Happy Easter!

The Resurrection

16 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning,a] just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth,b] who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.c]

 

Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!

You can use this as your phone wallpaper this week as a reminder that He is Risen!!!

 

Happy Easter everyone!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday:  Top 5 Herbs You Should Be Growing This Year

Next Sunday: What does it mean to be an Easter People?

 

Leave a comment

Palm-Waving Groupies

Happy Palm Sunday! I’m going to be completely unoriginal and take a look at Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem for this week’s devotional. So let’s dig in!

Context


Jesus has just traveled from Capernaum to Judea. It’s approximately 85 miles, so it would have taken several days to hike from Capernaum to Jerusalem (located in the region of Judea). Here’s a map:

Map of Capernaum to Judea

Map Courtesy of https://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CP051GOSPELMAPS.htm

He’s also just schooled the Pharisees on divorce, blessed some kids, encountered a rich young ruler who was too attached to his possessions to follow Jesus, predicted His death, schooled the disciples on what greatness really means, and healed a blind man. You know, a typical week for Jesus. 

Why is Jesus moving towards Jerusalem? Because He’s about to go there to celebrate Passover. Plus He knows what He has to do in the coming week – die for the world’s sins.

Now, onto our reading for today.

Mark 11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Translated for Today

What an odd entrance! Riding a baby donkey over top of peoples coats and random tree trimmings? 

I tried thinking about this in a way we could picture today. Imagine this:

Instead of a limo or motorcade, Jesus decides to take a borrowed razor scooter into the city. No bodyguards, just a bunch of palm-waving groupies who can’t cobble together a decent red carpet. Instead, they lay the best they have to offer on the ground – their means of warmth and protection (coats) and a traditional sign of victory (palms). 

Tom Brady makes this look good, but few others could pull this off.

Tom Brady makes this look good, but few others could pull this off.
https://www.gq.com/story/razor-scooters-are-not-cool-tom-brady

 

Now that’s just my imagination, but I bet you can come up with something similar. The point is, it’s not a fancy entrance. Jesus comes into the city in a humble, almost humiliating way.

And then we hear what the people are shouting. They’re quoting Psalm 118, a Psalm pilgrims would sing on the way to Jerusalem (how fitting). It’s about victory and deliverance. Then, they implore Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!”

Hosanna is an exclamation of praise that means…

SAVE US Now!

So in effect, the people are saying:

“Save us now!”

“God’s blessed you to come and do this!”

“David’s kingdom is going to make a comeback!”

“For God’s sake, SAVE US!!”

The Jewish people were looking for a political leader. With this humble entrance, Jesus showed, once again, that God’s kingdom looks VERY different from how we sometimes want it to look.

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! - Mark 11:9b-10

Use this as your phone wallpaper this week!

 

Reflection

As you celebrate Palm Sunday today, think about the following:

  1. What do you need saving from?
  2. How is Jesus currently challenging your ideas about what His kingdom should look like?
  3. Beyond palms and coats, what can you lay down at Jesus’ feet to help pave the way for his entrance into your life?

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Update and Pictures from Our Jubilee Garden

Next Sunday: Happy Easter!

 

Leave a comment

Good Soil

As I was preparing this devotional, I opened the She Reads Truth daily devotional I keep up with (shereadstruth.com). Can you guess what the topic was? The Parable of the Sower, from Mark 4! Exactly the same scripture that I had planned to do this devotional on weeks ago. I love it when “God Moments” like this happen! Coincidence? Not with our God!

Matthew 13, Luke 8, and Mark 4, all record this parable and the accounts are very similar. Here’s the Mark version for you to take a look at and then we’ll dive in:

1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

3 Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret[a] of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do,

    they will learn nothing.

When they hear what I say,

    they will not understand.

Otherwise, they will turn to me

    and be forgiven.’[b]”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”


It is really hard for me to not just glaze over while reading this story. Familiar Bible passages, especially parables, are like that. I usually find myself approaching them in one of three ways:

  1. I do a superficial read, pat myself on the back since I apparently completely understand the entire Bible (that’s a joke, by the way), and revert to whatever easy/common understanding I have of the passage.
  2. I give up trying to understand because I’m lazy and don’t want to exert the brainpower/effort/time to re-examine the passage.
  3. I stop and re-read, consult commentaries, and pray that God would reveal what He wants me to see in the passage because clearly, I’m not getting it on my own.

