Cottage with Flowers

Getting off the Treadmill (Without Going off the Grid)

I despair.

It’s work.

Understand, I love my job. I’m outside all day, with my plants, doing my thing, and mostly talking people’s heads off. What’s not to love?

But, here’s my despair. I have discovered the timeless truth of the treadmill. And, I am on it.

I talked non-stop with Debbie N, (that, I-think-I’m-having-a-nervous-break-down,  talking) for an hour, yesterday. She was standing in line at Moe’s ordering burritos for take-out supper. Chicken and rice, if you’re wondering. Having to do the whole ordering and paying thing while on her smart phone with her hysterical friend. Mouthing, “yes, large tea” (sweet, it’s the south), and gesturing “yes, extra chips, yes extra sour cream,” to the Moe’s folks with the phone cupped between chin and shoulder. It’s what we women do. I could hear “Welcome to Moe’s!” being shouted in the background.

By the time she got home with supper, I was going to empty my savings, pack a few belongings in the car, and Thelma and Louise style, just start driving. I was thinking west coast, because that just sounds so good when you’re running away.

Which is what being on a treadmill does to you. It makes you want to run away.

Now, that I’ve calmed down considerably, two or three Xanax later (but really, who’s counting?), I am pondering the whole treadmill thing from a much more laid back perspective. Say man, what do you think about the treadmill of life? (Kidding, it’s the Xanax talking.) One major thought popped up.

When I moved to Brevard, almost two years ago, I told the Lord that I would work 24.7 if that was what was needed. Newly divorced, newly employed, and newly responsible for the household and kid, I was typical Cinthia. Extreme, determined, and way too prideful to ask anyone for help. You know, the whole bootstrap mentality.

2 years later, and completely exhausted, here’s what I’m realizing. It isn’t my job to work 24.7. It is the Lord’s. If anybody is on the ole’ treadmill, the Lord is. I mean, look at his job. He keeps the whole world cruising along every day, all day, with no sleep, and no help. Now, that is a treadmill deal. If he stops, it all stops. Meaning, he  is in control, and I’m not.

And, isn’t that where the treadmill lie originates? We’re stressed because we’ve convinced ourselves that the world rests on us. If we stop, it all stops?

Sometimes, I  want to be a teenager again. Back home in my room, staring out my window, gabbing on the phone, mom making dinner and dad hanging out with her. Because then, I wasn’t the one responsible for it all.

But, here’s the takeaway. I’m not the one responsible for it all now. So, when I feel like I am running on that treadmill of life and work again, I need to step off, and say, “Sorry, Lord, it’s all yours.” Because it is.

PS Kidding about the Xanax, it’s Klonopin. 🙂

Here’s a Shocker: You Do Need a Landscape Designer/Architect, NO DIYer Attitude, Please

Here’s a shocker. Most homeowners (especially women, sorry gal-friends) do not know if they live in the sun or the shade.

How do I know this? I work in a garden retail center.

Every Saturday couples wake up, and decide that today is the day they’re going to get their yard work done. Trees, shrubs, perennials, all planted and mulched (just like the Home Depot commercials). So, off they go to the nursery.

Now, mind you, they’ve already broken rule number one in any project. They haven’t talked about the yard yet. No late night or early morning breakfast discussions on what they both like, or more importantly, don’t like. (Couples live under the delusion, no matter how many years into a good marriage, that they like the same things.)

So, upon arriving at the nursery, the wife heads straight to anything that is blooming. Generally, the perennials (which are a ton of work). She starts picking up this and that, and saying, “Oh, how pretty.” Here’s where I step in. “Do you have sun or shade?” I ask.

The wife, “Full sun.”

The husband, “Some sun, more morning than not.” Then he looks at his wife as if she’s grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead.

I break the bad news to her. “That plant requires full sun,” I say.

She doesn’t hear me. She’s already envisioning a field of these perennials blooming in her yard. She’s imagining hosting weekend company (something she rarely, if ever, does), and cutting them to arrange artfully in vases for the guest rooms.

