Joy in Jesus!

My sweet friends, today I want to talk with you about true joy . . . not “happiness”,  not “contentment,”  not some strange giddy “feeling” . . . but real, living, deep, and soul–penetrating JOY.

Today, many of us around the world are experiencing greater prosperity than has been witnessed in recent history.  Yet with all this, there seems to be little expression and little experience of true joy.  Why is it that we can’t find any real satisfaction?  How can it be that so many of us “still haven’t found what we’re looking for?”  I believe that the answer is shockingly simple and also quite difficult for most of us to accept.

You see, sweet friends, true joy is found only in and through a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  YES, I said it!  If you want to know true joy, you must know and submit yourself to Christ as LORD:  LORD (Heb. YAHWEH/Gk. – ego eimi – the GREAT I AM) as in GOD Himself; Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Master of your life and of your every moment!  YES friends, Jesus is Savior, Friend, Prince of Peace, Wonderful, Counselor, Healer, Helper, and so much more.  But friends, the Incarnate Christ was first, and most importantly revealed to us by the angel Gabriel as JESUS, Savior (Matthew 1:21), Emanuel, GOD with us (Matthew 1:23), Eternal King (Luke 1:32-33), Son of God (Luke 1:32, 33, & 35), and Lord and Master (Luke 1:17).

In Luke 2:11, an angel of the Lord, possibly again the angel Gabriel, announced to the shepherds “there is born to you this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Gk. Kyrios – Master).  Many years later, after Christ had ascended to the Father, Peter preached the first Christian sermon in history and proclaimed to the people, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  Finally, Paul the apostle, and the first Christian Missionary, explained the truth of the Gospel in this way: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  All of this says that Christ is Lord!

My friends, if Christ is Lord and Master, if He is GOD, and GOD with us, if He is the GREAT I AM (John 8:58), how and why do we expect Him to be less to us, and in us, than He is?  We so long to receive His blessing, His peace, His gracious presence, and YES, His JOY; and yet we remain so empty and listless (disinterested, devoid of energy and spirit), because we refuse to get still and KNOW Him as our GOD (Psalm 46:10).  Because we do not wish to have Him meddle in our daily lives, we resist reading His Word daily and spending quality time with Him each day in prayer; and the pain and loneliness we feel grows stronger day by day.

What we fail to recognize is that the One Who created us, made us for fellowship with Him.  As Blaise Pascal (the famous French mathematician and philosopher) explained, “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Today I have a dare for you!  I dare you to get still enough, for long enough, to hear His still small voice through daily time in His Word and in prayer.  And, I further dare you, to welcome His Word to you as it is, the sweet revelation of His perfect plan for your life, and to welcome Him, as Who He is, the God of the Universe, the Lord and Great Lover of your soul, and the true JOY GIVER!

In His presence there is fullness of JOY; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

May the Lord BLESS you and KEEP you!  May He make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace, and His JOY, until we meet again! (Numbers 6:24-25)  In JESUS’ precious, and HOLY NAME!  AMEN and AMEN!

About the Writer:
Tiffany is a cross-cultural missionary, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and worship leader.  More than anything, she desires to be one ‘who like a tree planted by the rivers of water, brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and have whatever she does prosper’(Psalm 1:3). She is committed to abiding continually in Christ, the vine, so that she may bear much fruit in, and for Him (John 15:5).


Serving my way to Joy

Joy is not my natural state.  If I’m honest, I admit that worry comes much more naturally, especially since I became a mother.  I used to think joy was something that would come to me if only . . . if only someone would do what I want of them, if only I were promoted, or if only I had more of what I wanted.  But when I got to the other side of the “if only”, I may have been satisfied, but the feeling wasn’t one of joy.  I have always experienced joy as a gift.  It’s nothing I’ve been able to work for, but God has given me clues along the way as to how I might experience more of it.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.  Philemon 1:7 (NIV)

I’ve learned it’s not possible for me to experience true joy when I’m focused on me.  Joy is experienced only when I step outside myself and focus on the joy of others.

 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

Finding joy takes discipline.  That might seem counterintuitive, and it certainly was for me.  But Jesus knew what joy was waiting for him, and that helped him endure the Cross.

We don’t have a cross to bear, but we do have plenty of opportunity to step outside ourselves and find joy.  The easiest way for me has been to serve others.  Any time I serve, even in the smallest way, I always benefit more than those I serve.  The joy I receive seeing others be blessed far outweighs the joy of receiving anything other than God’s grace.

