Gardens of Joy

The home is a sacred garden. Fertile soil receives seed and water, and from this holy place sprout plants of every kind, lush in quantity and rich in color. But flower fragrant and fruit from vine, tree and root are not the only things that germinate in the deep.

Weed and bramble once given root, spread and choke, overtaking the garden’s beauty and fruitfulness.

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

Mothers are given keep over this sacred ground, charged with the divine mandate nurture and protect. Setting the tone, atmosphere and attitude, they have power to create the family’s culture and identity, and encourage beauty and fruitfulness in the hearts of all who dwell within her walls.

But left untended, discontent, anger and a complaining spirit quickly spoil her efforts. Thoughts unspoken and words uttered aloud have power to tear down the garden walls and allow thief and weed to creep into the hallowed earth.

I grieve inside when such words escape my lips, and I see the effects of my sin on the fallen countenances of my loved ones. I strive so hard to be perfect in my loving but my flesh can’t dig out the weeds fast enough before they spread. I know what it’s like when weariness gives way to anger, when inward complaints play like a broken record, and discontent chokes the joy from your heart.

But I’ve found a mighty weapon, a potent fertilizer that kills the weed, heals the wilting flower and lifts up the sickly vine. It is the secret to knowing Joy

The tonic of Thanksgiving.

This simple strategy is powerful to cast out anger, fuel contentment and oust depression. And I’ve resolved to keep a book of remembrance for these gifts of God’s goodness for which I ought to be grateful.

What if it’s not my life’s circumstances that need to change, but my attitude that ought to praise that makes me happy person? It saddens me to think how man thousands of ordinary blessings have gone overlooked in my life thus far by my own pitiful self-absorption, and I’ve resolved not to indulge that Thief that comes to steal and destroy any longer by feeding a spirit of ungratefulness and heaviness.

I testify, fellow woman, that my heart is lighter and faces are smiley-er today as I walk through each day looking for the Garden Giver’s gifts, His magic “seeds” to sow in the hearts of my children. For,

“A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike…” (Proverbs. 27:15)

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me [Jesus] because He has anointed Me…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1,3)

A few thanksgivings from my journal this week:

-The happy babble of babies as they innocently experiment with lips, tongue and sound – caring nothing to make sense or articulate perfectly – but just delight in the ability they are given. Perhaps this is the truest praise.

-The gentle, subtle leadership of the Holy Spirit. Though answers were desired long ago, the forging work of waiting crucible is far more valuable than the answers themselves. Thank You for Your patience with us, O Lord!

-Drowsy, early morning snuggles, cupped inside the strong, tender frame of my Beloved.

-Photographs. Each one representing a host of memories and reminding me of how much happiness I’ve known in times gone by.

-Warmth beneath sweater and blanket even as wind blows snow, icing the trees with white outside our window. My family is warm – how many on earth go to sleep cold and wet in winter? God, bless and protect the poor and orphaned.

What gifts do you give thanks for this week?