The Freedom in Garden Variety Days

I got to the botanical gardens early but after just a few minutes on the winding pathways, I was feeling wilted like a flower crumpling in the hot sun.

I was here because I couldn’t resist free admission, especially on the fourth of July. 

And apparently I wasn’t the only one the idea appealed to, since I had to wait in line to park and follow the crowd decked out in their flag finery to the entrance gate.

I’ve been to these gardens before. But even during cooler months somehow my memories of it are always very hot. 

But I know that can’t be completely true since I was here once for movies on the lawn and shivered all night since I hadn’t brought a sweater.

That tells me something about truth as I see it. That’s it not always so true. 

So I’ve been searching for truth about God’s words to me and how they’re relevant to my life. I thought about the place where it all began so long ago. 

In a garden called Eden.

Where the beginning held all truth. And life, and love, and purpose.

Where God made man and created a woman to accompany him through life.

Where God gave humans a purpose with plants to tend and animals to nurture. 

Where God’s garden was cool in the evening as he went looking for the man and woman he loved, but they were hiding, tempted by a snake who twisted God’s words and convinced them to eat a forbidden fruit.

In that garden trust was shaken, intention was questioned, and God’s love was doubted. 

And sometimes I find myself doing the same thing.

But I’ve been posing my questions to God. The answers don’t come immediately. This search for truth can stir up a lot of dust.

A few weeks ago the same verses from Matthew 6 kept showing up everywhere I turned.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
-Matt 6:30-33 MSG

I imagine Eden might have looked a little like the garden I'm visiting, full of branches and vines, waters and rocks, flowers and shrubs offering up their beauty maybe for just a day or maybe for decades.

But whatever their lifespan, I want to be like them, vibrant in this day, this ordinary here and now. 

Their leafy branches reach for the heavens, their flower-faces turn skyward, and the gnarly roots delve deep. They will not be shaken.

And neither should we.

Could that be the freedom that’s waiting on the other side of trust?

Free from trying to find the answer to questions that might never be understood. 

Free from trying to peer into the dim days ahead and predicting what they might hold. 

Free from trying to control the outcomes of what only God has purposed for our future days.

There's a peaceful freedom in staying in the confines of today and responding when God comes in the cool of the evening, looking for me.

And maybe that freedom waits for you too.

So when the sun hit high noon, I made a beeline for my car. 

Where it was now the only car left in the lot when just hours earlier I’d gotten the last spot. 

I suppose everyone else realized that a July day in Florida is no time to be wandering around a garden.

Except for the beautiful bride I walked by, who was wearing a long, lacy gown, taking photos with her groom. 

I imagine she thought this garden was the perfect spot to place her trust, declare her love and delight in every minute of this very hot July day.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. My blogging friends are sharing their posts there if you click the image!


  1. Valerie ... this is vulnerable and fascinating and deep.

    Like you?


    And thank you for sharing from The Message. It's fresh words always hit home. I think I'm going to dig my copy out. It's still packed away a year later.

    In one of those boxes still left untended ...

    Let's hear it for visiting gardens on a cool day, gentle breezes blowing, the sun just a glimmer.

    1. Linda,
      I'm really growing to love The Message! At first, it seemed so casual as I read familiar verses, but now I feel as if they add a new dimension I hadn't considered before and it always makes me think. And thank you for your always sweet and awfully kind words about this post -- yes, here's to visiting gardens in the winter!

  2. Oh, this line broke open my heart: "There's a peaceful freedom in staying in the confines of today and responding when God comes in the cool of the evening, looking for me" I have always loved the thought that God began our stories in a garden! But how precious to be reminded that my own heart is still His Garden, where He calls me to meet with Him. Thank you for these beautiful words this morning. And, how fun to see the picture of my meager little houseplant, Crown-of-Thorns, growing so full and lush in its natural setting! --Hugs!

    1. Hi Bettie,
      Isn't that crown of thorns amazing? I have a tiny version of it too on my courtyard and I can't imagine how many years it took for that one in the gardens to be so robust! I'm with you on imaging life in the first garden -- how amazing that must have been - thank you for your sweet words here today!

  3. Incredible pictures, as always! You are so right, I too want to trust and live in this day. Let's make the most of our time!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Gardens make the best places for photos!

  4. Wow. So many good points I don't know where to begin! Freedom on the other side of trust. Verse 33 of Matt 6, oh my. To be so God-drenched that we forget all about our everyday concerns, that is the ultimate goal, isn't it? To love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, that there is no room for worry and mistrust. Beautiful words you've given us today.

