Thursday, July 13, 2017

Clean Hands

This morning this cutie was "helping" me get ready while I brushed my teeth. She said, "Mommy, my hands" as she held her hands up. She wanted me to help her wash her hands. This is her favorite bathroom activity. So I lifted her up, put her little hands under the water, applied soap, rinsed, and then handed her the towel. She said, "all clean!" And I said, "yay, clean hands!" And Pappa said, "it's that simple." And He reminded me that no matter how dirty our hands, when we come to Him, He lifts us up, He cleanses us of all unrighteousness as easily as I washed Brian's hands. Like her, it's not something we can do on our own but we always come out clean.
Oh give us clean hands, Lord! "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord  And righteousness from the God of his salvation.vv
Psalms 24:3‭-‬5 NASB

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ever Feel Forsaken?

As I read this verse again today, I couldn't help but notice that in His final hour Jesus addressed His Father as "God". "My God, My God". I haven't done a word study to be sure but best I can remember I belive this is one of the few times, if not the only time, He referred to God the Father as simply, "God" and not "My Father". And as I was thinking about this and thinking about Christ's question, "why have You forsaken Me?" knowing that Jesus never lost faith, He never doubted in God's why did He believe He was forsaken? And why did He say God instead of Father....and I'm sure there are many applicable interpretations from people way smarter then me... but I couldn't help but think about the times when I've felt forsaken. I've often noticed that when I pray, I pray to Pappa or Father EXCEPT when I feel distant from Him. Those times I say Lord or God. Isn't that interesting? Could it be that despite never doubting in the Father's promises, never loosing faith in the Father, that the Father allowed Jesus to experience a mixed emotion here? In that He allowed Jesus to FEEL forsaken? At this most crucial hour, Jesus felt what I know so many of us have felt. He can now identify with feeling mixed up. Knowing God loves you, knowing your not forgotten, and yet feeling so alone?..... Doesn't that just take your breath away?

Hot Air Balloons

So the Lord woke me up in the middle of the night one night last November tell me something. Hot air balloons. Lol yes really! He said, "I can always use the sand bags of life to get you where you need to go but you'll go higher when you let them go. However, some ties, the ones holding you down to the ground, must be severed completely before you can fly."

I can honestly say in the last 8 months there has been A LOT of severing. Trusting Him to show me which chords to cut and when and how to cut them has been very hard. But He's always there with me in that little basket and I gotta say: the air up here is so much more refreshing.

1 Peter 2

My suburban got broken into last night. Again. I tend to take these kinds of things personally. It hurts my feelings. Like someone knew me and felt I deserved it or something. And Andy and I felt angry and hurt and sad because they did a lot of damage and it's expensive to fix.
But this morning I had a little bit of Bible study homework left that I realized last night I forgot to do before our meeting today. So I decided it was a good idea to put aside my hurt feelings and soak in the Word a little this morning before the kids woke up. This is the last verse I read and it just seemed so timely. (1 Peter 2:4-10)
I realized this isn't personal. It's war, not against people and I get to choose mercy for those in darkness. Because once I did not know who I was either. Now I do. Once I lived in darkness too but now I am in the marvelous Light. And annoying things like broken windows can't hurt my inner soul because I know who I am and I don't get my worth or value from what someone does to me. And I feel sorry for those who are still in darkness and do not know or experience the light of His love. So I can choose to forgive. Again. Forgiveness is hard to come up with when you're empty or doing it out of your own strength. But when it comes from the endless well that is Jesus somehow it's easier to draw out. Remembering verses 4 and 5 of this chapter that because of His sacrifice to lay down His life and become that Corner Stone I can make spiritual sacrifices as well and be built up together with my brothers and sisters to become a spiritual household. I can live out the kingdom just by forgiving and letting go of hurt and bitterness. And I pray for that lonely soul who shattered my window that they would find the Light and that by letting go of my judgment they would be free to choose Him.

