I spent the morning digging shrubs out of my front beds. Shrubs that only barely survived the colder-than-usual winter we had this year. Why didn’t these shrubs make it through our winter this year, while others did? In fact, I’ve been surprised this spring to see most of our plants came back strong. When we were entombed in inches of ice back in December, I thought we’d lose more.
Aren’t our lives like this? We go through winter seasons in our lives – times of great trouble, stress, grief, turmoil. Some winters are mild, but others leave us iced in and feeling like we may never thaw out. Sometimes we come out into the next spring thriving and other times we seem to have barely survived.
What makes the difference? What can we do to help us better survive the winters in our lives so we can be ready for a glorious spring?
1) Enrich the soil
Our house sits on thick clay soil, about the same consistency of pottery clay. Over the past ten years, we’ve been gradually amending the soil. Adding mulch, top soil, fertilizer and other organic material. As I dug holes to transplant some bushes that needed to be moved, I found earthworms! A sign that the earth is finally fertile and rich in nutrients.
We have to do the same in our lives – enrich our soil. Grow our faith, deepen our friendships, develop a community of support.
2) Be willing to prune
I found some plants needed to be replaced. These weren’t thriving and weren’t adding to the beauty or function of the garden. I needed to remove these to make room for more fruitful plants.
Other plants just needed to be moved. I had these small bushes that just weren’t in the right place to grow into their full potential. So, I moved them to a better spot. One with the right level of sunlight, enough room to grow and a spot that was in need of just these bushes.
Still others just needed a few branches trimmed off. Pieces that were dead or diseased. These needed to be pruned so the plant could focus its energy on growth.
Likewise, we need to be willing to prune what’s not fruitful from our own lives. Remove, rearrange, modify, reduce. Clear out the things that bring us down, the bad habits or toxic relationships that keep us from growing strong. Put our energy toward growth and improvement, rather than sustaining the broken and failing pieces of our lives.
3) Divide and share
I love bulbs because they’re so easy to grow. Irises and day lilies grow especially well in our climate. Mine have grown and multiplied so much they’re becoming overcrowded. This fall I’ll need to dig them all up and divide. This is a process of splitting apart the bulbs to thin them out. The plants will grow and multiply better once they have more room – and I’ll have a lot of bulbs to share with others!
We also need to divide and share our blessings. Our time, our talents, our treasures. Help someone in need, make someone smile, open a space in our lives for more blessings.
What are some ways you can start preparing today, so you can not only survive the winter seasons of life, but come into your spring seasons thriving?
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