Be Not Afraid

Making My Heart a Garden

I’ve been struggling with patience the past few days.  And I don’t just mean a sigh or drum of the fingertips here and there.  This morning, I actually threw a small garbage can at the wall in the basement after dumping out an entire basket of freshly folded laundry.  Unfortunately, it seems I didn’t lose all of my muscle tone during my fairly inactive months on chemotherapy, as there is now a small dent in the wall.  (The garbage can was plastic.  Oh, and have I mentioned, we rent?  Oops…)

I haven’t quite felt myself the past few days, and honestly, I don’t know exactly what’s going on.  But I do know, very well, that I have a (sweetly) wild, obsessed-with-anything-that-might-bring-him-extreme-danger baby boy.


and this mischievous face:My First Boo Babydo not fit too comfortably with impatience!

I’m frustrated with myself.  Being a mother has been a dream of mine for my entire life.  Yet, here I am, and I feel like I’m struggling to show love through gentle, tender, patience, with the son I’ve prayed and hoped for.

Fortunately, after denting the wall and shedding some tears, I finally remembered what I all too easily, and all too frequently forget:  my need to turn to God in prayer.  When I finally prayed, my words were far from eloquent, but God knows the needs of my heart.  And He is faithful.  So, I will keep trying.  I will ask for forgiveness.  I will strive to be better.  I will shower my sweet boy with kisses when I really want to say, “John Paul!  Why, oh why do you insist on trying to eat that wire?”

Each day, I will wake with hope in my heart and the knowledge that because of Jesus’ death, I am reborn.  Each day that I keep my eyes fixed on God, my heart will be purified.  For, when I recognize my faults and ask for forgiveness, the weeds in the garden of my heart are pulled.  When I meditate on God’s word, the soil in the garden of my heart is cultivated.  When I receive the body of Christ, seeds are sown in the garden of my heart.  When I rest in God, the garden of my heart is kept safe from frost.  When I follow God’s will, flowers bloom in the garden of my heart.  And I have faith that someday, when I finally return to the Garden from where I have come and am reunited with my Creator, the garden of my heart will be full of indescribable, undeserved, incredible beauty, pure and unblemished, as if covered by a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

My prayer for you today is that in light of your faults and failings, you might recognize that even here on Earth, God is making your heart into a beautiful garden.  Ask Him for forgiveness, guidance, and strength, and allow His words and teachings to be planted as seeds in your heart, bringing you ever closer to purity.

Click here to hear, Garden.  (Matt Maher/Audrey Assad)

In the cool of the day
You come and meet me
All the blue fades away
The stars are winking

Your love’s so strong
I can’t recall
What was this thing,
They called the fall?

And you walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

Oh, why would I hide
Away from your face?
When the light of Your love

Your hand in mine
A steady line
Drawn on my heart
And deep in my mind

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

All the broken are mending
The mournful rejoicing
Seeing through tears
Of peace overflowing

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making our world a garden

Click to purchase this lovely song.

Click to hear more incredible music and support Matt Maher,
click to hear more beautiful music and support Audrey Assad.


  1. Sherry Willems

    I loved hearing you and Rebecca sing GARDEN at John Paul’s Baptism. It is a beautiful song, and hearing the two of you sing together brought tears to my eyes. You are a beautiful flower in God’s garden! When I view your photos of John Paul, what I see is his love for you radiating from his eyes. I love you. Mom

  2. How funny that you posted this this week, as I felt like I wanted to punch (or throw!) something on Tuesday!

    Fatigue and overwhelm (combined with external pressure) led to anger. When I got calmer, I could see that the anger was my body’s way of warning me that I wasn’t taking care of myself. It was a defense mechanism, in a sense; like, ‘Nobody ask me to do anything else! I can’t!’ And I can see that your beautiful baby boy, dream come true as he is, asks a lot of you, all day every day. 😉

    As always, thank you for being brave and sharing from right where you are.

    • Oh you are so right on about fatigue and being overwhelmed leading to anger (and anger being an important sign). When I was going through chemo it was like clockwork-the lower my immune system got, the angrier I was. I could actually predict which day I would be neutropenic (no immune system) before getting my blood drawn by my mood. It was frustrating, but amazing-I am trying to remember that lesson I learned and understand that when I’m angry it’s often coming from something physical. Just recognizing that is an important first step!

      Thank you for accepting me right where I am! Love you.

  3. It’s very long but beautiful and so worth reading.


    The Thorns of Life

    Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the
    florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as
    as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a
    “minor” automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and
    time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their

    Troubles had multiplied.

    Her husband’s company “threatened” to transfer his job to a new
    location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her
    awaited holiday visit. What’s worse, Sandra ‘s friend suggested that
    Sandra ‘s
    grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize
    others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with
    shudder “Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered.. “For a careless
    driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an
    that saved my life, but took my child’s?”

    “Good afternoon, can I help you?”

    Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. “I . . . I need an
    arrangement,” stammered Sandra .

    “For Thanksgiving? I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, ” she
    continued.. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this

    “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything
    could go wrong has gone wrong.”

    Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, “I
    the perfect arrangement for you.”

    Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new

    “Hi, Barbara, let me get your order.” She excused herself and walked
    back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an
    arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed
    thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly s nipped:
    there were no flowers.

    “Do you want these in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched – was this a
    joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter,
    neither woman laughed..

    “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think
    three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its
    but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said, as she gently
    her chest.

    Sandra stammered, “Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left
    with no

    “That’s right,” said the clerk. “I cut off the flowers. That’s the
    ‘Special’. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into
    shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today,” explained the clerk.
    thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her
    the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was
    facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the
    clerk. “For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone.
    I had
    no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any

    “So what did you do?” asked Sandra .

    “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve
    thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why
    good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I
    cried out, ‘Why? Why me?!’ It took time for me to learn that the dark
    times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’
    of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God’s
    comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re
    afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

    Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had
    tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a
    and I’m angry with God.”

    Just then someone else walked in the shop.

    “Hey, Phil!” the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.

    “My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement . . twelve
    thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a
    tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

    “Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind
    telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?”

    “Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced,” Phil replied. “After
    forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and
    guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our
    marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems
    to remind her of what she had learned from “thorny” times. That was good
    enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to
    label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that
    problem taught us.”

    As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra , “I highly recommend the

    “I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life” Sandra
    said to the clerk. “It’s all too . fresh.”

    “Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that
    the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential
    care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a
    crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love….Don’t
    resent the thorns.”

    Tears rolled down Sandra ‘s cheeks. For the first time since the
    accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. “I’ll take those
    twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

    “I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a

    “Thank you. What do I owe you?”

    “Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart…The
    first year’s arrangement is always on me.”

    The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra . “I’ll attach this card to
    your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

    It read: “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked
    You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach
    me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show
    me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me
    that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more

    Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

    God Bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.

    “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the
    rest to God.”

    We often try to fix problems with WD-40 and Duct tape.

    God did it with nails.

  4. I felt this way a LOT when I was nannying two little girls, 14 months apart, solo – starting when the younger one was 3 months old. Feedings, napping problems, potty training, illnesses – all the big issues got to me really fast some days. I think I normally have a long fuse, but there were days when I was just done and had to keep going.

    On those days, even though I love those two little girls with all my heart and miss them incredibly now, I asked God to help me love them like He loves them. It really helped shift my perspective and give me a bit of renewed energy. Of course you love your son, but you are human!! We have our limits. I pray that you will sense extended energy and forgiveness when you lean heavily on God on your most frustrating days.

    And remember: you’re a good mom 🙂 You’re not failing!

  5. Pingback: In My Garden | Be Not Afraid

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