Under the surface

blogIMG_3477I’m no stranger to dirt.

I’ve played in it. Sat in it. Walked in it barefoot. Worn it. And breathed it in.

See, I grew up in the country so I know a thing or two about dirt. As a child, I played in it. A lot. I liked digging in it, squirting it with water to make mud, and flinging it around. I might have even wallowed in it from time to time.

My neighborhood pals and I sprawled in the dirt regularly making roadways using play trucks, cars, and diggers and played mud pie restaurant. I loved dragging my bare feet in the soft, worn to fine dust that rested beneath my tree hung swing. After a day delving in soil,  my mother made me plunge into the old porcelain tub and I watched the bath water turn brown from a day long wardrobe of dirt and leave a ring around the tub.

I’ve perched on more metal and wooden bleachers than I can remember and breathed in dust kicked up by a bunch of boys playing baseball on a dirt field. And I’ve even unwillingly inhaled the Oklahoma dirt that swirls through the air in a dust storm.

As a child and adult, I’ve dug deep into soil countless times to plant flowers and vegetables in gardens. I’ve plucked, yanked, and dug long-rooted weeds out of the dirt. I’ve clawed the dirt. Troweled the dirt. Spaded the dirt. Shoveled the dirt.

Yes, I know dirt.

So why is it that on a blue sky-filled day, warmed by the sun’s kisses, I scream like a banshee while gardening in the dirt? Last week blessings in the form of summer-like days prompted some work outdoors here at the nest. While Papa power-washed the grit and grime of winter off the siding of our house, I shined up a few dirty windows. After accomplishing those tasks, Papa set out to tame the unruly bank of wild weeds with the whirly, whiny whacker and I settled down for a nice afternoon of weeding the flower beds and around the shrubbery. Lots of spring rain produced weeds in those areas in abundance.

So I donned my new gardening gloves, grabbed my knee kneeler pad, my gardening tools, and a bucket to fling uprooted weeds into and plunked myself down. Dig. Dig. Pull. Throw. I worked into a steady routine. Dig. Dig. Pull. Throw.

Those weeds had met their nemesis and her name was Mama. And then it happened Dig. Dig. Jump and screech. My spade had uncovered a fishing worm. A fishing worm. You ask why does a country raised girl scream over unearthing an earthworm? I don’t know.

Because like I said, I know dirt. I know what’s in the dirt. And I’ve encountered earthworms there as long as I can remember.

As always when I’m gardening, all kinds of creepy crawlies in all shapes and sizes come into my view. Some of them are kind of cute like the rolly pollies and some of them are truly creepy like the spiders. But those earthworms – benign to me and beneficial to the soil – those crawly, segmented creatures freak me out when they suddenly appear.

I’m not certain if it’s just the surprise of an emerging worm snaking its way around in the clump of dirt in my hand or just the creature itself, but I always shriek and throw him down immediately. Then I shiver a little, push him aside with my spade, and move on my merry way because once I’m over the shock, I’m okay with seeing that little critter.

But I wonder what causes me to emit that eeewww feeling over the poor lowly earthworm? I think I can trace it back to childhood. My best friend lived next door and she had a younger sister who, shall we say, was a tad ornery? Younger gal tended to stir up trouble and cause issues when we played together. Like the one time when she drew an imaginary line in the grass with her Keds shod foot and declared that if I stepped one inch over that line I would be on her parents’ property and she would call the state police to come get me for trespassing. Yeah, and she was about six years old at the time. So, you get my drift.

This meddlesome little girl (who, by the way, turned into a nice enough adult) was also a bit fearless. And I think she enjoyed any way she could devise to torture her sister and me.  I distinctly remember her sidling up beside us all nice and sweet-like and then…surprise! She would fling earthworms or parts of them at our faces! Of course, the shock of it all would cause us to shriek at the top of our lungs and run like crazy away from her.

