Rookie Gardens and Lesson’s learned

I attacked my garden plans last years with visions of beauty, fullness, and completion. I purchased whole garden packages fully expecting them to fill in the first year. Classic rookie mistake. It actually takes about three years for perennial gardens to fill in. Lesson learned. This year, I will invest in a few more perennials and fill the rest of the spots in with annuals.

I still had some nice flowers though. My newest side garden was filled with carnations, black eyed susans, lilly of the valley, sedem, and coral bells. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

This is my Beauty of Moscow Lilac. I knew she wouldn’t bloom last year, but she held up quite good. I’m looking forward to watching her mature.

My hard drive crashed over the winter and I lost a lot of my garden photos. So, I won’t be blogging much about last year after all. I do however still have some of my closeups. The garden did fill in pretty well by fall and should do really well this coming year.

We also added a Japanese Maple to the mix, but he really hated this sunny spot and we had to move it to a more shaded area in front of our porch.

This fall I added my tulips, Rose of Sharon Bushes, Lillies, and more daisies. I’m looking forward to seeing those results come Spring and Summer as well.

It’s just not “Lutheran” unless…

Galatians 4:8-11 “
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. “

Do you know that I grew up less than a block away from a Lutheran Church. They were so secretive and so seclusionary that our neighborhood honestly believed them to be a cult. Today, I’m an LCMS Lutheran at first by marriage and now by confirmation. I believe in the tenants of faith. I believe in scripture alone, faith alone, and grace alone. I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I love what I’m seeing LCMS do. The missions, the outreach, the hope in Christ. We serve a greater purpose today than just to ourselves. We’re following Christ’s words – we’re out there – proclaiming the Gospel. I love it!

Synod allows for autonomy in our individual congregations. Some congregations are very High Episcopal in worship style, while others are more open and contemporary. And we have everything in between. What’s intersting to me, or disconcerting depended on your view point is how often we as a body bicker back and forth about what is and isn’t acceptable to God when it comes to worship styles. I was really disheartened by that until I looked at Galatians recently – the bickering goes back a coupla thousand years. I also found this Martin Luther Quote – on a blog (I’ve forgotten where and I’m sorry to the author I thought I’d bookmarked it) – and low – this “argument” existed in his day as well.

I wanted to simply share the words of Martin Luther with you today. Considering that he is the guy who wrote A Mighty Fortress is Our God – to the tune of a modern day bar song – he’s been on the receiving end of a lot of guff himself. His thoughts facinate me.

Martin Luther, from his Lectures on Galatians (CPH 1963), re: Gal. 4:8-11
“There is no middle ground between human working and the knowledge of Christ; if this knowledge is obscured, it does not matter whether you become a monk or a heathen afterwards.

“Therefore it is completely insane when the papists and the Turks do battle against each other about religion and the worship of God; each contends that he has the true religion and worship of God. In fact, even the monks are not in agreement among themselves; one wants to be regarded as holier than another merely because of some foolish outward ceremonies, when in their hearts the opinions of them all are more alike than eggs. For this is what they all think: ‘If I do this work, God will have mercy on me; if I do not, He will be wrathful.’

“Therefore every man who falls away from the knowledge of Christ necessarily rushes into idolatry; for he must invent a form for God that does not exist anywhere, as the Carthusian trusts that because of his observance of his monastic rule, and the Turk that because of his observance of the Koran, he pleases God and will receive from Him the reward for his labor.

“A God of this kind, who forgives sins and justifies in this manner, cannot be found anywhere. Therefore it is all a vain imagination and a dream, the invention of an idol in the heart. For nowhere has God promised that He intends to justify men and save them on account of religious orders, observances, and forms of worship that have been thought up and established by men. In fact, as all Scripture attests, nothing is more abominable to God than such self-chosen works and forms of worship; He even overthrows kingdoms and empires on account of such things.

“Therefore all those who trust in their own ability and righteousness are serving a god who by nature is no god but is a god only in their opinion. For He who is true God by nature speaks this way: ‘I am not pleased with any righteousness, wisdom, or religious observance except the one by which the Father is glorified through the Son. Whoever takes hold of this Son and of Me or of My promise in Him through faith—to him I am God, to him I am Father; him I accept, justify, and save. All the rest remain under wrath, because they worship him who by nature is no god.’

“Whoever defects from this doctrine will necessarily fall into an ignorance of God and an ignorance of the righteousness, wisdom, and proper worship of God. He will be an idolater, remaining under the Law, sin, death, and the rule of the devil; and everything that he does will be lost and condemned.”

