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.

Ten Year Anniversary

Beautiful Daughters
Beautiful Daughters

Goodness…. I have been writing this blog for 10 years!

It is often said – “Time flies when you are having fun” so it must have been fun because I can hardly believe it has been 10 years.

I started “blogging” because I was challenged by a Bible teacher and friend with Jesus’ mandate to His disciples…go make disciples.

“Who are you discipling?” I was asked.

I had to think a bit and I realized that I was sharing what I hoped was Godly insight with several young mothers, including our three daughters.

  • But was I discipling?
  • Was I being intentional?
  • Was I prayerfully, thoughtfully sharing what God had deposited in me over the years?
  • Was I just “shooting from the hip” so to speak – sharing whatever popped in my head?

I realized that God wanted me to be VERY intentional – that if my daughters and other young mothers were going to be drawn to be like Jesus through me, I must take this role prayerfully and seriously.

So, through the help and encouragement of our daughters, I started blogging.

I am an artist and teacher.

I am not a writer.

But with the gracious editing of my husband, Phil, also known as Mr. Spellcheck, Mr. Grammar, Mr. Punctuation, Mr. Proof Reader…need I go on?  – I have written this blog for 10 years. (any mistakes that remain are all mine)

I must say in all truthfulness that God has shown me so much about myself through this journey – the main point being that in my weakness – He is made STRONG! When I started, most of my posts were about being a mother. Our daughters were in the midst of having babies and that subject was in the forefront of my thoughts and prayers.

Now, my posts tend to be focused on what I am currently learning and often reflect on my time in my garden with God. I sense God’s presence so closely in His creation.

Romans 12:1-2 is my heart’s cry.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. NLT

God is faithful.

So, I will continue to write as long as I sense that God has given me something to share. I still have so much to learn, I invite you to join me as this journey continues.

As women, we are all our Father’s daughters.

Passing the Mantle

A dear friend of our family, Janet Halverson Strobeck, passed on to her heavenly home this week at age 93. She is the beautiful woman seated on the right. Next to her is Ruth Muzzy, who also passed on this past year at age 97, and standing is my mother, Esther Barker who passed on in 2018 at age 90.

I use the words “passed on” intentionally because though their bodies died, each of their souls lives eternally with Jesus. What a great reunion they had this week!

These three women became friends early in their marriages and in their last years ended up living at the same retirement community. It was such a gift to each of them to have this dear friendship for over 60 years. Their husbands were friends as well and they had years of sharing life together including the joys of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Janet found out recently that a great-great granddaughter is expected!

These women first met at College Church in Wheaton in a Sunday School class. Their friendship was founded on their relationship as fellow Christians – “sisters” in the Lord. That fellowship carried them through life’s difficult storms. Each experienced loss, tragedy, heart break, and most difficult – the loss of their husbands after marriages of over 60+ years. They also shared the joys and celebrations of their families and extended families rejoicing with each other.

The three friends prayed together over the years and prayed for each other – their children – grandchildren – great-grandchildren. I am the recipient of so many of those prayers. It has made me feel secure in my faith over the years knowing that these ladies who loved me and loved my family were faithfully lifting me up before our heavenly Father.

I remember “Aunt Jan”, visiting her daughter Carol (we were roommates in Sylva, North Carolina) soon after I first met Phil – who is now my husband. Aunt Jan and Uncle Chuck grilled me on the worthiness of Phil and told me they did so on behalf of my parents. Their main concern was that Phil was a Christian and that his commitment to the Lord was sincere. They took seriously their friendship and love of our family.

Which brings me to the thoughts I am having now as the last of this generation of saints passes on. These ladies were not perfect – you can ask any of their children. They made mistakes and sometimes hurt each other and their families. BUT – they did love God, confess their sins, and dearly loved their families. Each wanted to see the gospel of Jesus Christ shared throughout their community and the world. And each wanted their loved ones to walk in sincere faith.

In II Timothy 1:3-5 Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage in the faith. He mentions the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Paul mentions that this faith now lives in Timothy also.

The faith and example of the prayers of Janet, Ruth, and Esther is passed on to the following generation – us.

We must take up the mantle of sincere faith. We must live our lives worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus in our lives.

The mantle has passed on to us – may we carry it well.