Spring planting


Here in No. California we’ve had crazy up-n-down weather patterns.  When it’s supposed to be cold and rainy…it’s been crazy hot and breaking temperature records.  When it’s supposed to be warm and balmy…it’s pouring down rain and blowing 50 mph winds.  Like I said – crazy!  It’s hard to plant or make plans for seeding a new lawn with such unpredictable weather.

I love green grass.  If there is grass next to a sidewalk, I will choose to walk on the grass.  The feel of it under my feet is divine, and a game of touch football on a lush lawn is nothing short of heaven.  That’s why two years ago when our back lawn was infected with a fungus (I’m just gonna go ahead and say it….there was a fungus-amongus!) and it quickly spread down our sloping back lawn and touched everything in its path – I was devastated.  Soon our entire lawn was dying, with a brown rolling wave of withering grass spreading across the entire backyard.  We finally came to the difficult conclusion that we had to kill the whole dang thing in order to replant and grow it again.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?  When you have to purge the old in order to regrow and reinvent something new?  Something better?  There’s a spiritual message right there (II Cor. 5:17) but I’ll continue on.

I felt horribly guilty.  Killing something I loved so much so that it could come back better.   However, we quickly learned that this killing thing wasn’t going to be so easy.  Fungus doesn’t go away without a fight.  We had to resort to killing it over and over again for several months because that pesky fungus kept trying to hide amongst the remnants of the good grass attempting to sprout.  Again, another spiritual message there, but all I can say is them fungi is sneaky lil’ boogers.  Finally, just when we were ready to make plans to reseed the lawn, the California drought caused us to initiate water conservation measures.  That meant no new lawn that spring / summer, and we went through the next year with dead grass and just dirt in our backyard.

At first we felt a bit proud of our barren wasteland.  We had vowed our support for the cause, decided to be good sports about it, and made mud pies out of dirt – that right there  was my literary making lemonade out of lemons attempt.  So we set up horseshoes and baggo, and the Yorkies enjoyed a summer of rolling in the dirt and tracking it into the house.  As our second spring rolled around, our hopes for green were once again dashed with the continued water restrictions (we really need water out here, and thank you, Jesus, that as I write this it’s raining buckets outside!) and so we muddled through a second full summer of dirt, horseshoes, baggo, mudpies and dusty Yorkies.  We hardly went out onto our backyard patio because it was so depressing.

There’s always good that comes from the bad, and as a result of all this time it gave me time and inspiration to come up with a great new landscaping plan to divide our back lawn into two sections – one flat with green grass and the other a raised area with a more drought-tolerant landscape.  So Salsa Guy and I began digging up dirt eight weeks ago, leveling the grass area so that we got rid of the slope that let the fungus travel willy nilly , to and fro, and began tilling the soil and getting rid of rocks before it was time to throw the seed out.

Grass seed is a bit like baby sea turtles.  You saw them on the Bachelor  in the Jamaican sand when Ben and Lauren helped the little guys make it from the beach out to the sea.  Wait….what?  You’re too spiritual to watch the Bachelor?  Don’t judge me – remember this blog is about grace.  Anyway, not all those cute little newborn baby turtles will make it out to their destiny in the ocean, and their journey is a difficult one.  After they hatch, they’re very vulnerable and need to be protected.  Some of them can be eaten by birds, some might be eaten by other sea predators.  Not all that are deposited in the sand by their mother will grow successfully into the adult sea turtles they were designed to be.

And so it is with grass seed.  We knew our seeds had a difficult journey ahead of them. Some of those little seeds would get trampled, or fall under little rocks where not enough sun or water would get to them and they’d never germinate.  Spiritual lesson No. 2 (Luke 8:5-8).  If the wind was blowing, some of the seeds might blow away.  And even though we covered the seed with topper dirt, birds seemed to flock to our backyard to dine on our grass seeds al fresco, trying to thwart my dream for a green backyard once again.  Air soft guns come in handy for battling this, by the way.

So three weeks ago, as I stood with seed in hand, my dreams of grass beneath my feet weighing in the balance, I began to turn the crank on the seed spreader that allowed the little seedlings to fly out onto the fertile ground.  This is sounding more like a dramatic novel by the minute.  I’m not ashamed to say I said a prayer for the perfect blend of sun, rain, air and accurate aim.  I felt like a mother blade of grass…”grow little seedlings…. grow!”

