Deadheading or Don’t Hold on to the Old

I have frequently had people ask me when looking at the flowers in our yard – “How do you get so many blooms?” “Do you fertilize?”

I deadhead. As soon as a bloom begins to fade, I cut it off.

To be completely transparent, I do fertilize plants in pots because if I water regularly, as I must, nutrients leach out of the soil and must be replenished. We are blessed with great soil in our yard so I do not fertilize plants in the ground.

Yet, back to deadheading. My father, former biology teacher and naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, regularly reminded me of the following –

“The job of a plant is to reproduce itself. Flowers produce seeds which then grow new plants. If you cut off the blooms the plant must make more flowers to do its job.”

Clayton Barker

So, deadheading produces more flowers. Each evening I go around our yard with scissors and cut off the spent blooms. New blooms keep growing! I also cut flowers to bring in our home or give away to friends.

HINT: Cut flowers first thing in the morning before the day heats up. Put them in cool water as soon as possible. The flowers will last longer.

While deadheading our flowers the other day I began thinking about how I hold onto things, sometimes when they are no longer useful or don’t work any longer.

  • I leave old food in the fridge – “Maybe Phil will eat this…” way longer than I should.
  • I keep old clothes that no longer fit – “Maybe someday I will wear that size again…”
  • I keep old books I have already read – “Maybe I will read this again someday…”

Do I do this in my spiritual life as well? Do I hold on to old practices just because they are familiar or comfortable? Do the old patterns prevent me from experiencing a fresh awareness of the Holy Spirit working in my life?

Jesus was sharing with his followers the importance of recognizing the new when the disciples asked him about a spiritual practice they were used to doing – fasting.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Matthew 9: 16-17

Jesus is encouraging his followers to see spiritually in new ways. BUT – Jesus is not throwing out the baby with the bath water. He doesn’t say “don’t mend a garment” or “don’t pour wine”. Instead Jesus wants his followers to receive the new wine – the TRUTH of his teachings – and store them in a new container that will not burst and be ruined. The truth of Jesus’s teachings could not be stored in the traditional teachings of the synagogue or through the Pharisees and Sadducees. The “new container” was the Church – the Body of Christ – you and I.

Jesus wants his followers – you and I – to be that new wine skin containing the new wine. We do this by allowing his Holy Spirit to flow through us. Jesus will reveal himself to us each day if we “deadhead” so the new can bloom.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

LamentaTIons 3:20-23 ESV

When I deadhead I just cutoff the fading bloom. I do not cut off the whole plant. Spiritually, that means I remain in fellowship, read and study his Word, and listen to teaching from faithful followers of Jesus.

It also means I allow fresh new insights from the Holy Spirit – that are “new every morning”.

Refuse Pile

It is that time of year – time to clean out the old and trim off the dead stalks and leaves so that new growth can flourish. I LOVE this time of year! For some people I know it just means more work – but for those of us who truly love gardening – it is the foretaste of things to come. Each time I trim off last year’s old dead growth from a plant it creates in me an anticipation of the new growth to come.

What once appeared dead will come alive!

As I trim off the refuse, I put it in the wheelbarrow and then dump it over the bank. We have a steep bank next to our lower driveway and these trimmings, dead branches, and leaves are out of sight and create a home for little woodland critters. As I was dumping a load Friday I noticed a lonely, lovely bloom that had pushed up through the refuse pile. How in the world did it grow there? It is not a nurturing environment at all.

It made me think about the plants, dreams, ideas, and even people I have given up on – “thrown away” because I no longer need them or feel like anything good will come of them.

I am SO thankful God has never given up on me!

We are studying Isaiah in our Women’s Community Bible Study and these verses are an expression of the hope (a new shoot) that will come from an “old stump”.

Isaiah 11:1-3

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
    He will not judge by appearance
    nor make a decision based on hearsay.

Most Bible scholars believe that this refers to Jesus – I agree. God has taken us from the refuse pile of this world and given us new life through Jesus. What appeared dead now has new life!

I pray that we can share this grace we have received from Jesus with others. Not judging by appearance or hearsay (verse 3) but with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. Just as we should not give up on others, we should not give up on ourselves.

In My Garden With God #30

Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

I hear so much wisdom in the sayings of mountain people. “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” expresses what we need to remember during these past 2 years of COVID, quarantine, and isolation.

I would imagine that each of us have had plans that didn’t work out the way we hoped during this time.

  • trips
  • birthday or anniversary celebrations
  • weddings
  • vacations

Our family has faced several of these situations – all the time realizing how very much we have to be thankful for. Most celebrations can be rescheduled, but those who have lost friends and loved ones face permanent loss, times that can only be redeemed in eternity.

I want to have the attitude expressed by my mountain neighbors – my plans should be based on the will of God while realizing there are circumstances beyond my control. If the road to your house crosses the creek and that creek rises, it is not safe to cross, so you stay home.

James 4:13-15 says this –

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Sounds a lot like “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” doesn’t it?

Blue Heron in the Tuckasegee River at the Jackson County Greenway

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