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RenewA Devotional Magazine for Women
By Phyllis Ten Elshof
ZondervanCopyright © 2006 Christianity Today International
All right reserved.
Chapter Onegardening for missions
WHEN PAT SCHILTZ'S DAUGHTER. MARLISE, NEEDED FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO DO MISSION WORK IN HONG KONG. PAT DECIDED TO HOST A COUNTRY GARDEN FAIRE ON THEIR FOUR-ACRE PROPERTY IN WAYNE, ILLINOIS.
Four hundred guests showed up to enjoy the breathtaking array of shell-pink poppies, blue larkspur, violet delphiniums, coral hollyhocks, and other flowers in her English country garden.
When Marlise signed up for another mission trip. Pat did a second garden tour. This time, attendance grew to twelve hundred. The extra money was given to other missionaries.
The next year, Marlise didn't go on a mission trip. But interest in Pat's garden fairs was so high that Pat agreed to host a two-day event. This time the focus was overtly evangelistic. Pat found numerous creative ways to plant seeds of faith during the fair. Throughout the garden, she placed signs with Scripture verses and poetry. She also recruited Christian friends to warmly greet visitors. Pat's husband, Jim, helped park cars. As guests arrived, they were handed a program containing Bible verses, a list of thirty-nine exhibitors of arts and handcrafts, and a welcome letter from Pat, saying, "The relaxation, joy, andpeace we feel in a garden comes. I believe, because man was created in a garden. Whenever we wander into a garden or work in the soil, we are, in a very real sense, returning home.
"It is my earnest hope and prayer that while here you will personally draw closer to our Creator, the Master Gardener, and that you will grow in your knowledge of God's love for you."
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: THAT I MAY DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE. TO GAZE UPON THE, BEAUTY OF THE LORD AND TO BEEN HIM [It HIS TEMPLE. -PSALM 37:4
making new traditions
I'VE ALWAYS LOVED FAMILY TRADITIONS. WHEN OUR CHILDREN WERE YOUNG. I PULLED THE SAME DECORATIONS OUT OF STORAGE EVERY THANKSGIVING, CHRISTMAS, VALENTINE'S DAY, EASTER, AND FOURTH OF JULY.
We celebrated in traditional ways, too. Though the number of faces around our Thanksgiving table varied each year, our family of five formed the nucleus of this celebration of feasting. We spent the day preparing food. We got out the fancy white tablecloth, good china and silverware, and the kids made place cards for our guests.
I dreaded our first Thanksgiving without the kids because I feared their absence would magnify the emptiness of this new season of life. So we accepted an invitation from friends, and for the first time in twenty years, I didn't cook a turkey. I anticipated withdrawal symptoms, but to my surprise, I enjoyed the freedom from responsibility. Now my husband. Lynn, and I look forward to finding new ways to celebrate, such as serving turkey to the homeless at our church, or taking a cross-country ski trek. In that we thank God not only for food but for the blessing of his creation.
On our first Valentine's Day as empty nesters, we realized that going out for dinner alone was no longer unusual. So we invited a single mom to share dinner with us at home. Our first Mother's Day and Father's Day alone also felt a bit odd, so Lynn and I began to honor each other for the role we played in our children's lives, instead of depending on them to set the pace.
As we learn to hold our children more loosely, we're growing closer as a couple and opening ourselves up to what God has in store for us in the future.
Though the number OF FACES AROUND OUR THANKSGIVING TABLE VARIES EACH YEAR. OUR FAMILY OF FIVE FORMED THE NUCLEUS OF THIS CELEBRATION OF FEASTING.
Excerpted from Renew by Phyllis Ten Elshof Copyright © 2006 by Christianity Today International . Excerpted by permission.
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