GOD GARDENING ~ a personal experience


Anyone who knows me knows I love gardening.  My garden is Eden to me.  I have planned it to attract birds, bees, squirrels.

  img_1672.jpg

I’m not really accomplished at it, not really a green thumb here as the compost pile can attest to. Lots of failures in terms of trying to grow something and having poor results.  I remember the first time I tried to have a pot plant. I was 17 yrs. old.  My first apartment was over a garage and it was so rickety the dresser mirror slapped the wall when a person walked across the floor. It was downtown Alexandria on Fisk Street, the rent was $40/month, and my landlord was Mr. T.W. Moreau. But it was home for me and I loved it. I wanted to make it my own by having a real live potted plant. I went downstairs and dug up some dirt, put it in a pot, and planted a piece of ivy someone gave me. First of all, Mr. Moreau wasn’t happy about the hole I dug, and secondly, I had no clue about a plant’s basic needs like light and water. Or potting soil. Funny thing now that I look back on it, I didn’t have a clue about a much of anything!

A lot has changed since then. I can call myself a gardener about as well as I can call myself a writer and an artist. I use too many quotation marks, commas, and colons. I start over with a painting as much as I have finished results.  Ha!  The painting I’m working on now, I had to wipe out 4 times before I got what I wanted and that was just the undercoat!  That’s just what I do. That doesn’t mean I have reached the pinnacle of what the world deems success, it just means that I have done what my heart desired. I have learned to nurture.  I’ve learned to garden.

IMG_1547

There are shortcuts to gardening and maybe everything else. I have found over the years that the rules of gardening correlate to the rules in life. For example, the species of humans must have community, friends if you will. Gardening is like that. All your friends want to give you a piece of theirs. You accept seeds or a plant from one friend, then another, then one more.  And before you know it – a little piece of all your friend’s gardens now live at your house. You water when it’s dry, throw a little Miracle Grow around when you think about it, pull a couple of weeds every time you go outside – then voila, people think you have a green thumb. It’s simply not true. You just have very good friends. My garden has my mother’s and Aunt Kat’s hostas. Faye, Sylivia, Deborah have shared a multitude of flora and fauna with me. Sue gives me a start of a Night Blooming Cereus every year. Every year, yeah, because somehow I manage to…. Well, I don’t even want to say it. I have daylilies galore. They keep multiplying, kind of like friends. A shortcut, but one with staggering success if you put your heart into it. My heart is into it because of my grandmother. She had a real greenhouse. I can remember the smell and her constant attention to it. It represented something akin to love and security to me.

Over the years I found that gardening is like loving God. Yes, it is. He who made all things. He who loves. He who nurtures. You wouldn’t believe how thankful I am for that! Gardening has revealed Him to me. He provides just the right amount of whatever is needed by His creation. Don’t you just love that? Please let me show you how He works this into our very own lives:

We’ve kind of had a struggle the past three years. There has been major illnesses for both my husband and myself. I have kicked it in the butt but my husband is seriously ill at the moment. We are two (barely) old folks who love each other very much, fight like cats and dogs (it’s in our DNA) and share every aspect of our lives. When I hurt, he hurts. When he hurts, I do too. Sometimes we have worldly needs that might take some creative financing. You know, the limited (barely) old folks budget thing because of medical bills, etc. Here is something I have learned; it is not necessary to worry about these things. Period.