I also find that keeping track of those moments and my blessings helps me when I’m not feeling the joy as much.  In those moments of joy, if I take a time to capture the feeling in writing, then I can go back to it on darker days  The way I’ve done this is to keep a gratitude page in my journal.

Counting my blessings and serving others are the two consistent ways I know will bring me joy.  What can you do today to experience joy in your heart?

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.


Reality Check: It’s Not all about Me

As a new mother struggling to balance the demands that our world shouts so loudly, I often watch the composure of my grandmothers and think about the social changes that have taken place in just two generations. I watch them sit with a cup of coffee in hand and an easy rock in their chair. No TV in the background. No conversation necessary. They find comfort and satisfaction in the quietness.

With great admiration, I have periodically asked questions of my grandmothers about their early years of marriage and motherhood. My selfish desire is to glean nuggets of wisdom that I can apply in my own life, with hopes of achieving the sense of peace that I see in them.

So, in one of these conversations, I casually asked my 86 year old grandmother what comes to mind when she thinks of the word ‘Joy’. ‘Contentment,  satisfaction , and lasting’ was her response. Intrigued and hungry for a deeper answer, I went to the only source of truth on this matter, the Bible.

Passage after passage, I discovered the real truth at the core of this word: Joy is about GOD, not ME.

I had made joy something to be practiced and strived for, obtained, when all it really required was a closeness with the Holy Spirit that could be found through scripture. The faithful promises and unfailing truths of God’s word can shine new light on life’s circumstances.

I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111  

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12

Joy is a celebration of His sovereignty and His promises.  It is an eternal view that supersedes the world that surrounds you. Your demonstration (or lack of demonstration) of joy indicates what is important to you.  Are you distraught by temporary pains of this world, or are you looking expectantly towards the day of Christ’s return?

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

With this new understanding, I found great peace and a deep internal joy even on the hard days. The only maintenance that is required is simply to remain in closeness with the Lord and His word – to live and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.


Can anything erase your love for your husband?  What about your parents?  Children?  Your immediate response is likely “NO!” But that’s not the case for many women, including women in the church. A mistress or an addiction can seem to separate your husband from your love. Betrayal, neglect, abuse, terrible choices, and mental illness can often seem to separate parents and children from one another’s love.  In many of these situations, physical separation may be the best choice for all, but does that include a separation from love?  No.  Are you asking “what makes me think I know so much when I haven’t lived your pain?” Romans 8 and I have lived through a few of the above. Maybe not your specific pain that is as individual as you are, but I have had many dark nights of the soul. Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is interceding for us, and verses 35 and 38-39 declare that there is no person or circumstance that can separate us from the love of Christ.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Romans 8:35

 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

“No person” means that not even you can separate yourself from His love. He is our example that we are to transfer into our own lives. Has anyone in your life ever nailed you to a cross and left you to die alone and humiliated?  Probably not, so that means that no one has betrayed you or treated you as badly as we all have treated Jesus. My “little white lie” just to keep myself out of trouble nailed him to the cross. So did my gluttony, lust, selfishness, and unkindness. Even my failure to look at a stranger and recognize them as loved by the Lord while I turned my nose up in disdain drove those thorns into His lovely brow. Not to even mention the rest of my sins! With that in mind, is it OK with God that I reject those who have rejected me? We know the answer, like it or not – No! I think the whole key is there in verse 34: Jesus intercedes for us; His prayers keep us close to His heart and because His heart is close, He continues to intercede. What a wonderful loop! Who has hurt you deeper than you ever imagined possible? Pray for him or her! Wayward children? Pray for them. Abusive parents? Pray for them; you keep praying over those hurts because you are still struggling with them.  Look, beloved sister, it all boils down to Jesus, you and your choice:

Do you choose to love? Do you choose obedience to the Lord and His directive in John 15:12 to love one another as I have loved you? It’s hard to make that choice, sister, but when you do, oh the joy and freedom you gain! When Jesus made the choice, He experienced death, but He gained the throne at the right hand of God! I choose to love.

About the Writer:
Cindy loves being an RN, wife, mom, and CiCi (that’s a grandmother, but I’m way too young  for normal terminology) to one sweet little 5 year old girl. She loves the Lord with all her heart and wants to serve Him with gladness till her dying breath. Cindy plans on starting seminary very soon. She can hardly wait for Wednesday and Sunday to roll around so she can sing with the choir and experience just a sliver of the joy we’ll have when we all get to Heaven!