To emphasize, I say, “You know, like parking lot sun.”

This stops her (I am nothing if not descriptive).

I continue, “Like five to six hours of middle of the day, no trees around, no houses, no sheds, no garages, NOTHING but blazing sun, for five to six hours,” I have a very serious look on my face, because I know who will be back in the nursery in a few weeks, telling me that her flowers aren’t blooming.

She says, “We have that.”

Her husband nearly goes insane with this declaration, but but he maintains because I’m standing there. “We practically live in a forest,” he says.

“My peonies bloom,” she responds.

At this point, I suggest they talk a bit, while I go busy myself with something else. They agree, and head toward the back of the nursery, trying to communicate just like the counselor taught them. It does not look promising.

The back of my house faces the side of my neighbor’s house. Between our houses is a picket fence, a chain link fence, two very large cherry trees that completely shade my back yard (I mean completely), and a very large sycamore that completely shades her back yard (again, I mean, completely). Yet, without fail, in that space between our houses, she plants daylilies, cone flowers, shasta daisies, and roses. Basically, any plant that requires full (parking lot full) sun. I watch her from my bedroom window as she tends to these bedraggled, pitiful, non-blooming plants. Well, I’ll correct myself. Sometimes, they do manage one or two blooms. I suppose it’s all relative.

I want tell her, while gesturing with sweeping arms, this is ALL SHADE. I imagine myself saying SHADE like I would to an old person who is hard of hearing, although she is neither.

I have a client whose garden will be on tour this year. It’s a big deal, and I’m helping her get ready. We fight constantly over whether she has sun or shade. She swears she has full sun. I sound like the garden center husband when I tell her, “You practically live in a forest,” Actually, she does live in a forest. I’m just trying to be polite, and get paid.

She says, “My peonies bloom.”

And, they do. About three blooms per shrub, for which she paid $86 a shrub, for a total of three shrubs, or $258.

This isn’t the only reason why most homeowners need a landscape designer, but it is a very good one. If you don’t know whether you live in the sun or the shade, you need help, because that is going to determine what you plant (and yes, ladies, there are a lot of shade blooming plants).

The rule of thumb is 15-20% of the value of your home should be spent on the yard. Before your jaw falls open, especially if you are currently building a home in the range of a million or more, consider that the costs includes hardscapping (driveways, terracing, stone steps, patios, rock walls, drainage, etc.), and all this before you even get to plants and mulch.

So, before you consider a DIY yard, consider a designer. They need the work, and you need a happy marriage, which grows best in sun or shade so long as professionals are doing the work..

Dating, Iced Tea, and a Year of Silence

1. When you’re young and single, people ask you if you’re ever going to get married.English: A Glass of iced tea.

2. When you’re newly married and without children, people ask when you’re going to start having children.

3. If you have an only child, people ask when you’re going to get pregnant again.

4. If you have over four children, people ask if you’re going to stop now.

5. If you’re divorced, people ask when you’re going to start dating again.

Perhaps we should all just stay at question number one because question number 5 seems to just cycle back around to it.

But, to answer question number 5, since that is my current situation, and everyone does seem curious.

If, and that is a big if because I do not have a line of men outside my front door (or any other place for that matter), but IF some guy came along and wanted to date me, well, here’s what he would have to do.

He would sit across the room from me. In a chair. I’m probably on the couch. He would have to sit quietly in the chair for say, about a year. Just silence, no words. No talking.

After a year, he could ask me if I would like some tea (iced tea, of course). I’m not going to answer verbally, but depending on how the year of silence has gone, I will either shake my head yes, or simply not respond at all.

If it is a yes and he brings me iced tea (with lots of ice…just saying) then he must return to his chair, and we would resume sitting in silence again. I really don’t know how long this second round of silence needs to be. I haven’t gotten that far in my thinking yet. I just can’t say.