Luke 5

So I'm reading Luke 5 today and get to the part where Jesus tells Peter to put the boat out into deep water. Peter has a "yes, however" moment. He tells the Lord that he's worked all night and caught nothing but he obeys. I had to go back to what Jesus said. "Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch." It just rose up in me so big. Jesus told him he was going to have a big catch upfront. This got me thinking, maybe He's telling him to go to a "yes however" place, that may seem ridiculous or like it won't work. But He's already telling him to prepare for a catch. He's already revealing the promise. It's not even mysterious! Which got me thinking even more, what promises am I missing out on because I won't get in the dang boat? What promises has He already told me about that I've doubted because of their unlikely location? What if I chose to obey and believe all the outrageous things He says? He keeps saying, "think bigger, dream bigger, see bigger" and now he says, "prepare for a big catch!"

Psalm 7

Isn't it funny how often you can open the Bible, seemingly at random, and it can minister exactly to your need?
This morning I was processing some of my feelings towards a person who hurt me quite significantly in my childhood. I have been seeing a counselor about it for a while and one thing that was pointed out was that I just hadn't let myself feel sadness over the trauma because that would be an admonition that it actually happened, something I had kind of been in denial about as a way of self protection. So as I was praying this morning my prayer was something along the lines of, "Father, are You here with me in the sadness? Do you feel pain when I feel pain? I know I can get through this if You're in it with me." Of course I "know" the answer but I needed Him to reveal Himself to me.
Soon after I prayed, I opened my Bible app to read the next Psalm (remember I'm praying through the Psalms), which was Psalm 7. Read it with me and come back, pay careful attention to all the emotions of God listed towards the end.......I'll finish my post after the chapter.

Psalm 7 NASB
O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, Or he will tear my soul like a lion, Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver. O Lord my God, if I have done this, If there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;  And let him trample my life down to the ground And lay my glory in the dust. Selah. Arise, O Lord , in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment. Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You, And over them return on high. The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord , according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts. Behold, he travails with wickedness, And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood. He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, And has fallen into the hole which he made. His mischief will return upon his own head, And his violence will descend upon his own pate. I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. verse 11 it says, "God who has indignation everyday." I read this chapter yesterday but this part did not register at all. This morning it practically jumped off the screen. I looked up the word indignation in the Interlinear Bible and it means anger, annoyance, but a more literal meaning is "foams at the mouth." Foams at the mouth?! If that does not describe a passionate God I don't know what does. I'm not saying God is foaming at the mouth in anger over my situation but this really ministered to me and here's why. He is a God who feels. He cares deeply when we sin or are sinned against.  That matters to me and it helps me in this season of my life. And it's always overwhelming to me when He responds, especially so quickly, to my prayers. Maybe this chapter doesn't minister to you today like it did me, that's ok. Ask Him for what you need and see if He doesn't answer.

Monday, May 23, 2016

He never wastes a yes

"You don't give Your heart in pieces....You don't hide Yourself to tease us." 

This song, Pieces by Amanda Cook, has been wrecking me lately. And when I heard it this Sunday during worship I felt His whisper on my heart, "I never meant for you (all of us) to live in pieces either."

What if we really started believing that when God sent His son, Jesus, to the earth to die...? What if we really started believing that when Jesus said YES to laying down His life for us...? What if we believed that ALL of that was JUST so we could have relationship with Him? What if we truly believed that He wants to speak to us, that He gave it all and continues to give us all and that He's not withholding anything or any of Himself? Because why would He do that to hide? Why would he do that to stay silent? "You don't give Your heart in pieces..." If you believe that then know He never intended for any of us to live in pieces either.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
(Psalm 34:18 NASB)

But maybe you've felt like I once did, justified in feeling broken. Maybe you aren't ready to let go of hurt or disappointment. Or Anger. Resentment. Fear. Worry. Maybe you're not ready to forgive and let go and move on. Or maybe you've felt that freedom just wasn't for you. That this was your thorn, your cross to carry. Maybe it's not even possible.

