Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

I have done my share of gardening over the years. Wherever we lived, I usually tried to make some sort of garden or use what was already there as best I could. But then we moved to our retirement village, where we have gardeners to look after all the trees and shrubs and flowers everywhere. And, apart from asking if I could plant some roses near our balcony, I was happy to leave all that trimming and digging and weeding to them!

IMG_20171008_170427567But then I met our wonderful neighbour and soon realised she was responsible for the beautiful flowers growing outside our front door and along the nearby pathways. I would see her working there for hours, as she sat on her little stool and weeded or broke up old leaves, then scattered them back in the earth. She would often spend her own money too, buying little, half-dead plants on special, then bringing them back to life, as well as more expensive ones. But the day came when our friend could no longer care for it all and she and her husband moved into our nearby nursing home.

In the following weeks, I watched as her beautiful garden deteriorated. Occasionally, I pulled out weeds or cut off dead flowers, but we knew that the gardeners, who had been happy to let our friend care for it and indeed to learn from her, would deal with it all in good time.

Eventually that day came and soon, many of our friend’s beautiful plants were no more–although some were left in certain spots to continue flowering where they were. And then something else sprouted in those gardens as well—two little signs that read ‘GardenIMG_20200220_092912991 Renovation in Progress’.

What a lovely concept, I thought to myself. My friend’s garden hasn’t disappeared altogether—it’s just being renovated! No doubt it will all look lovely again soon, with the remaining spaces filled with hardier, easy-care plants such as azaleas and nandina.

But as I gazed at those signs, another thought came to me too. Sometimes, I think my life can be a little like that garden outside our front door. Yes, when I first believed in Jesus Christ, I was given a completely new start in life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet despite that wonderful ‘renovation’, I can still easily mess things up. I can forget to listen to God—or perhaps deliberately choose not to. At times, my own selfish desires might kick in or I take my eyes off God and let the worries of this world overwhelm me. Then those weeds can begin to grow in my heart—and soon that internal ‘garden’ of mine needs a good overhaul yet again.

I’m so glad God doesn’t give up on us, but instead, graciously sets about renewing us, picking us up and setting us on our feet again. Truly, we are each a ‘renovation in progress’. But we are in the hands of the greatest master gardener ever who will continue to transform us to become more like Jesus. And that has to be the best reno ever, don’t you think?

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Read Full Post »

We have quite a large back garden, spread over two levels and sloping down towards a creek. I love gardening, but rarely get time to do it. On the other hand, my husband hates it! He is prepared to do any heavy work involved, such as mowing, lifting bins of rubbish etc, but has some difficulty at times telling a weed from a ‘real plant’. The difference is that I grew up with a father who was an avid gardener and worked very hard at it, so that my sister and I often got to watch him and imbibe knowledge that way. My husband, on the other hand, definitely did not.

So what’s to be done? We could put more time and effort into gardening – but then I would get even less writing done than I do now. We could let the weeds hold sway – but I find it very difficult to look at a messy garden day in and day out. Or we could bite the bullet and move into a villa or unit with no garden at all to maintain. All these are quite drastic measures, however. Is there some ‘happy medium’ we could find instead?

I think I discovered the best ‘take’ on gardening, and weeding in particular, during a recent phone conversation with an older friend who lives in the Blue Mountains. She has a very large garden, but she is almost eighty years old and is a little beyond keeping it all tidy. Yet she seemed far from depressed as she described its messy state to me.

‘Oh well … I’m having a wonderful time right now watching all the weeds rejoice! They’re so happy no one is bothering them! The vegetables have gone to seed but then that’s good – we can use the seed another season. And it’s all very colourful – there is always something to look at.’

‘Watching all the weeds rejoice’ … I hadn’t thought of it that way exactly! It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? We can choose either to see all the negatives of a situation and dwell on those, or instead focus on the positives and see God at work even in the ‘weeds’ of our lives. And it’s a matter of acceptance as well, I believe. My friend can’t do all that much about the weeds – so she sees them in a positive light, each one enjoying the warmer spring weather, breathing in the clean mountain air and almost defiantly rejoicing in their ‘moment in the sun’ while not being interfered with in any way.

And my friend displays more than a little sense of humour about the situation too – again such a vital ingredient in moving through life in a calm, unruffled way. She is at peace with herself, with God and with the world, including nature. She is determined not to let the weeds rob her of enjoying her garden and even sees in them a unique kind of beauty.

So I continue to learn from my wise friend. She teaches me, along with Paul, to say:

I have learnt to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … (Phil 4:11-12)

May you too learn to watch your weeds rejoice with acceptance, peace and contentment!

Read Full Post »

Tapestry--Eric WardropLast week I was blown away when I answered my doorbell one day to be handed a cylinder that I soon discovered contained a very special gift – the exquisitely worked tapestry pictured here.

This gift is special for several reasons.  Firstly, it came from a cousin, with thanks for my novels and in recognition of the time and effort I put into writing them.  Secondly, the tapestry is beautifully done and must have taken hours and hours to complete – just as my novels do.  Thirdly, it was accompanied by a monetary gift to cover the cost of having the tapestry well framed. Fourthly, my cousin could not have known that I am currently in the process of redecorating our daughter’s old bedroom and fitting it out as my study – a place of my own in which to write and where I can have beautiful things around me such as this tapestry to uplift my spirit.  Fifthly, my cousin could also not have known that I had just finished preparing a talk that included a quote from the writer Madeleine L’Engle on the place of listening in both writing and praying – nor that I already have a framed card near where I now write, featuring another Emerson quotation that says:

To accomplish excellence or anything outstanding, you must listen to that whisper which is heard by you alone.

How could the grace of God not touch my heart through all of this?  Surely the kindness and care and effort behind the gift itself, as well as its appropriateness and even the timing of its arrival, have all the hallmarks of a God who gives lavishly and lovingly?  Yet it’s more than this too.  As I admired the creativity displayed in my beautiful gift, I thought again of how this in itself speaks of God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, who chose to impart something of this creativity to each one of us, children made in his image (Genesis 1:27).  All of us seem to long to be creative in some shape or form, whether it be via tapestry, painting, writing, gardening, knitting, designing, baking – the list is endless.  And for many of us, the desire, whether conscious or subconscious, to mirror something of our Creator to the world is very strong.  Recently a friend told me of a relative’s passion for photography, of recording as faithfully and as artistically as he can the incredible beauty of our own land in a way that will open our hearts afresh in praise to God.  And after perusing his website and being spellbound, I believe he achieves exactly that (see www.davidstowe.com.au).

So how about you?  Look around!  See and marvel at the work of our Creator, both in nature and through those made in his image!  And listen too, to that whisper of God that may well stir your own creative spirit to fashion something that will bless others in ways you might never imagine!

Read Full Post »