So, what’d ya think?

Yes, I Do Judge Your Yard

Okay, so yes, I do walk the neighborhood, judging the yards. It appears that I’m walking the dog, and truly, Aggie does like her walks, but really? I’m looking for the gardening news.

 

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Aggie’s immediate reaction to the word “walk.”

In today’s gardening news, which included the daily deluge, the couple (two elderly women who have the most adorable house) that I have hereto-fro given the best neighborhood yard award too, blew it. I am so upset. They planted portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora) in the urns that adorn either side of their sidewalk leading up to their perfectly trimmed English style cottage. I was stunned, needless to say. I had just mentioned them to the local architect, whose opinion I sometimes solicit in my inspection of the neighborhood. (We walk at the same time every morning and evening. I’ve corrupted him with my assessments.)

How could they? Portulaca is all, well, plain Jane in the gardening world. Succulent, yes, and they’re trendy, but portulaca is like yesterday’s news, not to mention it rarely blooms nicely–well, maybe in Brazil. It does not belong in this yard, which is clipped boxwoods (so dang cute), hydrangeas, blue mopheads (goes perfect with the white house and black shutters), a small fig tree, guessing Chicago Hardy (very nice touch), Rozanne geranium (a little sick of her but the color is good with the house and it is all season bloom), a small, but extremely tasteful perennial bed (restraining itself from the bloom, bloom, bloom mentality)  near the very healthy hemlock hedge (assuming they treat it systemically and annually) one slightly misplaced Japanese Cedar, which had me worried about the whole place, but in a last second transplant, they moved it to a corner of the yard where it now resides perfectly, and won my heart–until today.

I blame their next door neighbors who have so many children I have simply stopped counting. Those countless children and screaming perennials that fill every corner of the yard, I fear, have influenced them in the worst way. If I didn’t feel sorry for the poor mother of all those redheaded demons, I’d consider making a few suggestions, but she has her hands full. All boys, all out of control. When her husband brought home a puppy, I took her up the street for coffee. She just sobbed and sobbed. I patted her hand and mentioned that I hadn’t married well either. I understood.

At any rate, their yard is overrun with all manner of perennials, and all of it blooming at once–as in now. There is no design, no thought for the garden, just plants everywhere and color screaming from every corner. I literally have to restrain myself when I walk by. I want to start rearranging the garden, imposing some sort of order, or at least weed between the gladiolas and bee balm. The word is haphazard. The very opposite of what a garden should be. I imagine the mother just throwing flower seeds out the window when she has a free second because what else is she going to do?

Another neighbor did the whole “big rock, terraced” landscape thing which is so popular these days. I think they’ll regret it sooner than later. After all, who wants a rock quarry in their front yard?

A brand new house, built Southern Plantation style between a brick rancher and something akin to a double-wide, put down sod, and of course, that’s always where Aggie decides to poop. Because, everyone knows, you can’t hide poop in sod.

One more house, with a Cape Cod style, finally put down mulch recently, to my great relief. Though, I have not made up my mind about an enormous silver maple in their front yard. My thinking is, it needs to go. My understanding is, everyone will have a hissy fit. One does not cut down trees, anymore, even if they are something as worthless as a silver maple. Tree-huggers galore. I lack sentiment in the garden. I’m reasoning that the dang thing has been here over 100 years. Isn’t that long enough? It is ruining the overall garden design, and trust me, I’ve planted more plants than most people have ever seen. That should count for something when it comes to chopping down trees. True?

So, yes, I’ll admit to what people always wonder if I do–judge other people’s yards. Well, obviously, I’m noticing. A polite way, perhaps, of saying judging. But–and here’s the take-away, and why I don’t consider it judging, which has a such negative overtones–I am enamored by it all. I find every begonia or bee balm, every coleus or caladium, every hosta or hydrangea, charming. Observing what is planted in the yard gives a glimpse of the folks’ inside, a small peek into their hearts. And, aside from a poorly placed portulaca, how do you not love that?  .

