A Garden Memory to Savor

Our local weatherman says we’re in for a few days of chilly temps, so I decided to take advantage of today’s fleeting afternoon warmth to rake leaves out of the flowerbed on the east side of our home. This flowerbed has never been a show-stopping focal point of our landscape and few people actually see it, so it’s usually the last flowerbed to garner any attention whatsoever from me. With a little more effort, I mused, I could create something eye-catching and special in this particular garden space.

I thought about that as I gingerly pulled the rake through the bed, gently coaxing last year’s leaves and debris toward the edge of the bed. Moving more slowly than usual because of a grumpy shoulder, I raked very carefully, slowly uncovering the new beginnings of unfurling leaves and flowers yet to bloom. Among them, a dozen or more clumps of hosta push their spikey heads above the earth; a Siberian iris and a daylily send leafy blades skyward; and a huge clump of sedum I wish I had divided long ago.

Beauty yet to come…

But there, in the far corner of this plot of earth was the plant I treasure very much. A few gentle pulls of the rake uncovered the red tips of one of my dad’s peonies inching their way out of the warming earth. A twinge of pain reminded me to take a little break, so I pulled my garden stool into the corner next to dad’s peony and surveyed the work I had accomplished thus far. It was looking good.

A brisk breeze tossed my hair in my eyes. Closing my eyes for a moment, I just listened to the nearby windchime’s frenzied melody and the sweet call of the cardinal in a neighboring magnolia tree. Opening my eyes again, I focused on carefully weeding around dad’s peony. As I pinched and pried, I thought about my dad and how much he nurtured and enjoyed his peonies. Few things brought him greater joy than snipping a few for the passersby who stopped to admire their beauty. That memory of him made me smile.

My parents: Charlotte and Jerry Boyles

The wind was growing colder and a niggling of pain suggested it was time to gather my tools and call it a day. It’s hard to give thanks for the painful things in life, but I found myself offering a prayer of thanks to God for slowing me down enough so that I could savor the quietude of memories and the simple beauty of an emerging garden.


One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind the Five Minute Friday community. Today’s free-writing word prompt: SAVOR

The Crocus: spring’s herald of beautiful possibilities

I have about a foot of snow left in my Wisconsin garden. Not a foot deep, mind you, but a little swath of white stuff on the north side of the house that’s about a foot wide and an inch or two deep. Another warm spring day and all the snow will be gone–and I am glad of it.

Continue reading “The Crocus: spring’s herald of beautiful possibilities”

For the Love of Green

One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind the Five Minute Friday community. Today’s free-writing word prompt: GREEN


What’s your favorite color?

As a gardener, I find that question hard to answer. There are so many pretty colors in my world of flowers. It’s hard to pick just one, but there is one captivating color which God tends to use liberally in His world of botanical beauty. It’s a color I find both restful and invigorating.

Green.

In all its magnificent shades, green complements all of the other colors in God’s creation, allowing each floral masterpiece to point to its Creator looking its exquisite best.

A Passion Enabled ‘Yes’!

Phew! I’m dead last (#56) in submitting my writing for the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up. FMF is an opportunity for writers of all abilities to gather each week around a single word prompt to freewrite for five minutes flat, then share our work and encourage one another. If this sounds like fun, you can learn more here.

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: ENABLE

The weather is trending warmer and my garden is calling me from underneath that ever-thinning blanket of white stuff. I am getting excited about once again feeling the earth beneath my feet as I meander through my flowerbeds pulling weeds, amending the soil, and getting my hands (and feet) dirty as I tend to the flowers thrusting their heads above the sun-warmed soil. Getting time in the garden will be a little trickier this year, as I just made a commitment which will ensure that I will wash my hands and feet a few days per week. A job. I wasn’t looking for a job, but my eldest granddaughter sent me a text about a job opportunity at her place of employment anyway. Her message said,

“PT cook?”

Violet works for BeeHive as a CNA (certified nursing assistant). If the name of her workplace sounds familiar to you, perhaps you may recall that my mother spent the last year of her life living in the care of BeeHive Assisted Living and Memory Care. I spent a lot of time there too, mostly loving on my mom, but helping where I could too. It was all little stuff that I could do when mom was napping: filling birdfeeders, pulling weeds, cleaning out cabinets, and an occasional organizational or word-processing project.

