Category Archives: Gardening Series

Knowing When to Turn Off the Water Hose

We have had a lot of ran lately. Living in the flatland is a new experience. Water has no where to roll and just stands in its place. Little droplet soldiers falling down in battalions and attacking unexpecting Lieutenant Lettuce and Sargent Spinach.

After a heavy rain, Trae debates whether or not to water the garden. With so much rain, Trae has to be cautious and not over water the garden. While water provides a way for the plants to grow, too much water and the plants can drown. We have already had to replant the garden once due to the rain.

Marriage can also be drowned even when a spouse is trying to do what is best for the marriage. Sometimes a spouse will compromise too much. A person who constantly compromises is not being true to herself and will find herself drowning, losing who she is. When someone loses herself, then the marriage has lost part of its foundation. A marriage happens when two people become one; not when one person overshadows another person.

If you realize that you are someone who constantly compromises, work on improving communication. See if your church as any special events for couples; Dan Allender has some great programs and many times churches will have special Sunday school classes based of his teaching. (You might even want to buy one of his books and work through it as a couple.) Also make time for yourself so you don’t lose yourself in the marriage. Some ways to make time for yourself can be:

  • Sign up for a class or activity outside of the house. Micheal’s Craft Store always has something go on; I loved their cake classes. Check out local playhouses for auditions. Maybe yoga. Trae plays hockey every Monday night.
  • Set a timer for an hour. Make sure your spouse knows that you cannot be interrupted during that hour, even to answer the dreaded “Where is….” question! During that hour do whatever you want: bake, read, write, take a bubble bath until you are all pruney.
  • Take yourself on a “Me Party.” (A happier version of Amy Adams’ in the Muppet Movie.) Go to dinner and movie. Maybe a museum. Just make it a date for yourself. My favorite date is a walk in the woods. I just to love going to Biltmore (pictured below) and walk in their gardens followed by coffee and dessert!

No matter what you choose to do, just make sure you do something that you for you!

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The Importance of Water

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”– Leonardo da Vinci

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(Tiny heads up: This will be the most risque post so far, but hey, you are married; God approves.)

Marriages need water just as much as gardens do. Without water, plants die. Water gives the plants nourishment and causes growth. Without water, the plants fight to survive, but ultimately turn brown and shrivel up before dying. All that remains of a once healthy plant is a yellow-brown vine that is brittle to the touch.  The vine resembles an earth worm that was unable to make it back to the dirt before the sun baked him onto the sidewalk. The shell remains, but the life of the plant is gone.

Now, when I say marriages need water, I don’t mean drinking the eight recommended glasses of water a day. I mean, marriage needs nourishment. Nourishment, in terms of marriage, is acts of kindness or intimacy that promotes growth. Acts of kindness do go a long way when promoting growth in a marriage, but honestly, intimacy is the key factor in promoting growth. Without intimacy, you are missing a deeper connection with your partner. It is important, however, not to confuse intimacy with sex. Sex is just one type of intimacy. I can buy my husband Reece peanut butter cups once a week, and while that will make him feel happy towards me, that happiness is surface level. Intimacy is the water of marriage that brings nutrition to the roots.

To me, touch and sight are two of the engaging ways to promote intimacy. Trae and I take showers today, and while we don’t do hanky-panky, we still have the closeness of being together in the shower. Out bodies touch, and we also all Adam and Eve (aka naked). Sleeping Adam and Eve style is another great way to promote intimacy. (For the winter, just invest in some warm fleece sheets!) Laying in bed snuggling (if the jealous cat will let you get close enough to snuggle) and talking is the best way to unwind after a hectic day of teaching. Obviously sex is another way to promote intimacy; sex. to me, is the ultimate way to express intimacy. However, that level of intimacy is made stronger when the couple is being intimacy on several levels.

Now if A&E style with the goodies hanging out isn’t your style, there are other ways to promote intimacy. I am also a spoiled wife and Trae rubs my feet every night; the touch of his hands makes me feel at ease every night. His touch makes me feel close to him. Cooking is another way to create intimacy with your spouse. I love the way the smells engulf the kitchen; the aroma hugs you as the two of you work together. The best part of cooking together: eating together! Special dates can also promote intimacy, but do not confuse special date with expensive. Yes, a fancy meal share in a candle-lite booth is romantic and intimate, but enjoying a canoe ride or hike are also intimate. Seeing an expanse of mountains before me serves as a reminder to that we do truly believe in an awesome God and how lucky I am be able to see and rejoice in His creations with my husband.

A good way to promote to promote intimacy is to ask your spouse what he/ she enjoys and use those things promote intimacy. Do you enjoy to read? Well, then maybe you and your spouse can read together while snuggling on the couch. Be creative and find an level of intimacy you are both comfortable with.

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Bugs: Not Just for Stomachs

Sometimes you can love, tend to, and care for something, but it will still not flourish. Bugs have gotten to it, and they have made a smorgasbord out of the leaves and baby veggies. The plant eventually dies, never having a chance to reach its potential. Now, bugs can bite you too, but when bugs happen to a marriage, a couple has let outside sources nibble away at the exterior or the leaves of the couple’s relationship. In other words, you let an outsider, whether it is a co-worker, a friend, or a family member, eat away at the feelings you have towards your spouse.