The Day Mom Broke

I can remember the day, years ago, sitting at our dining room table writing our Christmas newsletter when “I’m gonna KILL you!” screams ripped through my peaceful writing time. The next thing I knew the door to the garage burst open with my five year old running for his life from his (very wet) seven year old brother. Dillon ran past me, with Charlie in fast pursuit. Through the kitchen and living room they went with a brief chase around the couch. Dillon then made his bolt down the hall and into our bathroom, locking the door behind him and falling against it in fits of laughter. Charlie hit the door too – pounding on it with both fists, screaming at him the whole time.

I crumpled up my Normal Rockwell lie of a newsletter and started over. “My sons are trying to kill each other today, and I have no idea why. Charlie is soaking wet, it’s cold outside and I can only assume Dillon decided to spray him with the garden hose. Who knew it still worked in the winter. I thought we’d put it away. Dillon found it again and plugged it back in. I’m not surprised. Dillon is locked in the bathroom laughing, and Charlie is pounding on the door trying to kill him. Should I intervene? Or let nature take it’s course. Ah yes, the true issues of parenting I can’t find in my parenting books:Do I make them love each other? Or let them fight it out and see who survives?”

Charlie finally gave up and went into his bedroom to change clothes. I knew the battle wasn’t over. Charlie would at some point get even. I just didn’t know when or how.

There was a time when these expressions of brotherly “love” would have me baffled to the point of tears. My husband had come home to find me sitting on the middle of the living room floor in tears because I thought I was a failure as a Mom. “They hate each other!” I cried. “What did I do wrong? I’m a failure as a parent.”

Jeff walked back to find them playing cars in their bedroom and asked what happened. Charlie piped up. “Uhm.. Mom broke Dad. We don’t know what happened, we weren’t doing anything.” Yeah right.

They were fighting – over I don’t remember what, and I had finally had enough and fell to the floor on my knees calling out to God. “I’m so sorry! I failed! My boys hate each other and it’s all my fault.” I basically had a nuclear meltdown.

That would be when Jeff sat me down and shared with me all of the ways he and his brother showed “love” for each other. Basically, they beat the snot out of each other until one got big enough to hit back hard enough that it hurt. After that, they became friends. OH.

My boys still mess with each other, but not as bad as they did. When they were younger, Dillon would throw himself to the floor crying hysterically saying that Charlie hit him and Charlie would get in trouble. It did not take long for Charlie to learn if he was going to get in trouble anyway, he might as well hit his brother. It did not take long for Dillon to stop throwing himself on the floor. Now they just play mind games.

Take Sunday night for example. Once a month we go to a leadership Bible Study. Jeff and I lead it, and the boys babysit. This month Dillon had the night off. He knew we were going, but was asleep when we left. When he woke up the house was dark and he was alone. He’d forgotten where we were, so he called Jeff.

Relieved to find out he wasn’t missing anything, he hung up. Charlie piped up then, “You should have have told him the rapture is real after all and he missed it. That would have been funny.”

Brothers. They WILL love each other some day, right?

Starting again

It turns out that losing three of my four rosebushes wasn’t the end of the world. I still have a beautiful climber in the back yard, and I got to go shopping. There is a local nursery in town that supports people with developmental disabilities. They run the nursery and the money earned there, goes back to support job training, housing, and whatnot.

My roses died close to the end of planting season in Tulsa, so the nurseries were pretty picked over. I was however able to find lavender, a fir tree, and a beautiful yellow forsynthia bush as well as a barberry bush. I then moved some of my Iris’s from my back yard and added several annual pieces, like sweet potato vine, for color.

I found this beautiful plant at Westlake Ace Hardware on Memorial Day weekend. They had a close out on thier potted arrangements. It turned out to do really well in the heat and looked great with the rest of my plants, but it didn’t come with a lable and I have no idea what it is. I’ll take my garden scrapbook with me this Spring while I shop around so that I can lable it and know what to buy.

With all of the sandy loam and sawdust left behind from my pine trees – ants moved into the new territory. I don’t like ants and after we sprayed the tar out of the garden,I started putting in plugs to keep them away. The plugs worked.

I let my new bed grow for the season while I focused in on building up my other new garden spots. The results ended up a little “over done” by the end of summer, but for a first year garden, it really wasn’t that bad. Not a bad second start. I spent my fall pulling out the annuals, trimming back the lavender and pitching the barberry bush (it died under the vine – my bad). I’ve added several new perenial pieces from SpringHill Nursery and I’m looking forward to seeing what blooms this Spring.