Every now and then I would get in a bake-someone-happy mood and would bring a big batch of cookies along with me and leave them in the kitchen for the staff to use as a snack for the residents (or themselves). Before long, I had a reputation for my baking. One resident loved cookies more than anyone I have ever met. I loved secretly tucking a cookie or two into June’s walker bag. Seeing her face light up when she discovered the treat made any effort on my part so worthwhile.

A week ago on Tuesday my phone rang. It was Gina at BeeHive and she wanted to let me know that there was a job opening assisting the cook with baking duties (yep, the same job Violet told me about). Gina wondered if I would be interested.

Interesting how God used my love for baking and my passion for the mission of BeeHive to enable me to say “yes” to this opportunity without a moment’s hesitation. I didn’t need to say, “Let me pray about it.” I pray for them often and I knew that God was blessing me with this chance to make a difference.


I See You

Today I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given word prompt. This week’s word is OBSERVANT.


My eyes followed the two women as they pushed a cart together through our local Aldi – the younger woman guiding and steadying the older. There was something endearing and precious about the scene…and personally familiar.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Even though my eyes are growing weaker with age (cataracts are forming, I am told), my eyes have become more observant in their ability to pick out the caregivers I encounter in everyday life. I believe this deeper level of awareness is one of the hidden graces of my personal journey in being an Alzheimer’s caregiver for my sweet mom.

Because I have been there, I see this loving daughter guarding her mother’s dignity as she slowly guides her through the store. My eyes see the mask of confusion in her momma’s eyes, and see the gentle way the daughter helps her mom choose groceries to put in their cart.

Because I have been there, my eyes see the caregiver in the waiting room of the dental office trying to convince their forgetful loved one that they just went to the bathroom and didn’t need to go again. I can show empathy because I remember that taking a loved one to the bathroom is not a 5-minute job.

Because I have been there, I see the caregiver in the parking lot trying to help their agitated and combative loved one buckle their seatbelt. I see and know the sheer exhaustion of it all.

My Alzheimer’s-aware eyes see the frazzled caregiver trying to go through the Culver’s drive-through as her daddy repeatedly unbuckles his seatbelt and tries to exit the vehicle. I see her anxious eyes in her rearview mirror as she waits to place their order. Tears are pooling there, ready to spill because she feels hopeless and alone.

May my eyes never be blinded to the needs of caregivers God places in my path. I pray God will help me see each caregiver through His loving and compassionate eyes.

Once and Done

Linking up with Kate and friends at Five Minute Friday. Come check out other thoughts on the word once!


There is an obnoxious weed in my garden. Well, as you can see from the photo below, it’s very pretty, so some would call it a flower; however, anything that spreads everywhere whether I want it to or not, well, I call that a weed. In fact, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in my state of Wisconsin has put it on its “invasive plants” list.

Creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
Photo credit: Elizabeth J. Czarapata

I’m trying to get rid of it. Really, I am, but am finding it impossible to rid my gardens of it entirely. You can see it in the photo below in its early stages getting a foothold beneath the tulips in one of my flowerbeds.

Though its flower is lovely, it really is a rather sinister bully, crowding the life out the other flowers in its path. Try as I might to pull it out, poison it, dig it up, lop it off, and all of the other methods I have tried to eradicate it, I’m afraid there is no “once and done” cure for this garden malady. I will just have to deal with this deceptive beauty for as long as I’m tending this garden. When I try to pull it, leaving behind just a tiny bit of the hairy root will ensure more to come. Cutting off the flowers before they go to seed helps keep the seeds from being carried off to other flowerbeds in the wind, but does nothing to keep the flower from sending out its underground rhizomatous feelers everywhere around the base of the plant. There are no herbicides known to be effective in eradicating it.

It truly reminds me of the curse of sin and the futility of trying to eradicate sin in my life. I can try to cull out my bad habits, curb my tongue, keep my eyes from evil, but it’s of no use to try to fix myself. Just a little bit of sin results in the curse of death, and I am a natural born sinner from head to toe.

Thankfully, there is a ‘once and done’ cure for sin. His name is Jesus. He took those sins to the cross.

STOP

A Sunrise Prayer

Being a night-owl, it’s not often that I am up and at ’em early enough in the day to witness the beauty of a sunrise. If I do happen to awaken at that uncharacteristically early hour, I’m blessed to see the glow of early morning light streaming in our east-facing bedroom window. I have every intention of getting up and taking an early morning walk, but sleep usually wins out over my good intentions.