This week, option #2 was by far the most appealing. I felt a very strong connection to what the disciples say in verse 10 – what is the point of this parable, Jesus? 

On doing some additional read-throughs of the passage, verse 13 is what sticks out to me most:

 

“If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 

 

Great question, Jesus. I’m not sure if He’s suggesting that this is an entry-level parable, like Parables 101 or Parables for Dummies, but that thought did cross my mind and made me chuckle. If the Parable of the Sower is a watered-down parable, then I’m in deep doo-doo.


Here are some other ideas of what this verse might mean. It could be that…

  • Jesus is exasperated and just beside Himself with the disciples’ lack of faith or understanding.
  • The Parable of the Sower is a sort of template or key that helps unlock our understanding of other parables.
  • This is Jesus’ first (or one of the first) parables, so it carries extra weight/importance.
  • It could be that this is flat out the most important parable.

I’ve sat with this passage all week. I’ve consulted with Jonah, friends in my Bible Study, and commentaries. I’m not going to lie, this is a tough one. Here’s what I think verse 13 boils down to:

The Parable of the Sower is the most significant and basic parable because it’s all about our response to the Gospel. Everything else Jesus has to say builds on how we receive, or don’t receive, the Good News that he’s the Messiah. If we don’t have a response, we’re dead in the water when it comes to understanding His teachings. 

When we’ve heard about who Jesus is, we have four basic options on how to respond:

Parable of the Sower - Soils and Response to the Gospel. Options: Footpath, Rocks, Thorns, Good Soil

 

How will you respond?

 

What are your thoughts on the Parable of the Sower? What do you make of verse 13? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Square Foot Gardening Techniques

Next Sunday: Palm-Waving Groupies

 

Leave a comment

Spring Forth!

Isaiah 43 is a deep passage. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of quotable verses come from it, including the ones I want to focus on today – Isaiah 43:18-19: 

Isaiah 43:18-19: “Remember not the former things,     nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;     now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness     and rivers in the desert.

Save as your phone wallpaper this week as a reminder that God is always doing something new!

 

What’s happening in Isaiah, generally? 

First, let’s take a look at the context – always a good place to start. The book of Isaiah records the prophecies of Isaiah, who lived around the time when Israel fell to the Assyrians. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are prophecies and events recorded during Isaiah’s lifetime (~700 B.C.), regarding the Assyrian invasion that’s about to come and the events that occur once it’s happened. This section is mostly about judgment for Israel’s and other nations’ sins. 

Chapters 40-66, which is the context for our passage today, are generally thought to be prophecies fulfilled around 500 B.C. during the Babylonian exile, PLUS messages of hope and comfort for the faithful remnant of Jews dispersed after the exile. Lots of hinting at Jesus Christ as the Messiah in this section. But we’ll cover that some other time. 

Fun fact: “Isaiah is the most cited prophetic book in the New Testament and rabbinic literature.” (Moody Bible Commentary, 2014, pg. 1009)

 

What’s happening in Chapter 43, specifically?

So let’s look at Chapter 43. I’ll let you take a minute to read through it yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Okay, read it? Great! Now, the purpose of this chapter is to give a message of comfort and assurance to the remnant of Israel that survives and returns from the exile. God will protect His people. We see callbacks to God’s provision for the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt (v. 2, 16-17). Then we get to our verses for today:

18 “Remember not the former things,

    nor consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;

    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

The point of these verses is to not dwell on the past (AKA the Exodus and Exile), but to look at what God is doing now and what He will do

It’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that the Bible is our own little Magic 8 ball – that each and every verse holds some personal application. Yes, the Bible is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds of Jesus’ words (John 14:26), BUT the Bible isn’t all about us

No – it’s about who God is and what He has done.

 

Critical Thinking / Application

With that perspective in mind, here are some questions about this passage to get you thinking:

  1. What do today’s verses reveal about God’s character?
  2. …about God’s actions/what He has done?
  3. What would the original audience (Jews returning from exile) think/feel about these words? Would they take on a different meaning for them than they do for us?
  4. What do you think “it springs forth” means? What is the “it” referring to?
  5. What’s going on with the imagery in this chapter? Do you think it’s a physical representation of things to come? Symbolic? If symbolic, symbolic of what?
  6. Look at verses 22-28. This is God’s response to sin and disobedience. What does this section tell you about God’s nature?

