One of my favorite pastimes is gardening- both indoor and outdoor. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I enjoy having live plants around me, especially foliage. Plants have been around me my whole life, but it became personal about 5 or 6 years ago. My son and I were living in our first apartment, and I had gotten fed up of our not having our own house. There were so many things I wanted to do like paint the rooms different colors; decorate with all kinds of large paintings and wall sconces; have more space and privacy; have a sun room with lots of green, leafy air purifiers; have a screened-in porch where I could get fresh air while I sew, yet keep the bugs at bay. Our plans for what we would call home were a long delightful list, but unfortunately, we were still renting. We were upstairs and only had two windows that let a smidgen of sunlight in. Thankfully, these two windows were about 5 or 6 feet wide. One was in my bedroom. One was in my son’s bedroom. Determined to fight through dissatisfying apartment life (no washer or dryer connections, etcetera) while longing for something more, I spent 3-4 hours in my bed with my cell phone one Saturday Googling about plants that would survive low light and thrive in the average temperature of my dwelling. You know, make the best of things. So after my research, notes and planning, I felt empowered to start my first indoor garden. (I started my first outdoor garden when I was age 8, and it was butterfly central!) I went to the local hardware store and the more main stream home improvement store to see if there were any low light plants that would work for my home environment. Not to throw myself under the bus, but I kinda went krazy and ended up with 21 different plant containers of various kinds and plant types. Such fun! My son would make fun of me because I used to take my babies for a “walk” and have them outside to get some sun. During that time and for the next year, I studied and learned about lighting, fertilization and drainage and root ventilation.
Dear reader, as you know, this blog site is branded Looking for God #HEISEVERYWHERE, so allow me to share with you how I found God…in the garden. There was a shift in the spiritual atmosphere and all ties keeping me in the city I’d called home for the past 7 years were severed. I mean SEVERED! School, church, home and work. God was moving me for something GREATER, but that is a story for another blog post. *Wink*
Sadly, after I transitioned to a new city to temporarily live with a relative to get back on my feet, the environment was not fitting for my babies and they pretty much all died. *big sniff* I confess that the plants may have become my idols. I also confess that they were a poor excuse for a void-filler and could never take God’s place. The truth is I was battling depression at the time and in my mind, I needed something to do, something pretty and cheerful to keep me going, something low maintenance to take care of that didn’t stress me- plants were it. It worked but only for a little while. It was like…after one plant was settled in a container and looked pretty, I’d get bored and need another plant. That’s how I ended up with 21 potted plants and no more window sill space.
The move was necessary, but I did not expect what happened to my plants to happen. It was January 2015, frost was on the ground and the relative and I had much disagreement about space and I gave up and just put some of my stuff out, including my plants, and said forget it. Every…single…plant…died. I cried and cried and shut down, withdrew and became nonchalant. I didn’t argue about anything and didn’t disagree much. Everything was, “Okay,” “It doesn’t matter,” “If you want to.” I was not myself. For the months that followed, I would not go near a plant for sell. Every garden department of any super center or home improvement store was avoided like the plague, and if I saw a plant or came too close to one, my eyes would tear up. I was broken. My son tried to minister to me. He fed me all of the scripture and lessons I taught him. Poor thing. It must have been hard for him when the teaching tables were turned. I knew he was right, but I’d hit rock bottom. No car, no home of our own, no job and now no plants.
Five months later, I’d gotten back on my feet but no live plants were in our new apartment. I had put so much into my garden before and never wanted to be hurt like that again. This went on for some time. My son would try to encourage me to get back into gardening. From a place of pain I would respond that I couldn’t right now or that I wasn’t ready. Once God made me realize my sin, confess it, repent of it and had cleansed me from that unhealthy attachment to the plant idols, I was grateful. Never again would I repeat those poor choices.
With that new perspective, I handled my new plants differently. They weren’t my babies anymore. They didn’t have names. I no longer took the time to wipe each and every leaf on the plant with a damp microfiber cloth to make sure they looked their best. My goodness! Thank God that’s over, right?
In the last 4 years, I’ve taken pothos plants to new heights, literally! You should see my living room walls! Unfortunately, the outdoor plants that were in small containers were stolen. Ugh…thieves… The plants needed to be in the ground. I figured that if any thief wanted them bad enough and took the time to dig them up, then they can have them! We were in another apartment complex, yes, but God gave me favor with the apartment manager! With my newly granted written permission to start an in-ground garden below my window, I went to work last year in a tornado of graph paper, mechanical pencils, tape measures, straight rulers, calculators, color pencils, etcetera. So many trips were made to my favorite home improvement store that the workers would check in and ask me how my project was going. This garden would be the first in-ground garden I’d done in 22 years. This garden would deter plant thieves. This garden would prepare me for when God blessed me with home-owner status. This garden was special. Why? Because this garden was dedicated to God. Yes. What used to be my addiction had turned into my ministry! I went to God and asked Him to use my gardening skills to beautify the community and to minister. I asked Him to bless and anoint this garden so that anyone who laid eyes on it would be ministered to in whatever way they needed to be ministered to. Who knows how God works?! Maybe some wayward youth would lay eyes on it and be reminded of how his now-deceased grandmother used to garden and used to give him the Word of God and encourage him to always follow the right path. Then he would change. Maybe a struggling single mom would come home at the end of a long day, see it and be reminded of the beauty of God and how He still cares. Maybe a widower would see the blooms and think of his beloved wife, smile and think to himself that she would have loved these, and the fond memory would warm him and give him peace. Who can put limits on what God can do?! There are no limits for God. #HEISEVERYWHERE
God saw me in the state of my depression, saw my faulty attempt to fill the voids, allowed me to be broken so that HE could mend be back better than I was, and then HE blessed me so that I could bless others. …And HE did it all right there…in the garden.