Sitting to the side, in the white pot is a magnolia “bush” I also purchased in the Spring – I really need to stay from on line catalogs. I didn’t read the small print and the “bush” arrived as a bare root plant that will require several years to mature.

This was another one of my “oopsies” last year. I thought I was buying THIS.

Spring Hill showed it as part of a “sunny garden spot foundation garden set” that can be purchased as a group and I thought it would be perfect in front of our living room window.

I’m fortunate to have a husband who likes to read the small print and dig in the yard from time to time. While we were planting the new garden set, he read the little box this root came in. It turns out my cute little bush grows to a height of ten feet.

THAT – will not fit in front of our living room window. See what I mean?

I added building out a new bed to my fall clean up and plantings. I wasn’t planning on doing that yet – I was going to build those over the winter and plant in the Spring, but she needed a home and my South fence needed some covering, so that is where we put her.

A Rose is a Rose

Losing all three of my pine trees out front left my yard looking more than a little sad. The sun is strong in Oklahoma and my house faces East. I thought the gaping hole left by my trees would be the perfect spot for a rose garden.

Building this garden took work, but wasn’t quite as difficult as I had thought. Friends of ours had just purchased a home in the hills of Keystone Lake and had rocks they were digging out of their yard – two wrongs don’t make a right. They learned that those rocks are what kept the dirt in place, and I learned moving roses wasn’t very bright.

Being the homicidal horticulturist in denial, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I built the edging just fine. Found the right mixture of black dirt, compost and fertilizer, but do you notice that my roses are in bloom? I moved them without pruning them. I also moved them without checking for disease. Turns out, my roses had fireblight. I’m not sure how it started, but one went down and took the rest with them.

This is the last rose I saw before I had to dig out my new bed and start again.

Ablaze Church, Outreach Continues

One of our core values as a mission start is to be a vital part of the community. We do this by hosting events and giving back to the families in Northern Broken Arrow.

Team members have served lunch for local school teachers on numerous occasions. We’ve also collected food for the local food bank Broken Arrow Neighbors and we even held a fall festival to celebrate Reformation.

Errick and Jen headed up our fall festival and we put into practice the things we learned from our Egg Hunt. 1. Walkie Talkies 2. It was 100 % outdoors. We rented a stage from Tulsa Parks, and had several bands playing through out the day. There were about 100 or so people from the community through out the afternoon. Everyone enjoyed themselves and our fall festival is going to become an annual event.

Come summer, we’ll have car washes and free concerts including local musicians and Christian comedians.

We are starting to “get it” if you will. We’ve learned in our two plus years together that God doesn’t so much as call the equipped as he equips the called. Our team has changed over the years. Some of our original team members have gone on to lead in other places, and new members have come in.

One of the other things we do have, and need is group bible study. Once a month we meet as team at Our Savior and we are studying the book, Leadership from the Inside Out. This is our time to regroup, recharge, and renew.

What makes our mission team unique is that we are all leaders in our home congregation as well. We lead the youth group, teach Sunday school for youth and adults, play in our church praise team and do outreach there as well. On Saturdays we lead worship at Ablaze, on Sundays we rest and worship with our home congregation. It’s sometimes harder this way – belonging to two churches – and yet it’s easier because we have a place to rest.

I once asked someone who travels and speaks, “How do you lead worship and still worship yourself?” and she sent me back to Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Our team submits themselves to God, with great joy. This is our spiritual act of worship.

Ablaze Church Egg Hunt 2008, Broken Arrow

Our first Easter Egg Hunt at Ablaze Church was such a success and we were so inspired by the turn out, that we decided to host another one in 2008. Our team wanted to do a joint venture with Lord of Life across town and both teams had so much fun, planning, stuffing, buying things that we just knew God was going to bless our endeavor and use us to bless the neighborhood. We got to know people at LOL and they got to know us and we had so much fun planning this together.

We had over 8,000 eggs stuffed with candy and a lot of prizes. We had juice and cookies, live music and a message from pastor. We prayed for good weather. This was going to be awesome!

We learned a lot that year.

We learned that there is more to planning such an event than good intentions. We learned that we should have been outside, and that the need for such an event was larger than we could have imagined. Both churches settled in and set up and waited for the 750 people we were sure would show up.

We underestimated the crowds. Oh, we had 750 people all right give or take an additional 1,500. Mostly give. Our group of 50 volunteers wasn’t enough.

