Tag Archives: gardening

Content to Bloom


The following is a guest post from my friend and writer Kristen Hogrefe of ThinkTrueThoughts.com.

Photo and design by Kristen Hogrefe

Photo and design by Kristen Hogrefe


Born and raised a Florida girl, I love the spring season best. Usually, March and April offer the perfect combination of sunshine and lower humidity. Best of all, everything sprouts green, and nature puts her finery on display.

The other day, I went for a jog around the lake at my apartment complex and passed deep red hibiscus, blush pink azaleas and a coral-colored rose.

Each one beautiful. Each one different.

I thought to myself: That’s just how God designed them to be.

It would be ridiculous for the hibiscus to tell her Creator, “God, why didn’t you make me a rose?” The azalea would never murmur under her breath, “I wish I could have been a hibiscus.”

Yet how often do we girls balk at our design? How often are we tempted to say, “Lord, I think you made a mistake”?

We compare ourselves to one another, imagining that “the other girl” has the perfect life, the perfect view, the perfect everything compared to us.

It just isn’t true.


Roses have thorns. Fairy tales have flaws.

The other week, I had the chance to visit one of my college friends and meet her absolutely darling baby girl.

But at just over a month old, the baby doesn’t have a routine, which means my friend hasn’t slept through the night since she was born (and probably won’t for a few more weeks or months).

We ate our pizza in the peaceful silence of a sleeping baby, and my friend was just thrilled that we had a whole fifteen minutes to enjoy our pepperoni bliss and garlic bread sticks before the baby woke up.

Somehow, we got on the topic of how hard it can be not to compare ourselves to others, when everyone on Facebook portrays their lives to be a storybook fantasy.

Perfect boyfriend. Perfect husband. Perfect baby.

The last one caught me off guard. As a single girl, I understand how those of us waiting for the right guy can feel left behind when it seems like everyone else on Facebook is getting engaged, married or posting hundreds of photos from their couple’s photo session.

The same is true for mothers. “Everyone seems to have the perfect baby,” my friend said. “I don’t. Mine sometimes screams till she’s purple in the face.”

I’m sure no one’s baby is perfect. All babies cry and spit up (which thankfully my friend’s didn’t while I was bottle feeding her). Yes, babies are a precious gift from God, but they have their less-than-frame-worthy moments.

Stop thinking everyone has an ideal life but you. Even roses have thorns. Despite the profile pictures, a fairytale life is make-believe.


A window garden is better than a wishing well.

Did you know that azalea blooms, for all their beauty, are poisonous? It’s hard to believe that something so delicate is toxic. Yet our alluring daydreams are just as capable of poisoning our present view.

After all, we can’t enjoy what we have if our heads are stuck halfway down a wishing well.

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns against wasting the present.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

Worry and wanting go hand in hand. When we want what we don’t have, we wonder – or worry – when or if we’ll ever have the object of our desire.

In doing so, we miss the blessings and beauty of today.


A cultivated life is beautiful life.

A rose is a rose is a rose. Right?

Yes and no. There are 100 known species and thousands of cultivated varieties, according to one website.

Their variations make them each exquisite and breathtaking.

Instead of comparing ourselves to each other, why not cultivate and develop our own unique potential?

Each of us girls is designed with a specific purpose to fulfill. Let’s stop wasting our time wishing we were someone else – or somewhere else – and brighten this world right where we are.

In doing so, we can fulfill our purpose of honoring and pleasing God with our lives.

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV)


For Reflection:

  • Have you been playing a comparison game? How does it leave you feeling?
  • For five minutes, write down all the gifts, abilities and blessings God’s given you. Write whatever comes to mind, no matter how small it seems. Don’t stop writing until five minutes is up. Then, thank God for everything on the list.
  • What can you start doing today to enjoy the “flowers” in your own garden?

The world will be a much more beautiful place if we bloom content where God has planted us.