A couple of months ago, I was commissioned to paint a picture for a Christian organization called the ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) retreat community. To my surprise, I found it easy to come up with a composition reflecting the theme to match the future retreat for women as requested. Must have been the art angel sprinkling grace dust upon me. I don’t know. Anyway, I painted two pictures and over the weeks it took, I made it clear that this art was a donation to the community because my own spirituality had grown due to them. I love the ACTS organization. They are amazingly talented in revealing the love of the Lord to one and all. Finally the day arrived when two reps from the community, Charlotte Wasmer and Father Derek Ducote, came to assess my simple paintings and make a choice as to which one they would choose.  Fr. Derek asked Charlotte which one she wanted. She quietly said “I want both of them”. I couldn’t believe it and was so happy and humbled. We had a great visit for a couple of hours before they left taking both paintings with them. It was wonderful.  They gave me a beautiful card of sweet gratitude signed by several ACTS personal.  Before long, I got a text from Charlotte saying she left a love offering and I would know it when I saw it.   What!?   I found the envelope. I got chills when I opened it. I took it to the living room where my husband was lying down. I told him “you have to look at this”. He said he didn’t need to. I told him more firmly, “you have to look at this. I told you God would provide.” He took the envelope and his mouth dropped open.

Two weeks or so before, I threw a fleece before the Lord. If you don’t know the term, it means asking the Lord to provide for a specific need. I needed new tires on my car. I asked for that. And I trusted.

The envelope contained $400. The tires cost $398.

If that’s not GOD GARDENING, I don’t know what is!

Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Let us all turn to God.

 

IMG_1625

Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Your prayers are very much needed.  Let us all turn to God.

 

Advertisements

FAITH


backyard bouquet

I’m sitting here on my back porch, relatively early in the morning for me at least.  You’ve heard the phrase “drinking in the loveliness of the morning”?  Well, that’s me at this moment.  It’s almost cool for the first of September, a little overcast, breezy.  I look at my flower beds, the pergola the hubs built for me, the wisteria that has decided after 17 years that it wants to relocate.  Hanging baskets on the porch.  Rocking chairs waiting for someone to put them in motion.  Wind chimes whispering, not full throated as they were designed, but quietly as if somehow they don’t want to disturb the peace of the morning.   You may think I’m nuts but I feel the presence of the Lord.  Yes I do.  Body, soul and spirit.  The love.  He is love.  It’s almost like heaven.

IMG_1564

I need this right now, this beauty, this peace, this love.  Isn’t He wonderful?

This morning I want to talk about faith.  I’ve been exercising mine a lot lately.  I’ve had to draw on it pretty regularly and I’ve come to think of it in a different way than I have before.  It was a remark made by a very compassionate priest to my husband while he was in the hospital this past week.  I wasn’t in the room but the hubs told me later.  Apparently, my man said something to him about me.  Father Bill told him that I have a great faith.  Who, me?  Hmm.  He doesn’t know how I really am, does he?  I don’t know the man well enough for him to see me in the throes of a tap-dancing fit, or having an all-holier -than-thou attitude.  Father Bill doesn’t know I am frustrated, fearful, angry, selfish, self-centered, my moral compass askew at times.  Trying to be strong and missing the mark.  How strange.  This man of God thinks I have great faith and my husband agrees.  Lord, I’ve got a lot to work on.  How do I live up to that?

I will say this:  I do love the Lord.  He has shown me His love by saving me from many perils; health issues, calamities, and indeed, from my own foolishness.  And you know what?  He doesn’t have to prove His love to me.  For heaven’s sake, He is God.  But He does, He wants to.  He envelopes me with His love.  He is always there when I need Him.  I talk to Him and I try to listen to Him.  He speaks to me through many different avenues – His Word, people he puts in my path, the beauty of sitting on my back porch.  Many different avenues.  I, the one who rarely trusts anyone, feel the pull to completely trust Him.  He has an uncanny way of revealing Himself to those who are open to Him.  I like to think I am.  I get in my own way sometimes and am not as alert to Him as I should be, but I try.

Is this faith?  Maybe.  But you know what?  I don’t want to have faith.  I want to be faith.  I want to have the fortitude not to ever doubt that my various situations in life are part of His will for me.  I want to trust without question, not constantly have to learn to trust.  I want to be faith enough to not have that knee-jerk reaction of fear every time my world cracks a bit and threatens to fall apart.  I want to be faith enough to be kind and loving, to help others find peace, to not think of myself first.  I am not skilled in any of those attributes but I’m trying.  It’s going to take a lifetime for me to reach that pinnacle, if I ever do.

