Just before the beginning of this New Year, I saw a meme on Facebook that made perfect sense. A cartoon character, obviously rather frazzled, is speaking to another character, who is happily digging in the soil. “Why so optimistic about 2019? What do you think it will bring? Everything seems so messed up.” The second character said, “I think it will bring flowers.”

“Yes? How come?”

“Because I am planting flowers,” the second character replied.

This is a good lesson for me. I too often get caught up in all that’s wrong and focus on the negative instead of proactively changing my mindset to the positives all around me.

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Philippians 4:8, where we are told, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

Not only is this better for my own mental health and attitude, seeing the good and lovely is reflected in my demeanor. Hopefully this helps someone else feel a bit more positive, a bit more encouraged. In a way, by planting my flower seeds and tending my garden, I am helping the people around me plant, water and nurture their own.

Focusing on the positive can be difficult, but then again, planting a flower garden of any kind requires effort. You must plan what you will plant, prepare your soil, plant the seeds or the bulbs and then keep weeds from taking over and choking out the beauty that is to come. That doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and forget about it. You work for the reward, and when those lovely, fragrant blossoms come, you rejoice that you didn’t give up.

This reminds me of another favorite passage of Scripture, an encouraging word from the Master Gardener. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV).

I was reading these verses on Jan. 1, a most fitting time to think of “hope and a future.” As I prayed and pondered, a dove perched on a branch in the weeping cherry tree just outside the living room window and began cooing. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the coo of a dove? It’s so soothing, so peaceful … so positive. Such a small thing, but these are the moments that nourish our souls the most.

Look for moments like this throughout the year as seeds for your flower garden: The sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet as you walk in your yard. The colors of sunrise and sunset. The scent of rain. Music. A graceful dance. Kind gestures. Laughter. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your soul, and drink in each of these things that bring joy. Then give thanks for the opportunity to experience these blessings and pass them along to others.

Taste, and savor. Feel the peace.

I’m planting flowers in 2019. If we all do that, there’s no limit to the beauty our combined gardens will produce for this year.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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