 

I AM NOT HAPPY TO BE HOME

While my Coastie son enjoyed his week at the Hacienda on Jekyll Island with the family and his oldest Miss Priss, he was looking forward to heading home. At home, he would be greeted by Bonus Daughter and SJ. A hard combo to beat.

BD and SJ on their beach (i.e. not Jekyll)

BD and SJ on their beach (i.e. not Jekyll)

The College Son and I were not as happy about the return trip to the mountains. We wanted to stay at the Hacienda. Six and half hours later (including stops that I begrudgingly made–I fall into the don’t-stop-till-you-get-there-group of drivers) and our flip-flopped feet were mucking through the rain puddles instead of sand. Welcome to Brevard. It’s a rain forest.

We do like home. I mean, here’s what we came home too.

 

Summer blooms along picket fence

Summer blooms along picket fence

Yet another killer combo, thanks to moi.

But, we do so love the Hacienda. Take a look.

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Miss Priss and the College Son in the tidal pool

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Me, in what is my uncontested favorite spot in the universe

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Frankie Ann (aka “Mom”, “Grandma”, “Maurme”) in the kitchen at the Hacienda, window looks in from the courtyard

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College Son peeking out from his bedroom, where he spent an inordinate amount of time…

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Miss Priss behaving herself so well and posing for the 10billionth picture (Mommy had to stay behind and Miss Priss was extra good even though she missed BD)

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Frankie Ann and the boys

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Ah, the family photo op. I love it.

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Our quiet time place atop the Hacienda (many Bible Studies done in that spot and many a Scrabble war fought)

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The Uncle and his niece (Miss Priss and College Son). Nothing is as endearing to me as this picture

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On the pier waiting for the sun to go down

T-shirt says it all.

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Coastie Son and Miss Priss, oh what a diva!

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Our little spot of Paradise on earth, the Hacienda

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Best picture ever in Uncle’s hat

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Buds… (the College Son and Miss Priss, Uncle and niece)

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Lots of sea turtle on Jekyll

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Only took until the last day, but she finally decided she liked the water. 🙂

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Frankie Ann waiting patiently while the Coastie Son checks out a boat

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The hot tub, a perfect spot for viewing the island weddings

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My view from my white swing

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Stairs to the Lookout Tower, the most desired thing in the world to a three year old, going up and down, up and down them

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Doing nothing in the tower

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Marsh where we ride our bikes

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There’s always one. Look at Miss Priss looking at her daddy. She is already in dire need of counseling.

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Yes, that is moi in the big hat. The only place I get to live out the dream of the huge hat, at the beach.

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Frankie Ann holding forth in the modified living room of the Hacienda

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Headed for a favorite pastime, bike riding (the trails are pretty awesome)

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Needs no explaining…

Yeah, we’re crabby,

 

The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

I don’t know if fear is the undercurrent of most people’s life, but it definitely is mine. I’ve lived long enough to know that there are things to be frightened of. In fact, I am more astonished that the world is as safe a place as it is–most of the time, or at least my little corner of it–than I am that horrific things can and do happen to folks daily. Inhumane acts don’t surprise me, but nice people do.

I know, sounds all bitter and cynical, right? Maybe.

Recently someone did something nice for me.  She cleaned my car. We had traded cars for the day because she was doing something else nice for me; taking my car to get it serviced. Granted, we were using my car for a joint road trip, and my job doesn’t allow for errands or car servicing, so she volunteered. When we traded back, she proudly showed me her handiwork. My car, the one that hauls plants around, the one you could likely grow a plant in, was spotless. I hope I was appropriately grateful, but I may not have been, because I was stunned.

I don’t say this to paint a picture of how pitiful I am, but no one, outside of my family, has ever done anything on that caliber of kindness for me before. It was work that took quite a bit of time away from her day. How crazy is that?

