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.

Who Will See?

This year of 2020 has been a year of challenges. No matter where we live, or who we are, COVID 19 has affected our lives in some way, big or small. Some of these effects will end, hopefully soon. Some will continue because we have been challenged to see our lives and priorities in a new way.

As most of you know, because it is the theme of many of my posts, my “hobby” is gardening. I love working outdoors in our yard which is surrounded by woods. Being outside renews my soul and puts me in the mind-set of communing with my Heavenly Father.

Actually, it all started in a garden, didn’t it? Creation, relationship with our Creator, human’s fall into sin….. all began in a garden. I feel God’s presence most personally in our garden.

Phil and I work hard on tending our plants and keeping the weeds at bay. Because of COVID 19, we have been home much more this year. Meetings in our community, trips overseas, visits out of state, gatherings with friends – all have been cancelled. So, I found myself devoting more time to tending our garden than I ever have before.

The results of that work shows.

But who sees it?

The entrance to our home looks so lovely and inviting – but no one comes to visit.

I cut these flowers and arranged them, but no one was invited to share our table.

So, what is the meaning of all the work if no one sees the end result?

I “drag” Phil around the yard to see a new bloom. I obviously take pictures, but all you gardeners know that a picture does not touch the vibrancy of the color in real life, nor can a photo transmit the smell that emanates from the bloom. Pictures are a nice but incomplete image of the real thing.

So these thoughts caused me to contemplate my motivation for my gardening efforts. Do I do this work so it will be seen by others? Am I just acting on compulsion – driven by some unknown need to pull weeds? (some of my children think that is indeed the case)

Jesus teaches about our motivation for praying in Matthew 6: 5,6

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Now gardening is not prayer, but I do view my gardening efforts as an act of worship, of tending God’s creation. These verses encourage me to continue tending, weeding, trimming, pruning, and nurturing. The point is not if anyone else sees it, the point is in the doing. God sees.

It does bring me joy to see plants flourish. There are probably many activities that we are currently doing that are not noticed, especially during these times of staying home and staying safe.

So, continue doing what pleases the Father, whether it is noticed or not.

#26 In My Garden with God

Full Disclosure: We have had family come, and some friends who have driven through the driveway. They have fed my extroverted soul as well.