Have you ever thought about these things or am I just weird?  Do you ever long to be as good as the saints and angels?  Here’s a news flash.  Those saints – most of them weren’t angels.  We just celebrated the feast of St. Augustine, that one was a real booger if you ask his mom St. Monica.  But he came around.  And he was one of the finest examples of faith a person can find.  (He learned it from his mom!) Amazing, isn’t it?  He didn’t just have faith, he was faith on earth.  The work he did for our Lord is incomparable.  Praise God!

Being faith as opposed to having faith is much harder.  But there is help.  You know Who.  Him, the kind Teacher, the compassionate Lover of all, the One Who is love.  The Object of our faith.  His offering to us didn’t stop on the cross, although that is the ultimate sacrifice and most important selfless act of all time.  He continues to offer us Himself.  He loves with abandon and teaches us how as well.  He never gives up on us no matter how wayward we become.  He offers us the gift of hope when we aren’t sure the sun will come up in the morning.  He has a plan for each of us individually, personally.  We just have to open our eyes, our hearts, our will to him.  We have to strive, not only to have faith, but to be faith.  One of the most marvelous things about God is that if you don’t feel like you can do this yourself, ask Him.  He will show you how.  He’s good like that.

DSCF7880

If you are a praying person, I have a few requests for your prayer list:

Please pray for the Catholic Church.  It appears that the enemy has wormed his way in, in an effort to destroy all God has built.  The Church as a whole will never give in to this.  Pray for the strength to oust this evil, to rebuild and to continue to proclaim the true Word of God to mankind.

Secondly, please pray for my beloved husband.  He is very ill right now.

Third, please pray for peace.  The world needs your prayers right now, this very minute.

I’M JUST LETTING GO


It was so hard for me to get out of bed this morning. The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I turned the bedside lamp on. At 6:30 my sweet husband came into the room with a cup of coffee and told me “I heard you snore so I thought I better do something.” What? Me, snore? Yeah, that was me. Oh how I wanted to sleep! But here’s the thing – I wanted to see Jesus more than I wanted to sleep. I practically had to scratch my way out of the warm and cozy trap that is my bed and adjust my crown of attitude into one more conducive to dedicating my Sabbath to the God of Glory, instead of What Nancy Wants. If attitude can get a person anywhere, projecting a good one is a start. So, half an hour late already, I struggled to set about getting ready for early Mass. Wonder of all wonders, I managed to get dressed and head toward Bunkie town.

Flash back: In June, I had the true honor of being one of the many prayer ministers at the Steubenville South Youth 2017 Conference in Alexandria, Louisiana. Long ago, when the movement first came to this part of the country, I was a part of the prayer team but took a hiatus when I married Pete and moved further south. It felt so good to be back into it this year. Man, if only I could tell you in human words what it is like to gently nudge a young person to the Way! All that to say this: The message, the speakers, the music, everything was great. It was mighty. A person would have to be a pillar of salt not to be moved. Hosted by Paul George, who by the way, knows how to get a young person’s attention (“clap once if you can hear me, clap twice etc.”) That really tickled me. The speakers were quite the line up of young adults who knew where they had been and know where they are going. Fr. Leo Patalinghug (EWTN, & Beating Bobby Flay – think “Holy Guacamole”), Megan Mastroianni, Chris Mueller, Sarah Swafford. Our own Josh Blakesley Band (http://www.joshblakesleymusic.com), and guest Sarah Kroger(http://www.sarahkroger.com) provided absolutely perfect music.

I’ve been a fan of Josh Blakesley & company for years. In fact, although my beloved and I are in our -ahem- 60’s, we have been known to travel the 40+ miles on a Sunday evening to Mass in Alexandria during which the music is rendered by said band. Enter Sarah Kroger. I had not heard of her before Steubenville South 2017. I found a couple of her CDs for sale and scored.

