Garden Lullaby

I Got My Life Back & The December Garden

Perhaps it’s because I gave up Instagram in July. Or maybe it’s because I’m not in a waiting season or a painful one right now. Maybe it has to do with my cultivating and nurturing celebrations all throughout the year, but the truth is I’ve never felt more calm about the New Year.

I almost used the word nonchalant, but that’s not quite the adjective I’m looking for because I’m absolutely excited about January. I’ve been savoring every last bit of 2022 while looking into 2023 without pressing melancholy or morbidity.

By morbidity, I confess, I’ve approached the last two New Years basically wondering who’s going to die in that year. And that is morbid.

I think a lot of things played into that shaky mindset and I believe with all my heart that giving up Instagram is the No. 1 thing that has revolutionized my world and changed the way I’m approaching 2023 which is with CALM and excitement. Not ignorance, I know there will be hard things and tragedy in 2023, but I’m not paralyzed by it. I believe in the Presence of God and His very real Help. I’m not overwhelmed.

The reality is Instagram had such a hold on me before. The algorithm knew my history of infertility and was always bringing up miscarriage and stillborn stories. All these stories that I truly and honestly had no business knowing. These weren’t people in my church or community. These weren’t friends and family. These were tragic stories I just “happened” across incredibly often, not to mention the people I already followed (and also didn’t personally know) who had experienced infertility or miscarriage and were sharing their stories and journeys. It was absolutely too much for me! It is not wrong for them to share, but I am my responsibility and it was unhealthy for me to continue on knowing things I could not hold.

I think a common struggle people talk about is the comparison game on social media, but what about this constant, intimate awareness of evil and tragedy? This constant processing of too many things in which our brains physically can’t keep up and our spirit and mind is being bombarded in dangerous amounts! We are overwhelmed, overtaken, distracted, at odds. We cannot intimately know this many things and be okay.

grape vine beginning of December – it is all but gone now! waiting for spring 2023☺

The calm and rest I have felt both in my physical brain and inner thought life is night and day different now that I’m no longer tangled in Instagram. It’s opened up so much life for me through festive garlands and baking apple pies, in the enjoyment of long, warm, and quiet afternoons in the garden with my children, and embracing my creativity for writing and blogging in way that is much more feasible and genuine to me.

Now, here we are! And I’m approaching 2023 without strong undertones of morbidity or even the normal melancholy that often accompanies the turn of a year. I GOT MY LIFE BACK. And I’m full in. I’m so much less afraid. I’m not distracted. I am peaceful.

That’s not to say I don’t struggle. It’s not to say I don’t get sucked in by other kinds of media, or stories, or that I’ll never have morbid thoughts and seasons of distress. But in giving up Instagram–a thing I was addicted to, a place I was wrapped up in stories I should never have known–I am now well.

Of course not everything can be fixed so simply. There are all sorts of reasons we approach the New Year out of sorts. God is with us!! Let us always come to Him for He will give us rest! His yoke is easy, His burden light (Matthew 11:28-30).

there she is! that last rose bud in bloom on the first day of winter no less!!🎄🎉💕

But let us also be honest where we are self-inflicting chaos and deep harm. And if we aren’t sure. . .if we don’t know where or whether we are self-inflicting harm, we can pray for help + clarity. The Holy Spirit sheds light in our confusion and fragility, and He will show us where to go and what to do next.

Immanuel, God with us! Forever and ever.

Amen.

P.S. Isn’t that red rose something? It has held on for dear life and with such confidence through November and December. I love its tenacity, the brightest part of my holiday garden, and a loud cheer for all the gold and beauty that has been!

“and don’t they say, ‘history repeats itself’? and if all my life is always with God I should know just by looking back that I can run full speed ahead. Happy New Year. And by that I mean, ‘I trust you, God. Oh God, help me. Yes, I will run!” -S.V.F. // New Year Poem, 2021-22


highlights from the blog in 2022

Garden Lullaby

Telling My Daughter’s Birth Story

Mommy Is Human But Here (Early Postpartum)

Desert Sky & The 4th Trimester

My Son’s 2nd Birthday // A Study of Time

6 Months Postpartum

Old Winter Prayer & God’s Blessing

Garden Lullaby

Old Winter Prayer, God’s Blessing & the November Garden

November came with the bursting of my son’s flower. It was gifted to us when friends found out we were pregnant with our boy. It then had quite the story in the ground then trampled, then in a Lowe’s paint bucket where it recovered, and then in the ground again where it has bloomed to bursting and will stay! I love the vibrancy of these blooms. An accurate portrayal of the joy of my son and his love for life.

I came across a prayer in my journal from January 7. Part of it read,

“Lord, please bless my garden this year. I’ve never really prayed that way before, but only You can bless it.”

