lavender tends to consume much space. Mint and thyme will provide a soothing smell to your garden while Angelica, is not just the name of my youngest daughter, but an herb that especially attracts ladybugs – bonus!

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In addition to the herbs, you’ll also need a bird bath, water feature, pond, or other water source free of chemicals like chlorine. Apparently, even bugs get thirsty and need a bath now and then! Once you’ve created such a welcoming open house, or rather, open garden, it won’t be long before the good bugs set up a nursery of their own by laying their eggs on

our rose foliage. But when the weather turns cooler, don’t let your hard work go to waste, be sure to provide them with ornamental grasses and soft wood twigs and branches, like willow, poplar, and ash for them to stay cozy throughout the winter months. Whether you are a novice gardener or expert, your roses will appreciate your efforts as you build an inviting and thriving rose garden.

For I know the thoughts that I think about you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And you shall call Me and go and pray to Me, and I will hearken to you. And you will seek Me and find [Me] for you will seek Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will return your captivity and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will return you to the place whence I exiled you.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

When I compare the similarities of our garden to our lives, it’s interesting to note how God allows the bad bugs in our garden of life to manifest something spectacular in us as well as God’s heartfelt intention towards us. So often we blame evil or some religious circles blame Satan as the source of our troubles forgetting that even Satan had to seek God’s approval before doing any harm to our garden (see the book of Job). In other words, God, as the Master Gardener, recognizes the bad bugs, but perhaps He’s allowing them in our garden for a reason. Perhaps the reason is to discipline us for our disobedience or perhaps He is developing us into the fragrant, beautiful, disease-resistant rose He intended with no actual wrong-doing on our part such as the accounts of Joseph, Job, or Esther. However, other times, the unfortunate turn of events may actually be a result of our own unrighteousness. In the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet repeatedly warned of the Jewish people being taken captive should they continue to live as they desire rather than live as God desires found in the Torah. The Prophet Jeremiah foretold the Jewish people would be taken captive by Babylon for 70 years, but in the end, that God was using it all to cause them to repent, to seek Him with their whole heart, and in turn God will gladly regather them and bless them while continuing to teach them His ways and will for them as the light to the world. Interestingly, this same prophetic word is applicable to the future of the Jewish people and others who keep God’s holy covenant eventually being gathered to Jerusalem, Mount Zion, in Israel as a light to the world one fine new day (see Jeremiah 29-31; Isaiah 51-56, 60-62, 65-66; Ezekiel 36-37; Hosea 14; Zechariah 8-10, as a few examples).

​I want to reiterate the fact that often the seemingly bad bugs attacking us as rose plants could have been released for the sole purpose of teaching us how to reflect our Master Gardener’s glory and splendor to a dark world needing to be enlightened in God’s light and love. How even more glorious and brilliant and yet challenging it is to be ever-blooming, testifying of His love, His wisdom, His justice, and His will when you are currently living amongst the pestilence of life!

In a perplexing manner, God is being a good host as He continues to develop His righteousness in you. He is busy creating a holy, eternal garden or environment where you and others may indefinitely thrive by allowing not just the good experiences or good bugs to benefit from you, but by equally, if not more so, using the bad and down-right ugly experiences to also cultivate beauty.

In doing so, His intention is to develop an ever-thriving, ever-rejoicing, and ever-blooming garden of God within you during the good, the bad, and the bugly. How we respond to such pests and said treatments remains to be seen.

“For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9-10

An unidentified beetle enjoys the foliage of a rose.

Compass Rose

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Thankfully, in Southeast Texas roses seem to grow all year.

No matter what course I find myself navigating, whether it be in the valleys of Central Pennsylvania, the crabby shores of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, the salty air whipping around my Myrtle Beach condo’s balcony, or now while living on a sailboat along Galveston Bay in Texas, my love for roses continues to bloom. It would seem this obsession only grows the more I age and experience as does my desire to share their enchanting beauty and hope. Although I no longer have numerous rose bushes flourishing in a garden for my garden these days consist of containers on the cockpit of my sailboat, I still smile (border line drool) over photos of roses or rose catalogs. Through it all, I wander the aisles of garden nurseries or even the garden sections of Walmart, Home Depot, and the like dreaming of potential roses I could acquire and eventually share.

Relatively new to the liveaboard lifestyle, I find myself still making a way to enjoy roses for I purchased a “body bag” rose for just $6 recently. The Grandiflora known as ‘Arizona’ will be an experimental rose for me as she grows in Texas’ high heat and humidity partially shaded from the scorching sun by my sailboat’s bimini (awning type of structure over the cockpit).

full sail

Full Sail, hybrid tea

In hindsight, perhaps I should have purchased ‘Full Sail’, a fragrant white rose with a nautical theme or ‘Ebb Tide’, a lovely purple rose.

Nevertheless, this new lifestyle and new gardening zone presents many new exciting challenges. While getting used to living aboard a small yacht and showering in a marina, our dock box is already full of not only fenders (bumper pads for your boat) and boat cleaning supplies, but potting soil, gardening gloves, and pruning shears as well. At first, my husband protested our boat being transformed into what could be appropriately labeled a “BOATanical” environment, but now he is getting on board even wanting to grow tomatoes on our boat. He is easily influenced. 😉

compass rose

Compass Rose design

 

Soon, we will officially change the name of our sailboat. Initially, I liked the name of ‘Sailvation’ to represent our faith in addition to sailing, but lately, I have been thinking ‘Boatanical’ or ‘Compass Rose’ (the navigational compass on nautical charts) are equally, if not more appealing.

Whichever name or destination we choose, it’s become crystal clear, I will always be rooted in a love for roses.