Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Winter is garden preparation time. Normally we have a month or so before too many weeds come up covering our future vegetable beds.

This year winter is acting like spring. Birds are building their nests. I’m feeling an urgency to get my plot in order.

I have a plan. My beds are laid out with string and ribbon. In the space between each bed I thickly plant rye or clover for my walking paths. cover crop rye row
If I plant cover crops, they crowd out the unwanted nuisances. It’s a great theory. It worked in the past to some extent.
Some weeds are tenacious. Should I say all weeds are tenacious? That’s their definition, noxious plants that out-perform more tame and desirable ones. Cover crops make them work really hard to find an opening to stick their head through.
We use the same theory with our children. We provide activities we want them to do and keep them so busy in those areas that there won’t be time for getting into mischief. It works to some extent also.
Even the thick mat of rye or clover doesn’t have a chance if I leave the deep rooted invaders in the ground because they are established. They have a head-start.
It is the same with our children. If we don’t give them more than constant involvement without fighting the rank plants of selfishness and any other evidence of our fallen nature, we simply become victims of an over-crowded schedule complicated by bad behavior we hoped to avoid.
It is the same in our Christian walk. We sometimes fill our time with activities of service or Bible study as a cover crop. We hope busyness will crowd-out bad habits, thoughts, or idols in our life. If the soil of our heart is not prepared, if the roots of our sin are not removed, they will still rear their ugly head in the very middle of our busyness.
Father, have Your way in the soil of my heart. Fertilize me with Your love. Feed me with Your grace. Let me grow a clean crop of Your choosing unhindered by tares that steal my energy. Amen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Disrupted Organisms

Digging in the dirt on hands and knees trying to remove every hint of nut grass from my garden beds, I review what I’m learning about soil organisms and the life beyond our sight 

I am studying the intricate interactions between protozoa, fungi, nematodes, bacteria and many other forms of life.

I read just enough to know that a whole community of 20,000 to 30,000 different species of bacteria live in every teaspoon of healthy soil. There are ten times that many other microscopic organisms sharing that same space.
They form a soil web with some feeding others and the waste from some providing nitrogen and nutrients for others and all working together to feed and protect the plant roots.
It’s an microrganism-eat-microorganism-world down there on the microscopic level!
It thrives and benefits the plants best when left undisturbed.
Here I am greatly disturbing their home. There is no other way that I can think of to prepare a weed-free, root-free habitat for my seeds or transplants.
I began thinking about disruptions in my own life—wondering if those unwanted times of upheaval had to occur. Was it God’s hands sifting through all that was good and thriving to rid my life of deep-rooted weeds (sins, idols, blind spots) with runners that grew new weeds and multiplied, choking out the good fruit bearing plants He wants to grow?
Nut Grass I sit back and look at the bucket full of weed roots. Some have a half a dozen attached runners, each with a nut in-between sustaining life if something cuts it off from the others.
It’s deeply satisfying to know a least these won’t be growing more problems. I know I will fortify the soil with additional communities of microbes from my compost to help re-establish all I messed up with my digging.
I smile. In every major upheaval in my life God faithfully re-established rich relationships, a broader reach, and deeper roots in His love.
Thank You, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Training Ground

Red Hens
I have had so much fun with my backyard chickens and my rabbit. The pure joy they bring me constantly makes me think of God’s reaction to us.

My red hens softly clucking and scratching are a comforting background noise when I'm in the garden.
red hen way back I was planting my onions, when I heard a rather excited clucking. I looked up to see one of the chickens walking up and down the fence of their pen—on the outside!
She was looking for a way to get back into her captivity. I marveled.

Not Again!

I walked out to my garden a few days later to find two of my four red hens outside their cage. I heard the soft clucking sounds before I saw them. They were happily scratching around the compost pile.
I could see their path--a scratched indention on the ground here, then a few feet away another and then another.

As if they could talk, I asked, “What do you think you’re doing over here? How did you get out, anyway?”
Their clucking got louder. They started scratching harder and flapping their wings all excited. As I was wondering how to get them back into the pen they started coming to me. If I could have understood them, would I have heard, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” Or would they have said, “She flew the coop first?”
red hens home sweeet home
I don’t know, but I simply opened the way and they went in without any more help from me like they were so glad to get back home.
I stood watching and thinking, “Yeah, we all need boundaries.” They had fun in unknown lands, but given a little encouragement, their own coop was best.

Do we do that with God? We know His boundaries are best. We know we belong in His keeping where He feeds and shelters us. We can also know that our loving Provider will usher us back to safety when we go astray.

I never thought I’d like to be like a chicken, but, Lord God, make me always willing to come back into Your loving care. Amen.