I'll tell you what He told me. He said, "I never waste a yes. No matter how late. Or how small."

No matter how great or lacking your faith may be, no matter how hopeless or helpless you may feel...He never wastes a yes. A simple surrender, no matter how late or how small. He can use. Maybe you can't say today, "I'm all in, have your way, take it all." But maybe you can say you're willing to be made willing. He loves that. He loves those prayers.

Can a nation be brought forth all at once?
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord
(Issaiah 66:8-9 NASB)

Maybe you wonder why I used those two verses. The word "brokenhearted" from Psalm 34 is the same as the words "bring to birth" in Issaih 66. He didn't bring you this far to leave you. He didn't come this far for you, just to distance Himself now.

So offer all you can. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 
(Proverbs 4:18 NASB)

Let Him be on the journey with you. Say yes where you can. The path will get lighter, my friend and one day the sun will shine.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Field and a Garden

There's this place that I go sometimes. My Field. I go there with Pappa, God. It's not a physical place you can see. It's a place in my dreams and my prayers. He leads me there often. Sometimes He stands at the gate and calls. Sometimes, well, sometimes I don't go. But He waits. Waits for my return. I find Him there often. When I go looking for His voice. When I feel far. He's there, in a corner, up high on a hill. There's a tree with a swing. I go there and I sit and He pushes me. I look up and I see blue skies. It's warm and the breeze in my hair as I swing is just right. We talk. About everything. We laugh and we sing. He chuckles sometimes. No other word to describe it. It is the laugh He has when is amused with my antics or those of my children. Sometimes He shares with me His heart for people I know. He'll say things like, "Remember her? Oh I have great plans for that one." And I can share my heart and ask Him to help me see the one's He loves the way He sees them. Sometimes, in my field, we just walk. I feel the sunshine on my face and hear the grass in the wind. He sings to me. And we dance. There's always peace here. Always rest. Why did I leave it? Why did I not come when I was called the first time? But I'm here now, and we walk and walk and walk and when we've already talked about everyone on our hearts I look up and see we are in a new place in my field. A stream. It's a beautiful, little trickling stream. I go there often with Him now. And we play, careless and free. Sometimes I come heavy and burdened but we splash and skip rocks and He says, "tell me all your troubles." And I do. Before I know it, I'm laughing. Sometimes I swim there, float. Sometimes we go and we drink. Sometimes I wash my hands. Then one day I crossed. The further I waded in the lighter I felt. The freer I felt. Before I knew it I was on the other side. And He's always with me. We cross often now. On the other side of this river is a place in my field I hadn't seen before. Hadn't wished to see. Had not wanted to know. I don't like to stay long. But I follow Him when He leads. I feel His heart grow full. Full with ache, full with sadness and longing. And my heart aches. It's less peaceful here. It's hotter, dryer, windless. I can only stay so long before I tug on His hand and ask to go back. He always looks at me and smiles. He always nods and we turn. But always. Always. He looks back. I know this is a place in His heart, dry and hurting. And I want to share it with Him. He doesn't push me though. I love Him so for that.

Let the field with all that is in it exult.

Then all the trees of the forests will sing for joy
13 before Yahweh, for he is coming; 
Psalm 96:12-13a

