Summer Gardening: Tending to the Soil

It’s been a very busy Spring season. Lots of productivity, creativity, and busyness have marked our days.

But now……(insert Olaf singing)……IT’S SUMMER!!!!!

My goal this summer is to be intentional about my summer gardening. However, if you know me, you know I’m not much of a gardener.

I’m talking about a different kind of gardening….I’m tilling the soil of my heart by pushing intensely into my relationship with God.

See, through all of my busyness in the spring, my heart got tired. I expended a lot of energy. After Women of the Way, I wanted to share thoughts and ideas. I wanted to write about what I’ve been thinking about. I wanted to keep the productivity going, but I just didn’t have the ‘umpf’ to match my intention. My soul was compacted- packed down hard from all the exertion.

So, once summer vacation began, the soul gardening started with silence and solitude.

Rising before anyone else wakes up, I sit in the light of the morning sun. The warm glow on my face, my eyes closed, and I meditate on God. He is good. I’m so thankful. His love endures forever.

Do thoughts creep in? Yes. What’s on the to-do list? I need to buy groceries. I’m worried about so-and-so…..Does sleepiness creep in….Oh yes! I’ll just stretch out on the couch for a minute. No, that will put me back to sleep! Sit up!

Opening my eyes, the sun is rising through the trees. The gleaming beams brighten up the quiet living room. I refocus and start again.

Lazy summer days are the best!
colorful sunset at the sea shore

This time, I listen for the birds.

Surprisingly, listening to the birds early in the morning helps me stay focused on God. Their calls and songs keep me from thinking about tasks that need to be done and keep my attention towards the eternal. I close my eyes again and listen for the birds while thinking about God. I listen for God.

At first, it wasn’t easy. I’m not a morning person. I LOVE to sleep late. So, starting out, getting up very early was a decision. Each day, the choice was a discipline. As each morning passed, I realized how much I want to get up early and spend time with Him. It has become a delight! I look forward to my special quiet solace in the sunshine.

This early morning gardening has turned up my soil and brought fresh air and sunlight into my heart. Where my heart had gotten a bit depleted for all the productivity and maybe a bit hardened (not discouraged or hopeless, just spent) from all the doing, this practice of silence and solitude has broken up the dry ground and worked in some fresh air and light.

Does it seem like I should be doing something for God? Sure, those things come later. But during this early morning, soul-tilling, heart-aerating silence, being with God is what matters most. This song, by Andy Park, is what my heart longs for most……

In the secret, in the quiet place
In the stillness you are there
In the secret
In the quiet hour I wait only for you
‘Cause I want to know you more

I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more

Here’s a video where I’m talking about my gardening and tending my soul through silence on Facebook. Have a listen…..

How are you soul tending and gardening your heart?

If you want some help with your summer gardening, here’s a little e-book I put together with some meditations, reflections questions, and a resource list to help you. When you sign up, you’ll get access to other Bible studies and the WoW Newsletter. Sign up here! Hope it helps!




I Found My Cheerleader

I took the kids swimming so they could practice for the swim team. This summer will be our first attempt at an organized sport. I unconsciously (or maybe consciously) picked the swim team because I was on the swim team when I was a kid. Coincidently, my kiddos are starting at the same age as I did- the summer after 4th grade.

While they were swimming, I cheered for them to keep going, kick hard, and use their arms. Almost immediately, I had a flashback to my 10 year old summer…..

Learning to swim wasn’t the easiest thing for me. I was NOT athletic. I was an ‘indoor girl’, you see, so, swimming 50 yards was a big challenge. I had to touch the floor of the pool many times, gasping, struggling to keep going just to make it to the other end. Even in the struggle, she knew I needed this. In my little world in which most things came easy, she knew I needed to learn how to work hard at something.

The thing I remember most clearly in my flashback was my mother cheering for me.

During those meets, in the honorable mention lane, I would hear her yelling and cheering for me all the way down the pool, “You can do it! Keep going!” Every. Single. Week.

I wasn’t winning any races, that’s for sure. It took a few more summers until I could actually swim well enough to earn some real ribbons. But more than anything else, I remember Momma cheering me on to the end of the race.

She’s never stopped either. She’s always been my Cheerleader.

Women of the Way 2017 Photo credit Nancy Rutledge

Throughout school, she’s cheered for better grades, piano recitals, and choir performances. She cheered for me when I got my first ‘real’ job at the shoe store. She definitely cheered when I graduated high school and college.

Her cheering took a on a different look as a I got older. She didn’t need to clap and holler to keep me going (at least not out loud). I could always ask her to cook a dish or pick up something at the store on her way to an event. Her quiet presence and support have always spoken volumes. She’s always had my back.

These memories are what come flooding back to me now that I am at the pool cheering for my own kids. I hope I can be the cheerleader to them that she was is to me.

Attachment-1 (6)
Summer swimming 2016 photo credit Nancy Rutledge

How has your mom…or another important woman…been a cheerleader in your life?


Are you too busy celebrating Easter to celebrate the Resurrected Christ?