My hubby is always up at that hour, early morning person that he is. Once his eyes open from sleep, he can get up and start his day. In the quiet of the hours before I awaken, he enjoys a cup of coffee or tea while he reads his Bible, prays, and works on his computer on various writing projects and teaching responsibilities.

One morning, not so long ago, I awakened to the early morning sunlight streaming in my window. I could hear Wayne in the kitchen making a cup of coffee and washing the dishes left on the countertop the night before. I can usually fall asleep again when I awaken that early, but not on that morning, so I got up and headed downstairs to make my own cup of coffee. As I passed our gathering room, I noticed a photo that seemed to have a spotlight shining on it.

It was a favorite portrait of the two of us from a few years ago. I probably see it several times a day in passing, but on this morning, illuminated by the sunrise’s lovely rays, I stopped to appreciate it and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for one of God’s grace gifts in my life: my loving husband, Wayne.


This post was written for Five Minute Friday, a group of encouraging writers, with this week’s word: SUNRISE. Our weekly goal is to write for just five minutes, with no real editing or proofing. If you’d like to read other writers’ sunrise posts, click HERE.

God’s Design in Trials

Today I am reflecting on God’s design in the trials of life. This piece is based on the Five Minute Friday word prompt for the week: Design.


I love to work in my garden and always enjoy the great wonder of seeing God’s design in the things He created.

It’s easy to see God’s design in the beauty of life, but how can it be that the trials of life are also part of God’s blueprint for growth for the Christian? It’s a hard truth, but if we look closely at the path our lives have taken, we can see His loving hand carefully moulding and shaping us with each step in life’s journey…even the difficult steps.

The tune to a favorite hymn, “Jesus, draw me ever nearer” has been running through my heart and mind today. Let me invite you to listen with me to a beautiful version of this hymn which I truly love.

This verse captures my heart:

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

This particular verse reminds me that when the heart of a Christian is tested by that which happens in life’s journey, it’s is God’s design and purpose to perfect and complete us and make us look more like Jesus.

A Fresh Look for an Old Memory

Today’s post was written to the word prompt “Fresh” as part of the Five Minute Friday community of writers.  Let me invite you to read the inspirational writing of other writers on the same topic at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com 

I was blessed with a mother-in-law extraordinaire. Shirley loved me fiercely, prayed for me often (even before I met her son), and lived an exemplary life as a devoted follower of Christ. She gave me, her “daughter-in-love,” as she called me, a few of her earthly belongings which serve to remind me of her love. Over the years she’d hand us a bag or a box full of surprises as we headed out the door after a little visit. One item bestowed upon me was a blouse she enjoyed wearing–a denim blouse with colorful hot air balloons embroidered on the front of it.

One day, our eldest granddaughter Violet was using her gift of organization by tidying and reorganizing my perpetually messy craft room.

My craft room

As Violet carefully sorted fabrics into color families and folded them into neat little stacks, she came across that colorful blouse of her great-grandma’s and asked me what I was going to do with it. I told her its story and that I was thinking I might reuse the fabric to make a book bag or something someday. Violet remembered her great-grandma wearing it. Her eyes lit up with an idea!

“Can you make a jacket for me?”

I hesitated a tiny bit because refashioning clothing was outside of my realm of sewing skills, but told her I would try. With all the faith in the world that grandma could do it, she folded the blouse and put it on my project pile (on top of the pile, of course, with a sticky note that indicated it would be my NEXT project).

After more than a few searches on Pinterest for some inspiration and ideas on “upcycling” and “remaking” clothing, a design idea began to form. Violet really wanted a jacket, but there wasn’t enough fabric to make the sleeves, so I decided I’d create a little vest with an inset of pretty lace on the back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find lace that I liked in my stash or at the fabric store, so checked the local resale shop. I was about to walk out of the store when I spied a lacy sleeve peeking out of an over-crowded clothing rack. There it was! A beautiful lace blouse made entirely of the kind of lace I had in mind AND it had long sleeves that I thought I could use to create the jacket Violet desired.

I thanked the Lord for helping me find the needle in a haystack and hurried home to start my special sewing project. Here it is!

A fresh look for an old garment, made with love and a prayer that Violet will follow in the faithful footsteps of her God-loving great-grandmother.