Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cowpen Daisy

a bouquet to enjoy
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot." NIV

My sense of beauty is wilder than most. If something flowers, I want it to live. Only if it rudely pushes in, taking over space already promised to something else do I sorrowfully admit it might be a weed.

When water is in abundance, I often allow a bit of intrusion. The usurper’s beauty gives it privileges mere grasses never obtain.  

It’s a luxury I’ve taken for granted, like the rain.

With nine months of drought and stage five water conservation, I carefully measure where and what I water. Under my fruit trees where I laid the soaker hose, a beautiful patch of Golden Crownbeard, also known as ‘Cowpen Daisy,’ sprang up.

Golden Crownbeard
With such few wildflowers, I wondered, “Do I leave them? A mass of yellow daisies dancing in the breeze makes me smile. Maybe they are shading the ground and conserving water. Crownbeards only need water about once a month to survive. Does that mean they don’t drink it if it is there?
Vibrant green Crownbeard

 Probably not. Their normal color is a gray-green. Where I watered they are bright green. Reluctantly, I admit I remember more about these shaggy daisies. They shade out native vegetation and produce chemicals toxic to most other plants.  

Instead of feeling joy and satisfaction as I look at this growing mass of green, I feel guilt. With resigned heart I pull the flora. It is still a ground cover except where it stood, it now lays.
The deed is half done—mulch instead of life—I don’t know if I can do the rest.
Mulched Golden Crownbeard
But it is mulch adding and giving life, conserving instead of using water and nutrients. With that thought, I can finish the task tomorrow or the maybe the next day.

The consolation: Each plant self-pollinates and makes about 350 seeds waiting for a chance to sprout at a better time and place.

For instance, if these weeds were isolated to a neglected spot where there was a need to block out other vegetation and yet offer a great show of yellow blossoms, it would be perfect. But they are destructive left to grow under my fruit trees.

In times of need, sacrificing some pleasures sustains life.

Lord, give us wisdom and discernment in the way we use Your gifts. 

Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region
Beautifully illustrated with
sections for each Texas region

A Field Guide to Southwestern and Texas Wildflowers (Peterson Field Guide)

A Field Guide to Southwestern and Texas Wildflowers (Peterson Field Guide)
Easy to use field guide with
some colored illustrations as well
as line drawings. Categorized
 by color of blossom.

Nut Grass

newly emerged nut grass

“How do you get rid of nut grass?” the caller asked the radio gardening show host.

“You have to go all the way to hell to get rid of those suckers.” He answered.

And goodness, I think it is true. I dig and pull and think everything is clean only to find new blades sticking through the earth a few days later.

Connected by wiry runners--all coming up together
This morning I was working my dry sandy ground and thinking this is the time to pull weeds because they all come up. At least, so many come up together it gives the illusion you are getting them all.

Nut grass with wiry runners
My mind wondered to times of hunger and need for survival. I’ve always thought if God gives us lots of something there must be a use for it. The Native Americans used the ‘nut’ of the root like we use coffee beans. It looks like a knot between the different runners so I wondered how they cleaned it. I smiled as I thought B12 is found in soil. They had no problem getting theirs.

I observed the root system as I pulled out half a dozen sprouts connected by their underground runners.

top root--wiry, middle root--rope like, bottom root- brittle
Where the earth is bone dry, the roots are like wire, strong and holding tight to the next sprout. Even if that next ‘sprout’ looks dead, the root continues to the next and the next until there is some sign of life. Wherever there is a tiny bit of life, it reaches out to the next, sharing its supply of moisture and nutrients, holding on, and surviving together.

Closer to the vegetables, where there is more moisture, the roots became more rope like. They are more likely to break connection.

Where the water was more abundant, the connecting roots were almost brittle, traveling just as far, but with far less energy put into creating a strong grasp. When you pull or dig the grass, you are likely to hear a distinct snap. You know another healthy plant is left behind to plague you in a few days when it shows itself.

In God’s plan, when the need is greater, the ties are tougher. They may not be obvious on the surface, but where survival of their kind depends on it, they hold on.

It is God’s plan for us, also. We see it when love works as God planned it. We hold on tight when there is greatest need, when there is illness, or relational crisis, or financial disaster, or even spiritual dryness. We hold on and share the hope and promises of the Spirit. We hold on and let sustaining life flow from one dead-looking heart to the next. How can we know what life is lying dormant or from what direction the outpouring of water will come to quench our own thirst when we’re in want?

