“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Quarantine has brought out the gardener in me. I know, it shocked me as well! For years, my thumb has been brown. If it resembled a plant or flower, you better believe that I could kill that thing in no time. However, this season of life has caused me to slow down, to be intentional, which is a really good thing for my flower garden.
In the cool of the morning, I slip out into the backyard to check on the flowers. The weather overnight and the morning’s sun will determine the physical appearance of the flowers. If there was a heavy storm, the plants will reflect this. The petals are normally hanging off the stem or found nearby on the ground after the rain has come through. If the sun is too hot, the flowers will be wilted and brown. At first, this really discouraged me. Having ugly flowers was really depressing. I bought the flowers to bring about some brightness and color to my life.
Determined to grow out of my brown-thumb stage, I did some research. Turns out, flowers falling off the plants or withering is a normal occurrence. I learned that each day, I must go out and “dead head” my flowers. This simply means, I look carefully at each flower and assess its health. If it is withered or brown, I simply “pop-off” (deadhead) the flower. Getting rid of the old flowers makes way for the new flowers to blossom. Within days, new flowers were peeking through, refreshed, and full of color. I also learned that the practice of deadheading allows the plant to bloom longer than if the unhealthy flowers are left on the plant.
It is in these quiet moments of tending to my flower garden that Jesus speaks truth to my heart. “Sarah, I do the same thing to you each day. I look at what is withering or dying in your life, and I prune it away. It hurts a little, but the outcome is so beautiful. When you allow me to come in and replace the old with new, you blossom in a way you never could have on your own. I give you life. I give you color. I renew your heart and your mind.”
You see, Jesus is not content with us staying the way we are. John 15:1-2 says, “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.” Did you catch that last part? God prunes us so that we can be even more fruitful. He wants to fill us to the point of overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are the attributes that bring about the most beauty in our lives. We are most like Jesus when we are displaying these fruits, living them out fully in our lives. Our hearts beat with His, we bring Him glory, we reflect His beauty.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Forget the withered, dying flowers of your past. Allow Jesus to come in and do a new thing in you. Allow Him to spring up new life in you. Allow Jesus to bring streams of living water to your heart, mind, body, and soul.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.