I’m interested to hear your answers to these questions! Leave a comment below to join the conversation.

I’m praying for you this week! Leave me a message on the contact page or as a comment below if I can pray for you in specific ways. See you on Wednesday for more gardening goodness.

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Nitty Gritty – How to Prune

Next Sunday: Good Soil

 

Leave a comment

Pruning Time!

John 15 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The imagery is SO good:

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Before I got into gardening, I’d look at this passage and say, “Hold up a minute! Why are BOTH the unproductive AND productive parts of this plant [or me] getting cut off?!” 

But now that I’ve been in the garden and made those tough cuts on productive plants, I get it.

It’s super easy to remove a dead twig. You can usually just snap it off without using pruners. Dead wood breaks easily – it’s brittle. But cutting live, green growth seems counter-intuitive. However, if pruned correctly, the plant becomes even more productive. I’ve witnessed this myself, year after year. You should see our fig tree the summer after a hard prune… it’s so full of figs that we can’t give them away fast enough!


Pruning does a lot of great things for a plant:

  • It redirects growth, so limbs can be trained the way they should go
  • It rejuvenates the plant, triggering new growth
  • It strengthens the plant – poor structure can lead to cracks and limb or total plant loss when snow, ice, or wind do their thing
  • It produces more flowers and fruit – by cutting off branches, more energy is available for reproduction (AKA flowers and fruit!)

The pruned plant is one that is living its best life. 


Back to the spiritual side of things, how are you being pruned right now? 

Maybe you’ve been upset about the ways you’ve been “cut off” – changes in areas of your life that were once thriving and now just aren’t. 

Stop and consider the following:

  • How might this redirect my growth? Might the changes I’m experiencing draw me closer to Christ? Or at least point me towards Him?
  • Before this change happened, were things becoming kind of stale? Did I need a fresh start or rejuvenation?
  • Can I learn something from this experience that will make my faith stronger?
  • What unexpected fruits might come from this change?

The last part of the John 15 passage shows us how we can consistently and reliably produce this fruit:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (v.4)

Remain in Jesus! Even after the pruning is done (maybe especially after the pruning is done). 

I’m praying for you this week, that you would identify areas of pruning in your life and see them for the blessing they will become!

John 15:1-2: I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Use as your phone wallpaper or lock screen this week as a reminder that pruning leads to fruit!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for Pruning – It’s Not that Hard!

Next Sunday: Spring Forth

 

Leave a comment

Flood

This past week has been RAINY. We’re set to break a record for rainiest winter here in NC. When I look out our back window, I can see huge puddles of standing water. Thankfully, it’s not anywhere near our house or any structures!

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE rain. Unlike the Carpenter’s song, rainy days and Mondays don’t get me down at all. Come August and September, you’ll hear me complaining about not having enough rain for my parched plants. Rain just makes everything feel cooler. Refreshed. Greener. Better, in my opinion.

But lately it’s been a little too wet. Never thought I’d say that, but here we are. I wonder if this is how Noah felt during those first few days in the Ark. After a week, I can imagine him saying, “Okay God, I catch your drift (sorry, bad Mom pun, couldn’t resist). That’s plenty!” But it continued to rain 40 days and 40 nights – no reprieve. What must it have been like for all those people who were caught outside (without an Ark) watching the floodwaters slowly rising? While water can be life-giving, it can also be incredibly destructive.

Well, in the midst of this epic rain, the song “Flood” by Jars of Clay has been on repeat in my brain. The music video is VERY 90s, trying-to-be-grunge, and emo, but the message is pretty good. 

 

Here are the lyrics in case you missed them:

 

Rain rain on my face

It hasn’t stopped

Raining for days

My world is a flood

Slowly I become

One with the mud

 

(Chorus) 

But if I can’t swim after 40 days

And my mind is crushed

By the crashing waves

Lift me up so high

That I cannot fall

Lift me up

Lift me up when I’m falling

Lift me up I’m weak and I’m dying

Lift me up I need you to hold me

Lift me up and keep me from drowning again

 

Down pour on my soul

Splashing in the ocean

I’m losing control

Dark sky all around

Can’t feel my feet

Touching the ground

 

(Chorus)

 

Man! I can really relate to this. Maybe it’s the pandemic or maybe it’s just life, but “slowly becoming one with the mud” and needing God to “lift me up so high that I cannot fall” are both completely on point with what I’m feeling and what I imagine many of you are feeling right now. 