We learned so many things being over run. People kept filing in, and past the cafeteria to a holding place in the gym and finally to out back where our team of hunt coordinators waited – there were no walkie talkies between us, and no way of managing this crowd. While people inside worshipped, people outside broke past our lines and took all 8,000 eggs. Leaving about 1,000 people without anything.

Some of us ran for the hills, following in Peter’s footsteps of “I don’t know them.” Some of us tried to manage angry crowds from out front and some of us jumped under the prize pavilion splitting up prize baskets and handing out candy to the kids who didn’t get any.

We had things thrown at us, we watched parents walk right up and steal baskets from out of our hands saying their kid didn’t get anything and deserved it. We were sworn at, spit on, and screamed at – all by adults and in front of their children and ours.
Someone even stole my son’s digital camera.

Not all ministry events go as planned.

What I remember most about the day though, isn’t the screaming, crying (myself) and swearing. What I remember is watching our team (that stayed) take off their He is Risen shirts that we had made for the day and pass them out. I remember several neighborhood families jumping into the pavilion with us and drawing their swords at the angry crowd to help and defend us. We gathered up as much candy as we could, split up all the prizes that were left and passed out everything we had – including for some, the shirt off our own backs.

When it was all over, we threw away all of the previous entries for the drawing of the free bikes, and let everyone who stayed fill out a new entry and we gave the bikes away to two families.

We wanted to be Christ with skin on, we wanted to minister to the community in which we serve, and they ministered to us.

Mission work is not always fun, not always easy, nor does it always turn out the way we want. We left the school that day heartbroken, angry, and hurt – hurting not for ourselves but for the overwhelming needs that we saw.

See – we prayed over those eggs. We prayed that each person who touched an egg would be filled to the measure they needed with the Holy Spirit – we discerned some simply had greater need than others.

We all went home after the hunt, for a little while to rest before church started that evening. I went home, drank a glass of wine, cried and prayed. Then we came back at 7:00 to worship the one and only living God. 100% God, and 100% man. He too knows the crowds. He too was mocked, spit upon, sworn at and rejected. In His death and ressurection we find our life.

We all came back – every one of us to praise the living King and to thank him for the glimpse we got into the hurting of his people. And yet, one family of five stayed – and is still with us and they bring friends. Two more families remember us, and visit from time to time to pray with us and encourage us.

We made mistakes. We didn’t count the crowd and have a cut off. We didn’t have walkie talkies to communicate across campus. We didn’t have security. We over advertised. We were ill prepared.

But not this year. This year, we are trying again. This year, God willing, we will be prepared for those he sends us.

Updates on the hunt for 2009

I am His Beloved, but is He Mine?

If God could write a Valentine today, what would it look like? What would He say? Would it be flowers and prose? A card from Hallmark, or maybe a rose?

If God were to write a Valentine today, What would it look like? What would He say? Would it be candy or something as sweet? A box of dark chocolates? Now that would be neat.

But that doesn’t quite do it. Its not quite his style. No, He’d probably think and ponder a while. He’d keep it simple. And that would be best.

“Come home to me Valentine, and I’ll give you rest.”

My Dearest Valentine,

You were, and are still, my first true love, created for my pleasure. Your parents gave you a name at birth. I have my own name for you. I call you “Beloved”. Do you know? Do you remember? Or have you forgotten?

I called the heavens and the earth into being with my voice, yet I saved you for my hands to create. I am still creating, making you more and more into my image, even as you live and breathe. Can you feel my touch? Have you seen my fingerprints? Your name is carved into the palms of my hand. Nothing can snatch you away. Not even your sin. I knew you would fall and I created you anyway. I already had a plan worked out from the beginning of time, so that I might keep you by my side.

I came down to be with you. To eat, sleep, walk, dance, and touch you. I gave you my time, my love, and my life. Your time, your love, your life and your faith and more precious to me than silver or Gold. Do you weigh the cost? I did.

Did you see the sunshine I sent you today? I wanted to watch it shine off your hair and in your eyes. Did you feel the warmth? Did you hear the songbirds? I wrote that song just for you. Does my music fill your heart? Yours does mine. Oh, how I love to hear you sing. And that breeze? It’s me caressing your face like I did for Elijah. Did you notice me? Do you hear the leaves rustle in the trees? That’s my whisper. Can you hear me?

I can’t wait until you see what I have in store for you on Easter morning! Will you be there? Will you see me? Or will you miss it? Please be still beloved and know that I am God and that you are my first true love. Would only that I could be yours.

So tell me Beloved, will you be my Valentine?


Copywrite: Deana O’Hara, Red Bridges Home 2009