Bad Gardener

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Yard of the Month? Uh – no. I don’t think so! I am a bad gardener. I have a brown thumb. Things die, inexplicably, under my care. It’s not that I don’t love flowers. I do! I love to look at trees, pretty bushes, and really enjoy the smell of a forest. I know that plants swap my carbon dioxide for life-giving oxygen. I am all in, okay? But. And it’s a big one (which, ironically, I DO know how to grow), that is just not where my talents lie. Or maybe it’s that my “talents lie”. They lure me with the siren song of every garden center I drive by. It’s the lure of pansies and mums in the fall, snap dragons in the spring. And in the summer, who doesn’t love beautiful geraniums (which my neighbor was previously convinced was an “un-killable” plant)? I just wish I had a dollar for every time my husband looked at the back of my car filled with plants, shook his head in resignation and helped me unload.
I like the look of flowers. I’m a good designer. I just don’t want to be in charge of how they get into the flower bed and, consequently, stay alive. All this being said, God engineered a pretty funny situation for me a few weeks ago. After my husband was diagnosed with a severe allergy to grass, weeds and pretty much all the stuff you would find in our yard, I now find myself the owner/manager of the yard responsibility. Not cool! “YIKES! God! You know I’m not good at this!” He laughs when I freak out sometimes and holds up His index finger in the universal “Wait for it…” sign.
So Saturday found me in our flower beds raking, pulling weeds and in general cutting back things that were starting to scare our neighbors. It was a beautiful day and I even had a happy attitude. Good music in the earphones? Check. Bottle of water? Check. Was I stalling? Check. After a stern pep talk to myself, I began trimming bushes. “Please, Lord, don’t let me bald these things!” Minutes passed. I backed up to admire my handiwork and WHACK! I ran into a half-hidden, dead, jumbled mess of what used to be some kind of bush which had been cut down to the ground. I know what you’re thinking, but I really don’t think I can take the credit for this one. I’m new to this, remember? After rubbing the scratch on my ankle, I gave it a wide berth and resumed my work. Trying to stay in one section (ok, yes, I was bored), I switched to raking. Anyway, I stepped back to admire my handiwork once more and WHACK! You got it. Same mass of dead root thing. I was so busy doing my own thing that I forgot it was there. Only this time, I was ready. I got my hand-held snipper-thingy and cut as much of it away as I could. There! That ought to fix it. No way I’m getting scratched again. Five minutes later? BAM! Yep. You guessed it. I tripped over it this time and just caught myself before I went face down in the leaf pile. Not nearly as romantic as it sounds when it’s 85 degrees and humid. Grrrr! The more I looked at that thing, the more I was convinced that there was no other recourse than to pull it out by the roots, completely. That being done, though, I realized that with a big open hole in my vicinity, I was very likely to hurt myself AGAIN on it. I needed to dig the thing up, throw it away and cover the hole completely…or, wait a minute! I could plant something else there! I think my husband is shaking his head again…
And so it is with sin, Grasshopper. At first, it was half-hidden. It was not even on my radar. One minute I was doing my own thing and WHACK! It drew first blood. I knew it was there and its potential power to hurt me, but I took the lazy way out and decided just to keep an eye on it. Circle around it. The next time it “attacked”, I trimmed it down, got rid of most of it and thought I had dealt with it but WHACK! There it was again. With sin, as with dead plants and weeds, you have to uproot them. Nothing good will ever grow there as long as you have a dead thing as a place holder. If you want life-giving, beauty, you have to get rid of that dead, ugly thing taking up space. But even better than digging it up and filling the hole with dirt? Plant a beautiful thing there in its place. Ask God to help you do the heavy lifting. He’s a Master Gardener. He knows how deep you’ll need to dig to get all the roots. He knows what work you will need to do to prepare the soil. He will gladly trade out that ugly, hurt-sustaining sin with His love, His peace, His continual presence to guide you. He will grow beauty in the place where you never expected it…And just like me with my brown thumb, I’m no good left on my own. I need the help of Someone who knows about gardening. As long as I stay close to my friend, the Master Gardener, I learn a little more each day, until one day, people are driving by my house, looking at the yard…not laughing at the crazy lady hopping around in her flower bed, holding her leg. Sigh!

Warning: Off-topic moment approaching: Wow. By the way, for those of you moms who want to grasp that ever-elusive feeling of accomplishment you can’t get from driving kids around, I highly recommend raking. Effort=immediate reward, for sure! There is instant, tangible proof you can point to of what you have spent your time on. Sorry! That sounds like another post for another day…

~ Debbie Bouckley

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