When Trae and I were having problems, I ended up talking to one my friends about the situation a good bit. I over shared with her and  we commiserated about husbands together. The conversations started out semi-light hearted and then ended up painting our husbands in a more unfavorable light.The more I talked to her, the more negatively I looked towards my husband. I did not see any of the good things he would do and hyper focused on everything “wrong” he did. She in turn would complain about her husband. In the end, this friend and her husband ended up getting an ugly divorce. Under her influence, I felt extremely negative towards Trae. I had to retrain my brain and grow new fruit when I realized that this friend was being a bug and nibbling away at my leaves. If I had not realized the adverse attitude I had acquired and changed my behavior patterns, my plant would have died.

Some bugs can be good. Apparently spiders are eight-legged demons* that help keep your garden from becoming bug infested. In other words, look at what bug you choose to talk to (or squash). If you do choose to talk to a friend, be wary of over sharing. A marriage is between two people, not two people and a friend who knows everything. If you do need someone to reveal more to, consider a counselor. A counselor can help you as a couple and as a one-on-one bases.  Having a positive influence, your plant will have healthy leaves and your marriage will have much stronger roots.

In Zig Ziglar’s words, “positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”  This saying is especially true for marriages. Be positive that you will overcome the hard times, and then you will. Be negative and the bugs feast faster, which makes the plant of marriage die even faster.

*Spider disclaimer: I hate spiders. Once in high school, my mother and I woke up one of my friends who spent the night. We were screaming and trying to suck up a spider with the vacuum. If you want to hear more about my spider adventures, you can read about them here.

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Gardens can’t be measured and neither can Marriages

When I was a little girl, my parents had a garden. The garden was rather large and filled with cabbage, sunflowers, strawberries, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, etc. The garden itself was encased in a large fenced-in area to keep out the dogs, especially the large and loveable Newfoundland Ginger. Then inside the garden space, you had perfectly tilled dirt with the garden separated into sections using boards. The distance of each plant was precisely measured out. Each fruit or vegetable had its own corral. In other words, my engineer father had made his garden an perfectly symmetrical gardening masterpiece.

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A really bad mock up of Dad’s garden.

I remember going over to my godparent’s house to play with my god-brothers and being secretly horrified of the zigzagged rows of beans and corn with stray weeds growing up between the rows. Weeds never lived in our garden; in my head, gardens were meant to be neat and not dirty. So you can imagine the mental expectations I had of our future garden when Trae and I moved into our very own house with a large backyard.

Our garden is not as big; it did not have nice fence around it. Tomato plants were not planted exactly 28 1/2 inches apart. We underestimated how big squash plants grow. Trae has to be careful when his mows because our butternut squash has escaped the confines of the fence. We have weeds; heck we even lost our collards to pests. Our garden is not an engineering marvel. I freaked out. We had to keep the weeds out; we needed to fence the garden off better. We weren’t doing it right. Our garden did not look like my dad’s garden. We were looking more like my godparent’s garden and that wasn’t right.

Guess what…I wasn’t right in my assumptions. One of the most important things to remember before going into a marriage is not go in with expectations created by other people. A marriage is something you build together as a couple, not something you build with yourself, your spouse, and everyone else.

Facebook is one virtual garden that I had to learn how to navigate. I see pictures of happy couples with wonderful messages of “So blessed” or pictures of couples traveling the world. I have always wanted to travel, and while I have been blessed to travel, I found myself feeling that I was not traveling enough and started to get jealous. My husband and I weren’t watching a sunset in Africa; we weren’t wine tasting. We were at home eating a frozen pizza. I started to measure my marriage against these pictures and statuses. Compared to these relationships, my marriage was sub-par and full of weeds.I started to dwell on the fact we didn’t go places; we didn’t do exciting events or outings.

Then I talked to one of my friends who I was envious of her Facebook persona. We were talking about her latest trip, and she mentioned–out of the blue– how while she loved traveling, she was jealous of my life! I was shocked. She longed for frozen pizzas on a screened-in-porch at a recently purchased house. Apparently we were lusting after each other’s gardens. In this case, the tomato on the other side is always redder. The Bible says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). If you dwell on jealousy, the roots of your marriage plant will rot. Take joy in the produce of your marriage. Your right, I am not in Africa. But every morning, my husband has a cup of coffee waiting for me when I get out of the shower. I am not doing wine tastings, but I went to a pot-luck “fancy” dinner party the other night. I focus on the positive things of my marriage, which in return gives us strong roots.

You can get help from others, even plants need bug spray once in awhile. But ultimately your marriage is your garden, not someone else’s. Our garden doesn’t look like the garden from my childhood, and that is ok. My marriage is what I make it. I cannot measure my marriage by someone else’s yard stick (or in this case, tape measure).

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Bonus picture: This is my dad measuring out his garden.

 

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Gardening: The Start of Short Series

We garden. Makes us sound like hipsters, doesn’t it? Gardening takes a lot of patience and resilience just like a marriage does. In this series, I will be using our ups and downs with gardening to illustrate the ups and downs of marriage. The series will consist of five posts:

  • Gardens can’t be measured
  • Weeding: Keeping out the bad
  • Bugs: Not just for stomachs
  • The Importance of Water
  • Knowing when to turn off the Water Hose

I might even throw some yummy bonus posts of the meals we make from our garden’s bounty! (We have already made a super yummy chicken tacos with squash and zucchini.)

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