 

King David, my Old Testament boyfriend as I like to call him (I could write SEVERAL posts on why I think he’s bees knees, and maybe I will 😉 ), gives us hope that God does have the power to lift us up out of this gunk:

 

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

    he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

    out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

    and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,

    a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord

    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

 

Are you outside the Ark, slowly drowning in the floodwaters and storms of your life? Do you feel like you don’t have a firm place to stand?

 

GREAT NEWS! There IS a high rock you can stand on:

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  (Matthew 7:24-25, ESV)

 

Jesus’ words and teachings are the rock. Cry out to Him and let Him rescue you today! 

I’ll be praying for you this week! If there are specific things you’d like prayer for (floods in your life?), please feel free to send me a message on the “about” page or leave a comment on this post. 

Here’s to sunnier days ahead!

Psalm 40:2: He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Here’s a memory verse for this week! Save it as your phone wallpaper as a reminder that God gives us a firm place to stand!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: All About Seeds – Part 3! Selecting Varieties for Planting

Next Sunday: Pruning Time

 

Leave a comment

Where are you planted?

On a warm-ish day a few weeks ago, I had the uber-ambitious idea to take my daughter hiking. That might sound like a normal activity to you, however, let me interject here that my daughter is two. We can’t walk anywhere without stopping ~843 times to look at gravel or a piece of pine straw. 

We’d walked this trail at our local state park before (or should I say, I carried her 90% of this trail before), so I knew there was a good chance we weren’t going to make it more than ¼ mile without a major break. And I was right, because there’s a CREEK WITH A BRIDGE. People. You’d have thought we had discovered the Holy Grail when she found that bridge for the first time. And also, my child cannot resist a body of water – puddles, creeks, rivers, lakes, bathtubs, showers, sprinklers. This child LOVES the water. 

So, of course, we made our way down to the creek’s edge. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for bringing her rain boots (#momwin) and since the water level was only 3-4 inches in the shallows, I let her walk around while I sat on the banks. While I was sitting there I saw this tree:

Tree near stream

Tree roots

Isn’t it striking? Check out those scraggly roots! That moss action! The beauty of the moment just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Then these words came to mind:

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

 

4 Not so the wicked!

    They are like chaff

    that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

Who are you walking with?

Where are you standing?

Whose company are you sitting in?

What do you delight in?

What do you dwell or meditate on, day and night?

 

Where are you planted?

 

The answers to these questions makes all the difference. Choose wisely.

Psalm 1:1a, 2-3: Blessed is the one... whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.

Save this as your phone wallpaper to remind yourself to examine where you’re planted.

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: All About Seeds – Part 2! Seed Lingo Decoded

Next Sunday: Flood

Leave a comment

Kingdom First

On my way home from dropping off a package at the post office today, I saw one of those billboard signs at a tiny rural church that said “Seek Christ First in 2021.”

Whenever I see old-school placard signs like that, I can’t help but picture some poor, little old church lady having to sift through a jumble of “E’s”, “C’s”, and an occasional “Q” to put together the message. Aren’t we living in the 21st Century? Hasn’t she heard of electronic billboards? Sigh. But, I digress. 

Church sign - too hot to keep changing sign. Sin bad, jesus good, details inside.

This is not the sign I saw, but I appreciate whoever put this one up!

The sign got me thinking, though, about a passage I read recently. You might know it. It goes like this:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 – NIV).

I like the New Living Translation a lot, too, which really breaks it down into even simpler terms:

Matthew 6:33: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Save this as your phone wallpaper as a reminder to Seek First the Kingdom this week.

 

Man, that verse has a lot to unpack. Seeking the Kingdom first. What does that even mean? What is the Kingdom of God? What does it mean to seek it? And not only that, what does it mean to seek it FIRST?