So this flinch and yelp reaction I have to suddenly appearing fishing worms must be a throwback to those childhood days. Whatever the reason, while digging and plucking weeds under our peonies in preparation to put down new mulch, I shuddered and squawked when a worm appeared in my hand.

And that set me to thinking as sometimes ordinary everyday occurrences often do in my empty nest world. We never know what’s just under the surface, do we? We plod along in life, thinking we’re plucking out all of the bad stuff. You know, the obvious things we attempt to rid ourselves of like gossip, dishonesty, selfishness, bitterness…the list goes on. We pluck those nasty weeds right out of our garden of life and say good riddance to them. Of course, they often grow back, but we just yank them out again and hope this time, this time we really uprooted them.

But often, that ugly weed – you can call it sin because it surely is – remains just under the surface. It works its way around deep down in our hearts when we’re not even aware of it. Just like an earthworm, it weaves its way in and out of the soil underneath, out of view, forgotten until suddenly…surprise!

It’s brought to light, emerging from its depths, like that earthworm in my spade full of dirt. And we’re shocked by its appearance because we just didn’t realize it was under the surface the entire time. We may throw it down and try to run away from it. But it just works its way back down into the dirt unless we get serious about sifting through our own dirt.

I can survive a little scare when an earthworm shows up in my garden and even in my hand. But I don’t want to find ugliness weaving its way around the beautiful things in my garden of life. That’s why I call upon the Master Gardener and His Word to help me sift through my dirt.

Because believe me, I’m no stranger to dirt.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” ~ Colossians 2:6-7

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Focus on the furrows

blogSpring 2009 037It’s just a rectangular brown patch plunked down in the middle of a green expanse but amazing things happen there every summer.

I’m writing about my husband’s garden in our back yard.  I view it from the window over my kitchen sink, from our breakfast nook windows and when I’m enjoying the sunshine on our deck.

In late autumn and throughout the winter season, the garden plot reminds me of an open wound – like when the skin on your knee has been painfully scraped off by a fall.  It’s bare and raw-looking and not pleasant to look at.  Even in early spring, that patch of ground looks forlorn and forgotten while the rest of the lawn bursts forth in brilliantly lush green color.  For several months, the garden is just a plot of barren dirt.

But then something miraculous happens.  Hubby’s friend brings his tractor to our country home and tills up the soil in that woe begotten area of the yard.   And suddenly, the garden awakens from its slumber.  Freshly tilled and turned over fertile ground beckons to hubby,   “Come!  It’s time! Let’s get started!”

This spring the rain has lasted and lasted.  Our garden patiently waits for the gardener, but there haven’t been enough sunshiny dry days yet for sowing seeds and planting young seedlings which will eventually yield delightful crops of vegetables.   In between bouts of rainstorms, hubby did manage to plant a few rows of leaf lettuce, spinach and peas but the largest part of the garden remains unsown.

I enjoy watching my husband (that city boy turned country gardener/landscaper) prepare his garden.  He wields his hoe to remove any weeds,  marks rows with string, digs straight furrows into the dirt, and then carefully places tiny seeds and plants into the ground.

This year he plans the usual:  cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrots, radishes, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, banana peppers and cucumbers.  Every year, he introduces something new – last year it was sweet potatoes, this year watermelon.

Creating a vegetable masterpiece with his own hands bestows a great sense of accomplishment upon my husband.  He loves to get his hands dirty and see the results of his work – and of course – eat the delicious rewards!  If a particular type of plant fails to flourish, hubby doesn’t get discouraged; he just moves on and tries something different.

So his garden is a work in progress.  Watching him as he creates straight furrows in our garden plot reminds me of scripture.  “…No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” ~ Luke 9:62

There’s a good lesson for life.  Do we plow straight furrows as we forge ahead in life?  Or do we allow obstacles or distractions to lead us astray and make our paths crooked?  Do we look forward or continually glance back over our shoulders at our past mistakes and dwell on them so we can’t make our way straight?