I don’t typically share my prayers like this, but I sat stunned after I read this from January 7. With Heidi on the way ahead of the spring season, we weren’t making the spring garden an elaborate thing. Truth be told we never have a detailed plan. We never get to all our seeds. It’s just Ben and I throwing seeds at the wind. Figuratively, of course. But really when I picture Ben and I as gardeners, we are just laughing out in the yard, throwing seeds at the wind.

We put seeds in rather haphazardly and see what happens. We offer so little expertise to it. Every year we get a little more established, a bit more nurturing, but far from the gardening crowd. This year we “threw the seeds in” and were going to just let the garden be whatever it was going to be. We’d put our hands to it, of course, but we were having a baby. That was going to be our spring!

In the midst of postpartum, newborn days, and life, the garden truly didn’t always get what we should have given to it. But the sunflowers towered effortlessly, anyway. The rose bushes thrived–blooming in May, June, October, and November. Mums changed from stark white to a beautiful tint of purple and even some becoming purple in full. We built a playhouse. I laid in grass for hours on end with the children growing, playing, and thriving right alongside the roses. The planted wildlfowers surprised me. The morning glories were glorious. The grape vine bore fruit. It was sour, but it was loads of fun! We had snow peas. We had green grass all through the summer! It was all the sweeter having planted many of our seeds a few days before Heidi’s birth.

all these zinnias were planted a few days before Heidi’s birth☺❤

This November I walk into the house on a cold Saturday with a pile of colorful zinnias. I sit on the living room floor harvesting hundreds of sunflower seeds. Later, I’ll sit at my desk stamping seed packets for family and friends. I’ll smile at zinnias leaning over their flower bed and looking as though they are saying “hello!”

“hello!💖”

That January 7 prayer I forgot, “Lord, please bless my garden this year,” was answered tenfold.

my son’s flower just bursting!!

I gave birth to a spring baby and my garden had the spring of its life.

I’ll never get over the gift of this year’s garden. November felt like its last hoorah. As we’ve turned into December, the roses die back. The grape vine leaves turn yellow. I am drawn to look down at the garden floor scattered with leaves across the stones and grass. It is stunning.

That red rose bush you’ve seen throughout is finally succumbing. It has carried the song “What a beautiful year, what a wonderful spring, the year of your daughter, God’s blessing over us, joy!”

As the garden quiets it is my turn to sing. To let the year of God’s abundance and blessing rest heavy on me until it is I who bursts into Thanksgiving.

And I do.

the garden Thanksgiving week💖

God answered my old winter prayer. He blessed the garden. And I experienced the entire stunning saga.

Garden Lullaby

Magic of California Autumn // The September Garden

It’s eating fresh-picked, late-summer blackberries on the first day it feels like autumn is in the air. It’s how you are soaking in the last vestiges of summer but enraptured by every gust of wind making a leaf flurry center stage. And you just there in the front seat.

It’s the first day you’re outside and the air around you has suddenly shifted. It’s the first huge rain that comes down in buckets and cats and dogs and every other rain idiom you can think of.

It’s the warmth of the sunshine, but the coolness of the shade. It’s how every last day in the garden is heightened in its enjoyment as the season slowly turns. It’s how long these lasts last.

This is the magic of California Autumn.

Summer hangs on tightly. Spring even seems to show itself. The bursts of life are so bright against the dying leaves now piling in the garden. Yet even these blooms, bright as they may be, have an older look to them.

The garden as a whole does not seem near as playful. California Autumn is a gentle thing. Not dramatc. Not rushed. Not swayed by our opinions or impatience. It changes when it does. Wraps us in sunshine. Finds us in the garden with a plethora of zinnias, barefeet, babies lying on colorful quilts and us lying in the grass.

The September Garden has been absolutely stunning. Even its abundance, it does not have the youthful blush of spring, but I wouldn’t want it too. It’s beautiful when framed by our little corner of the world about to storm. It holds its own as the year gets old and the leaves fall and gather.

Every color, every rose bloom carefully bursting, every last long and warm afternoon has an enchantment only to be tasted this time of year.

And we are full.

Full having spent a year wrapped in the blessings of the Lord, welcoming our second child, experiencing our best garden season to date, pushing our son in the swing for months on end, back and forth, watching him grow right before our eyes, cultivating life inside and outside the garden gate.

The magic of California Autumn is the beauty and excitement experienced within it despite the lack of pomp and circumstance. And the joy of autumn itself is gathering up the stories of your year and sitting within the goodness of God. Maybe not making sense of everything, but knowing with certainty that nothing makes sense without Him.

And here you are. Perhaps a bit like my September Garden.

Abundance and weariness. Blooming but not youthful. Radiant as you weather the storm and those yet to come. It’s beautiful here in a way spring can never attain. Beautiful in a way hard to explain.

So I’ll go barefoot in autumn and be smitten by the novelty of it.