When I think about the Kingdom of God, I tend to think of an external kingship. In my mind, it’s where:

    • God is King – He is given ultimate rule and authority
    • Earthly systems mimic how things operate in heaven (Matthew 6:10)
    • Christ reigns here on earth (Mark 14:25)

 

BUT surprisingly, while looking into this more, I found the following verses that show it’s really more about something internal:

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.– Luke 17:20-21

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. – Romans 14:17-18.

 

So that’s what this is really all about – the Kingdom is already here, and it looks like right living, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

Are you giving God’s Kingdom first priority in your life? Or is it taking a backseat to:

    • your ambitions at work? 
    • your relationship with your spouse or significant other? 
    • your children? 
    • just one more episode of whatever Netflix show you’re currently bingeing? 
    • a new fad diet or miracle product that will cure what ails you? 
    • popular lifestyle trends promising you “new life” if you just subscribe to whatever ideology they’re selling (cough, minimalism, cough)? 

 

How can we seek God’s Kingdom first this year?

For me, seeking the Kingdom first means dropping all my worries about this blog, the pandemic, and my future, and letting this be a place where Jesus is Lord and His name is proclaimed (and hopefully glorified if I don’t get in the way!). Where I let go of my ambitions and define my success or failure based on how God sees me. The rest is all gravy.

I’m praying for you this week, that the Holy Spirit would show you exactly what you need to do to seek the Kingdom first in your own life. And I’m praying that you would be bold to follow through on it. I’ve created the scripture verse image above – feel free to use it as your desktop wallpaper or as the lock screen on your phone to remind you to pray for direction this week. If I can pray for you or help encourage you in some way, let me know in the comments section below!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: All About Seeds! Choosing Varieties and Deciphering Seed Packets

Next Sunday: Where are you planted?

Leave a comment

How to Achieve Your Goals This Year + My 2021 Goals

Don’t you just hate New Year’s Resolutions? It seems like they never work out! We sink tons of money into exercise equipment in January, thinking we’re on our way to being marathon runners. By February, we’re back to this:

Mean Girls Meme - Stop trying to make New Years Resolutions happen. It's not going to happen.
I hate resolutions, but let me tell you, I LOVE GOALS. Come late December, I get so excited to make my yearly goals. One of my former coworkers shared the joy of goal-making with me by telling me about a tradition she and her husband have had since they started dating. Every year on New Year’s they go out for a fancy dinner to review how they did on their previous years’ goals and set new ones for the coming year. I loved this idea so much that Jonah and I decided to adopt this tradition ourselves. 

Now every New Years, we treat ourselves to dinner at our favorite restaurant and do our goal review. I’ve had a lot of success with keeping my goals, over the past five years. Jonah, on the other hand, has had “read more” on his list for the past five years, without success, so this year he finally took it off his list. Anyway, here’s how I don’t fizzle out on my goals come February:

    1. I pray about them a lot before I commit to them. You might ask yourself, what does God think about my goals? Do they honor Him? What’s my motivation?
    2. I make them SMART or SMARTish (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based). 
    3. I write them down. This is the #1 thing you can do to achieve your goals.
    4. I speak my goals out loud to friends and family. This gives me built-in accountability. I HATE to disappoint other people or go back on my word, so telling others my goals keeps me on the hook.

So, why make goals at all? 

As it turns out, it’s Biblical! I’ve been reading in Proverbs lately, and Proverbs has some great things to say on the subject:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

There are also some warnings about how we go about setting our goals, namely that we should seek God’s will as we’re deciding on what goals to make:

Psalm 127:1: Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vainSave this as your phone wallpaper this week as a reminder to commit your goals to the Lord.

 

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)

 

With that said, I hope you’ll take some time today to revisit any goals you set back in January and maybe make some modifications or recommit to your plans, asking God for His direction. 

And since writing down goals and telling others is a great way to make them happen, here are mine. Hold me accountable!