To be truthful, and thus look a bit less pitiful, recently again, this time at work, I was grumbling about a co-worker to a co-worker. The person I was grumbling too, kindly reminded me to be kind. It was a good reminder, and I appreciated her forthrightness in setting me straight. Kindness is a virtue I am learning. I want to be kind, but really, I think I want others to be kind first, then I’ll be kind.

But, maybe, they’re waiting for me.

It seems to me that fear is not spurred by the actions of others toward us, but by their indifference. During my divorce, I was terrified of my future. How would I support myself? Where would I live? Could I parent and grandparent alone? All of that was big, scary stuff, but the most fearful component was not the unknown, but the new and complete indifference my ex regarded me with. The man who made sure my car was cleaned and serviced for 20 years, was now the man who wanted me out of “his” house. Watching that transformation was frightening. I could have used a bit of kindness. I wanted to scream at him, “Hello, my name is Cinthia!” I wanted to be seen, even in the process of dissolving our marriage, which is what I think kindness is, seeing someone.  Even the person who is mean. Even the person who participates in making the world a scarier place, because if you can see the image of God carved out in that person, then surely, you can see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

And, maybe, be kind first.

 

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The Sweater

I have a friend who gives things away. If you tell her that you like her pocketbook, there’s a good chance she’ll empty it and give it to you. On the spot. She does this because the Lord has blessed her financially. And, she believes he has asked her to be generous with that blessing. So, she is.

It may sound weird that she would give a complete stranger her belongings, but it is so obviously a God-thing (or more specifically, a Holy Spirit empowered moment) because no one is ever uncomfortable about it. I mean, come on, a complete stranger giving you their purse is weird because it is a purse, and she has to empty it, while you stand there waiting to receive it  The fact that no one feels odd or just walks off, well, it speaks to a supernatural moment.

Skip to our friendship, and because we spent so much time together for a few years (now we live too far apart to see each other often) we had to instill a rule. She could not give me anything. Two women are forever complimenting each other on accessories and clothing, so if the rule were not in place, I’d own half her stuff. It’s like my Coastie Son said to her, “Karen, I love your house!” (And, no she did not give him her house, but we had a good laugh.)

There was one sweater though that I begged for suspension of the rule over. I coveted that sweater. But even she would not budge because it was her “comfort sweater.” It was the one she wore to defend herself against the onslaught of the world. I realize that is a wordy and dramatic sentence, but I also know that anyone who’s lived long enough, and is reading this, knows what I mean. Comfort foods, comfort clothes, comfort shows…the list goes on. We sometimes have to defend our minds and our bodies from the overload of a world of chaos. That sweater was part of her arsenal. After sorting the mail, double-checking the kid’s homework, picking up the day’s clutter in her home, and starting dinner for her family, on came the sweater. A sign. The world was out there for a bit. At least until tomorrow.

When my world fell apart, and I was in the process of moving, my birthday rolled around. I didn’t want to celebrate or even think about it, but Karen insisted we do something, which for us translates as a hike and lunch. Both of us are outdoor girls who prefer the 17 mile trek up to Mt. Pisgah over shopping. It did feel good to get outside, get my mind off of things, and enjoy lunch. But then, she said she had a gift for me in the car. It was her sweater. She’d had to bleach it quite a bit, and sew new buttons on it, but it was now mine. I understood exactly why she had chosen that moment to give it to me. It was for my comfort in a dark time.

We joked about it and laughed. Something we do a lot together, in the worst and best of times. I promised to gift it back to her, or someone else, when “their time came.”

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I felt light and lovely all day. I took a nap on my back porch and woke up with the sweater wrapped tight around me. I had used it as a blanket for my nap. As I normally do upon waking, I began to pray. I was praying for a friend who is struggling. My prayer was for her comfort. I wondered aloud if there was a way I could help alleviate her pain, and I couldn’t imagine there was. Her situation is so difficult and I felt helpless. But the Lord reminded me, “What about the sweater, Cinthia?”

