I get up early to walk two of our children to their bus stop. Our teenage son usually walks ahead of me and The Princess because her five-year-old legs can’t keep up. It’s okay. I cherish those few minutes alone with my daughter. Sometimes she talks to me, telling me what she knows about the moon and the stars we see above us. In autumn, I hold her hand so she can crunch the fallen leaves under her feet. When it rains, she is delighted to carry her own umbrella and tap dance around the puddles.

Not that it is winter, we walk in the dark. The skies are gray and the sidewalk is under a blanket of snow. The temperature has plummeted and we dress accordingly. The snow pants The Princess wears over her school clothes are light but bulky. She waddles like a penguin, but she makes it to the bus stop.fog-79456

However, winter being winter, the pleasant walks are less frequent. This morning, we awoke to a couple extra inches of snow. It isn’t a big deal to me or my teen, but the snow is like quicksand to The Princess’s five-year-old legs. She put on her backpack and hopped onto my back before we even left the house. When we stepped outside, the wind whipped the falling snowflakes so that they felt like minute shurikens slashing my cheeks. My hood blew off my head several times as we walked. The Princess put it back up as she huddled against my back, shielding her face from the wind.

Our walk today reminded me of Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson. We walk with our Father through the seasons of our lives. Sometimes we hold His hand, letting Him guide us and trusting that He knows where He is going. Other times, we run off on our own – panicking when we realize how lost we are. Then there are days like today, when the snow is deep and the cold wind slaps us in the face with freezing rain. We clutch His hand, but we struggle to keep up. So He hoists us onto his back, shielding us from the brunt of the weather and carrying us (plus whatever we have crammed into our backpacks).

“You are my hiding place and my shield”

Psalm 119:114a (NASB)




The first thing we learn about plants is that they require certain things in order to grow – air, water, light, and space. The same is true for people.

I completed a developmental psychology course this past semester which prompted a great deal of reflection. I came to a better understanding of myself and how I got where I am now.

The most significant realization I had is that there are people whose support was critical to my well-being.  I like to think of them as horticulturists – the devoted professional gardeners who helped coax beautiful things from the soil.bird-of-paradise-flower-1359718 My grandmother did a lot of planting and watering. She kept me while my mother worked. She taught me to read, write, and mind my manners. She also made me feel valued, accepted, and secure. She was always patient with me as I “helped” her in the kitchen – until I reported that I couldn’t find something she sent me in the basement to retrieve. “If I go down there and find it where I told you it was…”

My aunt was water and sunshine in my childhood, then became a landscaper in my adulthood. I can always trust that she will see the big picture, tell me the truth, and help me rearrange things appropriately.

the-enid-a-haupt-conservatory-at-ny-botanical-garden-bronxThere have been many others who have taken significant time to cultivate life in my conservatory: The Smith/Walker/Shaws, the Maidens, the Burkes, the Thompsons, the Washington/Turners, the Chamblesses, the Millers, the Crowders, the Stranges, the Buffords, and my friends from PBC, CBBC, NCCA, OCA, and Malone.

When I married my husband, I gained a new family full of people who have enriched my life and given my children their first friends – dozens of cousins. Although we have experienced highs and lows, and he has both driven me crazy and kept me sane, my husband is my favorite person.

Growth is a continual process. I am blessed to have friends I met decades ago, friends I met through work, and a new group of sisters who all contribute to the beauty in my garden.