Weed or Flower?

“Nana, look! This is my favorite flower!”

Our granddaughter Rachel was helping me water our flowers near our front porch and wanted me to show me something quickly. I was so surprised by her choice of a favorite flower – a bloom that I consider a weed. More alarmingly, it was just at the point where all the seeds are ready to fly away.

… and make more weeds!

Rachel obviously did not share my dismay. She was thrilled that it was ready for her to blow on and that she could watch each tendril float gently away on the breeze.

How differently we saw and responded to the very same plant!

As I thought about this I became aware of how frequently this situation occurs in life. People are faced with a common situation but respond very differently. One person sees an obstacle as a challenge to overcome while another person sees the same obstacle as a barrier that prevents them from moving forward at all.

So many factors influence how we respond to various situations. It may be our personality, our past experiences, our mood at that moment. Any parent with more that one child experiences these variations in response on a daily basis! A family outing is planned and one child is excited while another complains “that’s dumb, do I have to go?”

It would be a dull world if everyone liked all the same things. There would be no variety, nothing unique or different. Just think for a minute if there was –

only one kind of flower

only one flavor of ice cream

only one style of music

only one style of clothes

only one form of worship

God in in his infinite, creative wisdom created each human being as unique, and that uniqueness is more than just a one-of-a-kind fingerprint. We are different from one another in body, mind, personality, and spirit.

Conflict often arises because we don’t value one another’s differences – we think others should think and act like we do because we think we know best or our way is best. Paul addresses this very issue in Romans 12:3-6a

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Dandelions are not my favorite flower, but I can see why Rachel likes them. There is something delightful about those weedy seeds floating away when you blow on them …

May God give us grace to celebrate the vast variety of his creation.

In My Garden With God #

Called by Name

This inchworm is measuring a flower in units of its own length – thus the common name – inchworm. Its scientific name – geometridae – also alludes to its measuring ability. I now know this name and the origin of the name because I have been participating in the 2021 Mountain True BioBlast. It is a friendly competition between our county and two nearby counties with similar bio diversity to determine how many different species of plants and animals can be recorded within a two week period.

I have enjoyed this so much! Most of my pictures have been taken in our own yard. We are blessed with such diversity here on Macktown Gap. I don’t know all the names – but the app we use on our phones – called iNaturalist – identifies the plant or animal BY NAME! It records the location as well. Not only have I had fun looking for as many different plants and critters as I could find, I have learned their names in the process.

This butterfly, named Great Spangled Fritillary landed on a flower called Butterfly Weed. Such an appropriate name.

Names are important. They not only give significance to something but often describe it as well. Instead of “look at those plants”, saying “look at that Jack-in-the-Pulpit” identifies and singles out one plant from among many others.

God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals and birds in the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2:19. The names of things has been important since the very beginning of creation.

As a teacher I worked very hard to learn the names of my students. I was not always good at remembering – but I really did try. It was important to me that each student knew they were unique and important to me. Knowing their name was a way for me to acknowledge them. (Kristen and Chelsea Cucumber are identical twins and they had to constantly forgive me for mixing up their names – as did twins Kristen and Kelsey Bradley) Now I have identical twin grandsons. Poor Amos and Tyler…..

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1

I love that God tells us, His people, that He has called us BY NAME. He knows us, He formed us.

We are His.

It All Began in the Garden

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2: 8-9, 15 ESV

So, it all began in a garden. God placed man there and gave him a job – “work it and keep it.” Now this is before the fall, before sin entered the garden. I think it is of utmost significance that God placed his highest form of creation – human beings – in a garden and also gave them work – a purpose.

Purpose – such a powerful word. A definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Having a purpose gives meaning to our existence. God created us with this need for a purpose – and he had work for humans to do right from the beginning.

I realize not everyone gets the fulfillment I get from working in my garden. It renews and feeds my soul in so many ways. But I do know that a part of our being as humans is restored and renewed when we are outside in nature. An English professor, Dr. Mae Claxton, told me recently about some of her university students engaging in a service project that involved working in the Community Garden. She mentioned that some were not too excited about gardening, but afterwards expressed surprise with how “relaxing” and “renewing” it had been for them to get in the dirt and weed. They made a connection with nature working in the garden that they hadn’t made before.

Could it just be that the experience of tending a garden takes us back to that plan God had for us in the beginning?

Maybe, but regardless, I sense that I am tending God’s creation when I weed, trim, mulch and water. Each plant that grows and blooms is the fruit of that labor. It also brings joy to share flowers and plants with others. The variety of color, texture, form, shape, and smell blesses me. How wonderful that our Father, Creator of the Universe, gave us work that results in such beauty. My husband, Phil, could write about vegetable gardening in much the same way with the end result of food that tastes delicious. That food nourishes our physical bodies and allows us to share with others.

It all began in a garden and the blessing of communing with God continues in gardens all over the earth.