sunset on lake

When the Answer to Your Prayer is Boring

My sister sent a picture of a beautiful sunset over a lake to the sister group text last night. In the caption, she referred to an on-going conversation the four of us were having and she said, “Life sucks.” The irony of that was, of course, obvious. She was on a lake, enjoying a view that is supposed to remove us from the stresses and “suckiness” of life but there it was. Life’s circumstances screaming at you while the sun glistens across lake water.

So which is it? Sunsets or life sucks?

It’s both.

We enjoy the sunset even though life can suck. We take our joys and respites where the Lord gives them.

I wake up each day with a prayer on my lips. It’s the same one every day–relief from pain, relief from money worry, relief from worry, period. In short, relief

My Picket Fence Garden

Some of my clients just want an audience. I know how they feel. When I lived at South Turkey Creek, my garden was beautiful, but it was for the benefit of one–me. We lived off an old logging road, off a secondary road that was so far out a friend of mine brought milk and bread when she visited. Our home wasn’t visible from the road, and my garden was only seen by those who drove down our driveway, and they had to get through a locked farm gate.

So, I get it when someone calls for an appointment and I drive up and think, they do not need my help, but I am getting the camera out because oh my gosh. Sometimes, it’s a legit question, or they need another eye on the garden because it feels “off”. But when my sole contribution to the hour

My Back Porch

 

B.B. Barns, my place of employment, has a container specialist. Her job is designing and installing containers for clients. Of course, everyone wants that job because it sounds so cool (it is). I’m the garden coach. I help people with their landscapes, everything from what is in it (plant identification) to how to take care of it (a lot of pruning lessons) to plant diagnostics (Japanese beetles or voles almost always) to small designs (limited to the front foundation or perennial borders mostly). I don’t help with containers. Instead, I ask our container designer for tips. She really is the best.

But once in a blue moon, a client will ask me, “What about my porch?” They mean, of course, what should I do to make my porch more inviting?

I’m not our container specialist, but I do know the number one reason a porch doesn’t

The Gardener is Thankful for the Gardeners

I rent a little brick rancher. It’s a lovely home and I am happy here, sans a garden. I dream of a space for a Cinthia-designed (i.e. a quirky mix of formal and not-so-formal) garden but until, or if that happens, I am blessed to live near a park.

Aggie and I walk to Silvermont Park almost every day. It’s a couple of blocks from our home. It took us awhile to discover it because I thought it was just a big, old house. But, one day we went exploring and found a vegetable garden, woodland garden, butterfly garden, shade garden, native garden, and walking paths. Even free doggie bags (I make good use of those).

There is always something in bloom, little surprises tucked around corners and quiet spaces for reflecting. I am grateful to the crew of Master Gardeners I often see there. They volunteer their time

Five Years of Blur and Two Timelines

Fortunately, my daughter-in-law remembers everything because the last five years, for me, were a blur. I’ve worked two jobs most of the time and three jobs a lot of the time. When I finally got a full-time, benefits, paid vacation days job, I slowed down a bit. Enough to notice that I really couldn’t say what had happened in my 1/2 decade.

I knew the big stuff. My husband left for a woman he said God gave to him. God confirmed the gift of this woman through a Scripture verse and a dream, according to my ex. (The good thing about somebody saying something like that to you is this: 1. You entertain the notion that perhaps God did exactly that. After all, God can do whatever God pleases. And, if he did give your husband a new wife, well then you’re left speechless regarding the matter. 2. You

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I’ve got some history with this debate–Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays–because I was a government employee once. But, I’ll get to that later. For now, let me say, I don’t take offense at Happy Holidays.

Here’s why.

As a Christian, I desire for those who don’t know Jesus, to know him. I don’t have time, and I mean that quite literally, to debate who gets to say what. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). I want to be his worker. In my career of horticulture, we gotta be ready for the harvest. Time is short and workers need to be focused. If you stand around talking while everyone else is harvesting, well then, not only are you out of a job, but people really don’t like you.

Jesus standing around debating Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays when people were

Top 5 Plants for Indoor Toxins

In 1989, NASA teamed up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to study the affects of houseplants on indoor toxins, with a goal of improving the quality of indoor air. Their goal was cleaner space station air, but their findings proved useful for our well-insulated, energy efficient homes, as well. On this rainy, winter day, it’s good to know our houseplants (3 per room is recommended, but 1 makes a difference) are helping to keep our homes free of toxins while we sip hot chocolate with our feet to the fire.

Below is NASA’s chart of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), or household toxins, common to most homes. We all know being outside in nature is great for stress reduction, and filling our lungs with fresh oxygen, so bringing plants indoors just makes sense. Now, with NASA’s study, it makes even more sense.

Houseplants can absorb unwanted

The Entitlement of a White, American, Southern, Christian Girl

When sad or uncomfortable things happened to me, I was able to steady myself with retail therapy, lunch out with friends, dinner with family, a random tv show or movie. All sorts of “normal” things returned my mindset from anxious, grieving, disappointed or whatever, back to “normal” again. It was akin to the old bury-the-head-in-the-sand ploy and it worked fabulously. Without realizing it, there was an unconscious (or maybe not so unconscious) part of me that was thinking, “I’m a white, American, Southern, Christian girl. What could happen to me?”

Even this week, as my plane circled to land in Asheville, where the smoke from the forest fires was so bad the pilot was forced to take a couple of “go’s” at it, I was simultaneously pleading with God to get that plane on the ground, while reminding him that this, THIS, wasn’t supposed to happen to

How May I Pray for You?

If you’re stuck thinking everyone else has such a great life and your life is super crummy, then ask someone, “How may I pray for you?”

My ex and I prayed together almost every night. We laid in bed, held hands and prayed before going to sleep. Obviously, we weren’t the perfect couple, he’s my ex. So, prayer doesn’t necessarily fix everything the way we’d like it too, but it definitely puts things back into perspective. For instance, it was hard for the ex and I to stay mad at one another, if we’d just had a fight, when we were finishing the night with prayer. Why? Prayer is spoken to God. Things get real when God steps in or when we step toward him.

Ask someone, how may I pray for you, and instantly, things will get real with them. You’ll watch their perfect life fade

Random Weed Day (And Other Days)

I did learn a few things from my ex. It wasn’t all smoke and mirrors.

Like, don’t drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade before doing yoga. It throws your balance off. And, if you wait long enough, and are still enough, a copperhead will come back out of the woodshed (that you saw it go into 2 days before) and then you can kill it. (Got that?)

In the garden, I learned a few lessons, too. One crucial one was really, oh-so-simple. There’s always poison ivy. My 2016 garden exemplifies this truism. The poison ivy is spectacular while everything else is withering from heat and drought. Which brings me to random weed day.  Without benefit of the ex’s wisdom, I stumbled upon random weed day by myself. Well, that and Impulse Hill, but that’s another post.

It goes like this.

If you’re a gardener and you’ve lived long enough,