Tuesday, February 20, 2018

#musesofamom: How to Grow Deep Roots in Your Garden

In early spring of 2015, our family embarked on an extensive landscaping project in our backyard which we managed to accomplish all on our own, creating four beds along the back fence to minimize the amount of grass that we would need to upkeep. After many man hours of preparing these landscape beds, I was looking forward to adding all sorts of flowers, bushes, and trees to fill two of the four large beds while planting zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in the other two beds.

In my mind, I had an ambitious plan of what I intended to do.

My treasured purchase was this apple tree.  What grand expectations I had for this tree! My mission was to help this tree grow to it's glorious, fruit-bearing potential.

I staked the tree.

I mulched around the tree.

I faithfully watered the tree.

I diligently pulled weeds that would spring up around the tree.

I even talked to the tree. I did everything I knew to do.

I imagined the crisp, tasty apples that would make cobbler, apple pies, apple cinnamon bread, applesauce and all the other wonderful treats that would come from that tree once it matured enough to grow fruit. Oh yum! I didn't mind the wait.

As we entered into the late spring rainy season, my dreams for the tree were dashed.  

Because ... the storm. Texas-sized. 

Dreaded hail pelted our neighborhood with enough pellets that it accumulated like bright white snow on yards, roofs, and streets.  Many homes had damage to their roofs and landscaping. Several cars had dents and cracked windshields.

Our front yard the amount of hail that came from the storm.

The following morning, I checked on the backyard landscaping and observed that the apple tree didn't fare well through the storm. There were gashes and pit marks on the trunk and branches where the hail had whipped it unmercifully.

But the apple tree was still standing, so all was well.

As late spring turned into a blazing hot Texas summer, I would regularly water the tree but noticed that it never returned to the healthy stature it had when first planted. Even with faithful watering, by September the leaves had turned brown and brittle -- an unquestioning sign that the tree had breathed its last.

With nothing else to do, I left the tree as it was until the following spring.

In the following year, I planted a few more hearty Texas flowers and my landscaping project continued to progress quite well. However, when it came to planting fruit trees, I was a newbie who had a lot more to learn. In the case of the "Apple Tree Casualty of 2015," it was when I did additional research that I discovered some crucial tasks that I should have done -- but didn't:

. . . I should have dug a deeper hole when planting that would allow a deeper root system.

. . . I should have watered more thoroughly and added fertilizer directly after planting to help build a stronger root system.

. . . If I had done research before buying the tree, I would have learned that apple trees need another tree in close proximity in order to cross-pollinate and produce fruit.

. . . I should have covered the tree to help deflect hailstones as the storm approached.

As the unfortunate apple tree was dug up and removed from the garden, the Lord brought to mind a life lesson to be learned in good gardening.

How often have I gone forward with my own designs and with my own (and often limited) knowledge of what I thought was best?  How did I respond when an unexpected storm arose for which I was in no way prepared?

You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

Planting my own plans in life in my own wisdom gives me excitement and motivation, but it after pushing through the plan, it ofttimes results with hailstones of trouble that shake me from the securities that I thought were rooted firmly.  And again I realize that I neglected to spend time with the Master Gardener to discover what His gardening plans are best.

But Jesus is so faithful; even when I am pelted and tattered, He pulls me back to Him and directs me in the path I should take.  No doubt a little slower, a little more deliberate. 

If you are struggling in a storm right now, unsure or discouraged, allow Jesus to be your Master Gardener!
  • Water your day with prayer in order to build a stronger relationship with Him, 
  • Dig a deeper root system by reading and studying the Bible regularly so you know what He has to say to you, and
  • Spend time with other believers to produce relationships that will get you through tough times.
Allow the storm to grow your faith as you let your life be built on Him.  

Monday, January 01, 2018

Why the One Word Challenge is Important

Happy New Year!  The celebrations have ended, and today will be a lovely respite before returning to the regular schedule tomorrow.

Today, however, I'm feeling a little behind the eight-ball.  Not with celebrating (although I did a good deal of that with a plethora of chocolate!).  No, late in choosing my One Word.  One Word to live by in 2018.

What is this One Word Challenge phenomenon?  It is simply, yet deliberately, choosing a word which will be the objective of how to live in the New Year.

Alece Ronzino, from her website oneword365.com, encourages people to choose One Word because it is "one word you can focus on everyday, all year long . . . One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.  It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you.  It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps."

For me, it was recognizing that choosing One Word isn't so much about the doing, as it is with New Year resolutions, but instead much more about the becoming.

The resource I found incredibly helpful was Margaret Feinberg's One Word Guide.  It is available now at her website, www.margaretfeinberg.com, and I highly recommend it.  For the past two years, this free guide has helped me discover the right word and put it into practice.

Why is taking the One Word Challenge important?  Because it is an exercise in creating purposeful,  yet more attainable life changes. 

Choosing One Word for the year is certainly more preferable to me than New Year Resolutions.  Resolutions have the tendency to weigh me down and create unreasonable standards.  However, taking the One Word Challenge makes starting the New Year a little more . . . sane.

Once I've selected an appropriate and hopefully a life-changing word, I've realized that it vital to keep it in daily focus throughout the year.  Here are a couple of my own recommendations:

1.  Use a journal . . . or not.  A journal is a common method for making notes and recording results for the year's word.  However, because some people are just not the journaling type, a visual concept, like a vision board, may do the trick. (Just google images for "vision board ideas" for an abundance of samples.)  I have a friend who has "Vision Board Party" at the beginning of the year: a creative time with others, collectively creating vision boards.  Designing a vision board -- or creating a board on Pinterest -- is a possible solution.

During the year, I use a journal for my personal Bible study and reflection, and I dedicate the first few pages of a brand new journal to write about my chosen word: why I chose that particular word, what I think it will mean to me in the coming year, and possibly one or two Scripture verses to memorize.  Throughout the year, when I am convicted by a daily devotion, find a nugget in a book that I'm reading, or discover something on social media that emphasizes my One Word, I will copy it into my journal, marking the page with a tab so it can easily be referred to again when I need to refocus.

2.  Find a community . . . or not.  At oneword365.com, there is a signup to "find your tribe," a group of people who have chosen the same word and want to connect with like-minded people with similar goals.  While connecting with online or local friends for support is appropriate for many, it isn't necessary to share the One Word journey with others. For 2017, my One Word represented something that I needed in my life, a trait that would only be possible with some intentional time with God as I worked out and prayed out things that today are still too personal to share.

This year in our homeschooling, I plan to have the Youngest choose One Word for the year, which I think will help him manage and work through situations that are currently tedious and frustrating for him.

Having One Word for the year may seem overly simple and incompatible when it comes to setting work or business goals. However, because the One Word is more about a personal transformation, it can certainly be advantageous in relation to active, strategic plans.  Living by One Word may help focus responses, actions, and motivation, creating the more desirable results.

The One Word Challenge has become an important exercise for me every year, as I desire to become all that God wants me to be.  It's my hope that you will also take the One Word Challenge toward an exciting transformation in 2018!