As the farmer plows his fields, he keeps his eyes focused ahead of him not behind.  And that’s also how my husband plants his garden in straight rows looking forward at what’s to come instead of what’s been before.

I think that’s what I need to do today in Chapter 5, Page 21, in my book of Opportunity.  I need to fix my eyes forward and keep them centered on my Savior, forgetting the past, leaving issues behind.

The Master Gardener provides His garden of grace for me and He asks me to keep my eyes on Him, concentrate on what He calls me to do to further His kingdom, and ignore distractions that may cause me to stray.

How about you?  Are you plowing straight furrows or are you zigzagging along without purpose?  Focus on Him and He will make your paths straight.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Garden Gone Wild!

blogDSCN6791The girls are busting out of their green tops.  Red polka dots are strewn all over the ground.  It’s literally a jungle out there.  Of course, I’m describing hubby’s garden, which really has gone wild!

Hubby’s been working a lot of hours lately, so his garden is starting to look neglected.  His garden plot is not large, but the weeds infiltrate it and threaten to overtake it.

This morning, I glanced out the kitchen window while I filled the tea kettle for my morning cup of hot tea.  The garden plot pleaded with me to come out and tidy up or at least pick the cheery cherry tomatoes that burden the plants to such a degree that they are leaning completely over their cages and fallen fruit dots the ground.

“We’re so tired of holding up this thriving throng of tomatoes.   Please come pick them,” the plants seemed to call to me.

blogDSCN6792But first, I wanted to attack the kids’ bathroom sink, or I should say under it.  Remember I’ve declared war on all the stuff that’s harboring in closets, cupboards, nooks and crannies.  So first thing this morning, I wanted to accomplish eradication of stuff from that bathroom sink cabinet.

Oh,  the items that were hiding in there!   Long ago used retainers; denture cleaner to clean those forgotten retainers (can’t imagine how old that is!); bottles with what I assume used to be lotion but now thickly gelled goo that doesn’t smell so nicely; remainders of mostly used toothpaste tubes; combs and brushes; hair pins and fancy hair accessories from proms; hair gel, pomade, and mousse; Sephora body polish and body butter (what?? — remember I raised two girls) still proudly packed in its original container; and the list goes on and on.

And that was just the girls’ side of the cabinet.  It was just as bad on son’s side.   Believe me.

I brought the discards downstairs to place in the garbage can and again I glanced out the windows.   It’s fairly difficult not to see outside in the kitchen and family room of our house because there are five windows and a set of French doors.   Again the garden beckoned me.

blogDSCN6781This time it was the lovely sunflower girls.   They have just started blooming out of their green pods at the top of their sturdy stalks and they do present a lovely sight with their happy yellow faces turned towards the sun.

Oldest daughter has always loved sunflowers..  Once her bedroom was totally bedecked with sunflower paraphernalia everywhere.   So naturally, I thought, “What a shame that oldest daughter who lives in that far-away state can’t see these beautiful sunflowers.”

Time to take pictures!  I’ll just slip on my sandals and run out to the garden to snap some photos of those perky plants to send to oldest daughter!

One hour later.  Although the temperature is a nice 72 degrees, it’s sunny and humid outside.  I trudge back to the house, dripping with sweat, thirsty for a Big Gulp sized glass of ice water, laden with a basket of garden bounty, back aching from all that bending over.

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871.  You said it, Charles!  Can’t agree with you more!

blogDSCN6799That was probably the last picking for green beans and cucumbers.  Broccoli and lettuce are already finished.  Brussels sprouts popping out along the base of the stalks will need picking later.

In the next couple weeks, it will be time to dig up the carrots and sweet potatoes.  Green peppers, banana peppers, and cherry tomatoes still produce.

And of course, the weeds complete the jungle.  They’ve gone wild.  I gave a few of them the heave-ho, but my back started protesting….and that stuff in my house still snickers at me.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com