God in the Garden

 

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A few weeks ago, I began a writing course with Flourish Writers, called “The Power of Story.” Part of the exercises of looking for God in our own stories has been to write our Personal Timeline, marking both the negative and positive experiences. As my friend, Anna Smit, and I have been sharing our exercises together, she pointed out something so beautiful that she saw in her Timeline. At every place she had noted a negative experience she realized that the Lord had sent a special friend into her life at the very same time. As she looked up the meaning of that friend’s name, there seemed to be an almost spiritual covering from God provided in the gift of that friend.

 

I wondered if I would see something similar as I pondered the meaning of the name of one of my earliest friends. Penny was my next door neighbor, and our houses in 60’s suburbia were separated by only a 10 foot wide side yard. Both of our Moms had planted flowers along the edges, and Penny and I spent many hours playing with our dolls in that garden bower.

 

As Penny and I entered school together, I began to notice a difference between myself and most other girls. I wanted to be playing outside, in the fresh air, in the woods and the flowers.  In my mind, the best kind of playing was to set up my dolls among the blooms, or to follow my brother and his friends into their wood forts.  Somehow I had already latched onto those thoughts that I wasn’t quite enough for the “fancy” girls.  But what was God gifting me at that very time?  A friend who sang my own language:

 

Penny

Meaning

Greek Meaning:

The name Penny is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Penny is: Flower. Also a : Bobbin.

American Meaning:

The name Penny is an American baby name. In American the meaning of the name Penny is: Flower. Also a : Bobbin.

(Meaning referenced from “SheKnows.com”)

 

God must have a special love for flowers and gardens. Scattered throughout the Scriptures are so many references to trees and plants that I could not begin to name them all here.

 

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:8-9 NIV

 

Life began in a garden, when Eden blossomed in pure delight.

Did the flowers weep when Adam laid down his rights to their care?

 

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. John 18:1 NIV

 

In Gethsemane Jesus offered His deepest surrender on our behalf to the Father.

Was the ancient olive grove nourished by His sweat drops of blood?

 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”  Revelation 22:1-2 NIV 

 

The living water will flow past the leaves of the tree, healing the nations when earth is restored.

Can my heart hear the groaning even now, as creation senses the time nearing?

 

While my own abilities as a gardener have changed, my love for God’s gifts of flowers and nature have not. I know that it wasn’t my sufficiency and strength that caused all of my gardens to flourish over the years. No, it was HIS own gift within me, flowing through my heart’s desire to touch the heart of God. He is, after all, our Master Gardener.

 

When I thought I didn’t fit in, when I felt that my gifts were not wanted by those around me, Jesus had already planned a garden for me to dwell in. When I thought I needed to just try harder, Jesus planted me in the place of His own choosing, with a portion of HIS own beauty to manifest. In these days of slow and pain, there is still a garden of beauty to be enjoyed with Him here, a new way to manifest His beauty.

 

This week we had to call a landscaper to come in to do a spring yard cleaning. As I looked out the window, I was surprised to see my landscaper’s wife down on her hands and knees lovingly cleaning areas that I had not asked them to clean. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I saw someone caring for the plants in the same way I would have done had I been able.  It is that posture of loving service that touches the heart of our Lord.

 

It is the posture of the true gardener, reflecting the beauty of our Master Gardener, as He sent His own son to kneel and serve our hearts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You planted us in the garden of Your own making, when first You brought forth life. Thank You that You have not abandoned the garden of delight, and You have not abandoned the garden of our heart. You brought the choicest harvest, Your only Son, to lay down His life for ours in that sweetest of Gardens. And thank You that You are preparing that final Heavenly Garden for us, to taste fully of all of Your delights. Will You help us to lay down our own will here too? We want to receive the blossoming life that You have planted within us. We want to allow those seeds of life to spring up from the deep buried soil of our hearts. Come be our dear Master Gardener today.

In the Name of Jesus we pray,

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Oh, but what about that other meaning of Penny’s name–a bobbin?  There was another hidden part of my heart that found expression many years later.  I loved to sew. . . . but that’s a story for another day. . .