Recently, I discovered a new place. My Garden. Have you ever watched a child, maybe you're own child, discover or play with something new? Have you ever stood around the corner secretly watching him read a book, play with a train set, color a picture, or make music on an instrument? Have you watched the wonder of discovery unfold? Witnessed him delight in something new? In my garden He's not by my side. But He's there, quietly observing me delight in the discovery of treasures found. My garden is still new to me. I've only just started going there. It's a large garden. There are many places of neglect with plants overgrown. There are rows of dry, withered plants that need pulled. At the front of my garden are rows of tilled and fertile earth, ready for seed. And I've planted and watered, I've even discovered, as I dig my hands into the soil, vegetables already ready. I've harvested while I've planted! Oh, imagine my delight at such a thing, my surprise. A little further in are rows and rows and rows of abandoned plants. Thirsty for water but alive and in need of pruning. And weeding. Sometimes I've even found plants with fruit on them. As I pull back a dead stem, branch, or leaf, I'll discover fruit. Still further are plots marked out but have yet to be tilled. The ground is hard and the grass and weeds are abundant. How can I work in these places when so much needs to be done elsewhere? So much easier, more enjoyable work? But my eyes often look that way, my feet often carry me to this place and I find myself standing before it, thinking about which tool I need, wondering if I have the strength to clear it. I know there's much work that needs to be done in my garden. I know He's there with me, even helping me, if only by His encouragement and pleasure at being there. I know this place is a place for joy, delight in what I love doing. So there's no need to be overwhelmed by all that there is to do. He leads me to just where I need to be, that place that needs my attention, my love, my care. I wonder why He's not with me in it, working beside me. But I feel His heart beat then, know His presence. I'm never alone. His heart is full in my joy, seeing me be, work, and delight in all He's provided and created me for.

Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. 
Hosea 10:12

Monday, July 28, 2014

Come Up Higher

This morning I woke up and came down stairs and was immediately hit with the disaster that is my house. I made my coffee and surveyed the mess. I wasn't feeling great last night so ended up walking out of my kitchen after dinner and just turning the light off instead of cleaning up. Sipping my coffee, I dodged toys, books, pillows, and blankets on my way to the couch. I looked up and saw my dust covered book shelves, unorganized nick knacks strewn about from a wild game of football yesterday. I got up and opened the curtains in front of my back door to look out into the back yard. The worship song I was listening to was about the Creator so I thought it would be nice to look out at creation but all I could see was my disaster of a back yard. Green Pool, discarded lunch dishes on the back porch, toys scattered throughout the yard, popcycle wrappers, grass that needs mowed, chores that need done in my garden...*sigh* the list goes on.

I sat back down, trying to listen to the worship music and concentrate on meeting with the Father. But all I could think about was what a giant failure of a wife, mother, and homemaker I was. Silently running through the ginormous list of chores that needed to be done and berating myself for slacking off and letting everyone else slack off all weekend. Out of no where the Lord invades my thoughts saying, "I have so much more."

This was a startling thought. So much more what? But in my heart I knew exactly what He was talking about. This may be shocking to some but the truth is my disaster of a house and lax cleaning skills are pretty low on His radar. Like pretty much non existent. What's important to Him? What "more" could He be talking about?

I have a very limited amount of alone time available to spend with the Father. Very limited. So here I was feeling awful about myself and wasting time with Him. And please don't misunderstand. The Lord doesn't trivialize our thoughts, feelings, concerns, or worries. He cares, genuinely cares about what we care about no matter how big or how small. But our worries are NOT His worries. Does He care about cleanliness, self control, holiness, and stewardship? Absolutely. But He has so much more for us then worrying about those things!

So my challenge for today is to come up higher, to pursue Him through my everyday tasks; to see myself the way He sees me. I am His child, His creation and obviously He trusts me enough to give me my house, my children and frankly I think He thinks I'm doing a fabulous job!

Maybe you're not a stay at home mom like me and these are not your issues. The point is, if for any reason you feel like you've failed, or the tediousness of this life is getting to you, if anything starts to cloud your vision of what really matters let me encourage you today by saying, "Come up higher, there is so much more." Set your sights on things eternal. If it's not going to be here a gazillion years from now don't worry about it! If you have eternal lives under your care, they are the ones who deserve your attention. Your relationships with the Father and with those in your life are what's important, so let the weight and the burdens of the temporal things fall today. He has so much more in store.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wake Up Call

