The Parable of the Hosta

I’m not sure, but I think it has been gloomy and rainy since Sunday. The sun has made a few cameo appearances, but it’s definitely feeling rather fall-ish here in Wisconsin. I even dug my blue jean jacket out of the closet and threw it on before picking up my granddaughter Vi to transport her to a behind-the-wheel driving lesson this morning. (I know! How can she possibly be old enough for that?!)

Proof that Vi turned 16 in April!

Well, anyway. While I was gone today, hubby closed “my” windows and turned on the heat to take the chill out of the house. Thankfully, the weatherman tells me that the warmer, throw the windows open temperatures are returning soon. I sure hope so. Wasn’t it just last week that I was playing in the dirt? Yes, I think it was. I seem to recall being busy gathering seeds and dreaming of colorful annuals dotting my perennial flowerbeds next summer. Along with that fun task, I’d been cutting back spent foliage and taking diggings of favorite perennial plants I’d like to grow in other parts of the yard.

I wish I could say I accomplished everything on my garden to-do list during that spell of wonderful weather, but must confess that I am a wanderer in the garden – never quite finishing one task before wandering off to work on something else. Case in point, one glorious day last week, I was digging around in the flowerbed nestled under our locust tree when I spied a particular hosta plant nearby in a flowerbed by my 3-season porch. The hosta was looking a little tattered and sad. So, true to my garden-wandering self, I picked up my gardening stool and plopped myself down in front of this hosta, then pulled my pruning shears out of the pocket of my garden apron.

My sad hosta

As you can see, some of the leaves are blighted and stressed. I found a super informative and well-illustrated pdf publication on hosta disease and am really hoping this isn’t something fatal (you can find that publication here). Maybe one of my readers knows what I’m dealing with here.

I’m hoping this is drought damage and not some fatal hosta disease!

In contrast to the steady rain we’re having now, we had a pretty long dry spell in August where I wasn’t as faithful as I should have been in watering this area of my garden. Even though there is now a little river running through my back yard, last week there were areas of the garden with deep, water-thirsty cracks in the soil. I’m no expert on hostas, but I’m thinking this damage was due to drought stress. Most of the leaves looked really healthy and I didn’t see too much insect damage, so I decided to just snip away the unhealthy looking leaves. A few snips later, I had this bucket of damaged leaves.

With a little pruning and cleanup, the plant began to take on a bit of its former beauty. There! Now isn’t that better?

A few snips later, a bit of its former beauty restored.

The Parable of the Hosta

My garden often teaches me little lessons in life – parables, I guess. This hosta reminded me that neglecting the essential disciplines in life leads to a rather shabby looking life. There are always consequences to my actions (or lack thereof) when important things are neglected. Too little sleep leaves me sluggish and crabby. Poor eating habits affect how my body feels and looks. Forgetting to drink enough water leaves my skin looking 10 years older. Neglecting to exercise early in the day probably means I will neglect it altogether that day, and I will feel it in the way my body moves (or doesn’t move).

Likewise, time in God’s Word is essential to my growth as a believer. When I neglect spiritual disciplines in my life, it begins to show up in the way I think, my attitudes and actions, and even in the way I speak. The beauty of Christ in me becomes marred and difficult to see.

Word Before World

I am grateful to have been invited during the month of August to participate in a virtual Bible study challenge called Word Before World hosted by Well-Watered Women (you can read more about that group here). It was just the challenge I needed for re-establishing the habit of making time in God’s Word a number one priority. First thing in the morning, before social media and other things which vie for our attention. It was fun to virtually gather together with women all over the world. A few of my friends from church were part of this group, so that was a wonderful way for us to spend time together around the Word, taking the sting out of not being able to gather with one another in person right now during the pandemic. I absolutely loved the friendship, the sisterhood, encouraging words, prayer support, photos, videos, Facebook room chats, and desperately needed the accountability.

My favorite Bible study spot on pleasant August mornings.

“Put off” and “Put on”

My hosta parable falls short in perfectly illustrating this growth principle, but here’s the lesson I’m taking away from my little adventure in gardening. Just as my hosta needed me to take off the decayed leaves to restore its beauty, time in the Word helps me see what needs to be “put off” or “put on” in my spiritual life so that the beauty of Christ can be seen in me. And, of course, the water of God’s Word is as absolutely essential to my spiritual growth as the refreshing rain is to the lush growth of my garden.

A Month in Ephesians

During the month of August, I made an effort to read through the book of Ephesians each day (it only takes about 20 minutes). I learned something new each time through and there is still SO much more to glean.

Putting the Word before the World

I hope it’s no secret that I am a Christian who truly desires to live every aspect of my life in such a way that Christ is honored and glorified. When you read what I write, I genuinely hope you see the Word of God is the hub around which the wheel of my life revolves.

Most who know me personally consider me to be a mature believer, but I know there is much room for growth. If I am honest with myself, there are days when I fall very short in my goal of making the Bible central in my life. For this reason, I have accepted a challenge to become part of the Word Before World Bible study challenge – a group of believers seeking to make time in the Scriptures a first thing in the morning priority. Before all the things which will capture our attention during the rest of the day that follows. Before we pick up our cell phone or log onto our computers, or turn on our televisions. Time in the Word before we pick up that interesting novel, or check to see what’s going on in Facebook or Instagram world.

First in my heart.

Our little Word Before World group is now 12 days into the challenge. It’s a virtual group – perfect for this day when social distancing is recommended. While we may never actually meet one another on this side of heaven, it has been delightful getting to know other women who struggle just like I do, yet have the same heartfelt longing and desire. We have been praying for one another, sharing insights we have gleaned from our time in the Word, sharing verses and encouraging one another.

So, here’s how my day 12 went.

It is my custom to listen to the scripture while I’m getting ready for my day – sometimes before my feet even hit the floor. Yes, it involves picking up my cell phone, but I rather like hearing the Scripture spoken out loud (by a wonderful narrator) on my Bible app. Today I decided to listen to the suggested reading while I took a morning walk. I began with Psalm 103 and ended up listening to the entirety of Psalm 119 (176 verses!).

Along the way on my personal “psalm-walk,” I stopped to enjoy God’s magnificent creation in the gardens of a few of the neighbors along my route. There were several beautiful gardens, but I think this mailbox garden was particularly impressive.

When my route finally returned me to my own driveway, I grabbed a cup of coffee, headed to my favorite Bible study spot and opened my Bible to Colossians (which I am currently studying). It’s a little book, just four chapters, yet so very challenging to me – particularly as it relates to my responsibility to pray for other believers and encourage them in their walk with Christ. Next, I flipped back to Psalm 103 to read the passage our group was challenged to read together. As I spent time reading and contemplating this psalm, verses 17 and 18 made me stop and thank the Lord for his steadfast love – and that His love and righteousness has been extended to my own children and each one of my grandchildren too.

My current favorite Bible-reading spot

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Psalm 103:17-18 (ESV)

I couldn’t help but pull out my coloring pencils. and write the names of my grandkids in the margin as I prayed for each one.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Psalm 103:1 (ESV)