Ok, now flash forward to today: On the way to Mass, my thoughts were the usual “gosh I’m getting old, how did this happen, maybe it’s too late to do so-and-so, my memory is missing, something is wrong with my brain, gosh my hands hurt, oh, my back, this oldage is killing me, on and on and on.” Suddenly for some strange reason, I heard Sarah Kroger singing. Oh yeah, I forgot I was playing her CD. The words I heard captured me, literally dragging my attention away from my internal dialogue. Wow. How did that happen? The song must have been written for that very moment in my life. No? Well, you might not think so but I do. Let me say this about that; isn’t it amazing how God’s timing is perfect and how He reaches us exactly where we are and exactly when we need Him? Here, read these words.

“I thought by now I would be running on an open road

Not here standing with a heavy load

Unable to move

I thought by now it would be everything I ever dreamed

Not unsure of what there is for me

Or what I should do

And I can’t see straight and I just can’t seem to find my way

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go

Oh I’m letting go.

And like a friend this heaviness is settled in my soul

I don’t have to hold it any more

You whisper to me

“Be still don’t fight. Just let me make the burden light”.

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go.

Oh, I’m letting go.

I will not be afraid to open up my hands

I will not be afraid to let you in

I will not be afraid, your love is more than I could know

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go

Oh, I’m letting go.”

Powerful, huh? I meditated on that after I took a seat in church. The message I got from that wonderful song is simply to stop worrying and trust more. Sounds like a cliché but it is what it is. It comforted me. It helped me see that the course my life has taken is not so far off what it should be. I am more aware of the road I am on. If I can let go, if I can trust.

Now here’s where it gets Real. To my delight, Father Taylor Reynolds was the Celebrant for Mass. I’ve watched him grow up in Bunkie. His mother is a lady I know and admire. He is with our parish for the summer before he returns to Rome in the fall. So you can imagine how it warmed my heart to see him this morning. When Father Taylor read today’s Gospel (Mathew 14:22-23) he had my complete attention. What he said afterwards brought tears to my eyes. And it still does. It is the story of Jesus walking on water. Allow me to paraphrase the homily. First Jesus leads the disciples to the boat, rides with them to the other side of the lake, and then leaves them and goes off by himself to talk to his Dad. The guys on the boat carry on until the wind gets tough, the ride gets rough and terrible fear moves in. Suddenly, they look up and see Jesus walking on the water toward them. But, as Fr. Taylor pointed out, he didn’t calm the seas. He didn’t tell the wind to stop. He did, however, say “don’t be afraid”. Peter told Jesus “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said “Come” So, Peter stepped out of the boat in faith. Then he faltered. But Jesus reached out and caught him. Thank God! Fr. Taylor pointed out how close Jesus was to Peter as he took his faltering steps and started to sink. He was right there, close enough to grab him. What wonderful news! What a fantastic analogy!

So the lesson God gave me today goes like this; Life is a journey, yet another cliché, but true none the less. On this journey we hope we are doing the right things. We have our problems, our burdens, our forks in the road. We don’t know where to turn. We need Him to show us the way. We need to trust Him through the storms. We need to step out in faith and know that Jesus is right there for us when we falter, and feel like all is lost or it’s too hard to carry on, or we don’t know what to do. We need to believe.

Let go. Release the heaviness in your soul, your burdens, your insecurities. Step out in faith knowing that He is in control and He won’t let you go. He’ll be there for you and with you throughout your journey. “Be still, don’t fight. Just let Me make the burden light.”

I’m praising Him for that lesson today! Oh Jesus, I’m loving you! Thank You from the bottom of my heart! I wish I could convey my concern and compassion to the many who have not yet entered into a life with Christ. It just doesn’t make sense not to want to love and be loved, not to want a richer life with riches that matter and carry over into the next life, the one that is Eternity, not to want a better, more meaningful life. I’ve had a life without Him, although as a believer I thought I had it all. Wrong. There is more. So much more.

Below you will see the CD cover I reference by Sarah Kroger.  She’s awesome.

 

Pray for peace, people. Our world needs your prayers.