The last few weeks I've been waking up at 6:00 am. My kids don't usually wake up until 7:30ish so waking up so early was initially kind of annoying. But after the first couple of mornings fighting to go back to sleep I finally got up and out of bed. I came downstairs and it was sooooo quiet! It was so nice that now when I wake up and see how early it is I jump right out of bed and enjoy the calm before the storm. HA! I make my coffee and often times just sit in silence until my kids wake up. Sometimes I zone out and don't think about anything, I think my brain just needs that every now and then; to be completely unplugged from the internet, tv, kid problems, and grown up problems. And while reflective silence is amazing, I usually end up spending this time in worship and prayer in His presence. It's so wonderful!

This morning, I made my coffee, nibbled a piece of fruit and turned worship music on. I found myself just slouched down into the couch, eyes closed, face lifted up, my body completely relaxed, just breathing in the stillness and peace of the moment. And there I found myself sitting with Jesus. In my imagination? In the Spirit? Whatever you're more comfortable with but in my heart I could see us sitting together. I was sitting on the floor next to Him, leaning on His knee, and He gently stroked my hair. And there are no words between us. Just breathing, just peace, just contentment, just shalom. And it's more then enough for me for I could only stand it a few minutes before I found myself face down on the couch melted by the power of His great love and joy in me. How is it without saying a single word He tells me all I need to know? Do you know that feeling? Like every crack and crevice of your being is being filled? At least for the moment you are whole, made complete in Him.

So here is a thought I had this morning once my kids woke up and came down the stairs one by one. After they each had their morning snuggles and kisses and smiles and it was time to make breakfast I thought, "ya know maybe I'll set my alarm and get up a little earlier so I can have more time with Pappa." This is serious because I set my alarm for no man. That's just how good this morning time is. But in that moment I locked eyes with Him and I could feel that unspoken desire, or entreaty to stay. "Just stay with Me." It's not like He doesn't know what my life is like so why would He ask me if I weren't able to say yes and if He weren't able to make it happen? So what if we could stay there, in that place with Him always? What if during the craziness of our day our soul, our inner being, could be with Him in that place? And what if every decision, thought, action, motivation came out of that place of wholeness and dependence on Him? How would my day be different if I didn't carry the worries, stress, frustrations, brokenness, suffering, pain, and empty places of this life? If my soul was at rest, and kneeling by the One who makes me whole would I react in anger or frustration? Or could I suddenly find myself with an untapped reserve of patience, compassion, and peace of mind? How do I do that? I feel like for now, for me it means just carrying an awareness that this is happening. If I have to "do" anything then isn't it beside the point?

Maybe it means just stopping what I'm doing and breathing Him in, maybe meditating on His goodness and seeing myself with him. Maybe it means surrendering some things. Maybe it means waking up early and giving Him my day and finding my center to start out with. Maybe it means blogging about it haha! I hope so! And I'm certainly on a journey to find out.

I hope your day and heart would be filled with the joy and peace that comes only from Him.

Shalom friends!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

10 Real Life Gardening Tips I Learned the Hard Way

I think we can all agree that the majority of my blog posts are about spiritual matters so this time I wanted to share a different side of myself with you. I love gardening. My parents get a big kick out of this since I hated working in the garden growing up. I think that was mostly because I didn't appreciate, well, much of anything as a teenager. As an adult, wife, mother, responsible citizen who lives in the current economic climate I've really come to appreciate a lot of things I didn't back then. Hard work, the value of a dollar, where real food comes from, just the joy and satisfaction of seeing your hard work pay off are all a few reasons I've come to love gardening; not to mention, gardening is an extremely rewarding spiritual experience as well. But there are also many frustrations about gardening I didn't quite share in as a youth. Which brings me to the point of this post. I've compiled only a few of the major mistakes, twists and turns, gardening has showed me to share with all of you. If you're a beginner I hope you find this list helpful. These are just a few tips to get you started.