Love Tested by our Darkest Sins

“Lord I love you” is a powerful statement.  How do we protect ourselves from the hypocrisy of declaring it on Sundays, proclaiming it to receive affirmation on social media, but failing to hold fast to that commitment in the hard moments of our lives?

The proof of our commitment always comes in testing.  My commitment to love God has been tested again and again:  through the miscarriage of two of my precious children, through watching a sweet friend die of cancer, and through Satan’s destruction of God ordained relationships I held dear.  But trials have mercifully driven me to seek after God and to desire to know Him more.  God speaks often in the Bible of how testing and tribulation grow and mature our faith. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

While all trials test and grow us, I think there is a special significance and precious proof of our love of God in the devastation of dealing with our own sin.  Grieving over, confronting, and laying before Jesus my own sin has done more to strengthen my relationship with Him than any other type of testing.  These excuses reveal my failings, my inability to strengthen that relationship on my own, and my deep need for Him.  The truth laid bare is hard to handle, but it is freeing.

King David is a gloriously God-ordained example of clinging to the love of God in the face of our darkest sin.  The story of David’s horrific sin and the unshakable love that rescued David is laid out in 2 Samuel 11 – 12.

David lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery, and then had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah- who was an unfailing loyal servant to David- killed to conceal the fact Bathsheba had become pregnant from their tryst.  None of his schemes worked.  God used the prophet Nathan to reveal David’s unthinkable shame.  Nathan proclaimed, “You are the man!” and exposed David’s worst sins.

This was a defining moment for David.  When confronted with guilt, our natural reaction is to fight back and rage against the exposure of the truth.  David’s love for God conquered all those impulses, and he instead turned to the Lord and lamented:

I have sinned against the Lord. (2 Samuel 12:13)

David would later write several beautiful Psalms, including Psalm 32, in acknowledgement of what God had done to rescue him from his iniquities.  What defined David, a man the Bible would call a man after God’s own heart, was not his worst moment, but his reaction to his worst moment. His action was rooted in a deep love for God.  He repented because he loved God more than he loved himself.

Sin separates us from the love of God.  But our love of God means we are willing to lay aside the encumbrances of this life and the sin which so easily entangles us and run to Christ.  We die to self, stop the justification, explanation, and minimization of sin and say, “I want Christ more, I love Christ more.”

Love God today.  Lay your sin before Him.  Turn from sin and say, “Lord, I’m depending on You to free me from the deepest, darkest corners of this sin.” We can count on the Lord’s grace, mercy, and unfailing love.  He honors those who love Him and nothing proves that love more than confronting our sin and casting it off.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.



I Don’t Want Your Love

I love being a mommy. My little girl, soon to be four, is the apple of my eye. When she chimes in with an unsolicited “I love you, Mommy,” from the backseat of the car or while I’m cooking dinner, my heart melts. Lately she has been asking for more and more hugs, and I am more than contented to oblige her with that! However, sometimes I have to remind her that, as much as I treasure her affection and heart-warming hugs, words, etc., what I really want is for her to obey me because that is what God asks from her (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1).

For example, I ask her to put up her shoes or toys or come sit down at the table and she, in response, asks for a hug. Or she knowingly chooses not to follow my instruction and asks for a hug instead of coming clean with a confession. I can definitely see how a hug would be a nice alternative to other forms of discipline, but last time I checked, hugs were not compelling enough to encourage her to change.

Each time I am met with my daughter’s choice of affectionate “love” over “obedience,” I am reminded of the commonality of our human struggle — to express love how WE want to or to love as GOD wants us to love.

 Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:46-49


Though I cannot guarantee that my daughter will accept the truth that God equates obedience with love (1 John 5:3), I can pray and remember that for ME to love her well, I must remember how important it is to teach her that love and obedience go hand in hand.

These are my steps to action:

  1. PRAY-Pray that our children will know Christ and have the heart change to want to obey God because of His love in their heart.
  1. BE FAITHFUL-Faithfully train up our children in the ways of the Lord according to the Bible.
  1. KEEP IT MATTER-OF-FACT-Keep anger and rejection far away during times of discipline. Keep it matter-of-fact: remind children that the best thing they can do to show their love for us as parents is to honor God and us, because when we ALL obey God (children and parents included) God promises it will go well for us.
  1. MEMORIZE-Memorize Proverbs 21:3 with your children: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (NIV)
  1. SHOW LOVE-Pray like crazy that my actions, attitudes, words, and YES, even hugs, would come across as those of our loving Savior Jesus Christ.

