Tend Your Garden

Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Psalm 85:12

As I drove south of our neighborhood, I passed Mary’s Greenhouse for the umpteenth time. I smile every time I that building-ful of flowers and other greenery. You see, for years, I’ve told my husband that he should have been a florist or tended a greenhouse because he has an amazing way with vegetation of every sort. Though I am a worthy assistant when it comes to digging up flowerbeds, trimming roses and weeding here and there, I have minimal knowledge of annuals, perennials and the many other aspects of gardening. The good news is that my husband loves these things. As a result, the land which flanks our home is beautifully picturesque. I appreciate his efforts more than words can express because a world of loveliness and inspiration lies just beyond our windows and doors.

As I write, it occurs to me that Mary’s Greenhouse provides the perfect reminder of how generously God has blessed me. God has given me both my own gardener-in-residence and the sense to recognize the wonder present in his handiwork. In those flowers and plants, I see not only the fruits of my husband’s talent, but also the fruits of God’s love for us. How God must care to have created a world for us which is capable of producing such beauty! How God must care to have given us the capacity to make the most of Mother Earth’s gifts!

Generous God, though we are not all blessed with green thumbs, we are each blessed with unique talents. Help us to use them as aptly as my dear husband does. Help us to make our little patches of this earth inspiring and beautiful as well.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Our Loving Caretaker

Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.

Psalm 65:11

The other morning, I looked at our calendar to find that neither my husband nor I had anything scheduled that day. Shocked, I quickly called to him and asked, “Do you have anything going today?” He replied, “Miraculously, not a thing!” Having said that, he appeared in his most threadbare shorts and t-shirt. Before I could ask what he was up to, he recited a laundry list of outdoor chores which he planned to accomplish by noon. I laughed as he headed out the back door to the yard.

After taking care of a thing or two myself, I checked on my husband. He had weeded around all of our perennials and checked all of the planters and pots. He had also fertilized every flower he’d planted around the yard. When I found him, he was assessing his old bird house and trying to decide where to put its replacement. When I asked why he was devoting this uncommon free-day to so much manual labor, he replied, “Are you kidding? I love doing this stuff!”

As I headed back to my own chores, I looked upward and smiled. “You love doing this stuff, too. Taking care of us and watching us flourish makes your day. Nice!”

Loving God, you never take a free day from caring for us. Whether our troubles are great or small, you tend to them and to us with great love. Thank you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Patient and Nurturing Love

While baby-sitting for our little grandson, Grandpa and I noticed the lovely flower resting on a table in the living room. After putting Danny to bed for a nap and bidding Grandpa farewell as he headed out to run errands, I decided to enjoy a bit of respite. Though I normally retreat to the family room with a book in hand, I felt the need to spend time in the presence of that beautiful plant. Some years ago, it was an equally compelling blossom which taught me an unforgettable lesson about God’s persistent care and God’s faith in our potential to accomplish the spectacular…

It was a few weeks before Christmas when I made my annual purchase of a Christmas Amaryllis potting kit. Each year, after my husband planted and watered the bulb, I kept watch until the bulb produced an amazing blossom. These blooms always appeared just in time to add a flourish to our Yuletide decor. One year, after I made this purchase, I left the boxed bulb and pot in the garage because we were in the midst of decorating for Christmas. I planned to retrieve the kit when we were ready to plant. Unfortunately, in our decorating frenzy, several items in the garage were rearranged and the kit was inadvertently buried. I rediscovered it two months later while looking for something else. Because Mike knows far more about plants and their care than I do, I brought the kit into the house and asked if we should bother planting it. Mike reminded me of the year we were given an Easter Amaryllis and went on to say, “Maybe it was just a Christmas Amaryllis that someone re-gifted. Let’s see what happens.”

Because Mike was too busy to deal with the plant for a few days, I decided to help in this effort. I remember convincing myself that I could take on this minimal gardening task as I opened the box. When I found the pot, a very large bulb and a little mud-like disk about the size of a hockey puck, I was disappointed. Whoever had put this kit together had forgotten the potting soil. The list of enclosed items included potting medium and I had none. Determined, I headed to the garage to look for potting soil. After a fruitless search, I was tempted to abandon this project. However, I was on a mission. I looked at the box to see if the type of soil was noted so I could purchase it. As I reread, I discovered that the disk I mistakenly called fertilizer was actually freeze-dried soil which would expand to fill the pot. I hit my forehead and murmured “Duh!” as I returned to planting. I placed the “soil” in the pot and added water. I set the bulb in the expanding soil and held it in place as I added more water. The soil covered it by half as it made its way to the rim. I placed the pot by the kitchen window and cleaned up my mess. That night, after I checked the bulb to be certain it hadn’t fallen over, I went to bed with a contented smile.

Though Mike is the resident gardener, I dutifully checked that Amaryllis bulb every morning and after work each day. I also informed him that I would keep the soil moist to the touch. Within a few days, a bit of green stem rewarded my effort. Every day afterward, I encouraged that stem to grow upright. One day, I noticed the bud at the top of the stem. I’ll never forget catching my first glimpse of the red and white blossom which give this particular Amaryllis its name. While sitting with that inspiring flower in my grandson’s living room, it occurred to me that my planting adventure had actually brought one of Jesus’ most beloved parables to life.