1. Dream big, start small.

My garden has easily doubled in size every year. I'm already making plans for my garden next year and it will be twice as big. I'm glad I started out small though. Oh I had vast and wonderful dreams for my little garden that first year. I planted carrots. A lot of carrots. At the time I juiced about a pound of carrots every morning. I envisioned myself strolling out to my garden every morning, pulling a few fat juicy carrots for my morning juice, plucking other wonderful ingredients along my way like kale, mint, garlic, parsley. So more then half my garden was carrots. Well here's the deal about carrots. Once you pull them, they're done. Not like a tomato plant that keeps producing. One and done. That's how carrots work. Also carrots take FOREVER to grow and mature. I planted early spring and finally by November I just pulled them all up. I got one tiny harvest of sour, dirt tasting, pinky sized carrots. But you know what? I learned from that. I learned a lot from that. It takes time to learn what kind of soil you have, what plants need what to grow. I learned carrots don't grow very well in the soil I have in my backyard. I learned that I don't like one and done plants. I learned that gardening helps you grow patience not just vegetables; that was the hardest lesson of all. So my advice is dream big, dream real big. Think about all the different kinds of plants you'd love to grow but start small. Instead of planting 10 rows of one thing plant 2 or 3 of one plant and see how it does. Especially if it's your first year. Generally the first year isn't that great even if you know what you're doing. So don't invest a lot of money, time, and energy in a huge garden that very well won't produce much at all. I learn something every year about different plants and I've talked with gardeners who have been gardening for 30 + years and are still learning new things.

2. Don't neglect your dirt.

If you're like me and have 4 kids, a large dog, and a cat then you are probably about sick of poop. That is until a truck load of horse, cow, goat, rabbit, or chicken crap gets dumped into your garden. NEVER have I been so excited to dig in cow poo as I was that first year. I personally unloaded 400 lbs of organic cow manure into my garden. Hmmm let me rephrase that. I didn't *personally* *unload* 400 lbs of manure. But I did, all by myself, unload 400 lbs of manure from my van onto my garden. (Oh here's another tip, if you're serious about gardening invest in a truck!) I was pretty much just as excited about cow poo the second year I did it as well! What kind of dirt do you have? Sandy? Clay? Brown, red, black? I'm pretty lucky in these parts. Most of Oklahoma sits on a clay foundation but my back yard is full of some of the darkest, richest black earth you'll find. Stick a shovel in my back yard and you're bound to hit a worm, no lie. So figure out what you have to start with and what plants like it or don't like it. Then fertilize, fertilize, fertilize. I prefer organic and here are some ways I've found work for me:
Organic manure. Get it wherever you can find it. Places like Lowes and Home Depot usually have 40 lb bags of it pretty cheap (although it gets more expensive every year!) Often times you can find it on Craigslist from farmers or ranchers who give it away as long as you can haul it off. Just be sure to double check that no chemicals/pesticides/weed killers were used around the compost pile because this can totally screw your garden.
Compost kitchen scraps all year. All year I keep a big plastic ice cream tub (got plenty of those lying around) with a lid under my sink that I can fill up. My kids take turns taking it out to the garden to dump when it's full. You can actually find pretty nice looking compost bins for this purpose that can sit on your counter. But with 4 kids I can never have anything nice.
Grass clippings, leaves, mulch. These all make great compost. Great to mix in before you start and great to mulch with once your plants have come up. Basically you only want organic materials so no cat litter, grease, plastic, although cardboard and coffee filters are great.
Buy organic fertilizer. There are lots of options, pellets, powders, mixes. Every year before I plant, after I've readied my soil I dump a big tub of organic fertilizer over my garden, especially right before it rains so it can get nice and soaked into the earth.
There are also lots of homemade fertilizers for different plants you probably already have the ingredients for in your kitchen. Epsom salts are great for tomatoes and peppers. Banana peals and coffee grinds are great for tomatoes as well. Egg shells are an excellent source of calcium for plants with blossom end rot. Pinterest is a wonderful resource for all kinds of fertilizer recipes.

3. Thinning is your friend.

Probably one of the hardest things I've had to do as a gardener is thin out my vegetables. Why would I want to pull out a perfectly good plant? Thinning out certain plants is really one of the best things you can do though. Carrots, beets, pumpkins, squash, okra, leeks, are just a few that I can think of that really benefit from being thinned out. They all need room to grow. Root veggies can be especially deceiving. They can look fabulous on the top but if they're all crammed together they don't grow down, they grow up. So for example, you can have a gazillion beautiful carrot tops (told you I learned a lot about carrots my first year) and literally no carrots. Not all is lost though, many times you can do something with those plants that have been thinned out. Beet greens are super yummy, so thin those babies out and toss in a salad. Squash, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, they all transplant pretty easily. So if you have three or four sprouts next to each other and you have room spread them out once they are a few inches tall. If you don't one will end up taking over and the rest will die off anyway.

4. There IS such a thing as too much love.

Wait a little while after planting before you start to weed your garden, especially if you're not 100% sure what your sprouts look like. Spinach in particular looks a lot like grass. I usually wait until my sprouts are all a few inches tall before I go to town weeding. I did learn this the hard way the first couple years after pulling out a lot of my sprouts thinking they were weeds. Doh! *hand to forehead* Another way we can love our plants to death is by watering incorrectly. Yes there is a right way and a wrong way. A lot of plants have their own preference but I pretty much water all mine the same way cause I'm just bossy like that. Kale for example prefers to be watered the same amount the same time everyday and since I grow a lot of kale that's when I water everything else. It's much, much better on your plants to water only once a day. Give them a good soak preferably morning or evening. This way they form longer roots and are heartier plants. There's also such a thing as over watering. If the ends of your produce start to rot or if your plants start to yellow, especially leafy greens, you're probably over-watering. Sometimes this can't be helped because of too much rain. I lost a lot of beautiful spinach plants this year to too much rain. You can also over-love your garden by too much pruning or what I like to call, "impatient pruning." Impatient pruning is when you see a bit that needs pruned but are too lazy to get the proper tool to prune with so you yank off the branch, shoot, blossom, leaf, stem, or sucker and accidentally rip your plant out of the ground.....don't ask me how I know that.

5. Don't let your weeds take root.

Once you are completely sure what is weed and what is sprout feel free to weed away to your little hearts desire. As soon as you see that little weed pop it's head up yank it out of the ground. Don't let it go to seed or you'll have a full blown invasion on your hands. I personally have a bowl designated for weeding in my house. It's labeled "attitude adjuster." Just ask my 8 year old. This system works pretty well and weeds are really not a problem for me any more. Seriously though, going a day or two without much weeding probably won't hurt but eventually the grass and weeds WILL take over. I became very aware of this last year when I was 8 months pregnant in July and it became literally impossible for me to bend over; what am I saying I stopped bending over the minute I found out I was pregnant.

6. Know your enemy.

This is a big one. I lost a whole crop of squash one year to vine borers because I didn't know what was happening until it was too late. And nothing brings the "f" word out of me like a blasted squash bug....OK OK OK, nothing makes me *think* the "f" word quite like a squash bug. They are foul and disgusting creatures and you do not want them to infest your garden. There are just far to many pests to name and suggest remedies for in one blog post. So do your research. If you see a bug, don't assume it's OK because it's probably not but there are a lot of friendly bugs so don't just start smashing. If something weird starts happening to your leaves, vines, roots, or stems inspect the plant thoroughly for any sign of insect activity immediately. Don't wait and see what happens because what will happen is everything will die. Nothing more frustrating then leaving your garden healthy one night and waking up to it half dead the next morning. One caterpillar alone can decimate a lettuce crop in one night. Something nibbling your fruit after you've waited patiently for forever for it to ripen? Rabbits, mice, squirrels, moles, birds....all easily remedied by a feisty cat. Seriously. That's my advice. Get a cat. Haven't had a problem with animals sneaking in my garden since.

