encouragement · Gardening · Scripture · Spring

Tending the garden…or is it tending the soul?

This time of year at our house there’s all the normal hustle and bustle of life, but in addition to that we’re planning, prepping and working to get our garden going for this year. I love this time of year, I see the sparkle in my husband’s eyes as he’s getting in the dirt and starting seedlings to transplant to the garden. There’s an excitement for the harvest that’s still in the planning stages.

There’s something spiritual about getting your hands in the dirt, feeling it, moving it and planting in it. Somehow being a part of the whole gardening process makes me more aware of God’s presence. Although it’s difficult to fully explain, I’m going to attempt to correlate gardening and God in our lives and how I believe you can meet God right smack in the middle of your backyard.

The hardest part of gardening is getting it going, kind of like getting yourself to church and the altar, especially if you’ve never been before or you’ve been out for awhile. Starting your garden begins with tilling. Which quite simply is breaking new ground, bringing out all the hidden stuff underneath, getting it out in the light and letting the air purify it. Tilling looks easy, but to those who have done it, know it’s harder than it looks, especially the first time breaking the ground. Tilling does get easier year after year, but it is still necessary after cold harsh winters for seeds to be planted and to bear fruit. When tilling the garden every year I’m amazed at how once the new dirt is pulled up how fresh and rich it all is, under all that hard, clumpy, gray mess is this soft, moist, fertile ground just waiting for you to plant seeds. Think for a minute, think back to the times in your life when you needed to be “turned over” or get back to God, and especially that first step towards Him in accepting Him as your Savior. You were hard, worn out and maybe even stagnant, but when you turned it all over to Him, you, much like dirt getting tilled, were unearthing all the hidden stuff in your life, bringing in out into the light and letting God purify it.

Still God’s not finished yet and neither is the gardener. All those unearthed, hard and messy things that needed to die in your life have a purpose in your future, just like your leftover unused fruit and vegetables from your garden can greatly enrich the soil of your garden when you compost. Let me say that again. The dead things that came out of your garden before are now fertilizing the soil to enrich it in order for new seeds to grow. Do you feel it? All the “things” that needed to die in your life can now be used for a greater purpose…..God’s purpose. Nothing goes to waste!

Now on to the good stuff….seed planting time!!! When you’re planting you’re holding these little treasures of possibility. It’s amazing that a large plant with huge yields of fruit can come from this tiny seed. It’s so exciting to sew these seeds, knowing the possibility of what’s to come. While at the same time it’s also a little intimidating because your just not 100% positive their gonna grow, but that’s where faith comes in. When you have opportunities in your own lives to sew seed into something or someone, that same uneasy, not sure feeling can creep in, but trust God with your seed and he will Bless it. Galatians 6:9-And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we not faint.

I’m not going to candy coat it, gardening isn’t always sunshine and roses. Most every gardener experiences some kind of frustration and aggravation nearly every year. Some of these nemesis are for sure the weeds and various pests that like to devour and poison your lovely garden. Weeding, is a must or the plants will get choked out and die from the lack of sunlight and/or the lack of sufficient water. The weeds steal the light, soil and water from your precious garden plants. You have to get to the root of the problem….aka the weeds and pesky bugs or they will just keep coming back and will eventually take over your whole garden. In our lives these nuisances can be distractions and even temptations that can “make or break” us. Only through prayer and discipline can you get through these trials. I have learned, that just like I have to research how to attack a problem in the garden, I also have to research the Bible and scripture to find my way through life’s diversions.

Pruning, this one I honestly wouldn’t have known the significance if I hadn’t witnessed it for myself. Removing green, growing and even thriving parts of a plant are hard to do, but when you see the benefit later of a larger more fruitful plant it is definitely worth it. It’s so obvious that we all need a good pruning as we grow into the people God made us to be. We go through situations and times in our lives that just plain hurt. At first we don’t grasp any reason at all for this pain or loss, yet later, maybe even years down the road we can see how these seasons made us better, stronger and hopefully wiser. Finding a good body of believers as well as an honest, wise Pastor to help cultivate you and raise you up to your calling is such an essential help in your life. John 15:1 ” I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”.

After some tough times of pruning, weeding and pest control your just about ready to throw your hands up! But wait! There’s light at the end of this tunnel. Just when you’ve had enough, the first fruits come in and man oh man, it’s hardly believable, but they were worth all the sweat, tears and prayers! Because you know the effort and sacrifice it took to get these amazing veggies here, they taste better than any you’ve ever had!! And rightly so, there’s no comparison of the taste of store bought produce to that of home grown produce. I refuse to even eat tomatoes from a store, I just can’t bring myself to do it after being spoiled with sweet, heavenly tomatoes from my garden. Let’s not forget about all the toils, hard work, prayer, tears and loss we’ve gone through in our own lives. All the prepping, feeding, protecting, defending, and pruning of ourselves is so worth it all. God can and does work for our good. Jeremiah 29:11 says- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This only scratches the surface of how much He loves us, He truly knows what we need to be the best version of ourselves.

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DIY · Essential Oils · Spring

Spring is in the air…

…and so are the bugs!!!! One of the few things that I love about winter is the absence of bugs. Seriously, to be able to carelessly have doors open and play outside without the worry of bugs is something to love. Every year I’m amazed that the bugs and creepy crawlies out there know exactly when to emerge from their hole somewhere. While I appreciate their role in the ecosystem, I don’t appreciate them on or near me!

So, why not just spray the yard? Being the reptile and amphibian friendly girl that I am I absolutely hate spraying the grass with any sort of insect spray in the yard and I hate bug repellent, the smell itself is toxic. All joking aside, I have found a solution that meets all my crunchy momma criteria in a bug repellent.

Now, this is not bandwagon jumping thing. I just want to pass along how essential oils can save you and your littles this spring and summer season. Essential oils truly work to keep all the itchy, scratchy, stinging things away from you! There are a number of oils that are wonderful for keeping those pesks away and different oils repel different insects. So, what I do is make a blend of several oils in order to cover a broad base of various insects. Here is a list of essential oils as well as what type of insects these oils repel.

  • Cedarwood- mosquitoes, flies(includes gnats and biting flies) and ticks
  • Lavender-mosquitoes, flies and ticks
  • Peppermint-spiders, mosquitoes and ticks
  • Eucalyptus- mosquitoes, flies and ticks (not as safe on babies)
  • Lemongrass- mosquitoes, flies and ticks
  • Geranium-mosquitoes and flies
  • Lemon-mosquitoes and ticks
  • Terrashield-outdoor blend-mosquitoes, flies and ticks
  • Thyme -mosquitoes, flies and ticks

I mix 5 to 6 of these oils in a 4oz glass bottle, with 1/4 cup witch hazel and 1/4 cup distilled water. I do 10 drops of each oil. You can adjust the strength according to your preference. When applying, spray all over, especially ankles and bite prone areas. Reapply every 2 to 3 hours or as needed. Be sure to shake well every use as water and oil don’t mix!
Now you can protect yourself and your family from all sorts of bites and pests and not have to bathe your kids before bed!! This is huge for me, it would never fail that I would spray my kiddos down with some deet containing repellent and they would fall asleep on the way home or before I could get them inside. Waking a child up to bath them in the middle of the night has never gone over well here at my house, so this nontoxic and completely organic spray is a Big Deal for me!

I hope you love this essential oil blend as much as I do. I do encourage you to buy a high quality oil. Most essential oils found in retail stores, even organic stores are not quality, pure oils. If you need a source for purchasing high quality, trustworthy essential oils, my website is:  www.mydoterra.com/stephwilliams.