~Kristen Hogrefe

Don’t Weed Out The Good Volunteers


Don't Weed Out the Good Volunteers

Sometimes, I lovingly refer to my husband as “Farmer Jones.” He comes from a family of farmers and gardeners, so it’s no surprise that he has dirt in his blood. Although we live in the city, Robby started a small raised garden in our yard last year. He loves everything about farming and gardening, from tilling the land to harvesting. So far, we’ve enjoyed our own green beans, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots; and they were all delicious! I told him if he’ll grow it, I’ll cook it.

A week ago, Robby mentioned a tall weed that he had allowed to grow in the middle of the garden bed. A few days later, Farmer Jones announced that his weed had bloomed – into a sunflower! I walked out there with him and, sure enough, the sunflower was about 5 feet tall!

Robby with his volunteer sunflower. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2015)

Robby with his volunteer sunflower. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2015)

He was so proud – and I was amazed! It’s one thing to grow what you planted, but it’s another thing entirely to grow something you didn’t plant! I knew that Farmer Jones tends his garden daily, and he couldn’t have known it was a sunflower at first. So, I asked him why he hadn’t weeded it. “I thought I’d leave it alone until I knew what it was,” he said.


He smiled, thinking back to his childhood. “Mom always says that: ‘Let’s leave it alone until we know what it is.’”

I’ve loved Mrs. Jones since the first time I met her, but she went up another notch in my book when Robby said that. Mrs. Jones is a wonderful woman who has worked hard for her family for many years, both inside and outside of the home. She learned gardening from her parents, and her mother is still passionate about her garden (at 94!). They all passed on their knowledge to Robby. But more than that, they instilled in him a love for it, and an appreciation that it is really God who produces the harvest (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Mrs. Jones’ garden won’t be found on Pinterest, though. It’s not laid out in a perfect design, tortuously weeded and pruned. No, her garden has a comfortable, welcoming feel to it. If a wayward flower or vegetable is found – which they refer to lovingly as a “volunteer” – it is kept and given room to grow. Family and friends rejoice in even the smallest of harvests (“I put up 10 quarts of beans this year!”). But it’s those “volunteer” flowers and vegetables that are most precious, as if they are little gifts planted by God (“But let me tell about our volunteer squash! It just popped up!”).

I realized that Robby’s garden is the same. Yes, it had started with a square raised bed, but now the squash vines are pouring over the ground, and the beans have jumped their boundaries. It’s lovingly kept, but it’s allowed to grow as God wills, surprises and all.

I’ve learned that volunteer plants make their way to us in different ways:

1. Hitchhikers – Seeds hidden in soil or compost that grow when planted, like our squash that was buried in the soil we transplanted from elsewhere;

2. Leftovers – Seeds or plants that are planted one year and then pop up unexpectedly later on, like the bulbs planted by our home’s previous owners that still bloom for us every spring;

3. Paratroopers – Seeds that fall from above or float on the breeze, like our sunflower that was probably dropped by a bird that had lunched on our bird feeder.

The Garden of Our Lives

Our volunteer sunflower. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2015)

Our volunteer sunflower. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2015)

In our lives, we often get comfortable with God and begin to assume that we know more than we do…like what God wants to do, what He is doing, what His plan is for us. We build a pretty box around our lives and try to put Him in it. Then, when something unexpected comes along, something that doesn’t seem to belong, we pluck it out, cut it down, or poison it to death. We never realize the joy of the unexpected thing God wanted to show us or do through us.

It’s true that, as Christians, we need to be careful to guard our hearts and minds, for not every weed is a good one. However, we should never guard ourselves against God.

Are there weeds of opportunity in our life? Are there hidden talents in you that need tending? Have others sowed into your community, leaving you to reap the harvest and see the reward? (See John 4:38.) Are new opportunities dropping in your lap that you need to take seriously? Are there people around you who need your care?

Seek the Lord, and ask Him if you’ve disregarded one of His treasures as a “weed.” If so, seek forgiveness and broaden your view of who God is and how He wants to move in your life. Just as the gardener must wait to see what the weed really is—and may even have to learn how to care for the strange flower or vegetable—seek the Lord and wait for His Spirit to give you knowledge and wisdom on what to do.

Remember, the sunflower likes to follow the light of the sun. So, too, must we follow the light of the Son, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NAS What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. John 4:35-38, NAS “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest ‘? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”