 

My 2021 Goals:

Theme Verse: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Personal Goals

            • Read 2 books/mo (24 total)
            • Write in my prayer journal & mom journal daily
            • Phone free mornings & one offline day each week
            • Have daily one-on-one quiet time with God during kids’ nap time or after their bed time
            • Eat less meat by choosing 1 main meat/week
            • Be fully present at meals – no cell phone distractions or leaving the table

Family Goals

            • Read a parenting book together with Jonah
            • Visit 5 more state parks as a family
            • Visit the farmers market 1x/mo once vaccinated for COVID-19

Financial Goals

            • Open college accounts for baby #2
            • Save towards next home down payment & set up auto-drafts to savings

What are your goals for 2021? What have been the most challenging goals for you to keep over the years? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Step-by-Step Planting Preparation Guide

Next Sunday: Kingdom First

Leave a comment

2021: The Jubilant Garden

Hi! I’m glad you’re here! Welcome to The Jubilant Gardener blog. I’m Stephanie – AKA the Jubilant Gardener. I’m an avid gardener, lover of all things meme-related, and Christ-follower. My goal with this blog is to interject some gardening knowledge, a good laugh, and little bit of Jesus into your week. But more on that later! First, let’s talk a little bit about why I’m starting this blog.

Last year was a mess, wasn’t it? I think we can all safely say that 2020 was probably a low point in most of our lives. Who would have thought we’d ever see this in our lifetimes? A raging pandemic, civil unrest, a run on toilet paper. You know life has hit an all-time low when you start Googling bidets (though to be fair, I’ve tried one before and it wasn’t half bad!). Luckily for us, the good people at Charmin had the foresight of making mega rolls – a true miracle if ever there was one. A double-miracle is this wonderfully seductive pose of Lionel Richie and his favorite TP, summing up the struggle of the past year:

Funny Toilet Paper Shortage Memes - Funtastic Life

But that’s not the way 2021 is going to go. I’m calling it… this is the YEAR OF JUBILEE!

I’m not talking about Queen Elizabeth II (though, fun fact, her Platinum Jubilee is scheduled for 2022. Mark your calendars!). I’m talking about a year of good things in Biblical proportions. Why not? Last year was a year of horrible things IN BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. Let’s not forget the time hurricanes had to be named using the Greek alphabet BECAUSE WE HAD SO MANY STORMS WE RAN OUT OF LETTERS IN THE ALPHABET. 

hurricane Memes & GIFs - Imgflip

Yes, people. This is the Year of Jubilee. 

A Jubilee is:

    1. a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity.

Also, it’s:

    1. (of desserts) flambé.

Desserts? A celebration? Both great in my book.

 

Beyond our cultural understanding of Jubilee, there’s also the original Biblical Jubilee, which is:

    1. The 50th year at the end of 7 cycles of 7 years.
    2. A Sabbath year, set apart as holy
    3. A year of no planting, no storing of harvests, no grape gathering (random, am I right?)
    4. A year of eating whatever the land produces on its own
    5. A year of returning to the land that belonged to your ancestors
    6. A year of resetting property rights and deeds
    7. A year of redeeming the poor and enslaved

Interestingly, the Bible cites these results if we observe the Jubilee:

    1. Living securely in the land (yay!)
    2. A huge yield of crops (double yay!)
    3. Eating our fill (I think I can really get behind this)
    4. A blessing in the 6th year leading up to the 7th year (Jubilee year) to have enough food for THREE YEARS (say WHAT?!)

I don’t know about you, but I could really use a Sabbath year right about now. My soul needs the rest and the joy of just being. Not striving.

And that’s why I’m also giving our amazingly productive garden a Jubilee year, too. No planting, just living off the abundance and letting the land rest. There are treasures to be found in the wild garden – plants that make their way through this harsh world on their own, mini-ecosystems that need absolutely no intervention from us to thrive (in fact, probably do better without us!), and mysteries and miracles in the natural world for us to discover. So that’s what I plan to share with you through this blog – that the untended garden has lessons for all of us, both practically and spiritually. We just have to sit still long enough to look for them.

Peppered in with this year’s wild garden observations, I’ll share photos, tutorials, tips, tricks, LOTS of failures, and even some successes from my garden (every Wednesday) and devotionals (every Sunday). No matter your background with gardening or faith, there’s a place for you here. I hope you’ll join in with me as we explore what it means to be a Jubilant Gardener!

 

Coming up on Wednesday: Where to Start? Nursery Transplants vs Direct Sowing vs Indoor Seed Starting

And Next Sunday: How to Achieve Your Goals This Year + My Goals for 2021

 

Leave a comment