My persistent care of that once-troublesome bulb mirrors God’s care for us in spite of the troubles we cause one another and ourselves. When God asks us to acknowledge our missteps and our sins, God also promises to nurture us through our attempts to set things right again and to grow from our mistakes. In today’s gospel (Luke 13:1-9), Jesus illustrates God’s persistent care for and faith in us with the parable of the unproductive fig tree. After chastising the people for once again missing the point of his words, Jesus offered his story. He told the crowd that an orchard owner grew impatient with a fig tree which had not yielded fruit for three years. The man ordered his gardener to cut down the tree so it wouldn’t drain the soil of nutrients. The gardener pleaded with his employer to allow him just one more year to cultivate the tree. If after a year of careful attention the tree failed to bear fruit, the gardener promised to cut it down. The orchard owner placed his faith in that gardener and spared the tree.

Just the same, God leaves us in Jesus’ hands to be pruned and nourished. Much to our good fortune, Jesus spent what remained of his life among us transforming us through his love and his example. With complete faith in our ability to respond, God patiently waits for the spectacular blossoms which will come to life in you and in me.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Gardener

Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Psalm 85:12

When I drive south of my neighborhood, I pass a greenhouse, Mary’s Greenhouse to be precise. I chuckle when I read the sign on that building full of flowers and other greenery. For years, I’ve told my husband that he should have been a florist or tended a greenhouse because he has an amazing way with flowers and other plants. Though I am a worthy assistant when it comes to digging up flowerbeds, trimming roses and weeding here and there, I have minimal knowledge of annuals, perennials and many other aspects of gardening. The good news is that my husband loves these things. As a result, the land which flanks our home is beautifully picturesque. I appreciate his efforts more than words can express. I find a world of inspiration in the loveliness of his handiwork.

As I write, it occurs to me that “Mary’s Greenhouse” provides the perfect reminder of how generously God has blessed me. God has given me both my own gardener-in-residence and the sense to recognize the wonder present in his flowerbeds. In each one, I enjoy both the fruits of my husband’s talent and the fruits of God’s love for us. How much God must care to have created a world which is capable of producing such beauty! How much God must care to have given us those who make the most of Creation!

Generous God, though we are not all blessed with green thumbs, we can all find joy in the beauty which springs from this earth. Make us good custodians of this place until we make our way home to you.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

More About Time

A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant.

Ecclesiastes 3:2

A time to be born… I enjoy walking outdoors because of Nature’s ongoing evolution. The entire world seems to engage in rebirth during springtime. This growth continues through summer when flowerbeds and gardens flourish. Leafy trees respond to September’s mix early on with subtle changes in color. October brings those changes to fruition only to give way to November winds. Leaves crunching beneath my feet remind me that winter is near. Even then, barren trees hold the promise of new life. Yes, it seems to me that there is always time to be born.

A time to die… Just as Nature engages in rebirth around me, it also engages in dying all the while. Something old continually gives way to something new. Seeds fall from trees and dance in the wind until they find rest on the ground below. Though no longer part of a living tree, they hold all of the potential they need for life anew. These seeds nestle into the ground with great hope in the things to come.

A time to plant and a time to uproot the plant… If those seeds are lucky, a watchful gardener will see that they are covered with enough soil to survive. If they sprout too closely to one another, that gardener will gently relocate them so each will have room to take root and to receive its share of sunlight and water.

Compassionate God, you are the watchful gardener who places each of us precisely where we are meant to be. Help me to embrace my place with the certainly of those seeds who entrust their futures to your loving hands.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

My Gardener

Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Psalm 85:12

Whenever I drive south of my neighborhood, I pass a greenhouse -Mary’s Greenhouse, to be precise. I chuckle when I see the sign on that building which is full of flowers and other greenery. You see, for years, I’ve told my husband that he should have been a florist or tended a greenhouse because he has an amazing way with flowers and other plants. Though I am a worthy assistant when it comes to digging up flowerbeds, trimming roses and weeding here and there, I have minimal knowledge of annuals, perennials and many other aspects of gardening. The good news in all of this is that my husband loves these things. As a result, the land which flanks our home is beautifully picturesque. I appreciate his efforts more than words can express. I find a world of inspiration in the loveliness which lies just beyond our windows and doors.

As I write, it occurs to me that “Mary’s Greenhouse” provides the perfect reminder of how generously God has blessed me. God has given me both my own gardener-in-residence and the sense to recognize the wonder present in his handiwork. In those flowers and plants, I see not only the fruits of my husband’s talent, but also the fruits of God’s love for us. How God must care to have created a world for us which is capable of producing such beauty! How God must care to have given us those who make the most of Mother Earth’s gifts!

Generous God, though we are not all blessed with green thumbs, we can find joy in the beauty which springs from this earth. Give us the wisdom to be good custodians of this place until we make our way home to you.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved