Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

When I was a resident in the beautiful state of TX, I could grow anything. For that five years, my garden was beautiful! Anything I planted bloomed, thrived, produced fruit and made my back yard a peaceful haven. I had tulips, crocus, daffodils, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, sunflowers. I could toss a melon seed in the ground and in a few months I’d have my own vine - peppers galore….you name it, if I put it in the ground it grew.

I have now lived in AZ for almost 7 years. In that time, I have yet to plant a bulb that will bloom a second season, seasonal flowers that will actually last an entire season, or a vegetable plant that actually bears anything edible.

Why! Why! Why!!!!

I love gardening, but have failed miserably. I know it is possible to garden here, I know plenty of people that do. I even know where my problem is with it. The soil and the climate are different here. I just need to adjust to it- maybe adopt a new strategy and plant something different and appreciate it for what it is.

It’s kind of funny how life is a lot like my garden.

There are times when it thrives, produces fruit, flourishes with blooms and possibility, and provides a comfortable and stable environment. The conditions are right for easy existence. The ground is fertile, and provides a healthy and nourishing foundation for growth, happiness and self discovery. There is plenty sunshine to warm the ground where new seeds are sown, and plenty of rain to water them so they can drink and grow. The roots take hold, and before you know it, the garden of life is in full bloom.

Then there are other times in life when there is struggle and drought. Rocky soil and beating sun thwart the efforts to grow. Seedlings my sprout, but the roots are shallow and they soon whither and die. The soil and the climate are different.

It is at these times that we need to change our strategy. Maybe the seeds we are sowing aren’t appropriate to the soil we are in. Perhaps the climate may be fine for a cactus, but not for a fern. We want what we had in our previous garden, but that may not be possible. We therefore must find new ways thrive and grow in ways that are appropriate to the place we are at. And, we must be willing to see the beauty in a garden that looks a little bit different than what we are used to.

When I moved here from TX, a good friend of mine gave me a garden gift that sits in my patch of dirt in my back yard. It says “Bloom Where God Plants You.” It took me a while to get the courage to live that. The climate and soil of life have changed. But, I am beginning to plant new seeds. Those seeds are beginning to grow. Soon they will be a thriving, beautiful garden!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Heat is On!

Living here in Arizona, we don't get a lot of cold weather. In fact it very rarely gets COLD...more like cool, chilly, sweater weather...

Most of our late Fall through winter is fairly pleasant. But, come late April - THE HEAT IS ON!

Today is April 20th. We are going to be about 98 degrees here in the Valley of the Sun. Tomorrow It should be about 100. Yuck. I am not even going to pretend to be cheery about this. I just don't like the heat. The next three months are going to be brutal (at least in my opinion - ask my husband and I think he'd tell you he loves it, but I think that's just so he can justify leaving the a/c up higher to save money...but that is another blog post....) But, I live in the Arizona desert, so I guess I just have to live with it.

Just like the changing seasons here in the AZ desert, life has changing seasons as well. I'm not talking the physical age seasons as in the May/December romance kind of seasons, I'm talking more about emotional and psychological stuff. You know, those moments when everything is running smoothly and then along comes a major life change like a new baby, a new job, a new home. Or those times when you switch gears from a leisurely existence to a full out busy and frantic constant dash to get things done - moms you understand this one, the mad dash to get all the back to school stuff done, or the frantic, up all night preparations for holidays and special events. Maybe you are running fast and efficiently and something tragic happens - the loss of a job, loss of a friend or the loss of a loved one, and you are now at a sudden stand still and don't know what to do. Those are seasons. And just like the seasons here in the AZ desert, they are inevitable. Hey, we live a life, so I guess we just have to live with, get through it and know that one day the season will change.

Hopefully most of our seasons are pleasant. But since we are human and live in an imperfect world there will be times when the heat is on. The way I see it, there are three things we can do to deal with the fiery heat that some seasons bring.

1. We can run from the fire. We can avoid the heat by walking the other way. Yes, you may not get burned, but you may also miss out on life.

2. We can fan the flames. We can get so lost in the heat that we actually end up fueling the fire and making the heat worse.

3. We can look at the fire, assess the fire, appreciate the fire, and either walk through or put out the fire.

That number 3 option...that's the hardest to do. That one takes self assessment, self reflection, and quite often a long hard look at what is important in life. Sometimes it's tough to see the big picture through the flames. It's awfully difficult to see what there is to appreciate in the scorched landscape left behind. Walking through it or fighting it...those both take a lot of courage. But, it is often the most beneficial option. Through the fire there is growth and refining - something we all need.

So when the heat is on, rest assured that one day cooler temperatures will return. In their wake, they will leave a new perspective, a fertile ground for new growth, and an appreciation for the pleasant seasons in life!