So, out came the laundry detergent, and I went in search of the button box to sew new buttons on. Today, my friend has the sweater. I left her wrapped up in it, ready to download a season of Downtown Abbey. Comfort clothes, comfort shows. She has promised to gift it to the next person when “their time comes.”

! Corinthians 1 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  

 

Dunrobin Castle

Why You Need a Landscape Designer (or Architect)

Here’s a shocker. Most homeowners (especially women, sorry gal-friends) do not know if they live in the sun or the shade.

How do I know this? I work in a garden retail center.

Every Saturday couples wake up, and decide that today is the day they’re going to get their yard work done. Trees, shrubs, perennials, all planted and mulched, just like a Saturday Home Depot commercial. So, off they go to the garden center.

They’ve already broken rule number one in any project. They didn’t talk about yard, yet. No late night exchanges while falling asleep, or early morning breakfast discussions on what they both like, or more importantly, don’t like. (Couples live under the delusion, no matter how many years into a good marriage, that they like the same things.)

Upon arriving at the nursery, the wife heads straight to anything that is blooming. Generally, the perennials. She starts picking up this and that, and saying, “Oh, how pretty.” Here’s where I step in. “Do you have sun or shade?” I ask.

The wife, “Full sun.”

The husband, “Some sun, more morning than not.” Then he looks at his wife as if she’s grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead.

I break the bad news to her. “That plant requires full sun,” I say.

She doesn’t hear me. She’s already envisioning a field of these perennials blooming in her yard. She’s imagining hosting weekend company (something she rarely, if ever, does), and having cut flowers artfully arranged in vases from her flower garden.

To emphasize, I say, “You know, like parking lot sun.”

This stops her (I am nothing if not descriptive).

I continue, “Like five to six hours of middle of the day, no trees around, no houses, no sheds, no garages, NOTHING but blazing sun, for five to six hours,” I have a very serious look on my face because I know who will be back in the nursery in a few weeks, telling me that her flowers aren’t blooming.

She says, “We have that.”

Her husband nearly goes insane with this declaration, but he maintains because I’m standing there. “We practically live in a forest,” he says.

“My peonies bloom,” she responds.

At this point, I suggest they talk a bit, while I go busy myself with something else. They agree, and head toward the back of the nursery, trying to communicate “like the counselor taught them”. It does not look promising.

The back of my house faces the side of my neighbor’s house. Between our houses is a picket fence, a chain link fence, two very large cherry trees that completely shade my back yard (I mean completely), and a very large sycamore that completely shades her back yard (again, I mean, completely). Yet, without fail, in that space between our houses, she plants daylilies, cone flowers, shasta daisies, and roses. Basically, any plant that requires full (parking-lot-full) sun. I watch her from my bedroom window as she tends to these bedraggled, pitiful, non-blooming plants. Well, I’ll correct myself. Sometimes, they do manage one or two blooms. I suppose it’s all relative.

I want tell her, while gesturing with sweeping arms, this is ALL SHADE. I imagine myself saying SHADE like I would to an old person who is hard of hearing, although she is neither.

I have a client whose garden will be on spring tour this year. It’s a big deal, and I’m helping her get ready. We fight constantly over whether she has sun or shade. She swears she has full sun. I sound like the garden center husband when I tell her, “You practically live in a forest,” Actually, she does live in a forest. I’m just trying to be polite, and get paid.

She says, “My peonies bloom.”

And, they do. About three blooms per shrub, for which she paid $86 a shrub, for a total of three shrubs, or $258.

This isn’t the only reason why most homeowners need a landscape designer, but it is a very good one. If you don’t know whether you live in the sun or the shade, you need help, because that is going to determine what you plant (and yes, ladies, good news, there are a lot of shade blooming plants).

The rule of thumb is 15-20% of the value of your home should be spent on the yard. Before your jaw falls open, especially if you are currently building a home in the range of a million or more, consider that the costs includes hardscapping (driveways, terracing, stone steps, patios, rock walls, drainage, etc.), and all this before you even get to plants and mulch.

