I'm keeping a weather eye on the maple tree. As soon as I see maple flowers, it's time to plant the peas. Swiss chard, spinach, beets, and onions will go in when the daffodils bloom. My planting calendar says April 11th is the day to plant all my hardy spring crops, but phenology, the use of indicator plants within a microclimate, is far more accurate.
Other indicators like chicory and foxglove will warn me that garden pests are about to descend on certain crops, and I 'll secure row covers over the endangered plants.
I also use companion planting extensively. Mounds of cheery marigolds protect my tomato plants, while leggy nasturtiums keep cucumber and squash beetles at bay. I'll plant lettuce beside the beans later this spring, and they'll help each other. The beans will shade the lettuce so it doesn't bolt, and the lettuce will keep the weeds down and keep the bean's feet cool.
But my letter today isn't about gardening in our yard, it's about gardening in our hearts.
I've noticed a trend over the past few years to dismiss those who keep a close eye on their home and care for it diligently as outdated, uptight, or controlling. If your children are disciplined, dressed nicely, and well educated, people say you're "lucky" to have such great kids. I've seen friends smirk when Grammy or I bring our man a beverage and rub his shoulders. This is understandable and excusable coming from an unbeliever. How could they possibly understand the eternal purpose of a home? of children?
But believers have eagerly jumped at the chance to excuse their disobedience and lack of faith, too. Blog posts and books abound that belittle a well-kept home and faithful parenting. Sloppy housekeeping, convenience cooking, and bratty children are venerated as hallmarks of a relaxed and "homey" lifestyle. Why? Once again, it's all about philosophy.
Some women childishly value themselves above their husbands and families, and pursue their own pleasure.
This is probably my biggest temptation. I would love to read, sew, craft, surf the 'net, hike, putter in the garden, take my kids on outings...anything but housework and homeschooling! I don't get a warm fuzzy glow from doing laundry. I don't bound out of bed in the morning because it's time to grocery shop. I don't like doing housework, and I can very easily block out a mess and focus on a fun project instead.
Until I realize that mindset represents a colossal lack of faith. God has instructed me to manage our home and train our children. I can't see the end result. I have to simply trust, submit, and obey.
What if you kids all go wonky? What will my life be worth then? What's the big deal with having a nickety-neat house? Food's food...why bother with menus, marketing, cooking, and extra clean-up when we could just microwave a burrito or eat cereal? Who cares if the bills are a day, week, or even a month late? Everybody has a mountain of backed up laundry...what's the big deal? If you, like me, struggle in this area, read a chapter of Proverbs a day for your entire life. Wisdom is knowing and doing and persevering in righteousness.
I can't control the future, but God expects diligent input in obedience to His Word.
I prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water, weed, and control pests, but ultimately only God knows how many vegetables will come out of my garden. If I planted nothing, I'd get nothing. If I chose not to prepare, water, or weed, I might get a few scrawny veggies, but I certainly wouldn't expect or get much produce. But when I carefully plant and persist in caring for those plants, God faithfully and abundantly sends a harvest. I may have a low year on cucumbers during a drought, or vine borers in the squash, but we always have plenty of veggies to enjoy and share.
Some women insist on a spotless home, magazine-worthy meals, and exceptional children as a validation of their worth or in a futile attempt to control the future.
These are the women we love to hate. The women we never, ever allow inside the door of our homes. They transmit a constant "I'm better than you" signal. We can feel them gloat over our scattered toys and the basket of unfolded laundry on the sofa. When we're at their home, we feel small and inadequate.
This too represents an utter departure from the Word of God. We are all in the process of sanctification. These ladies are usually more than generous with their skills and time and will jump in and help us with our homes and children like no one else. If we are willing to stop being "reverse snobs", they also have heartaches we can share and areas that they need to grow where we can help them.
And if you have become this woman, Liss? Run, don't walk to the Sunergos website and buy the workbook to study through Ephesians inductively. You obviously have the time and intelligence to invest in a book of the Bible that will change your life. You are accepted. You are beloved. God is preparing a future for you that is beyond anything you can imagine.
I can't control the future any more than I can control how many vegetables I get from my garden. That's God's prerogative.
I spend a lot of time gardening, but a blight, drought, rainy season, groundhog or insects can easily diminish or wipe out my harvest. God is the one who gives the increase.
A few godly women in obedience to God and in submission to their husbands maintain a household that nurtures relationships.
This is the balance between laziness and fear. The heart of a servant. The heart that puts others first and leaves control to the Master. Practically this may mean that there are scattered toys and unfolded laundry as you serve your children in your home during the morning, but that you take a few moments to pick up and put away so the room is tidy for your husband's return in the evening. It requires a sensitivity to people rather than pursuing personal leisure or demanding everyone else follow your schedule.
Just as I eagerly watch the lilac to know when to plant cucumbers, or the peonies to transplant tomatoes, you need to watch your family to know how best to serve them. But I also need to buy seeds and seedlings so they're ready to plant, keep my garden tools in good working order, and have a shed full of supplies to nurture the plants at each stage of growth. You'll need to faithfully keep yourself and the house on a schedule so you can minister effectively to your family.
I can't control the future, but I am responsible to faithfully obey God and humbly serve others each day. He has promised I'll reap what I sow.
I'm still learning and growing, too, dear. I have good seasons and bad ones, days that I succeed, and days that I'm in a puddle of tearful prayer by 4 pm. Always, always remember my favorite saying: PROGRESS, not perfection! God is the master of the one point lesson plan. He's not going to overwhelm you with more than you can handle. Ask Him one change He'd like to see you make, and wait for Him to reveal that to you. Faithfully pursue that change, rejoice in the trials that reveal how well you've mastered the lesson, and then move on to the next thing He reveals when He shows it to you. Shells of perfection quickly crack. Slow and steady wins the race.
You are beloved!