 About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Love is a Choice

 As Christians, we know that love is far more than those butterflies someone might feel on her wedding day. It’s much more than romance or a mere “feeling.” The ultimate sign of the love God had for us was demonstrated on the cross.  It’s the first verse we memorize, the one we all know by heart:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Love is something we can experience as a wonderful, happy feeling, but it’s much more than that. Love is sacrifice. Above all else, love is a choice. God reminds me of that on a fairly regular basis.

When I entered into the covenant of marriage 18 years ago, I was feeling the love. It was warm and happy.  My beloved and I were surrounded by family and friends before God, declaring our promises to each other. It was easy to love my husband on that day. There are still many moments when it is easy to love him, but plenty when it isn’t.

When people in my life behave in a way that bothers me, it’s more difficult for me to love them.  When they are grumpy or argumentative, love becomes a chore. God has to remind me what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-45:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 

If Jesus commanded me to love my enemies, then that love should extend to grumpy family and friends as well.  Sometimes that’s really difficult to do. Sometimes I’m the grumpy one and have to ask forgiveness.  But when I choose to love, even when someone is grumpy, it always turns out better.

Doing so isn’t easy, and it requires asking Jesus to show me the way in every moment. When I start the day asking how I can show Him to others in my life, He inevitably gives me the opportunity. When I have the discipline to choose love, even when it isn’t easy, I allow Him to shine through me. And, when I feel like it’s just too much to bear, I remember the cross and make the choice, one moment at a time, to love – even when I don’t feel like it.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

Please Don’t Bruise the Fruit!

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   Galatians 5:22-23

 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

 On a late afternoon in September, my mother had just passed away at the age of ninety.  My sister and I had the privilege to be with her during her final hours in the emergency room.  Watching her peacefully fading away with no fear or evidence of panic or struggle, I felt remarkably calm, almost as if I could sense that she was actually seeing Jesus reaching out for her hand to take her home.  It was a beautiful experience to witness a faithful child of God embracing the next step in her journey of faith.
Leaving the hospital, we saw a couple we knew from our church with another couple we did not know and who had come to attend to someone in crisis there in the hospital.  Our friends asked us why we were there, so we told them our mother had just passed away.  We expressed our confidence in the knowledge that she was with the Lord, joy because of that assurance, and thanksgiving for the life she had lived.  Instead of screaming hysterically in grief or despair, we controlled of our emotions praising God even in the midst of our sorrow.  Our friends extended their sympathy to us, and we left.
Later on, I received from my friend a note of condolence, in which she added another chapter to this story.  She said the friends who were with her that day were not believers in Jesus.  But, because of our demeanor and words of faith, hope, and joy, the non-Christian couple were amazed, asking how we could behave that way immediately after our mother’s death.  Our friends were happy to report this experience had given them opportunity share the love and grace of Jesus!  Not knowing whether or not their friends chose to accept God’s forgiveness through faith in His son, I loved having a small part in their hearing the gospel of salvation!
How could this be. . . joy in sorrow. . . calm in unexpected circumstances. . . faith and thanksgiving in loss?  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can exhibit these qualities even when it seems impossible.  Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Christ, the moment he or she trusts Jesus as Savior.  He is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Enabler, The Seal of our salvation, the Guarantee of our resurrection— and the One who brings the very expression of God’s nature to fruition in our lives.
The Bible often refers to seed-planting and fruit-bearing.  In Genesis 3:15, the “seed of the woman” is Jesus.  Therefore, since we are indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus, we can expect the “seed” to produce the “fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)  But we have a choice about that! Paul admonished the Galatians to “walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) Wow!  This means that we are to be purposeful in choosing to behave in a way that pleases God’s Spirit, allowing His attributes to be displayed.  Paul warned the Ephesian believers not to, “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30)  Evidently, if we do grieve Him, He does not work in our lives as He desires.  But how do we grieve the Holy Spirit of God?  We grieve Him by being ungrateful, refusing to obey Him, neglecting to read His Word, and failing to pray.  If we choose to do the things that do please Him, then His character will be made manifest in our behavior.  Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)  Others have said our circumstances do not determine our true character, but bring out the character that is already in us.  What good is it to enjoy the fruit of God’s Spirit only inwardly?  How we live our lives is how others know that we are Christians.  They can’t know that if our actions contradict our words.
In the upcoming months, some Spirit-led women will share how the fruit of the Spirit has been meaningful as they have “walked in the Spirit.”  I hope it will be a source of encouragement in your own daily walk.
I am reminded of the old hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”  The final verse goes like this:
“Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.”