And guess what?  Grow they did!  I’m happy to report that a week or so after our inaugural seeding, tons of little green heads began popping up across our backyard.  You should have seen me – I was like a new mother!  I would run out each morning to see how my little seedlings were doing.  I would talk to them, encouraging them to lean into the light.  I checked the sprinkler system constantly, afraid that my babies might get too much water and drown.  I shot at birds with the accuracy of a marksman, and shoo’d the pups off my newborn lawn.  I even asked my small group to pray for my lawn – I believe God cares about the little things.


So now here comes the spiritual application – if we’re talking in gardening terms (and Jesus often did), we all need a little opportunity for a “do over” along our journey, don’t you think?  Perhaps getting rid of the old – some withering branches or infected lawn – or perhaps it might be the old way of doing things, and trying a new direction.  Turning away and taking a new path.  God is in the business of recreating us, trimming a little off here to allow for new growth, and even sometimes asking us to change a habit, or a way of thinking, perhaps a sin or even an attitude that is doing us harm.  It’s called pruning (John 15:1-11). But the ultimate payoff is that we grow stronger….better than we were before.  Isn’t that gracious of Him?   He wants us to grow and be better than we were.  Rebirth.  Regrowth.  Renewal.  We don’t often find that in all other relationships, but a Father who loves his children will do that for their benefit.

So we’ve had a successful Spring of planting seeds.  We now have a beautiful green lawn coming in thicker by the day, and Salsa guy and I enjoy just sitting on the patio, looking out over our green kingdom, and sipping special lemonade with our air soft guns in-hand.  How are your seeds doing?  Seeds of change?  Seeds of friendship?  Seeds of patience?  Seeds of kindness?  Seeds of grace for another human being?  Seeds of grace for yourself?  Be sure to care well for those newly planted seeds, because grace is lush and nothing short of heaven when it’s nourished.

Making Space

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Life can be messy sometimes.  Sometimes we have to make space in our lives for things and people who are different than us.  The quirky.  The odd.  The broken.  The struggling.  The “but for the grace of God go I” people who cross our path.  Because underneath it all we are all the same – struggling with something ourselves and wishing we were better, and wanting to be known.  Wouldn’t we want someone to take the time to offer us a cup of cold water…. or the gift of their time?

When a broken person crosses our path, we have the choice to either make space for them by jumping into the chaos with them, or passing them by.  Obviously, that decision depends on where you are in life, and what kind of time you have to offer.  But there is great joy found in helping someone who is broken come to life again.

God’s been convicting me lately about certain people who cross my path.  I can be fairly kind and loving to others, but don’t tell anyone – I can also pretty righteous sometimes. I know…hard to believe, huh?  NOT!  There have been a handful of folk that I bump into in ministry that I just don’t want to bring myself to connect with because there is some trait or characteristic in them that makes me feel uncomfortable.  So, I make the truly mature decision to avoid them.  I’m not hurting anyone by doing that, am I?  You know the type – faces that might hide pain or suffering, disabilities or disorders.  Or they might be mega talented, or creative, over-sized or scrawny, a little needy, confident or bumbling.  And why, for heavens sake, did they make me feel weird?  Could it be possible that what made me uncomfortable with these folks is the reflection of myself – past or present – that I see in them?  Oh Lord, you are up to something now!

We are all broken and needy.  Our relationships with others around us are sometimes like a mirror to show us where we need fixing.  When I taught school it was the kids in my class who were silly, and couldn’t focus, or wanted a lot of attention.  Why….because that was the kid that I was.  We sometimes see our own traits in others and want to run from them…or fix them….or tell them they need to change.  Or you can go about it another way and love them, and value them, meet them right where they’re at.  Maybe remind them that God is crazy about them just the way they are.

So I’ve been trying to be better at making time and space to love those people who rub me the wrong way.  Validating them – stopping to talk with them which translates into letting them know that who they are and what they have to say is important.  Ugh….I just hate it when God uses my own words to hold me accountable.  It’s so disruptive.

Following Jesus can be disruptive.  He can be a speed bump at times – slowing us down – sometimes making us stop to look at something we’ve not taken the time to think about. But I’m learning to listen better to who and what God intended me to be.  Not bound by my misconceptions, but trying to be better at opening up and risking relationship with broken people just like me.  Making space in my world for those that He might want me to care for….even if just for a season.  So I’m going to fight for a soft heart and a right attitude and a kind spirit towards people who are different than me.  Because wouldn’t I want you to do that for me?  It’s not just making space for one of God’s beloved, it’s making space for grace.