First Day – July 2018

Somehow over the years I have been “the flower person” at our house. That is, every spring I make my trip(s) to the local garden shops to pick out this year’s annuals and then plant them. Other types of flowers have come along, too. Somewhere along the way I got into day lilies.

The thought of roses used to intimidate me, but since they “invented” those “knockout roses” it’s a piece of cake. For some reason I seem to add a few more pots and baskets every year. (I gave up on putting annuals “in the ground” when we moved to South Carolina, with its brick-hard red clay and never went back.)

This year I decided to try something new for the baskets that hang on the fence. Verbenas. They are supposed to attract birds, bees and butterflies. They were doing well. Unfortunately I lost a few of them when we went on vacation. So I went to buy some substitutes. Vickie, at the Plant Barn, asked if I had ever planted verbenas before. I told her, “Not before this year.” (She did not know I was buying replacements.) I asked if she had a trick. She said, “Water. Lots and lots of water.”

That reminded me of when I was buying sod for some of our yard in South Carolina. The South has lousy grass compared to the North. So, it’s big business for sod growers, and it can be expensive. So one year I was buying sod for a patch that went dead in our front yard. I drove the old pickup truck (same one I still have) to the flea market, where you can buy everything from boiled peanuts to puppies. We loaded it down until the front end sat a few feet higher than the back, which made driving interesting.

At the real sod stores in the South they like to talk about their guarantees. So I asked Bubba (I don’t think that was his real name, but it is the most popular name in South Carolina, so let’s just go with that) about his guarantee. He said in that distinct and delightful accent I came to love, “Hereuh’s my garn-tee … if you don’t watuh it, it dern sure won’t grow.”

That same summer I had decided to preach from several of the Proverbs. One that seemed to be especially well-received and remembered (maybe because of the flea market sod quote) was Proverbs 10:11 … “The mouth of the righteous person is a fountain of life.” That morning I offered a “garn-tee”: If you don’t “water” with words of encouragement and blessing your children, your spouse, your employees, your friends, your church … they will wither.”

Keep your verbenas watered. And may the Lord make our mouths “fountains of life.”

dgk