Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gardening our Hearts

Spring is here and if you haven’t realized it yet, it’s gardening season.  I was not one of those privileged people to be born with a green thumb.  In fact when my husband and I first got married I received an ivy plant.  I was so excited I told him we would call it faith and as our marriage grew the plant would also.  After about four months it died.  I guess I either watered it too much or not enough.  Needless to say… I am not a gardener.  I assured my husband this was no reflection of our marriage.  Its been almost 20 years now and we are still going strong.  I just can’t seem to keep plants alive.
My son on the other hand loves gardening.  He helped a neighbor with his large garden last year.  He loved planting the seeds, watering, weeding, and seeing the fruit of his labor.  I have tried not to discourage him and to stay out of his way.  Maybe he has some gardening gene in him I am unaware of that will come naturally as he does it.  I am hoping to observe the blossoming of a green fingered boy.

My son has been so excited about gardening that he decided to start early.  He got some pepper seeds and planted them in an old egg carton.  He dragged the dirt-filled carton inside and out based on the weather enlisting me for service.  These precious seeds could only receive special water of course.  Our simple tap water was not good enough to sustain them for growth.  Oh, no.  This was only the beginning of the gardening season.  What was I in for?

The house we live in has a garden area with raised beds… 10 to be exact.  Awesome area to plant, but there is only one problem.  The whole area needs to be weeded and the ground needs prepared for planting.  I encouraged my son to weed early on, so it wouldn’t get too overgrown when spring hit us, but it didn’t happen. 

In order to inspire and motivate my son to weed, I offered to help him.  Not do it for him (this was his thing), but to help guide him in the process.  After two days of working, one and a half plots were cleared.  The remaining plots are currently not ready and planting season is upon us.  The weeds are growing out of control and are beginning to take over the whole area.  I am NOT a gardener, but I am thinking this could be a problem.

Looking at the whole scene of our garden made me think of my heart.   I snapped a picture of our garden as a reminder (it is displayed above).  My heart is a garden of sorts.  My son wants to use one area to plant and grow things and leave the rest alone.  Isn’t that what we do at times with our hearts?  We focus on getting one area of our lives cleaned up and presentable, while we ignore the rest. 

We need to tend to our hearts daily, just like a farmer does to his field.  We need to do some weeding.  Uproot and pull out anything in our lives in a sense that could be hindering us from moving forward. These things can prevent us from living a fruit-filled life.

Farmers and gardeners work hard to get the ground ready for planting.  They turn up the ground, pull weeds, water, fertilize, and prepare the soil expectant of a good harvest.  Our hearts and lives can be the same way.  What we sow into our lives, we will reap.  If we plant good things, good will things will come.  If we sow into our lives, bad choices, reckless behavior, sour mouths, and questionable morals… we are going to reap that back.  It may not be now, the consequences of that kind of lifestyle will come back to bite us.  A scripture in the Bible comes to mind about this…

“Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”    
Galatians 6:7 (MSG)

I am not saying that our hearts need to be perfect looking, but we need to tend our hearts daily.  We need to plow up the hardened areas of our hearts (those areas we have ignored or have grown calluses), we need to pull weeds (getting rid of things that shouldn’t be there), we need to water and fill up our lives with good things, and we need to grow positive, healthy fruit.  The Bible talks about a type of fruit we can grow in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 says…
“But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (NCV)

I want my life to have fruit-filling.  I want others to see God in me shining through.  His fruit oozing out of my life reflects Him, not me.  Producing this kind of fruit takes hard work.  I have to fight to keep my heart clean.  I have to guard my heart from weeds and trash that likes to accumulate there.  Sometimes that means I need to bite my tongue and not say it or repeat it.  It may require removing toxic people or things from my life.  I may need to change where I go or what I do, but it’s all for good.  I may not be able to grow live plants of any kind, but I can grow godly fruit in my heart with God’s help.
This whole semester of taking American Literature I have read what seems like story after story that displays various conditions of man’s heart.  The bitter heart was displayed in the “Red Badge of Courage.” The corrupted heart came through for me in “The Great Gatsby.”   “The Barn Burning” showed me the results of a heart filled with un-forgiveness or resentment toward others.  In reading “Good Country People,” I discovered the deceived heart with Hulga and the deceptive heart with Manley.  Last, in the story of “Everyday Use,” the idea of the selfish and humble hearts with the sisters came through.
I am catching a theme here.  Our hearts are very important and what we allow inside of them can shape our character and determine the course of our future.  I hope the picture above will make a permanent imprint in your mind to remind you of the importance of gardening your heart.  YOU are worth it, my friend!
Living to leave a legacy,


  1. Julie,
    Gardening is a trial and error process. You have the right idea. In the beginning things will fail but lessons will be learned. Join your son! Playing in the dirt is some of the best therapy in the world!

  2. Thanks Olivia! I may try again... I just don't want to mess up his flow. We'll see. Thanks for reading and commenting. I have enjoyed reading several of your posts, but for some reason wasn't able to post any comments on your blog. Not sure why. Anyways... nice posts. I especially liked the Anne of Green Gables one. She is my favorite! Some day I would LOVE to see Prince Edward Island.

  3. As I read this post, I was thinking of so many different ways to respond. Gardening - my husband has one, just one, raised bed for his tomatoes and some green beans. Last year it wasn't too successful, but I attribute the failure to his preoccupation with taking care of me after total knee replacement surgery. Another gardening connection - my flower beds. Perennials, Annuals, hostas, love them all. Next week I hope to be planting (along with my 3 year old helper).

    Then there were the references to Galatians and the Fruit of the Spirit. Last summer I read a book titled "A Woman's Walk with God: Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit" by Elizabeth George. My sister was reading it, recommended it as we were dealing with some issues with our 86 year old mother who had fallen and broken her hip and was being very stubborn about her future plans (she won---actually we gave up). In September my sister gave me a DVD set of sermons given by one of the pastors at the near Cleveland church where she works. Those sermons keep me company on the drive back and forth to Logansport each day. Lastly our minister just finished his sermon series on the same topic and scriptures.

    Is there a message that I need to hear? I am getting the hint! I also appreciate your remarks about examining one's heart. How true is that! The last two weeks have been extremely difficult, moreso than usual at the end of the semester, and I have had to remind myself frequently not to harden my heart.

    Lots of food for thought and words of wisdom in your post. You write well. I encourage you to continue writing in your blog.