 

Have you asked God to show you where He was planting gifts along your own Personal Timeline?  You might be surprised to find what is hidden, when you look back. Please leave me a comment below, because I would love to hear your stories!

 

I would also encourage you to visit the beautiful website of my friend, Melissa McLaughlin , who shared a beautiful post:  “The Sacrificial Lamb, Why Did Jesus have to Die?” To read her Lenten post that inspired my words today, click here.

 

I am linking with:

#Tellhisstory

#Teaandword

 

31 thoughts on “God in the Garden

  1. Love this! I have been considering joining this group over a large one I’m currently a member of. Something tells me I could scale down on size of community and expense, especially since my goal is to write memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I think you would love the Flourish Writers’ group. Their focus is on memoir, and so therefore they spend a lot of time in the beginning of the course just getting to the root of a Biblical and Prayer focus for your story and for your soul. I have been so refreshed by it. I will pray that the Lord leads you in His direction!

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    1. I’m so glad that the Lord brought you a sweet and new perspective today on His garden in our lives! I love it when He opens up a new perspective before me. He is so limitless, isn’t He? Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, had recently heard about writing down your timeline. I started working on that but hadn’t really finished. I’ll have to get busy with that sometime and see what pops up in my story

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a great exercise Mandy. I’m not finished yet either, but have been amazed already at how God has shown me His beauty and help along the way. So thankful we can pray for each other on this journey, Dear Sister!

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  3. Bettie, Frankly speaking whenever I’m into my blog I used to search your writings, to see whether any new post is there or not and after I saw it, I felt so happy- Just like now 🙂
    Thank you for sharing a new post with me today..
    Jesus loves you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Dear Athira, I am so thankful we can share our writing and our stories with each other! What a gift from God, to be blessed by a dear sister on the other side of the world! Thank you for sharing the love of Jesus with me!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lynn,
      I love how you expressed that, “God threads our tapestry so perfectly.” Sometimes in the midst of the trials I forget that when it feels like everything is unraveling! Oh, but He has never stopped working. He truly is with us along each step of the way. Thank you for your sweet encouragement. Blessings and love to you!

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    1. Oh that is so beautiful, that you have baby cardinals hatching in your rosebushes. Isn’t HIs creation such a beautiful picture of His care for us? And I love it that you were writing as a child, something that God planted deeply within you! Love & Blessings to you!

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  4. How interesting! I can see now I need to do a timeline and research all my friends names.

    I think your story of your garden and your friend Penny is just the sweetest. How like God to work that out for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it really is such a gift that He gave, with a friend that showed His love for me. Even though I have lost touch with her, I pray that God is working in her life today too. I pray that you are able to look back at your timeline and find God’s blessings there for you also!

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  5. Oh Bettie, this piece is like a beautiful springtime garden blossoming with colors from childhood to the present! How lovely, how lovely your words! Truly the most pain-filled places in our paths typically cause us to pause. I wonder if those are the times the Lord is digging up the earth to plant new seeds that cannot be planted when we rush along in ease. I have always loved God’s creation deeply. The skies, clouds, moon and stars, the trees and flowers, the rushing rivers and crashing oceans, the creatures great and small and the wonder of each human life, fashioned after His own image. I love your idea of thinking through my life and looking for friendship seeds that He has planted at just the right time. May He til the soil, pull the weeds, plant the seeds and send the rains of His Spirit and the warmth of His Son, that we may reach father toward His light with our small strength.
    Thank you for the kind mention of my blog and post. That was so thoughtful of you. I am truly honored, dear sister! Blessings and love to you always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Melissa, yes, He truly does bring us so much beauty and amazement through His creation! I love it that you are moved and touched by being out in His nature. What precious comments that you have offered here: “Truly the most pain-filled places in our paths typically cause us to pause. I wonder if those are the times the Lord is digging up the earth to plant new seeds that cannot be planted when we rush along in ease.” I too wonder that, because I surely feel that the earth of my soul is being dug and tilled during those times of trial. May I also let Him be that Master Gardener, giving Him more access to do the tilling and weeding that He knows is necessary! Thank you for your kind encouragement that prodded me to pause with those thoughts about gardening, and allow Him to speak more words into my heart. You are a blessing! May you be blessed this week! Love and hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Bettie, What a blessing to read your words. Writing down a timeline of my life sounds like a really good exercise. I’m sure it would help to bring back memories both good and bad and also show me that God was there through every one. I can identify so much with you. As a child I loved to be outside and would spend much of the day outdoors. And now I still enjoy it so much. Just to be out in creation reminds me of how big God is yet He still loves and cares for me. And I just get so relaxed when I’m able to spend time outdoors letting the stress fall away.

