I have always been interested in gardening and growth. I am, by no means, a master gardener. In fact, my closest friends often poke fun at my inability to keep plants alive, but I do like to try. Most of all, I understand there is a deep inherent mystery to growth that is important to us all.
I had been thinking A LOT about the rich, agricultural metaphors that are found in the Bible and the many parallels of growth we could draw from nature and gardening processes. I kept having a feeling that this was something I was supposed to write about.
I will never forget the day I was sitting in church service at my home church, my head bowed in prayer, and though I was trying to stay focused, my mind kept wandering back to the writing idea. I kept mulling it over with a kind of concern about what shape the project might take. I was asking, "what will this be? who is it for?" those kinds of questions.
Suddenly, I could feel God with a mixture of annoyance and amusement, as when a parent waits for their children to figure out something very obvious.
"Villa Rica First IS THE GARDEN."
My home church, Villa Rica First United Methodist Church, is also known affectionately as, "The Garden." It was within these very walls that I sat there praying with my hands clasped and head bowed, asking where I could plant this idea of spiritual growth metaphors through gardening.
I had to almost laugh out loud. Of course!
I still didn't know exactly what to do with the idea, but I knew it needed to involve my church. I took it to our pastor, who was newly appointed at the time. I am so glad I did.
Despite having not settled into his new office yet, he was enthusiastic and supportive. He gave me the opportunity to write these devotionals for our church newsletter once a month. He gave me many resources to aid my task and challenged my dedication to this ministry.
Though I had already identified my writing as something God gave me to use for his purpose, this was the first time I had paired my writing with the word "ministry."
I guess that is my calling story. Over the next year I dedicated myself to this writing ministry and I have been amazed at what has flourished since putting this skill in God's hands. I am humbled and honored to do this work and the best part is, this is only the beginning!
I am so excited to present the self published collection of devotionals from the past year, with bonus questions at the end of each section. This book would be a great gift for anyone interested in gardening, growth, or both!
100% of proceeds from this book will be donated back to my loving church, Villa Rica First United Methodist At the Garden. Click the image below to order.
Has your child ever brought you something that is tangled up in a horrifying knot? So many twists and turns and cross-overs and unders that any direction you try to unwind it just doesn't even make any sense?
I actually have a quite a high level of patience and determination for this type of problem. I think it stems from knowing that just about any knot that was done up that way can also be undone, with the right series of steps. It also helps that I get *immense* gratification out of successfully untying a challenging knot, so it could be said that my perseverance is just a healthy pursuit of victory.
I think this type of problem also gives us a great parallel to peacemaking. Sometimes, we find ourselves in conflict or at odds that just seem impossible to overcome. Maybe it's an argument with a loved one, or a divided issue at work. Maybe you feel the polarization of your community and country and someone mentions peace and you just have to laugh out loud because peace just does not seem to stand up to the situation you find yourself in.
I'd encourage you think of this knot. Frustrating as it may be, there are definite moves we can try that make the situation worse and there are definite steps we can take to make the situation better.
Maybe a final solution to your whole ball of wax is too far-fetched to consider right now. But is there one thing you can do to unwind the string just one degree? Is there a direction you can take the string that releases the pressure and gives you a new perspective with which to tackle this work?
Because the thing is, if you can get going in one direction that starts to help things go right, way will lead on to way, and pretty soon you'll find yourself basking in the glory of an unencumbered victory.
It may require going backwards, sometimes, and trying things that don't work right away. But for every complex conflict that seems impossibly tangled, just remind yourself there is a way trace back through the suffering and release every bind.
How can you help things go right today?
A few months ago, I was walking through the woods with my two sons. We are lucky to have some nice trails around our house to venture into at will. We had been walking for several minutes in silence, a sure sign of their engagement in this activity, when my youngest looked up and asked me:
"How does God hold everyone?"
Whew. What a big question for a four year old. Even for me, a thirty-four year old, I struggled to think of an answer. I marveled at his introspection and quickly thanked God for leading us down this literal and cognitive path.
What I loved about his question is that it indicated he had no doubt that God, in fact, holds everyone. He was just pondering on how he accomplishes it.
"I don't know." I told him simply. "But isn't it wonderful that He does?"
He concurred and we moved on, until this morning.
Right before I dropped him off at school, he asked me, "Do you know how God holds everyone?"
This time, I could tell it was not a curious inquiry, but a pop quiz. He must have come up with some type of understanding on his own. "I don't know. How does he?"
"He is so fast. He is faster than anything. He holds me and he holds you and it's so fast, he holds everyone."
WHEW. What a beautiful idea, that God moves in such a supernatural speed, we do not even perceive a moment he is not holding us. I believe this must be how God can be working on the whole universe, all at once, with us and around us, while our individual lives just seem to unfold effortlessly.
I don't know how God does it, but the fact that this thought process came full circle for my child confirms that He does. He plants a seed and He continues His good work until it's done. I love to think of how this one, little tendril of understanding will grow within my son's heart, as God nurtures it along through the various phases of his life.
Most importantly, I thank God that my son feels held. Because I know there will be moments of loneliness, isolation, torment, and suffering that he will eventually one day have to endure. We all do, in ways, as a product of life. We all struggle with our own self worth and purpose and how we fit into the social dynamics in which we grow up. But if we can remember that God holds it all, we can keep it in perspective.
As a parent, you can help cultivate this connection by:
I have two young sons, ages six and four. From pregnancy and beyond, they have been mirroring back to me more than I ever could have dreamed of learning about myself and my own growth. As we grow together through this life, I hope to always mirror back to them the same inspiration, strength, and wonder they have shown me.