One Easter Sunday several years ago, I played in the band for sunrise service, then 3 morning services, and had Easter Sunday dinner with the family. I finally collapsed that night on the couch to watch “The Ten Commandments” with some Easter chocolate. It had been a full, exciting, wonderful day celebrating Easter…….. only except I didn’t feel like I had experienced the Resurrected Christ!

I had been so busy doing all these great activities…playing great songs, spending time with family, eating great food, but I hadn’t really slowed down enough to fully experience Christ’s presence on the most Holiest of days. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the day, I didn’t feel like I had truly experienced Easter in its fullness. I was participating in wonderful things but missed out on the most important thing.

This failure to fully experience the Resurrected Christ wasn’t anyone’s fault except my own. I filled my time with great Easter activities but didn’t allow myself time to think, reflect, worship and pray. As a result, Easter felt like a super-busy weekend and not a deeply meaningful celebration of my Savior.

What could I have done differently?

I would have still done all those activities because they were all special and important. However, I should have built in more quiet time and personal reflection in preparation for Easter that would have made the Sunday services more meaningful. Taking the time to meditate and dwell on the Resurrection before the Sunday activities would have made a significant difference.

This year, I find busyness creeping up on me, filling my Easter weekend. Again, lots of wonderful activities… gatherings, cooking food, CAAM Kid Zone at the Slawburger Festival, and more great music. I love all of it and said YES to all of it. But, I don’t want to make the same mistake this year of being to busy to be impacted by the true meaning of Easter.

Jesus Christ Monument
Jesus Christ Monument, Swiebodzin, Poland

Here are a few ideas how I’m going to make sure that I don’t miss out on this Holy day:

Meditate on Scripture– Passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 prophesy of Christ’s suffering. It amazes me that David and Isaiah write about specific details that Jesus fulfills hundred of years later. Read them slowly and out loud. How do you think Jesus felt as he was experiencing these sorrows.

Study the activities of Holy Week- Starting with Palm Sunday, read what Jesus did on each day of the week until the Resurrection. Sure, you can do this in the Gospels, but websites like have a Passion Week timeline for you to follow each day of the week.

Fast-The discipline of fasting is associated with the practice of Lent. Maybe you’ve already participated in a fast through Lent. If not, having some kind of fast during Holy Week is a wonderful way to focus your heart and mind on Jesus. You don’t have to fast just food. There are all kinds of fasts…, media, etc….there are so many ways to fast. The bottom line is what can you give up that will help turn your heart to Him?

Attend special services- Easter Sunday always has tons of services to attend. Have you ever looked into participating in other types of services throughout the week? I didn’t grow up with Maundy Thursday service or Good Friday service or the Easter vigil.  Oh my, they are wonderful! It really brings deep intense meaning to celebrating our Lord’s Passion. Liturgical churches like the Catholic or Episcopalian churches have these types of services. Interdenominational services like the ones here in Fayetteville are great for coming together in unity as the Body of Christ. Family Worship Center in Hazel Green (my church family) is hosting a Passover supper on Monday evening. Understanding Passover brings great meaning to understanding the Old Testament fulfillment of Jesus’ sacrifice. And, of course, there are lots of special musical programs that are a great way to celebrate and worship. Try a new service this year and see how it impacts you this Easter!

Music-Don’t get me started! There are SO MANY amazing songs about the Resurrection!! Old and new…there are just too many!! Music can move us like nothing else. Spend Holy Week with your favorite hymns, classical pieces, and worship songs, and you will feel like bursting with joy on Easter Sunday’s celebration!!!

Movies- Don’t forget some great movies! Through the years, I have enjoyed watching certain movies during Easter…The Passion, Ben-Hur (the old one, but the new one is pretty good), The Ten Commandments, Jesus of Nazareth. I bet there are more. What are you favorites?

Don’t let Easter sneak up on you because you are too busy! Just like Christmas, celebrating the real reason for the season is vital. You’ve got to be intentional about how you are going to celebrate or else it will pass you by. We should treat Resurrection Sunday like the biggest celebration of the year!

Here’s a printable you can download to help get you started!! If you need more recommendations, I’d be glad to share some with you!

Resurrection Sunday

What can you do to celebrate the Resurrection…not just Easter? Share you ideas!


When My Heart is overflowing….

Women of the Way 2017 “The King is Coming” was SUCH a great series!!! Speakers, music, refreshments, missions, and fellowship all came together in an amazing month together! Girls….we know how to have a good time together, don’t we??

We talked about watching and waiting and what we should be doing while being ready for the King. We were reminded that getting ready for Jesus is much like getting ready for a wedding with lots of excitement and anticipation. We were given a global reminder of our mission to build the Kingdom and that fulfilling our mission is how we prepare for being His Bride.

Each church that hosted took such care to create a  lovely evening for which we could gather. Despite two of the weeks we faced some stormy, spring weather, we still had great crowds and lots of various churches represented.

But what I think makes my heart overflow is to see all the beautiful smiles of all the lovely women who chose to grace us with their presence. Beautiful daughters of the King, uniting with one heart and one purpose!

What’s my reward in all this?

So many share their heart-felt thanks, kind, supportive words, and sincere appreciation for such a sweet gathering. The opportunity to create an inspiring gathering and to see women experience sweet fellowship is such delight. I’m just overwhelmed each and every week.