Heavenly Father, we are all in need of water for our earth. In this drought stricken area, we cry out to You for rain. Less visible, but no less life-giving, we need the rain of Your Holy Spirit. Refresh our human spirit. In the name of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, refresh us, Father. Amen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Does God Miss Me?

"...I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."  Jeremiah 31:3

Surprise visitor in my strawberries
The dark rabbit appeared sometime in the spring. Several times I caught a glimpse of her and thought she was a neighbor’s cat.

One day, seeing it nibbling in my strawberry patch, I looked through my binoculars to see if that cat really was eating my plants. There sat a luscious brown—almost black—rabbit!
tentative rabbit
No wonder we weren’t getting any strawberries!

But it was so beautiful; I went out with my camera to capture some images.   She—who knows if it’s a ‘she’ or ‘he’—ran a safe distance, then stopped.

As the days passed, she seemed to come out of hiding when I was in the garden, as if she liked being close to someone. One day she hopped over and smelled my shovel, then my feet.

patient rabbit with kids
We’ve become friends. After I discovered she likes apples, I carry a thinly sliced one with me each morning. Eventually, she makes her way over and eats it from my hand.

At daybreak she meets me, except the day after four grandkids followed her all over the garden. She didn’t show herself for a few days then. After our Chihuahua surprised her by our back screened-in porch and went crazy barking, she didn’t return for a while. 
Lilah, our Chihuahua

Once in a while, for no known reason, she’s absent. I miss her presence, her ‘drunken sailor’ hopping over to where I’m working. After I’ve finished for the day, I keep looking out the back door, wondering if she’s come late.

As I realized how much I look forward to seeing her each day, how disappointed I am to have a sliced apple but no rabbit to eat her share, I sucked in a deep breath of understanding.
Rabbit keeping me company

Does God delight when I move closer to Him? Does He miss me when I don’t come to sit in His presence? Has He prepared something for me and I’m not available to share it with Him?

Does God, with all His wisdom, love, fore-knowing, and plans for good, long for me with intensity I can’t even comprehend?

Lord God, thank You for the marvelous rabbit. Thank You for the gift of a glimpse of Your longing for me. Amen

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weeding Life

After The Closer Walk Christian Bookstore closing, three weeks with grandkids and other family and friends, I am beginning to focus on future hopes and plans. 

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Trying to imagine a structure for a life free from the boundaries of store hours, I wrote in my journal:
 Immediate goals:
My overgrown garden
Weed garden,
weed house,
weed spiritual habits,
weed eating habits.

Even in a time of no water, somehow weeds grow. It is always a gift to play in the dirt but oh, how dry the dirt is! As I began untangling watermelon vines from grass, lambs quarter, grass burrs and morning glory vines, I realized I was so far behind, if we’d had rain, it would have been hopeless.

Weeds come out easily in the powder of my sandy soil, the roots shed the dirt and the top soil remains. Yet, I know some roots remain, eluding my shovel. Those delicate wild Morning Glory vines that wind around anything close have roots that extend twenty feet or more as does Johnson grass and probably countless others. So is it an illusion to think I am weeding? I am simply clearing the obvious, like treating the symptoms. When the rains return I’ll see pesky heads pop up as if taunting the spade they escaped.

When rain comes and the earth drinks its full of heaven’s bounty will I give the time and diligence needed to keep the intruders at bay?

 As I continue to dig, it’s the same question I ask God about my heart?
If there are roots of weeds left in my garden, are their roots of weeds left in my heart?

How often have I repented of the weeds exposed during dry spells. “Father, I take You for granted. Father I don’t spend time with you. Father, I tell You what to do instead of listening. I want my own way more than Yours. I don’t trust in Your goodness. On and on. Forgive me.”

Weeded garden
I am absolutely sincere in my desire to rout everything in opposition to God’s purposes. Waiting for the quenching of God’s presence and moving of His spirit in my life, I make promises. Can I keep them?

The soil of my soul looks clean, well turned, and ready for seed-blessings. Are there still roots of rebellion lurking underneath, waiting to sprout in new and vigorous growth?

Lord, God, when the blessings overflow, help me remember the time of weeding and be ever vigilant to surrender my heart to Your weeding.