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About the Writer:
Shannon Ayers

Trained as a process engineer, mother of five and serving as a church secretary and children's ministry director, Shannon helps break down Godly principles into usable and encouraging steps. Her heart for the Lord is huge and apparent in all she does. Her wisdom and clarity of truth adds even more to her writing.



Landscaping Your Life

By Shannon Ayers

Subject - Recognize the work of God in your life.

As we draw nearer to the end of the school year, I find myself actually relishing the time to come with my children. (I know, I checked my forehead for a fever, too!) I have had several realizations lately about my children. I used to think of them as little soldiers and myself as their commanding general – I was a Marine Brat. But, the Lord is changing the analogy for me.

The other day, my husband received two Cleveland Pear Trees from our neighbor. He thought of us when he found a great deal on them last week. You see, last spring, we were surprised by a loud thwack! coming from our backyard as a huge limb fell off our Bradford Pear Tree. Our neighbor, who has a tree business, informed us that Bradford Pears have that tendency. They are beautiful, but, if they grow too large, they lose branches.

So, my husband and I decided to plant the twin Cleveland Pears in the front yard. My neighbor told us that they wouldn’t grow as pretty as Bradfords ; but were much stronger and wouldn’t break. As I stepped back to view the trees from the curb, I noticed something amazing. Just as my husband and I were landscaping the grounds of our home, God was landscaping the garden of my life. There were now five trees in my front yard and each was characteristic of one of my five children!

First, there is the Mighty Maple, so strong and tall. It doesn’t bend in the wind. You only see the edges of the branches sway gently. This is my oldest daughter, Caitlin. She is tall and slender with the grace of a ballet dancer. She is always unperturbed. We sometimes have to check her pulse to see if she’s even breathing! She’s strong and steady and responsible.

Next, there are the tall, spindly, Twin Cleveland Pears. These are my twins, Courtney and Cameron. They are tall and gangly now; but they both will develop into incredible athletes in the next few years. They sometimes have trouble making decisions because they like to follow the crowd; but they are learning to stand tall, anyway. Like the Cleveland Pears, they will sway in the wind; but, inside, they are strong enough not to break under the pressure of majority opinion.

Next, is the Little Red Oak. If this were a newly built house, this tree would be considered tall and grand. But, we live in a subdivision that is over 50 years old. Next to the oaks and maples of old, it is just a baby. This is my youngest son, Andrew. He is a strong personality, a force to be reckoned with! He often wants to know who is in charge when Mom and Dad go out – he always hopes I’ll say he is! He has the strength of personality and sharpness of mind to become a great leader some day. But, for now, he grows in the shadow of the Mighty Maple.

Finally, there is the sweet little Weeping Cherry Tree. It is my youngest daughter, Riley. The Weeping Cherry has lovely white blossoms with pink centers and droops like a willow tree. The drooping and blossomed branches are elegant, much like the lovely ball gown skirts of the 18th and 19th centuries! Riley is three years old and has completely perfected the art of prissiness. Pink is her favorite color. She has everyone in this household wrapped around her fingers. Her favorite phrase now for begging is, “Pretty please with a cherry on top!” as she smiles sweetly with clasped hands. She can whine and pout with a sweetness that makes you want to give in to her just because she’s so cute – ALMOST!

I love the trees in my front yard; but not nearly as much as I love the children in my home. They each, like my children, have a uniqueness to them which makes them individually beautiful. Though they are different, they come together to beautify my yard and create a haven of shade in the sunshine and a buffer of strength in the wind. My children are as different as can be, but each one brings a joy to my life that cannot be duplicated.

So, too, I think of all the people and situations which God has allowed in my life. Each event, each relationship is another beautiful plant in the garden of my life. Gardening is hard work. The beauty does not come on its own; it must be diligently sought. Some of the circumstances and relationships have been difficult and some have been joyous; but all have been necessary to bring forth the growth in me that God himself desires. I want to be beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, to some day offer before him the garden of my life – a life filled with the strength and beauty of tall and graceful trees representing the times I stood firm for him, and the sweet aroma of flowers as I gave unselfishly and sacrificially to others.

My garden is meager now. There is much work to be done; but the Lord is the master gardener. He is tilling the soil of my heart daily to receive the new seeds he has for me, seeds that will blossom and grow into lovely plants which will bring forth the Fruit of the Spirit. For I know that Philippians 1:6 says, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Just as he is faithful in my life, so, too, is he faithful in the lives of my children. Four of my children profess him as Lord and Savior, and he will grow these little trees up to maturity in his good and perfect time according to his master-landscaping plan.

I thank the Lord for the landscaping he has done and “saplings” he has allowed to grow in my life. They have taught me that I am not the gardener, I am the garden. And I now find myself asking, “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” One day I hope to reply to my King, “With silver bells and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row!”

Copyright © April 25, 2000 – Shannon Ayers. All rights reserved. (Originally shared as a devotional for CBS.)


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