About the writer:

 Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans, who call her “Gigi” and currently serves as editor of Yada Yada.

Lost Laughter

boys-on-beach“I don’t know what your laugh sounds like.” These are the words my 5-year-old son said to me the other day. I brushed it off when he first said it. Of course he knows what my laugh sounds like. He was just being silly. Right? When was the last time I laughed with him?

“Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you had then?”  Galatians 4:15a.(NLT)

I have joy. Do my boys see it? Unfortunately, they probably do not. They don’t see the light-hearted, joy-filled, easy-going, full of laughter me. They see this stressed out, overly frustrated, high strung, over committed shell of a mom. Where did the real me go? In my mind, I’m the mom I want to be, but, in reality- I’m barely surviving, struggling to keep my head above the waves of our hectic lives and full schedules. And I’m not doing a quarter of the “Things Good Moms Do” to have well rounded, happy, morally sound children, or whatever is trending now. Read to them, get them into sports, let them create, challenge them, let them read to you, listen to them, feed them (at least 3 times a day, every day), encourage them, help them with homework, humble them, comfort them, set boundaries for them, teach them manners, pray with them, teach them how to become responsible and productive members of society…and the list goes on. My own personal list-the one in my head-goes on. I dwell on so many expectations, so many ways I am failing as a mom. I have hidden my joy under this list. I have prioritized this list over my joy- over my kids’ joy.

Feelings of guilt and inadequacy are red flags. I need to check my focus. Am I living by faith in Christ or by trying to exceed the expectations and demands of this world? I seem to spend all day on the toils of life, without enjoying the rewards of the toil.

“What profit is there to the worker for that in which he toils? … moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor,—it is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:9,13

Without God, I find no relief from the toils of life and have no direction to guide me through life’s complications. Satisfaction and joy are lost.

With God, I realize that each day is a gift. I can find pleasure in what I am doing now because this work comes directly from God’s hand. He has given me this life, my husband, my children, and our home. He will also give me the strength to complete the work before me and the wisdom to discern priorities. I will serve Him through my work here at home and through the rearing of my boys. I will find satisfaction and joy, and I will laugh again.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

About the Writer:
Meghan is a former art teacher who feels blessed to now be a stay-a-home mom to her two boys. She loves volunteering at her sons’ school and with the First Baptist Dallas Women’s Ministry and First Impressions Team. She is passionate about art, cooking, working out, and playing volleyball.

Lessons From the Garden

When my husband and I moved into our first home together, I was eager to garden. I knew that it would take a little hard work, but I was enthusiastic about the opportunity that each dry, forgotten flowerbed carried. From a distance, I had watched how my mother’s garden developed over time into a beautiful oasis. Every year she would add a few new plants, and continue to tend to those she had already established.

And so, with this quaint memory, I began to work on my own garden. I first began with a charge of energy. Daily I would spend time turning over the soil with my hands, fertilizing and preparing it for the plants to come. By transplanting cuttings from family members’ gardens and gathering a few freebies on Craigslist, my garden slowly began to take root.

After just a few years in our home, I have watched a story take place in our garden that can be reflective of our lives in so many ways. Within a year of being in our home, my eagerness to garden was replaced with the sleepless nights that arrive with a new baby. It was no longer my priority. The plants became an afterthought and weeds began to set in.  ‘At least they are green’ I would tell myself as I walked past the window.

In looking back on my mother’s garden, I see now that it was with continual and tender effort that she reaped a beautiful vision for all to enjoy. She cultivated her garden daily, and her diligence and hard work was evident. In order to grow and develop in our spiritual lives, we must continually water, prune and tend to the gardens of our hearts.

So, here are just a few of the spiritual lessons that I’ve gleaned from the garden.

  1. Some plants will take over your garden, so be cautious what you choose to plant.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:8-9

                   2.  Pruning allows the plant to focus its energy and growth in fewer places.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

                    3. Gardening takes patience first before you will begin to see the rewards.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.