So, before you consider a DIY yard, consider a designer. They need the work, and you need a happy marriage, which grows best in sun or shade so long as professionals are doing the work..

In Defense of Beth Moore, transplanted and still blooming, cinthia milner

In Defense of Beth Moore (and a few other Bible Teachers)

Today, I was encouraged by something Beth Moore wrote. Then I forgot what it was (within like five minutes, geez) so I googled her to see if I could find that statement again. Dear Jesus. People do not like that woman. Or, at least, some don’t. Some probably like her a bit too much judging by their response to those who don’t like her. This was all blog talk. Theology this and that. Big hair this and that. Texas this and that. Southern this and that. Women this and that. She gave up her son…what you’re really going to go there? Turns out Christianity Today isn’t too big on her (well, since they don’t like her!), and some woman in Wisconsin broke up with her.

I will pause here to give thanks to the Lord that He did not see fit to make me Beth Moore. I would kill a couple of people. Or, I’d send my big Texan husband to kill them.

At any rate, I did find Beth Moore’s statement. It was Faith can be work. Love can be labor. And, hope can get long. Amen, Sister.

Some of her haters are theologians who specialize in discrediting everyone but themselves. I’ve done some of her studies, just like I’ve done Bible Study Fellowship and Kay Arthur and Anne Graham Lotz and Kelly Minter and well, all sorts of studies, including Sunday School lessons and extensive note taking during my pastor’s sermons. And while none of them have turned me into a Biblical know-it-all, all of them have encouraged me along the way, which is huge because the way has been hard. Very hard. And, I could use some encouraging. And, that seems to be the real talent of Bible teachers in my life, to point me back to Christ, and his faithfulness, and to encourage me on my journey.

Every year I go with my precious roommate from college to Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove and spend the weekend being taught by Anne Graham Lotz. I’ll be honest. I don’t really remember what she teaches me. But, I come away encouraged, equipped, and believing that I know a God who cares about me. Read that again. I come away knowing that I know a God who cares about me.

That’s what I need to be taught again and again–the Lord Loves Me.

Sometimes, I wonder why, when doing so many Bible studies, that I can’t remember half of what I learned. I think it’s because I am not there to learn something just to make me Bible-smart. I am truly desperate for God. I am listening, not for crazy theological insights, but for God himself to tell me, I love you Cinthia, and I have not forgotten you. I’ll fill in any blank I’m asked too if the Lord will whisper that in my ear.

You see, Jesus better be real, or I am up the proverbial creek. I need the Lord. I need him to show up each day because I am terrified of life without him in it. Sometimes I wonder if I am whacked out to believe in someone I have never seen. And, to be so dependent on that someone. Literally, Jesus is first in my life and my heart not because I am a spiritual guru, but because there is no one or nothing else to compete. I have no husband, or enormous savings account–the two things that would likely keep me pretty independent. Consequences and circumstances have played out that I do life alone, mostly, and that is pretty scary. And, no before you go there, that does not make me prey for Bible teachers. I am pretty discerning and when I hear something that just sounds off, I know it. I don’t agree with every teacher or preacher. I don’t have too for them to encourage me, and remind me that I am loved and remembered by God. I need the reminder as much as I need Nicole C. Mullen, singing at the top of her lungs, that Jesus will move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call. I hope he moves heaven and earth because I can’t.

Today, my pastor talked about trials and suffering, and how we best prepare for them because we will have them. He had us in 1 Peter. And, I don’t remember everything the man said, but I know that, after the sermon, I felt God had spoken to my heart. That he had reminded me, come the inevitable suffering and heartache, that he was there. And boy, do I need to hear that because while Beth Moore may not have it all right, she’s got one thing right. Faith can feel like work, love can be laborious, and hope seem pretty dang long. And, I need the encouragement. So, thanks for taking the time, Beth Moore, to encourage me. It is appreciated.