One Rock at a Time

Psalm 119:33 (the message)
God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.

With the coming of Spring this year I have noticed something.  Even mentioned it to my husband last night.  Green.  Everywhere lots of green.

With my slow and steady ascent into the world of routinely cleaning my home and having sparkly windows, I have pulled the blinds up high in our living room, kitchen and today bedroom.  What I’ve noticed is how this year every view is full of green…maturing trees, grass, bushes.  And  not just in our yard, but in the neighbors yards, as well.  My comment to hubby was I guess this is a plus of living in one house for 11 years!

Just now, as I was putting away laundry in our bedroom, the green view into our front yard sent this thought shooting across my heart…It takes time to see things grow and mature.  You have to stay the course.

My intent in writing today is not to suggest we not ever move!  I look forward to having a bit more room to spread out in one day and more land to do it on!  I believe what I am to share is that if we want to experience a lush green view in our lives we must remember the power in staying put.  It’s so easy to buy into the idea we should have faster results in our marriages, dreams, jobs, etc.  Marriage is really what tags my heart today…so I hope this post is an encouragement if you are struggling in this area.

My husband and I moved into this house when we got married.  Our yard, in retrospect, was a lot like our new marriage.  Not much had been done to prepare it for growth.  The previous owners hadn’t done anything special with it…planted flowers or bushes or fertilized the grass.  We had some trees but they didn’t really provide any privacy.  We did have (and still do) the builder boxwoods.  But not much was going on.  Or so I thought…

That first summer for me was a sudden dunk into the cold and sometimes unwelcoming waters of marriage.  Our yard and marriage alike, when you dug past the first little layer you found rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks.  And as I have learned from my knowledgeable husband, the good stuff won’t grow in rocks!  I will always remember that first summer and how he dug away. He worked so hard.  My dear man transplanted 27 good-sized Azalea bushes from his granny’s house into our yard (yes, she let him do it!).  He planted Ironwood trees along one side of our property and fertilized the heck out of them.  He and a buddy took off work one day and put down sod.  Oh, goodness, if you know Shannon you know I could go on and on.  Over the years he built raised flowerbeds, planted juniper border, started our now yearly vegetable garden, planted countless trees, ivory beds and bushes, built himself a very nicely done shed and now is finishing up a treehouse for our girls.  He is a man of projects and hard work.

Now, you may be wondering (or not if you have been a witness to my life) what I was doing during all of his hard work?  Early on I have to say I was probably reading.  I did not grow up outdoorsy and I did not care for nor appreciate his vision for our yard.  Not only did I not care, I was somewhat offended that he wanted me to come outside and dig up rocks!  A small chuckle escapes my lips because it would take a book to describe this particular area of our journey…a journey we are still on.  But I can tell you he was right.  The “good stuff” does not grow in rocky soil.  The rocks must come out. The soil must be tended.  Nurtured.  It requires sweat and hard work when you’d rather sip sweet tea and read a good novel.  But if you want to one day look out across your life and see the beauty of a lush, green view you have to be willing to do the work and stay the course.  Oh yes.  Eventually I learned to get my hands dirty, got on my hands and knees and dug rocks out of the yard so we could have fresh tomatoes and squash and cucumbers.  Over time I finally put down my book and purposefully made my way outside to ask, anything I can help you with?  And before you get any bright ideas about me, let me say to this day I am still walking this out!  Those 6 words mean next to nothing if not asked with the right heart…a sincere desire and willingness to help…to be a part of someone’s life and interests.

That Ivy bed now climbs a couple of large trees in my yard (but I can’t think of the name of the trees right now…laugh…what can I say).  Our yard is quite inviting in spring and summer.  Nice to look at.  You can tell it’s been tended and lots of time, energy and care has been invested.  We are truly reaping the benefits of time and TLC.

And like my yard, my marriage is much the same.  There were lots and lots of rocks at the beginning.  It’s been a lot of hard work digging through our issues and letting God till the soil of our hearts.  We could have quit and we almost did — more than once.  But I am so glad we didn’t.  No doubt we still have work to do.  Always will.  But because of Jesus and His power and love in our lives…because we grew willing to do it the way He shows us in His Word and through the wise counsel of our spiritual leaders, we have begun experiencing a lush green view when we look at our marriage.  Hedges still need to be trimmed.  Weeds pulled periodically.  Time and TLC will always be the needed investment to bring us to maturity so we (and our children) can enjoy the benefits.  We can only do that if we stay the course.

I pray you stay the course, as well.  It’s hard,  I know.  It can be lonely…heartbreakingly lonely and disappointing.  You might even entertain the idea of finding a new yard…starting over.  But the thing is you still have to do the work with a new yard.  Yards don’t take care of themselves.  When left unattended, things get out of control and ugly fast.  So many of the things about my husband that used to drive me nuts, I mean nuts!, are the things I most appreciate and admire these days.  There is so much potential for every yard…every marraige…but you gotta put down your book of excuses and blame and get your hands dirty.  You gotta determine in your heart to stay the course.  God can heal your marriage if you will use the tools He gives you.  I didn’t really care to know which garden tools were needed because I didn’t want to do the work at first.  I was satisfied to let Shannon work on the yard and just enjoy looking at it.  Sadly, we can be like that with our marriages.  We want the other person to use the tools and do the work so we can enjoy being married to them without breaking a sweat.  Yikes.

If you don’t know where to start, my suggestion is 1st Corinthians chapter 13.  If you don’t have a Bible then google it.  I like reading it in The Message paraphrase.  You might be thinking oh, yeah the love chapter. Sigh.  But I’m telling you its THE LOVE CHAPTER!  Smile.  It’s how God loves you and it’s how He wants you to love others, starting with your spouse.  Once you grasp this idea that God loves you the way this chapter describes, you will find the tools for a lush green marriage in your hands.  What looks like a mess of a marriage can grow beautiful results if you will do it God’s way.  One day, one rock, at a time.

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