So, thank you for being there and supporting this effort year after year.

I’m so glad we get together. See you next year….Lord willing.

I would love to hear about your favorite parts. Leave a comment or write a post over at Facebook to let me know what meant the most to you!




What Lies Beneath

I was not expecting to spend my Saturday like this……mopping up a river on the laundry room floor.

The washing machine leaked during the rinse cycle as the water drained. It had been doing this for a while now, and hubby had determined there is likely a clog in the drain pipe. He had poured some clog remover stuff down in the pipe in hopes of clearing the clog.

I started a load of laundry to see if the machine was working again. I went downstairs to check on the load to see a river flowing through the floor!!! What he failed to tell me was that he didn’t put drain hose back into the pipe where the water drained away. So, the day was interrupted to mop, sop, and vacuum the water and clean up the laundry room. There might have been was some annoyance, yelling, and a little bit of blaming for the drain hose not getting back into the proper place.

Rewind several weeks ago: This annoying leak during the rinse cycle had been going on for several weeks. I had been ignoring it and procrastinating doing anything about it. I mentioned it to hubby, and at the end of long days, he would keep forgetting about it too.  I just kept on washing clothes and going about my business hoping that it would just turn out ok. That’s what we do sometimes, right? Just put it on the back burner and somehow it will work itself out….right?

Back to my interrupted Saturday….it occurred to me with mop, towels, and shop vac in hand that maybe….just maybe….. this river disaster wouldn’t have happened, or at the very least, wouldn’t have been as bad, if we had dealt with it when it first started happening.

Wait. There’s a lesson here. Pause for light bulb moment.

I had been so busy taking care of everyday life….work, dishes, homework, shopping, laundry, etc. I didn’t want to stop and take the time deal with a problem hidden deep within my basement. The problem was not constantly in front of me, and I could function fairly well through the rest of my life as long as I didn’t think about water leaking out of the washing machine.

But hold on…it was affecting my life. It was keeping me from getting the laundry completely done. The laundry would get backed up because we couldn’t wash as much. And, if anyone with even just a few kids knows, laundry can get backed up quickly. It causes me a lot of stress and a big weight hovering over me when we don’t have underwear or socks or pants. To see those hampers piled mountain just takes the wind from my sails. It does.

It wasn’t this bad….but that’s how it felt!!

As with so many other real life examples, there’s a huge spiritual metaphor here. When there are problems in my spiritual basement, issues that I choose to ignore or not deal with, it’s eventually going result in some kind river or overflow or breakdown in my life. When what lies beneath is unforgiveness, hurts, unmet needs, sin, the past and so on, I might be able to carry on for a while. I might be able to keep going with some level of normalcy. But, eventually, it’s going to catch up with me, and I’m going to have to stop and take care of it.

What lies beneath in your basement pushed back to the corner, covered up, ignored? What issues hidden deep in your life (or your actual basement) are you letting go? You are going to have to deal with it in one way or the other- a slow trickle leak or a big river over flow??



Friday Finds

Don’t you just love finding neat websites and blogs on the web??

I do!!

And, when I do, I think everybody needs to see this!.  Bloggers have great stuff to share like Bible studies, planners, study guides, ministry tips, and printable. Most of it is for free if you sign up for their newsletter or to receive their blog. Seeing all this downloadable stuff makes me want to dream up and write some stuff of my own to share with you.

Alas….there are only so many hours in a day, and I usually run out of time or energy before I can write or post anything of the sort. However, what I DO want to start is sharing the stuff I find here with you.

So….let’s begin Friday Finds where I share a great find on the internet related to discipleship, women’s ministry, Bible studies, personal growth, etc, etc….

On Monday, I shared my desire to pursue wisdom in 2016 and one of the ways I hope to achieve wisdom is to read the entire Bible in one year. Ever since I began reading a Proverbs a day, reading the Bible has been like eating a most satisfying meal. Moreover, I’ve never read the entire Bible, so here I go!!

This brings me to your first Friday FindsShe Reads Truth.

I found She Reads Truth from another wonderful blogger Teri Lynne Underwood, and this site has TONS of reading plans and guides for reading books of the Bible, topics, seasons, etc. I found the read the Bible in a year plan, printed it out, and was ready to go.

The plan has me reading 2-3 OT chapters and 1 NT chapter a day. Then, on Sunday I read a couple of Psalms. I break up the reading doing the OT in the mornings and the NT at my lunch break. On the weekends, I try to get it done in one setting. I’m gonna try my best to stay caught up and not get behind. If I do get behind, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’ll just pick up on the plan in the calendar.

So far, I am loving it! During lunch, I turn on some instrumental music and read while I eat. I look forward to each day having a spiritual meal with my physical meal on my way to a wisdom-filled year!

While I would love to explore the other reading plans on She Reads Truth, this Bible in a year plan is going to be plenty for me to handle. But I know you could find a plan that speaks to you, or at least, you can check out the daily verse or passage for the day.

I really hope you try it out. I really hope you like it. I would LOVE to hear how you use it for yourself!! Let me know how it goes!!