Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things I have learned from weeding my garden........

So we rented this house in Portsmouth
with a really beautiful yard.
It is almost park like and there are 
gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I do not have a green thumb.

It is really a challenge for me
 to keep any kind of plant life alive.
But I am determined to do this.
I have to, it's in the lease.

I'm pretty motivated 
(and a little obsessed)
so, I think that I will be able to 
figure out how to keep this garden happy.

When we first moved in,
the flower beds had been freshly mulched.
There were no weeds and 
the mulch had not been pressed down by rain yet. 
Everything was fresh and new and perfect.

Now, having been here for more than a month,
it's not so perfect anymore.
The mulch has settled in and the weeds
are trying to take over.
I did a round of weeding at the two week mark,
but now they are back with a vengeance!

So the other day,
David and I went out to tackle the 
green, thorny terrorist.
Our home sits right on a main road,
and even though we don't use this entrance
for everyday comings and goings
we are still responsible for the upkeep.

So there I was out there in the front of the house
pulling weeds by the curbside
and along the fence beside the sidewalk.
On the main road.
The MAIN road. 
I hated every minute of it.  

There really is no flattering way to bend over and 
pull out a stubborn weed root.
I am not very fond of my backside.
I am even less fond of introducing myself to my new community
by displaying my backside bent over along the curb on the main road.
As I was pondering how much I would rather be doing this 
in private, in seclusion, 
incognito, in the dark of midnight
or in any other way than out in plain sight
 for the amusement of all 2.1 million drivers
that were on that road that day,
I thought of how much this applies to life.
Sometimes we just have to weed in public.
Sometimes the weeds in our lives are just out there for everyone to see.
Sometimes God's way in dealing with us is very, very public.
Sometimes there is just no other way.

There are so many imperfections that I would like to hide from the world.
Sometimes things are just not alright in my world,
and I would rather push them down deep and deal with them in secret
then to have my struggle made public and my shortcomings on display.

I don't want people seeing that my kids don't always embrace
what we have taught them
and often times do the exact opposite of what we pray for.
I don't want them seeing that my home is sometimes filled with
the thorny vines of bickering and strife.
I don't want them seeing the prickly leaves of my lack of faith in troubling times.
I don't want them seeing the weeds that have resulted from my bad decisions.
The monster weed at the root of all of this is pride.
I don't want people seeing these imperfections because I don't want to seem
like an emotionally unstable, out of control, needy, selfish, willful person who
can't seem to keep her house in order.
I'm too proud.

But another thing occurred to me as I was weeding my curbside garden out in plain daylight.
What if some of these people aren't snickering at my backside up in the air?
What if some of them are thinking, "hmmm, I really need to weed my garden!"?
What if people saw me working and thought, "Hey, I've got weeds too!"?
What if my work inspired them to think about their own garden
and what needed to be done there?
What if it isn't about me and how I appeared to others at all,
but more about my very public work inspiring others to recognize the work that
needed to be done in their own gardens?

Throughout the years there have been people in my life who have had very public struggles.
Their gardens were being weeded on the curbside on very busy streets.
I remember one woman sharing a little bit with us in a woman's bible study.
She was going through some trying times with her son
and it was breaking her family apart.
My children were very young at the time and while I could not relate
 to her struggles, but I was so very thankful
that she was brave enough to share them with us.
As a group we were able to come along side her and pray for her.

I learned the valuable lesson that sometimes we are put in
circumstances that seem impossible to overcome.
Sometimes our faith is shaken to the core.
Sometimes the imperfections in our lives are ugly and public and we can't hide them,
but God intends for us to bear one another's burdens and to share
our struggles and triumphs with others.
We shouldn't let the sin of pride keep us from being real with people.

I often think back on that moment when this woman
shared her not so flattering side with us
and I am so thankful for her example.
God used her struggle to encourage me so many years later
when my kids entered the world of teen rebellion. 
I didn't feel alone.
I knew that I wasn't the only mom who had been touched
by this kind of pain.
I knew that God would use me and my story to help other moms
if I would only be brave enough to share.

I saw a photo of this woman's son on facebook the other day.
He has a teenage son of his own now and is doing very well.
God drew him back to himself and worked in the life of that family.
If we hadn't been aware of the struggle,
we wouldn't have been able to rejoice in the victory!

It is my hope that as I share my "fresh fruit" with you,
the pretty flowers of my life, the colorful bouquets and the healthy shrubs,
that you know of the weeds that loom as well.
As long as we walk this earth they will always be there.
It is important that you know about them and their choking vines
and how much work it took to pull them out at the root.
You must know about them in order to truly appreciate the 
magnificence of the flowers that bloom.
For no flower is more beautiful than the one that is gained through
struggle and strife.
The one paid for with tears, pain, obedience, selflessness,
forgiveness, grace, mercy and ultimately
a thorn pricked brow.

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