Friday, June 29, 2012

A Creative Writing Project

I have been greatly inspired through the writers group at my church. At the end of one of our April meetings, our art director, deAnn, asked us to consider a homework assignment. She simply encouraged us to write something about spring. I knew I wanted to write about the small memorial garden I had planted for my husband, Buck. I was surprised by what came forth that day as I sat before my computer. Here is what God inspired me to write: something very different from my usual style and totally out of my box. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. 

Writing has become my passion and a very powerful healing tool in my life. Thank you for continuing to follow my journey after all this time. You have blessed me with your interest.

I’m not really sure where or when my existence began. It’s a mystery it seems, as I have lived all of my life in total darkness. Being a member of the plant kingdom I have no intellect. But this much I know: my life is very much about patience and waiting.

I recall clinging to my mother as I developed. My root system is entwined with that of my mom’s and my body is firm, teardrop shaped and covered with a papery, purple skin. Oh, and Mom likes to call me Sprout, much to my embarrassment!

Hyacinth Bulb and Section.

Photo credit:

I ask a lot of questions, because it’s pretty boring down here. But Mom always answers joyfully, because she has become very skilled in the art of endurance and contentment. When I complain that I am cold, she encourages me to snuggle closer. When I whine about my boredom, she smiles and tells me stories about our ancestors. And she describes places where they have shown up throughout the ages. Maybe one of these days, I’ll become a history lover, or perhaps I’ll learn not to be a whiner.

Whenever my impatience is evident, my mom tells me to rest, because soon the ground will warm and the worms will tickle and tease, as they too are anxious to come out of hibernation.  I’m not sure, since I’m a newbie around here, but they might help me make my grand entrance, when the time comes.
Recently, Mama sensed my restlessness and decided that this was the day she would share a favorite story. She began by explaining that several years ago there was a woman who had planted a small garden in front of her new home. This took place in the autumn and was to be a memorial garden in memory of her husband. He had moved from her world into his eternal home in heaven. The garden would be composed of three kinds of flowers: daffodils, hyacinths and bleeding hearts. The gardener worked hard, and lovingly planted the bulbs with high hopes as she remembered her best friend in this sentimental way. The bleeding hearts would be planted when the warm weather returned.

The woman was heart-broken, and she wept as she prepared the garden bed to receive Mama’s onion-like body and those of her lily cousins. Mama spoke with compassion as she remembered that day, and added that God was there too, collecting the gardener’s tears in His bottle, for they are as precious as diamonds to Him. Then she told me about the brutal winter that followed, and how she and her cousins waited patiently for the warm season to arrive.

Photo Credit:

Spring finally dawned and Mama was so excited to stretch and make her way through the soil. This was before my time, of course. According to my mom, she and her relatives put on quite a colorful show. She was greatly outnumbered by the golden daffodil family. She could hardly wait to meet her gardener again! Mama said the woman cried once more, as she was greeted by her colorful new friends when spring finally arrived. But this time, her sadness was mixed with great joy after a long winter of anticipation!

“But I don’t understand, Mama. How can the gardener be joyful and sad at the
same time?” “I know it’s hard to comprehend, Sprout, but humans are hard to figure out. Just know this, my child. The gardener will always cherish us for several reasons. You see, we are hyacinths and we have a fragrance that is strong and heavenly. I’m told the origin of our name comes from a gem, perhaps the sapphire, which is a deep blue precious stone. We too, are a gorgeous royal blue color and our garden lady friend has a passion for all things blue. And probably most importantly to her, is the reality that hyacinths were her husbands favorite flower and sapphire was his birthstone.”

Caring for Hyacinth Bulbs thumbnail
Photo credit:  bulbs
“God created us to bring color, fragrance, and beauty into a winter weary world. He also made us to bring happiness and smiles to all who find us. We are privileged to bring such joy and healing to a brokenhearted lady, just by our presence. But no matter where we might bloom...even if no one ever sees us, we will be bringing glory and delight to our creator! Now in my humble opinion, that's a pretty special assignment and well worth waiting for!” 

Copyright 2012 by Renee' Barnhouse
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means- electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, or any other, without permission. Thank you.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grass Garden And Groundhogs


This is a re-post (with a bit of editing at the end) of an entry from three years ago. This took place during my first summer as the groundskeeper here, after my sweetheart was called home. Here is a word snapshot describing my first time behind the wheel of my lawn tractor. As in my last post, there was no shortage of challenges as I faced this new responsibility.

