Spearmint Bouquet

Throughout this year I have been attending Community Bible Study on Wednesday mornings. We have been studying 1 and 2 Peter which if you have ever read through them you know they are heavy on facing trials. I had never studied them in depth. Most weeks the study felt quite heavy. In many ways it pulled me back to the times we have been through hardship. It forced me to examine how I have walked the roads given me and what I have learned from the experiences.  I can’t say I was strengthened or peaceful or joyful through most of the trials I’ve been through. And if I am honest I still carry the baggage from each of them. I think looking back it’s always easier to see how we were strong or how we endured, but in it, those feelings are often far from felt.

Last week we were supposed to share with our group how the study had changed us and what we would be taking away.  As I tore up my herb garden on Tuesday I was thinking through what the study has meant to me and what if anything I could share. As I knelt down and balanced on the wobbly log bordering our garden I dug deep to attempt to unearth the roots of the spearmint. I began thinking about it like our trials that we studied about this year in bible study. Every garden there ever was has likely been overgrown by mint at some point. While the final product is bright, vibrant and sweet smelling leaves,  below the surface mint roots grow wild and can take over if not maintained. When you think you want a little mint for this and that you get a garden full. A bad day comes and goes and you roll with it. A longer stretch of sickness or a long winter drags on and you begin to feel the wear and tear. A permanent loss and you wonder if you will be the same.  At some point you get fed up with the work of maintenance and the overgrowth. Mint grows deep and wide and when you think you have gotten every last bit from the flower bed, low and behold a new fresh leaf pops up. Much like the trials in our lives. The grief, pain and aftermath likewise spread roots deep and wide. They can feel suffocating and debilitating at their worst. When we think we have dealt with things they suddenly resurface and beg our attention. We can “maintain” life but in no certain amount of time we can expect the roots to begin slowly growing until they have rooted a whole new plant. A diagnosis, a lost job, another snow day (esp relevant after 11 this winter!!), a strained relationship.  A new root takes hold, a new trial that sends us questioning “why?”, when we have done all of the right things, this could be happening to us?  1 Peter 4:12 says “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” But over and over again I act shocked when tough times come. They send me for a tailspin regardless of knowing we are bound to have them in this life. I am forced to revisit my own theology and what I believe about God. I am reminded of my need to know Him more.   


After each woody root branch latches to the soil and sufficiently holds it’s own, a fresh leaf pushes up through the soil.    Who can say that a fresh sprig of mint in summer sweet tea or a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream aren’t so satisfying? It’s through our trials that we can relate to others and have something to share. I would have never dreamed that walking the road of addiction with a family member would later be turned into an opportunity to sit with a friend in grief over her son.  Or that my miscarriages would equip me to shed tears with a mourning mother. Or that my long term health issues in early marriage would allow me to relate to friends struggling with health issues that wear on them often unspoken. Or that sitting in the seat of a pediatric oncologists waiting room and being slapped with a shattering diagnosis would allow me to see the heart of a mom facing a similar slam. Or that our many moves would allow me to offer support and comic relief to others struggling with the constant changes.  To turn the feelings of isolation and uncertainty I felt  into reassuring words for others would not have been fathomable from the places of grief.  The remnant roots of trials are necessary to allow growth that can be shared with others facing the same trials.  And the timeliness of new leaves when a friend’s need arises is even more stunning than the trial itself years ago.

I don’t have a beautiful bouquet of flowers to offer but rather a bunch of spearmint from my garden, with dangling roots still clumped with the soil and maybe an inchworm or two.  The hands that offer it are soil-stained, nails filled with grit.  It’s a messy offering but the fruit of our trials are. 1 Peter 3:15  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  My meager offerings are just a snippet to remind me of God’s faithfulness to me throughout the trying times. The grief and pain continue to grow into something useful…but only if I am willing to share. I am continuing to balance on the edge of the garden and look for those useful harvests to take from my hard times. It will be a lifelong process.


Philipians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”

When friends who do not attend a church or bible study think it’s all about coming all pretty and put together I can say from experience that in my experience this year it has been more about a bunch of tired gardeners showing up with their weathered gardening hands offering vibrant bouquets of spearmint! Each their own variety for sharing and offering support for each other.  We swap garden cuttings and come home with a new mix. We enjoyed the fruits of our trials together.  Just like Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Thanks, ladies for a great year. And thank you to our small group leader for your gentle leadership that certainly met us all where we were.

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We decided a couple of months ago to plan a couple of getaways to places that are unique to this part of the country in the event that we are not here long term….Colonial Williamsburg made the list. Jackson is loving history in school and we knew it would be a fun way for him to learn more. We loaded up Friday and braved our first road trip with 3 kids.  We spent a day in Williamsburg, a morning in Jamestown Settlement, and filled in the rest with swimming, shopping and eating out with me not having to cook! All in all the trip went off without a hitch. At this phase of life we can expect sibling squabbles, overtired children, at least one blow out diaper in public with few wipes in supply and too small backup clothes stocked in the diaper bag. We were surprised at how much the kids enjoyed the activities and how well they got along over all. And well, we won’t go into more detail about the blow out diaper.    Here are some picture memories of our day in Williamsburg (sparing the pics of crying, tired feet, hungry tourists, and sleepy babies :)….

IMG_5232 IMG_5238 IMG_5256 IMG_5269 IMG_5289 IMG_5282 IMG_5331 IMG_5364 IMG_5361 IMG_5374 IMG_5379 IMG_5396 IMG_5426 If you are traveling to Williamsburg with kids here are a few tips to share that we learned along the way…

A picnic blanket is a must! We bought our picnic from The Cheese Shop which we recommend if you get in line super early! We waited in line for 30 mins to get our order but it was delicious! They have a famous house sauce that you should try!  Once you get your food or bust out your prepacked lunch there are many shady grassy spots but few benches…a picnic blanket would have been golden!

Make reservations if you want to eat at one of the old time restaurants. We got dinner reservations at Josiah Chownings Tavern which was very casual and had fun musicians walking throughout. The food was reasonably priced (about $12 for adults) and worth the experience. I will say that America had not yet had it’s gourmet rise so it was basic fare which the kids loved!

If you are from Virginia you can buy a yr pass for the cost of the day pass and return anytime in the year.

While there are tons of activities going on throughout the day our kids favorites were marching with army fife and drum, watching the canon practice, walking out in the field to “enlist” and march with the new soldiers and the active participation things. We went for a long morning, went back to the hotel for naps and then went back for the evening events.   There are many activities geared towards adults and teens. I personally think they could do more family friendly activities for young children but all in all our kids enjoyed it and didn’t know what they were missing in the older activities.

This year there is a spy game going on. You can receive texts with clues and go on the hunt for people with more clues throughout the day. Seth and Jackson could have done this for days. I could see this being really fun with teenagers.

More on Jamestown Settlement soon…


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Baby Firsts

Sister is nearing 6 months and wowing us with her growing up way too quickly. We recently started rice cereal and while her preference is to spit it out she is beginning to chow down when she sees it and reaches for our food at the table. Because of her severe reflux we are supposed to wait from the GI on giving her real food other than cereal but bananas and sweet potatoes might not be avoidable pretty soon!

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Her other first was her first trip to the pool on our weekend getaway. She loves her bath so we hoped she would love it and she did! Thanks, Lisa for the swimsuit!


IMG_5527IMG_5550watch out world, these blue eyes will get ya!

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