    1. Hi Alecia,
      Those verses from The Message really make it clear, don't they? Yes, keeping our objective of loving God at the forefront puts everything else into focus, yet sometimes when we do lose sight of that goal, I'm so grateful there's always the a place to being anew!

  5. Ellie recently asked for me to read her the Bible every night before bed. Last night we read about creation, Adam and Eve, the animals and plants, and the serpent. When the story was over, in her child views, she said, "Mommy, I so glad Adam and Eve got to live in Eden, but sad that snake was mean to them. I guess God wanted to know a bad guy so they could remember to be good." So insightful at such a young age, and showed me last night that even in the bad, we can find good. Miss you Work Spouse! :)

    1. Hi Bree,
      I love it that you were reading the creation story to Ellie and her words are so wise for her age! I love thinking about the garden where it all began. Miss you too!

  6. I'm a day late commenting because this week has been a whirlwind... and also because I've been ruminating over your freeing words here since yesterday. So many feelings and you've touched on them all. Your pictures turned out beautifully (as always!) despite the hot and sweaty time I'm sure you experienced! (You're not alone- the humidity here this week is paying homage to FL!)How fitting that the days following July 4th I would finally come to terms with all these facets of freedom you mentioned... and it all truly starts with trusting. Favorite part from Matthew: What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving...AMEN! And also your words: There's a peaceful freedom in staying in the confines of today and responding when God comes in the cool of the evening, looking for me. Thank you for speaking straight to my heart in your beautiful way Valerie! ♥ xo

    1. Heather,
      You're never a day late here! Glad you like the photos although I'll have to reconsider if photos of anything are worth braving the heat! :) I'm with you sister, taking it one day at a time! :) xo

  7. Hi Valerie- :) Oh! there are so many beautiful and thoughtful things in this- I love it- It is just beautiful- Oh how I want to trust more and live in today like the beautiful flowers you wrote about- and to find the freedom on the other side of trust! Thanks for all theses lovely thoughts! with much love

    1. Hi Susie,
      It's so good to hear from you -- I'm missing you while you're on this blogging hiatus! I was hoping you'd like all the flower photos -- I thought of you while I was there! Hope you are feeling rejuvenated and rested on your break! xo

    2. I absolutely love the flowers pics- and the fountain too! They make me want to paint and draw! I love gardens like that- So nice that you thought of me! would have loved to have been there to soak up the beauty with you! xo

  8. Hello! How was your week? I hope good.

    I love how you compared the garden Eden to being free. They were free of worry about what tomorrow brought. But when that violation of God's love happened that freedom was taken away. But now we have that freedom in Christ because we follow a God who had a plan and gave our freedom back. Love everything about this. Hope to see ya over fmf.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      Short holiday work weeks are always good, aren't they?! It's hard to imagine what it would have been like to be in Eden with all that freedom, trust and love, isn't it? I like to let that seep in and really consider it. Glad you are here!

  9. Like Adam and Eve too, we can't hide in the garden can we? He gently calls us out to be in His presence and be present. I loved your thoughts and pictures on this garden walk you took on a day that also celebrates freedom for my American friends. Beautiful!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I love what you said about God calling us into his presence and to be present -- gorgeous thought! So grateful that you leave your thoughts here and always grateful that you're here!

  10. Valerie,
    So God just used this post to confirm some things he whispered into the depths of my heart yesterday. Seriously. Every word was dripping with sweet assurance from our Father. So so good!! And I chuckled when I read the verse from Matthew - it's been popping up everywhere in my life, too!! Your post makes me want to get out and garden! :)

    1. Kylie,
      I can't tell you how much your words mean to me! Every week I hope and pray that the little post I put together with words and photos may meet someone where they are with hope or encouragement. Thank you so much for reading and letting me know -- I'm humbled and honored! xo

  11. I liked your observations that sometimes what we think or feel is true for a long time may not be entirely true. I really agree with this.
    Love these words "There's a peaceful freedom in staying in the confines of today and responding when God comes in the cool of the evening, looking for me."
    Always a pleasure to read your heart here

    1. Somer,
      The garden was so pretty it really got me thinking. And can you imagine what it would be like to have God coming to look for us in the cool of the garden? How amazing that must have been! So glad you're here sharing this virtual visit with me!


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