Aside from the initial challenges of getting the lawn tractor out of the shed, all went well with this rookie’s first solo lawn mowing on Friday. If you have ever read Scott Peck’s, “The Road Less Traveled”, you might remember the very first sentence: “Life is difficult”. My first moments of  operating my lawn tractor proved he knew what he was talking about!

Last week, my dear friend, Ed, taught me how to use my jump-start system to start the lawn tractor because the battery was weak. I tied the tractor seat down, knowing I would need to dismount to disconnect the battery cables when I got the tractor started. I knew that an empty seat would mean the engine would stop. I thought I had everything under control.

I got her started, unhooked, put her in reverse and immediately got the deck hung up on the shed ramp! Forward, reverse... the wheels just spun. I was good and stuck! Great, now what do I do, Lord? My pride and embarrassment kept me from seeking help to get out of this mess I had gotten myself into so soon. The Lord and I had to figure this out on our own. I turned the engine off and used a two by four under the tractor to get some leverage. I got the tractor to pivot somewhat and maneuvered it down the ramp and into the grass. I jump-started her again, disconnected the cables, turned her around and she was making a strange noise. Now what? I got off and looked underneath to realize that the way I tied the seat down was interfering with the wheels turning freely. I held the seat down while untying the rope, hopped back on and finally was on my way. Live and learn the hard way. Geez!

A few hours and a fresh sunburn later, the yard was shaping up and I was learning what not to do. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks after all! At the end of the day, I was feeling good about things getting done. I spent some time weeding my new raised bed vegetable garden that my dear  neighbors, Mark and Kristie, put together for me while I was staying with Sarah and family. I came home to find three tomato plants, two broccoli plants and several different varieties of lettuce. Buck told Mark about his plan to put in some raised garden beds like the ones they had installed on their property. They had high hopes that Buck and I would be enjoying fresh veggies from our own garden this summer when he got home from the hospital. How kind and thoughtful of our friends to carry out Buck’s plan to provide a garden for me!
Photo credit: www.unionvilletim...ds/2012/02/Groundhog.jpg
Unfortunately, I was unwillingly sharing my garden with a family or two of groundhogs. I wondered if my two-legged neighbors thought I must have lost my sanity, if they witnessed my running across the yard while banging two large fry pan lids together, much like cymbals in a high school marching band performing at half-time. I happen to have a really bad attitude about the mooching marauders who consumed my broccoli and harvested my lettuce. My efforts to terrorize the greedy veggie vultures had a very temporary effect. I hope they got the message, but I have a strong suspicion that I'll be seeing them soon again. This would not be an issue if my marksman husband was still here to take care of business. The groundhog herds would be history for sure.

My apology to any of my animal lover friends who think I am cruel to have such aggressive thoughts. You are welcome to catch all the cute furry critters you can round up and please take them to your house. You would make me so happy!!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Gift Of Grass

When my late husband, Buck, set out to install a new lawn for us, he did a fantastic job with the help of our neighbor, Mark, and I. It came up incredibly fast and thick. Buck was so proud and I was so thrilled to see the brown disappearing from our landscape and evolving into a gorgeous green carpet. It was a blessing not to have our property screaming, "New construction", any more.

It appears that Buck's gift of grass, as I like to refer to it, has followed him into his new life. As I planned his grave marker last year, I communicated with the sales representative many times and learned something unique about Buck's grave-site. He was buried next to his dad on a hill in the family plot not far from where he grew up in West Virginia. I remember the ground was mostly moss covered on the day we laid him to rest. However, the sales rep. informed me that Buck's site was different than all the others in the area. It seemed that the grass seed grew extremely well atop his grave and indeed made more work for the groundskeepers, requiring a special trip for maintenance to keep it looking manicured like the surrounding sites. That makes me smile whenever I think of it. You still have the gift of grass, Bofren. How awesome is that? I can picture your playful grin and twinkle in your eye, if you were aware of this fact.