A Happy Fall, indeed.

Garden Lullaby

The August Garden // A Happy Handful

There are a couple times a year that tend to be real time markers for me.

The New Year/My Birthday (January 6)

and August.

a friend captured this July moment and it was the last photo I posted to Instagram! Felt so right for this photo to close that account. hence you getting a garden update on the blog instead of an instagram reel!

August used to be a painful time marker, but then our son was born in the beginning of that month and my daughter has her own deep August story I shared with my email subscribers. Time doesn’t always move in the way we hope it will, but when it does, we let it be beautiful! We let our breath catch, our laughter out, our smiles makes wrinkles at our eyes.

I remember when my son was around 5-months-old, I took him out to the garden, sat him in the bumbo seat in the flower bed and did some gardening with him “afoot.” I thought to myself if I don’t start gardening as a mom right now then I never will! Being a new mom is quite the whirlwind. Figuring out how to do things you used to do is quite the task! I made that “used to” null and void every time I sat in the Porch Garden with him or figured out how to take him with me while I did gardening things.

And you know what?! I’m proud of that Sierra who got out there and got things done and figured it out!! Here I am now (still) gardening, still finding my way, and watching my kids love the garden. . . . all it’s joy & beauty.

my happy handful, blue boots belonging to my toddler and zinnias I waited much to long to cut! heheee!

Heidi loves to watch the water spray, and Shasta does his own chosen work around the garden. The other day he was quite persistent I water the plants, so I got my lazy self out of the ole plastic garden chair and watered the plants while he did his own version of watering. In the late afternoon he actually watered the sunflowers, and fairly well I might add! Dirt was watered too (duh! of course. mud, mom!), but the sunflowers definitely got a good drink.

yes that little blue house behind the zinnias is our garden playhouse😍 imagine vines! garden boxes! a mailbox?! lots left to do but it’s coming together😍

And let me tell you! We have had a bounty of sunflowers this year.

I could count on one hand how many sunflowers actually bloomed last season, but this year has been a stark contrast in the loveliest way.

I love when the sunflowers look wind-blown. My favorite part of sunflowers blooming!

Everything is leaning quite haggard now, but there are still sunflowers blooming. I’ve even sent friends home with sunflower bouquets and that has been such a treat for me.

this bouquet I kept for myself, though.😅

This bounty of the happiest flower has made the garden the bees knees. . .(literally!! it has been a hangout for the bees, and we love to see it!). I have so many sunflower seeds to harvest and while they bloom and lean and the bees buzz about, the zinnias are having their own heyday. I’ve had a lot of pinks and purples this year. Although the one you see with the playhouse is red!😅

Our hydrangea bush even sported the first bloom its had in years!! This hydragea has had a long struggle, but we gave it a new home placed it in a new spot, and the bush has said “thank you!” quite loudly.

If gardens can feel happy, ours has felt it. With wild grapes ripening, and rose buds preparing to burst again soon, zinnias growing strong, and sunflowers blooming steady, we are still maintaining a bit of the high tide that comes with May and June! That is quite a feat for August I think. But here we are.❤

a lovely tower!

In other news, we visited family in early August, and while there I wrote a poem about time, how it moves, and how good that passage can be. When last we visited I had been about 7 weeks pregnant with our son. Snow on the ground with me scared out of my mind. But fast-forward to present day, and I was watching my boy play barefoot in the backyard, two years old.

Time.

How good it can be, how lovely it can go.

Not always but sometimes.

And we don’t talk about those times nearly enough.

I’m sharing the poem below as it captures so much of August and my emotions for it.

Raspberries and Far North Roads

It’s a warm breeze and
Bob Ross trees,
Two years, 9 months ago
it was snow.

and he was seven weeks
and it was hard to breathe.
happiness, scared out of mind.

Down far north roads,
conversations with mom,
already celebrating
him.

And I was sick in the bathroom
and sick in bed, sick with worry,
and so in love,
already
.

But it’s late summer now,
an August birthday twice over
and he’s talking and playing,
and laughing, and running,
or skipping, kind of a mix
of both.

And I’m smiling and marveling
and we’re barefoot where snow
once lived,
but it’s us now, like this now.
and it’s beautiful when
Time
moves like that.

Raspberry picking and red
raspberry stains
on knees,
and I can’t get over it
how it feels to be back
when I didn’t know
Back would be so
good.
But he has a heartbeat,
and he’s moving
like crazy.

Warm breeze and
Bob Ross trees
soon.


The August garden is saying what I feel, bent over with the life of it, huge, inescapable, loud, lovely, flawed. Like the garden hasn’t arrived, neither have I.

And neither will we ever.

But we love the life we’re in. This one we’re given.

And like the sunflower I will be unafraid to bloom, bend beneath the life, loveliness, and imperfection of it all.

Here we are.