The Garden

By: Caren Nicholson, Leadership Team

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. Growing up, we had a vegetable garden and my mother always had flower beds, but I had enough of vegetable gardening growing up on a farm.  Our garden was more out of necessity than pleasure since there wasn’t a lot of money when I was young. However, the thing I dislike even more than vegetable gardening is RASPBERRIES.  As a teenager my mother would wake me up at 07:00 in early July to pick raspberries. I would tell her I’d do it later but she would say “you know, if you wait until later it will be too hot.” “Fine,” I’d say, throwing my covers off and stomping downstairs to the raspberry patch. My mother was very industrious selling the raspberries to the local grocery store and used the profits to buy carpet for the house or whatever else was needed. Even though I don’t like raspberries today, I did learn to love flowers from my mother.

I’ve been living in my house about 6 years now and believe this is the first year I have really enjoyed my garden. I’ve had to battle deer, squirrels, chipmunks and voles, but now the Iris are huge, the sunflowers attract butterflies and I’m stopped in my tracks with the sweet aroma of a beautiful rose bush.

I’ve been reflecting on God’s character and have come to realize how He is revealing Himself through my garden. First, my garden reflects God’s beauty. Isaiah 33:17 “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar.”

Second, I see nature praising God. I was with my grandson at the park one day. He was doing typical boy stuff beating the grass with a stick and waving it around. I noticed he was near an Austrian pine tree. Have you ever noticed how the branches lift up toward heaven as if they are praising the Lord?  Isaiah 55:12 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

And finally, my garden reveals God as the creator. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

I’m in awe that the world was created by a deliberate action of God. I’m learning that God reveals himself through nature and we can learn about God’s character through what he has created. I just have to make sure I’m listening.

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Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

By: Al Wetzel, Church Chair

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin, out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign
[Five Man Electric Band, 1971]

After passing through the grieving stage of the loss of Lynn, I felt sure my life was not meant to be lived alone. Going forward from there was a mystery. After all, Lynn and I had been together for 43 years. Dating again, UGHHH, I hated the word. Many tear-filled nights ensued, convinced I would die an old, balding man.

single person walking

Meanwhile back at the ranch (I love saying this), God had been whispering names to friends and preparing hearts. Something started to stir in mine too, but I didn’t know what it was, a feeling not experienced since the launch of the FMEB song.

Gideon’s story came to mind. Yes, that’s it, I thought, I’ll ask for a sign, but it came with a conflict. Asking for signs causes uncertainty in me. Do they support faith or is it demonstrating immature faith by seeking them? So I read Gideon’s story (Judges 6) over and over as well as scoured the scriptures for other scriptural references concerning signs.

Moses offered Pharaoh evidence through signs (Exodus 4 & 7-11), Aaron’s budding staff (Numbers 17), and Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 4:16-17, Mark 4:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22) were a few more. However, I saw Jesus wasn’t going to give any signs to the Pharisees (Matthew 12:38-42 & Mark 8:11-12). Maybe God was not in the sign business anymore, I thought, or maybe I’m not reading them! I’m not sure which it was, but it forced me to the scriptures looking for answers to the point where I forgot the question. Is there a moral here? For me, the signs you look for are in your heart and are revealed through the searching of scripture.

reverse sign

Now, after a year of searching for signs for clarity in my life’s pursuits, I find myself in the process of getting married.

two people sign