Like all of us who are responsible for yard maintenance, keeping the grass mowed is a chore at the top of our to do lists in the summer. I love to mow my lawn when the lawn tractor and push mower are working properly. It's easy to understand why Buck enjoyed mowing as much as he did. Now, I think about strategy and I probably have approached the job differently each time. How many ways are there to cut an acre? And I thought mowing the grass would be mindless.

Last  summer, my lawn tractor required some work because it had a nasty habit of the belt jumping off every time I engaged the cutting blade for the first time for that mowing. It worked well after having it repaired until late season. I didn't have it in me to bring it to the attention of my repairman because he had fixed it out of the kindness of his heart, only charging me for parts. So when this mowing season began, I knew what I was facing. The Lord helped me to figure out how to get the belt back on, but it was really hard for me as my arms are not strong and it was always a struggle.

Like last year, I would usually have an emotional meltdown or two before getting the belt back in place. If any of my neighbors would have witnessed my breakdowns, they surely would have thought I was dead. Seeing me sprawled out next to the tractor face down in the grass would have been quite the scene, as laying on my belly was the posture that was required to reassemble the belt on the pulleys. This was not drama, but rather frustration at it's finest.

This spring, I asked my friend, Bill, for advice about why my belt would jump off when I first pulled the power take off knob. I couldn't understand why it would stay on after I got it back in place. He recommended that I check to make sure the belt was sitting properly on all the pulleys before I started up the machine. So far, this has been the answer to my belt woes and has made my life so much easier. Thanks for the wise advice, Bill; it has made all the difference!

The push mower had issues too, since I forgot to run it out of gas at the end of the season last year. So this year, I siphoned out the old gas, cleaned out the tank as best I could with a clean rag, washed and oiled the sponge filter atop the carburetor, jiggled the spark plug cap and installed fresh gas. All to no avail. I yanked and yanked on the pull chord and nothing happened. The whole time, the message was drifting through my mind, "There isn't that much to these machines. You can do this".  Then I heard the words that made all the difference: "More gas". "But Lord, I primed it like the directions said on the mower." I heard it again. I obediently pushed in on the little red rubber bulb five times once again. One pull and the noisy machine came roaring to life. It was the sweetest music I had heard all day. I'm so thankful that God walks me through these areas of unfamiliar territory and helps me to deal with the reality of Buck's gift of grass.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Inspiration

It has been five weeks since I last posted an entry, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing or using the creativity that God has given me. Over the past several months, I have felt a conviction to shift my focus away from grief. To accomplish that goal, I have stopped reading the blogs of many gifted widowed writers. I struggled with that decision at first and felt like I was abandoning some new friends I had made; as I often would leave messages of encouragement and they would do the same for me at times. Being part of a like-minded community was a great blessing as I related to the sharing of each unique journey.

But now that I have reached the three year mark since Buck’s home-going, I sensed that God was directing me away for my own good. To the friends I no longer “follow”: I miss you and hope you understand. I must do what I sense God is directing me to do. I pray for you when you come to mind.  I know you are going to be alright as long as you are clinging to and depending on the Lord to guide, comfort and sustain you. He is always faithful and I believe He has a special place in His heart for widows. He carried me for a very long time.

Although I still miss Buck terribly, the memories don’t have the same impact. I’m thankful that I’m coping better and the adjustment to life without my soul mate continues to be hard but is getting easier. God is healing my heart little by little as the seasons come and go.

I have been working towards being a better writer by reading books to build and polish my skills. I’m enjoying my new focus and I’m feeling better emotionally thanks to my new focal point. It has been a healthy distraction and I am thankful for the improvement in my emotional well being.

I have also been stretched thanks to the writers and artists groups at my church. God is using our arts director and the other group leadership to inspire me in refreshing new ways and opening me up to a whole new way of thinking about my creativity. DeAnn, our arts director, often reminds us that we all (that means you too) are creative because we are made in God’s image. I really like something she said recently. The gist was: to say we aren’t creative is like saying we aren’t alive. I'm so thankful that we worship a God who wants to connect with us through our creativity and His inspiration. I  am starting to feel more alive thanks to this personal communication with the Lord and the way God is using deAnn to inspire us.

I hope to share my new writing pieces and artwork that have come forth recently. I am excited about the new direction my writing and art are taking and I hope you feel it is worth your time to read and view what I am inspired to share. Thank you for continuing to accompany me as I move forward on my “Tandem Journey”.