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

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 #