A Fresh Start

Ever since we moved into our house, at least 13 years ago or so, the yard work has been an overwhelming task for me. The previous owners loved the idea of planting and landscaping, and we are blessed with many, many beautiful trees. But they delegated the yard work to a ground’s keeper who kept the yard of our little cottage. Trying to jam in another duty into my already overfilled life makes the yard work a real chore for me.

In the time that we have lived here, there is one year that stands out as the supreme year for our yard. The year that John and I were married, we worked very hard on planning, planting, and growing a beautiful garden. We planned an outdoor wedding against the advice of many. And we did not have a back up plan for rain. I would not say that I was an optimist then, but I was definitely stubborn. (Incidentally, the day of our wedding started off with a steady rain. I vividly remember walking in a friend’s field gathering flowers for our table arrangements when I finally broke down in tears, the realization that months worth of preparations were going to be washed away with the rain and there was not a darn thing I could do about it. But amazingly, the rain stopped and the sun came out about 30 minutes before the wedding. Then we all baked and steamed in the sun and humidity! I have been given many opportunities to learn to have HOPE.)

Just a few months after that beautiful garden was in its prime, a pretty serious flood washed away most of the topsoil that we brought in. The garden was never the same after that. And year after year there was always something to distract me away from the garden. It is hard to rebuild something that takes so much effort and is tragically lost.

The year we moved to Memphis, the garden took care of itself! It decided to host the most tenacious crop of weeds in Union County! Last summer, a walk through that garden was chest deep in goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, and nettle.

Despite how terrible the garden has been over the last several years, I hold a picture in mind of a pretty, peaceful, and tranquil place. Sometimes, when I meditate, I walk into that perfect garden that I hold in my mind’s eye and sit in the shade of arbor covered in wisteria gazing out at all the beautiful flowers in hues of pink, purple, and blue. From that spot, I can see upstream to a spot where deer like to cross. I can hear the kingfishers, watch a heron along the bank, and delight at the swallows dancing above the creek. Even when we were over a thousand miles away in Memphis, I would visit this garden.

The day after Thanksgiving, my neglect of the yard work was evident. Our beautiful maples, oaks, and sycamore trees had dropped their leaves once again. The job of raking the leaves, in the past, took more than a couple of day’s worth of work and usually was not complete until the spring thaw. I enlisted the help of my niece who came prepared to work. In fact, out of shame, I stuck to the job because she resisted my attempts at diversion. How could I take a break if she didn’t? Her steadfastness helped us succeed in completing the job in one day. John and I made the decision to start from scratch with the garden. John chopped all the weeds down, and the raked leaves were placed on the garden to break down. We will be rebuilding a clean slate beginning in the spring. And there is something powerful in that which parallels my personal life.

You see, I know how hard it is hard to work around weeds. There are many aspects of this world, and our lives that bring us down. Weeds, without us even noticing, by our own neglect of what keeps us whole, slip in and left unchecked take over. They begin to dominate us, and then when we are completely exhausted, we just learn how to ignore them. We avoid them. We may hold onto the dream we have for our life, but the weeds just get in the way. They keep us from fulfilling the destiny that God has planted in our minds.

We need a fresh start sometimes. We need to clean the slate. We need to get back to the basics of our spiritual truths. We need to make time to talk and listen to God. We need to fulfill the destiny that God has planned for us. It seems impossible to make it all work, because we are trying to work around all those weeds. The weed might be time we waste doing meaningless things like _________ (I’ll let you fill in the blank. We all have them.) The weed might be the way we treat our bodies by consuming the wrong foods or things that are toxic to our bodies. The weed might be patterns of thinking, like anxiety, fear, worry, jealousy, guilt, that keep us from being connected to God. The weed might be a relationship that drains our energy and takes away our positive outlook on the world.

This is a perfect time to reflect on the birth of a new you. As we end the season that celebrates Jesus’ birth, we should be inspired by his life…a life that God wants US to model our own after, a life that is spent in union with God, a life that brings love to forefront each day. But first we have to get rid of our weeds so our beautiful garden has room to grow and thrive. Is your garden overgrown with weeds? It is hard work to get rid of them, but we all know the joy and peace that a beautiful garden brings.


“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning . . .” –J.B. Priestley


“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For

‘All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever.’” –1 Peter 1:22

“Therefore, rid yourself of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.” –1 Peter 2:1-2


God, thank you so much for giving us Jesus. Thank you for giving us Light to guide us through darkness. Help us, as we move closer to you, find the weeds that are hiding in the dark, shady corners in our lives. Feed us the spiritual milk that we need to grow closer to you. Help us grow into the beautiful gardens you intend us to be. Amen.


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