7. Don't be afraid to get dirty, or smelly.

Cow manure, squished squash bugs, sweat, these are a few things I've had to overcome once I first started gardening. Now, I'm not a girly girl by any means but dirt (haha who am I kidding? Cow poo!) under my finger nails was a new experience for me. I wonder now why I would even bother painting my nails. Actually. No. I never wonder that, the thought of painting my finger nails never even crosses my mind any more. Dirt, sweat, bugs, whatever the residue is called that gets on you after touching a tomato or squash plant and makes you itch for forever, it's all part of it and if you want a successful garden you're going to have to roll up your sleeves, have a designated pair of shoes JUST for gardening, and get used to crap getting under your nails. Literally.

8. No shame!

Failure is not just an option. It's a given. There are so many variables, pests, and learning opportunities that sometimes things are just going to go wrong. There's no shame in that. Sometimes you'll rip out your own plant accidentally, or over-water, or be too tired to water or weed, or you'll plant too early or too late or it will be too hot or too cold. Epic failure is part of the gardening experience. Sometimes plants have a mind of their own and just won't produce for many different possible reasons even if you do everything perfect. The reward is totally worth it but if you let every dead plant or tomato that's already half eaten get you down you will miss all the joys of gardening. Obviously there's nothing like bringing in a big harvest but gardening is like it's own parallel universe, stuff just happens sometimes that's out of our control and it happens to the best of us so there's no shame in it. If anything it's the gardener equivalent of battle scars, something to brag about and freak out the civilians with.

9. Don't go it alone.

Of course you should have your significant other be on board and on the same page. My husband is all for a bigger garden, less he has to mow he says, but he's not majorly into gardening. He helps me with the heavy lifting and is supportive but doesn't like to talk about seeds, compost, or bugs; nor does he share in the depth of my hatred for vine borers and squash bugs. I have friends that garden and I thoroughly enjoy sharing many conversations centered around those topics with them. Facebook gardening groups and blogs are also great resources. I'm part of an awesome group about urban gardening and it's full of advice and opportunities to share pictures and condolences for dead plants. Like I said before, there is always something to learn, why not learn from someone else's mistakes?

10. There's a reason He walked in the garden everyday.

Maybe I'm just super spiritual but with each of the points above I can't help see an underlying spiritual lesson to be learned. Life is a journey we learn along the way; we start out humbly but that doesn't mean He doesn't want us to set our sights on bigger goals and dreams. No matter what, you can't forget about or neglect your foundation. Sometimes it takes intentional maintenance to keep our core beliefs, the foundation of our faith healthy. Without it nothing good can grow out of our lives. If we've believed one lie it can shape every aspect of our life. It's important to drink deeply from the well of His Spirit daily, to let our roots grow deep into His Word and Truth so we won't be swayed by the storms of this life. Because there is a very real enemy that would try and rob you of the fruit in your life. We have to stay vigilant, knowing his plan is half the battle. The Word says, "resist him and he'll flee." Guard your heart, your mind, don't let yourself be taken in by his schemes. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Darkness, dirt, hard work, it's all part of this life. But you are strong, capable, created with a purpose, and you can do it. And when you still manage to fail? Do not be ashamed! We've all been there. We've all fallen short. But there's a reason the Father walked in the Garden with Adam every day and there's a reason you should walk in yours every day. Relationship. When you put your heart and soul into it, no matter the out come, you won't be disappointed. Don't neglect your garden, and don't neglect your relationship with your Creator. Let Him tend your heart as you tend your garden. Watch the seeds come to life. Enjoy the fruit and share it with your loved ones. And feel free to share it with me any time! You're not alone!

If you have an awesome gardening experience I'd love to hear about it. Comment below and share this post with your friends if you've enjoyed it!