August 1, 2012

Garden of Hope

Our spring lawns, once lush and green, were crunching under our feet. The fields of endless rows of corn displayed drying husks months too soon. Though we have received some respite with the recent thunderstorms, it will take more than a few showers to restore all the plants, and some, including crops, may be beyond remedy.

These pictures are from my gardens, which I have maintained throughout the drought by daily watering. Though time-consuming, this was very important to me, because watching my gardens grow brings me joy and hope. I would suffer along with my plants if I allowed them to whither and die.

This tiny portion of earth that I have kept watered has kept my hope alive that life will be restored in the parched areas of the Midwest and beyond. This drought has left many shrubs crispy and brown, and trees have languished with the lack of moisture. I shudder to think of the farmers who depend on their crops as their livelihood, wondering if there will be any crops at all to harvest.

Thankfully rains, sometimes in the form of storms and torrential downpours, including hail and high winds have scattered over our parched land here in Southeastern Wisconsin, bringing respite to the plants and hope to the farmers.

Amidst the despair of watching so many plants succumb to the drought, these bright gardens of mine have given me hope that life will be restored once again.

This awful drought in the season of what is normally a thriving growth period has reminded me of winter, when all hope can be lost of seeing the natural world spring back to life. We wait anxiously hoping for life to be restored.

There are times in our personal lives, too, where seasons of drought or deep winter affect how we find hope in our lives, yet we need to have hope to believe in new beginnings.

One way to begin finding hope is to be grateful for what we have instead of bemoaning what we do not have. It is helpful to make a daily list of what you are thankful for. Make this a habit. It can be little things, simple things, things that bring you joy.

When we begin to focus on what is good in our lives, we find the strength to make it through the challenging times. Daily keeping our focus on God, who provides all we need, and offering thanks to Him for the goodness in our lives, helps to keep our thoughts more positive. This, in turn, kindles our hope for better tomorrows.

We believe in the goodness that life can bring. Though we must suffer through storms of life and difficult times when we feel our hearts will break, if we an can focus on what is good and true, offering thanks and truly feeling grateful, we can weather whatever comes our way, whether it be drought or storm.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things."  Phillipians 4:8 (NIV)

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