In the gardens of my friends, week 2

They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.
—Jeremiah 31:12

I hope you enjoyed last week’s stop on my friends’ garden tour. This week brings us to the garden of a friend who leads a group of us fearless writers. She often opens her home so we can gather and spend a few hours in quiet, companionable writing. Depending on where I sit to write, I often find myself gazing out into her yard, enjoying the abundant beauty there.

She also happens to share my love of nurseries, and she introduced me to one of my favorite nurseries one weekend as we strolled and chatted, laughed to see hummingbirds buzzing about, and tarried over favorite flowers to dream about and plan our own gardens.


My friend’s favorite flower, the princess lily

As we walked through the rows and rows of flowers, we talked of flowers that grow well here and flowers that grow well in North Carolina. I’m always delighted to find reminders of home in friends’ gardens: Continue reading

Summer in the south

Though summer weather has been around for at least a month, the official start of summer arrived on Saturday with the solstice. On Saturday, I read a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, one especially fitting—and lovely—and I wanted to share it with you here:

Summer in the South

The oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.

Orioles don’t hang around where I live, but there are plenty of beautiful birds that do spend their summers here. I saw a goldfinch perched on the butterfly bush on Saturday, but alas, without camera in hand, I don’t have an image of it to share with you here. I will share photos of the flowers that were blooming this solstice day.

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The purpose that prevails

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

What did you want to be when you were little? If you’re like me, you daydreamed about becoming lots of different things. I made two paintings in elementary school two years apart that showed what I wanted to be when I grew up: an artist the first year, a teacher the second. Every year, sometimes every day, I thought up new things I wanted to be when I was older.


My elementary school idea of what I’d grow up to be, complete with a change in eye color and a floating body (notice that my shoes aren’t attached to the rest of me).

It seems like even now I never stop dreaming about what direction my life will go next, but I have to remember not to get too carried away with myself. Proverbs 19:21 speaks to these plans in my heart, with a beautiful reminder that I’m not ultimately in charge (whew! that’s a relief).

With hindsight, there are plenty of times in my life that I’m grateful for God saying no, because He had something even better in mind for me. But I wasn’t very thankful when I was living in those moments. His “No” seemed difficult and even bewildering.

But now that I have seen bewilderment turn into blessing, I need to keep a firm grasp on the truth of Proverbs 19:21 as I work to fulfill the hopes and dreams and plans I have for my future. Continue reading

The riotous garden

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood


He stood next to me looking out at our garden and said, “I want a riotous garden – like this.” He pointed specifically to the riot of irises and butterfly bush all grown over one another, and I see the dividing of bulbs that will soon come.

One view of a garden in our front yard

My husband and I built this raised garden when we were still newlyweds, adding stone and dirt and mulch and plants around an old oak tree that needed more dirt for its roots to thrive.

Some areas have grown in better than others. Beginner’s luck, I think, as I happen to get some plants in exactly the right place for them to grow riotously. Like the irises, mostly from my mother’s garden – purples, whites, yellows and sherbet-y combinations – that have taken off this year and created a bounty of blooms.  Continue reading