The Spirit of Loveliness: In the Garden

In honor of the coming of Spring, I have pruned a post from way back in the day of my first blog, Rave Redux. This was one of many posts where I reviewed how the book, The Spirit of Loveliness, by Emilie Barnes had affected my life. Today’s post tells how it affected my life as a gardner. I must add a disclaimer that I no longer live in the house where the yard is pictured below, but this is where I first learned how to keep a plant alive.

The Spirit of Gardening

I am dedicating this post to my friends who love gardening.  My thumb is definitely flesh-colored, if not brown.  I have had a few successes with landscaping projects, but my attempt at getting things to grow is summed up in this quote,

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.  ~Lou Erickson

Getting things to grow is a labor of love for most, and while I labor at it, I cannot honestly say that I love it.  It’s like cleaning house.  I love the results. Learning from Mrs. Barnes that this was an important part of owning and improving our home, I’ve searched through the years for a technique that could change the color of my thumb.

About 3 years ago I stumbled across the book, “Lasagna Gardening,” by Patricia Lanza and it was like having a revival in the dirt.  I would never have thought that I could become one of those people who loved a compost pile or went in search of mushroom compost or cow manure to spread in my yard.  But, I did!  I learned from Mrs. Lanza’s book how to layer different organic materials in my beds and plant green things that miraculously stayed that way. The best part of this book was that I never had to dig a single hole.  This book cut way down on the perspiration hindrance.

As you layer the materials, the bed builds to a a height that does not require any digging.  I would spread out the materials with my gloved hands and just set the plant on the ground. This renaissance in the dirt happened long before my blog days, so I don’t have before or during pictures.

Lasagne Gardening

Then, you simply cover the plant with the compost you’ve built around it.  In the picture above, you can barely see the bed I built from compost on the left. I even planted three Magnolia trees, a Japanese Maple tree and several butterfly bushes, gardenias and Spirea. I did, however, have to stake the trees to the ground because of wind, but it worked perfectly.  The last time I drove by this house, all plants were still living.

Dorothy Frances Gurney is quoted in Emilie’s book saying,

“One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.”

Emilie Barnes was and is an inspiration to do all things (even those things you don’t love) to His glory. I received the blessing of watching new growth and beauty as a result of my efforts. Honoring the Creator by creating.

Gerber Daisies

Butterfly Bush

As I leave you today, I have to share this story.  I heard it years ago, but I don’t remember where.

The devil decided to challenge God to a “creation-contest” and God agreed.  So they both started to gather the materials they needed for their creation project.  Once the materials were gathered, the devil said, “ok, let’s get started.”  To which God replied, “Get your own dirt.”

Adapted from: The Spirit of Loveliness. Copyright © 1999 by Emilie Barnes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

The Spirit of Loveliness: Hospitality

The Spirit of Hospitality

It was from the book, The Spirit of Loveliness by Emily Barnes, and this chapter that I first began to love entertaining in my home. Before I read this chapter on the spirit of hospitality, I felt that in order to entertain properly, everything had to be perfect.  The table had to be set beautifully, my house had to be spotless, the meal was suppose to be gourmet, all with candles burning and fresh flowers or a seasonal centerpiece on the table.

Special Occasions

There are special occasions where this is called for, like in the pictures above.  This was my daughter’s 18th birthday and I spent days planning, cooking and decorating for this very special occasion.  It was a blast.

But, the true spirit of hospitality is what I learned at home from my momma.  Mom worked outside the home and so Saturdays were our cleaning days.  Every Saturday, we three girls would get out of bed, eat breakfast while watching a few cartoons, and then start cleaning our 3 bedroom, 1 bath home.  Momma would hurry us along so it wouldn’t take all day; but, we would laugh, horse around and a lot of days it took the whole Saturday.


A Knock on the Door

Regardless of our schedule, however, every Saturday there would be a knock on the back door.  The screen door was always open, so we usually heard Momma holler, “Come in.”  My daddy was the chief of police in our small town, so sometimes it was an officer looking for him, it might be one of my friends, a neighbor or a relative, but it seemed someone always visited us on Saturday.

On one particular Saturday, I remember a very intoxicated woman showed up who didn’t realize that her monthly visitor had shown up that morning.  Momma very politely and discreetly directed her to our bathroom so she could clean herself up.  Then they sat down to have a conversation that I’m sure the woman didn’t remember having that afternoon.  It didn’t matter to Momma.

The only time I remember Momma being frustrated when visitors knocked on the door, was when the Jehovah’s Witness would show up.  We girls would roll our eyes and whisper to Momma not to answer the door.  But, oh no.  “Come in,” she hollered and in they came and down they sat, sometimes for hours.

We were Christian, but not of that denomination and it seemed that one Saturday a month, they were determined to convert my momma.  But in true “momma fashion”, she invited them in and tried to convert them.  I know that my mom would have preferred that we keep cleaning, but when she sat –  we played, so on these Saturdays it likely took all day to clean our little house.

Saturday’s Lessons on the Spirit of Hospitality

The lessons I learned from these Saturdays are:

  • It doesn’t matter if your house is clean.  It only matters that people feel welcome in your home.
  • Treat everyone the same, regardless of their religion, politics or morals.
  • Look up from whatever you are concentrating on when people are in your presence.  They are more important than tasks.
  • Cleaning can be fun – with your sisters.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness

My challenge to ladies today is this, put down your phone, iPad and laptop and spend some original face time with a friend.  Nothing compares.