{Dad} and the Bigger Picture

This, I believe, is one of the greatest lessons my dad has taught me…

One that has spared me many undue heartache.

One that I wish I’d learned much sooner… but am grateful to have learned at all.

The wisdom of living assumption-free, trust-filled, and believing in more than I can see.

To take in a circumstance with all that my eyes, ears, and heart can understand… and then believe that there is more to it than I can know… and to rest in the assurance that Someone knows. It doesn’t have to be me.

Though I often wish it were.

How easy it is to look at a weed… one sole weed… and determine that the entire garden must be over-ridden with this decrepit beauty-choker. What frustration, hopelessness, and despair could overwhelm me… if I never looked up.

Never looked up to see a beautifully flourishing garden… weed-free.

To pull just one weed and be at ease.

One weed at a time.

Or maybe it’s not a weed.

But a miscarriage. Financial loss. Death of a loved one. Disease. A broken relationship. An unexpected bill.

A friend’s comment. Or lack of comment.

An envied gift given to another.

Whatever it may be… it’s an opportunity to allow that one moment to suck you in and convince you that God is dead, life is unworthy of living, and what you see is all there is… and it is unexplainable. Unacceptable. Unlivable.

Oh how I’ve bore up under these moments! These lies! When I was convinced that death was far better than life! That my dad must hate me. That no one loves me. Not one.

Only to have my head lifted.

To see a garden… beautiful, weed-free… goodness that overwhelms a moment. A circumstance. A broken expectation.

To see that her death changed more lives that her life had… because of her life lived… then given over.

To realize the unspoken comment… wasn’t absent from mind and heart, just air.

That the loss of what I thought I wanted and needed… wasn’t what I wanted or needed… and I was free from the tangle.

To hand over something I did want… knowing that I can be better without it.

To surrender what I see… and trade it in for the hope of what is unseen. The knowledge that is unknown.

To recognize the command as an invitation… the discipline as life-sparing.

Hate… not as hate, but of a very hard love… a love needed to see true change. The hardest kind of love… but the truest.

To live a life that trusts the unseen, that believes and hopes in the greater… that refuses to waste pain for the greatness that can come from it. To be mastered by no moment, no fickle feeling, no thing that we’ve established as greater than we are.

Save One.

The One who sees all, knows all, understands all, offers all.

For free.

To rest in the assurance that I am loved and all is for my good. What a life of peace and security!

My dad has taught me this… through difficult lessons, unexpected surprises, moment of humility and regret at having jumped to conclusions.

May this be a lesson I continue to grasp… in every moment of every day, and live out in such a way that the world around me releases the hold of false assumptions, accusation, self-absorbed thinking, generalizations of each moment onto every moment.

And meet my dad.

Because he’d love to show you his garden.

Your garden.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 8 of 31 Days in 2012.

My {Dad} the Master Gardener

Today is a beautiful day.

I wish you could see what I see.

But even a picture doesn’t do it justice.

The woods surrounding my tiny village are in full force of transformation… oranges, yellows, reds, pinks, and purples shouting from the sloping hills, “Fall is here, Fall is here!” It’s a song of celebration.

A celebration of death’s beauty.

It’s the death of green foliage that once signified the resurrection of Spring and the sustenance of Summer.

The miracles of life now metamorph into brilliant displays of Autumn… death’s march… not in shades of black and grey but of the brightest, most awe-inspiring shades of victory and praise.

Has the grave ever been celebrated in such a way? With song and proclamation?

I can think of a couple of times. Though we don’t often recognize it as a celebration of a thing’s passing… but of the fruit its death bears.

Without Fall, there would be no Spring.

Without the expiration of leaves, the rotting of their membranes, the dropping of their seeds… new life could never form. It would be the end, the only end. The final end.

If we celebrate Spring, then we celebrate the death that brought it.

This is something my dad has taught me in the garden as well.

To get to the seeds of most fruits and vegetables, you must kill it.

The produce is cut from the vine, ending all flow of nutrients and life-giving forces. An incision to the center is carefully carved… to get to the heart of the fruit, where often the seeds for new life are stored. From that one death, comes multiple new lives.

Yet seeds alone are not the sole reason for celebration of a fruit or vegetables death.

The body itself becomes nutrient… live-giving sustenance. Building immunity. Fighting disease. Filling an empty tummy.

A death not wasted.

A death that would have no meaning had the life been spent fruitlessly. Selfishly. Fearfully.

But a gardener spends time with its future harvest… pruning, watering, weeding, de-bugging, feeding with good soil, securing the right kind of sun light… protecting, caring, clipping.

These equate to seasons of dryness, pain, refreshing, rest, growth, and trust.

Trust that the gardener knows what to trim away and when.

Trust that the water will come at the perfect time… so the roots can dig deeply and with strength.

Trust that the strangling weeds will be noticed. Removed.

At just the right time.

Confession: This, too, I have learned from my dad. A master gardener. Watching his tender care of his garden. Cringing when so much beauty is stripped away… only to see double, triple, quadruple replace his wise and strategic snips.

To watch him allow painfully dry soil… roots seeking water deeper and deeper… to then lavish the thirsty plant with abundance. Leafy arms raised high, flowery faces turned up… swaying in a dance to their lover… the gardener who knows the whens and the hows and the whys.

And how my dad has tended to my own soul, spirit, mind, body in the same kind and purposeful way! Allowing me to learn lessons through death and tragedy, lack of understanding, impatience, frustration… only to meet me in those places with every life-giving breath. Sustenance and peace, direction and guidance. Love and affection.

I’m not an amazing gardener myself. I watch my dad. I watch my husband, his apprentice.

And suddenly life makes sense.

Oh that the garden of my life would be fruitful to the fullest! So that when my season of Spring turns to Summer and then to Fall… and the hills march to their tune of victory and praise once again… and Winter settles upon my existence in this place, on this side of eternity… that a new Spring would be welcomed in full song! That a great harvest would be found among the seeds of my life… a life not wasted.

Spent trusting the loving hand of my dad.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

John 15:1




To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 6 of 31 Days in 2012.

Dry Soil, Strong Souls

I was visiting with a friend in her garden… enjoying the green growth and the conversation. I looked down and noticed that her tomato plant had a dry/wet soil indicator. It pointed to “dry.”

“Hey, do you know your soil is dry? Should it be?”

In her gardening wisdom (which much research has produced) she said it was.

“You should water plants, then let them dry. That way their roots dig deeper in search of water. After it has been dry a short while, water the plant again… then let it dry, so the roots again go deeper.

If you water the surface soil only, the roots will stay near the top of the earth and you’ll have a weak plant.

If you allow times of dryness, the roots will go deep and you will have a strong plant.”

Not dry too long.

Not wet too often.

I was stunned. It makes sense… but seems scary too. Let a plant have dry soil? What if I kill it?

It takes the perfect balance and the right timing.

I immediately reflected on this as it relates to my spiritual life.

Doesn’t God allow such dry seasons in my own life… so that I will cling to Him more tightly?

Doesn’t He allow me to search Him out, seeking His provision, deepening my faith and connection to Him as I pursue…

And then doesn’t He lavish me with Living Water to satiate my parched tongue? His abundance flows into the flaking cracks of my soul and heal, restore, and strengthen me for the next leg of my journey.

More dryness.

More seeking, digging, deeper and deeper.

Then He comes and quenches my soul’s thirst.

Not dry too long.

Not wet too often.

God’s perfect balance and right timing not only saves my soul, but calls it to thrive.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah 44:3