Hi, Ladies! Alyssa here with a peek into my yard... and into one of the most profound life-lessons I’ve learned while gardening.
My backyard is my haven. It’s my favorite place to retreat.
It’s green and lush in the spring, summer, and early fall. When the leaves turn, it’s like a postcard. And in the winter, heavy snow on the tall pines creates a feeling like you’ve stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia. It’s magical. There’s an effortless beauty that years of maturation and care have produced.
My absolute favorite time to be outside is from spring through fall. I walk barefoot in the yard all the time, even when it starts to get cold. The soft grass and dirt between my toes is a form of therapy helped along by chocolate and eight cats (yes, eight.)
I love to discover unexpected beauty, but most of the time I discover weeds. Lots of weeds.
My first summer in the house was an experiment. I was new to serious yard care and gardening; new enough that I didn’t really know the difference between the makings of a weed and the makings of a flower. I let everything grow. The results were messy, and the yard was out-of-control!
It’s taken a few years, but now I know what to leave and what to pull. I actually love to weed and prune. But this year we had more rain than normal. Plants I’ve never seen suddenly appeared. Some were dormant perennials (awesome!). Others were insidious vines and weeds (not awesome). Despite my dedicated work in years past and the preparations for this year, these weeds came up en masse. It was as if they plotted a hostile takeover, recruiting and building up their reserves for years. Then… BAM! Weeds were everywhere!
I was not prepared for this. Somewhere in my mind, I knew the “right conditions” would produce amazing growth. I expected the rainy weeks to make things flourish. The problem was that I expected the right conditions to only produce the right growth. I did not expect so many weeds.
I learned very quickly that under the right conditions, every kind of seed grows... and grows well!
The reason for this in found Genesis. Right after the flood subsided and Noah’s family began a new life, God made a promise about how things would work moving forward. He observed the grateful, honoring sacrifices of Noah, and said: While all the days of the land remain, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will not cease [Genesis 8:22 (TLV), emphasis added].
This cycle of seedtime and harvest is established by God as a foundational principle that governs and sustains life. It repeats. Every year we can expect the same. It may vary slightly — some years come with more rain than others — but the cycles and outcomes are predictable.
Whether we are nurturing natural seeds in the soil of the earth or spiritual seeds in the soil of our heart (Hosea 10:12; Proverbs 4:23; Mark 4; Luke 8), seeds sown germinate and grow. It doesn’t matter what seeds we sow. All seeds, after a “period of original development” (aka time and germination), produce visible results.
In life, we are constantly sowing, and constantly reaping. It’s a cycle that repeats itself in more ways than we may realize. For example, our thoughts, attitudes, expectations, beliefs, and habits are some of the ways we experience the intensity of this cycle on a daily basis. If you plant the seed of frustration when you wake up, you can reap what you sowed with yourself, your spouse, or your kids before ever leaving the house. Likewise, if you start the day with gratitude, it’s easier to handle what comes next. Depending on the day, it can seem as though the time between sowing and reaping is a matter of minutes or seconds!
And because the right conditions catalyze growth in general, they are ideal for discovering things that don’t belong. It could be an emotion or attitude. It could be a commitment. It might even be a person.
Evaluation requires proximity. You have to get close to do the work — close to your success, close to your everyday routines, close to the things that are working well. It requires intentional reflection on the experience you're having with success.
Successful gardens and successful lives are a lovely camouflage for things that don't belong. Weeds aren't always easy to recognize. Not all grow tall. Some weave themselves tightly among good growth, staying under cover and close to healthy roots.
Once identified, the work of pulling what doesn’t belong takes care and effort. Some weeds come out with ease — roots and all — never to return. The joy of pulling these is immediate! Others may require tools for digging and a little extra patience. And then there’s the weeds with the really deep roots. These may be too well established for you to remove without some help.
Now… before you start equating weeds with your husband, family, or job, stop for a minute.
We've been there and know what it’s like to face difficult situations. We've stepped away from significant jobs. We've also stepped away from people. Nothing about these decisions was easy. In fact, it didn't always fix the problem. Often the necessary work was internal, personal, and part of a journey more involved journey to emotional wellness.
When you’re in a high-pressure situation personally or professionally, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If this is you, seek wise counsel. Find a certified Christian counselor to walk you through whatever difficult life decisions you're facing. Find a trusted friend to lift you up in prayer. Take steps toward healthy decision-making. And please, stay with us. We’ll help you take steps that keep your everyday life moving forward.
You know them better than you think! Everyday weeds look like they belong, but they consume valuable resources like your time, energy, productivity, peace, etc. Their demand is without relief: Too much work. Too many commitments. Too much Netflix. Too much complaining.Too much spontaneity. Too many shopping sprees Amazon. Too much procrastination. Too much worry. Too much...
Digging in to uproot these weeds may require the help of a friend, small group, mentor, or even a trained professional or counselor. We've done it all, from taking care of things on our own to seeking spiritual guidance and traditional counseling. Doing what’s needed is so worth it!
So... how do things look when you get close to your success?
What have the right conditions produced that doesn’t actually belong in your life?
Are there more weeds than you’d care to admit?
Answering these questions is the beginning of your journey into building life well. The process of evaluation is based in the importance of reflection. It helps you get close so that you can see what belongs and what doesn't
We reflect all the time. It’s a practice that's easy to adopt. Try it now with this simple exercise. Consider your day. Look closely and ask yourself two questions: What belonged? What didn’t?
Were you able to distinguish between the details of your day? Was it difficult to decide what didn't belong? Sometimes it takes time to really see the difference — to spot the weeds. Once you do, you can look ahead to tomorrow and begin to consider what needs to be removed in order for you to have greater focus on what matters most.
Since we do this all the time, we wanted to share our approach. The goal is to help you see what the right conditions are producing in your life, so you can decide what belongs and what doesn't.
Download “The Right Conditions” Blueprint HERE!
An honest examination of your day is a practice that will keep your life from being crowded by things that don’t belong.
We learned the hard way that weeds often look like an intentional part of the landscape. But when you get close, it’s easy to see what belongs and what doesn’t.
Get close. Examine the growth in your life. Pull out what doesn’t belong. Make the most of the right conditions, and let the landscape of your life reflect the good growth you were meant to cultivate.
Dig in, and build life well!