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart and for the beautiful prayer. May He helps us to trust Him more and be fully surrendered to our loving Lord. Blessings, love and hugs to you my dear sister! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gayl, Yes, I think you would be so blessed to write down a personal timeline too. It’s amazing how God brings things into the light that were so unclear before. He is so faithful to show us His presence through every moment. And I love it that He created you to be touched by nature also. You are so right, there is such a relaxing effect to be outdoors and to pause with the Lord. I am always so blessed when you share moments from your porch looking out on the mountains close to you. May we allow Him to show us more about His greatness through these days. Blessings, love and hugs to you dear gardener/poet/friend! xoxo

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  7. “I planted, Apollos watered,but God gave the growth”(increase)
    1 Corinthians 3:6
    Hey Aunt Bettie saw this in a book I picked up this morning while I was shut in because of rain was able to go out intermittently to work in the Garden. Enjoyed your words once again. Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eric for sharing that beautiful verse with me. It was just the encouragement I needed tonight! Can’t wait to see photos of your gardens again this year. Blessings to you and your family too!

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  8. A beautiful exploration of His garden in our lives, Bettie. Your writing exercise revealed much wisdom and fruit to share with us. I thank you for that prayer as my hearts desire is to walk in His wilm for my life. Have a beauty-full day dear sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Julie,
      I am so blessed as I see Him guiding you through His will and journey for your life! Your sharing with all of us brings His grace into our days also. Isn’t He so good to grow His own fruit within us? What a miracle. Thank you for all of your prayers and love dear sister. Hugs and love to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Bettie, you enthral with your personal stories, woven with God’s love and grace. I love to read them! I used to have a friend called Penny, and she was like a perfumed flower to my soul. We connected in weakness on and off for many years, until the Lord decided He wanted her to blossom in His heavenly garden instead. Her heart was compassionate and grace filled, very much like your own. And these words are so apt for how God is shining His spring-like light and glory through you: “In these days of slow and pain, there is still a garden of beauty to be enjoyed with Him here, a new way to manifest His beauty.” Amen, there is! It’s so clearly seen through your posts.

    I’m glad you and Anna are gaining a lot from your writing course. It sounds inspirational and useful. I was tempted to join the Flourish Writers group too but the timing wasn’t right for me when the offer came round. Part of me was also hesitant about delving into my murky and painful past once more, even though I have a burning desire to write a memoir that would extend beyond the poetically veiled one I’ve already shared. Maybe my chance will come when a fresh opportunity happily coincides with an ability to participate! May God liberally water and nurture your soul like the precious flower it is, and help you continue to provide the same soul refreshment through your life and words. Blessings, hugs and love. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joy,
      I am so thankful that you are back home again after your family gathering and blog break. Your words have been missed, both here and at your own blog! What a precious friend you had, your own Penny, and “perfumed flower to your soul.” I am sorry for your loss–Heaven holds the hearts of so many of our loved ones! The garden there just gets sweeter and fuller, doesn’t it?

      And I will pray for the right timing for you to join in with the Flourish Writers’ Course. God has surely placed each of us in just the right places, where He can open our hearts to see His working. I know that your poetic writing has helped to lift the veil away from my own eyes and to peer inside where He wants to work in my heart. May you find that when the time is right, you will be surprised at how God has already healed so much of the murky and painful past that you have walked through. You are a blessing and such a beautiful encouragement to me! Love and hugs dear friend! xoxo

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