— Life —


pin it

A few years ago my husband built a butterfly garden in my backyard. It’s a beautiful space that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and it’s a place of renewal for me. Every spring I pull out what the harsh winter has killed, and prune the perennials that need a boost. I plant new annuals for added color and fill pots with fresh herbs for summer meals. After the first major “haircut” the garden looks dreadful. But within a few weeks there’s new green growth and flowers that I consider are God’s special bouquet just for me.

The flowers in my butterfly garden are like the woman I want to be.

  • They are resilient. No matter how hot or dry it gets in the summer or how cold our winter may get, some plants keep coming back year after year. I know women like that. No matter what their challenges—the ups and downs of life—they have this inner strength and deep roots that makes them thrive. Like those hearty plants and strong women, I want to have deep roots of faith that keep me resilient during times of stress.
  • They are authentic. Each flower knows its place in the garden and is proud to display its unique color and design. The Knockout Roses don’t cross-pollinate with the Salvia, trying to become tall and thin. They are perfectly content just as they are. The Gerber Daisies, Lavender, Verbena and Coreopsis each have a unique purpose and design and bloom wherever they’re planted. Just like these flowers, I am but one in God’s vast beautiful garden. He designed me just as I am, so I should standup tall with my face toward the sun and not try to become someone else.
  • They respond well to pruning. I must cut away the dead branches to encourage lush new growth. Like my roses, trimming away unproductive branches allows me to flourish in other areas of my life. Overcommitment drains my energy, so I must be diligent to cut away what doesn’t support my calling. I must be willing to say “no” more often to provide open space around me to breathe. If I don’t, I will become spindly and fruitless.
  • They need pest control. Because my garden contains flowers, herbs and greenery, there are pests that want to eat away the new growth. Often they’re hard to see, but before you know it, those little bugs can strip an entire plant down to bare stems. Likewise I must be careful to keep pests out of my life—those who would suck the energy and joy out of me. Pest control is a vital part of my own TLC.
  • They must have water and fertilizer. To bloom abundantly the plants in my garden need water and food. Likewise I must nourish my body with water, eat a healthy diet and enjoy sunshine. I can’t grow alone. I must surround myself with people who lovingly prune me, when needed, and who pour life-giving encouragement and guidance into my life on a regular basis.

How does your garden grow? Do you need some pruning or pest control? Are you getting the proper nutrition to bloom abundantly? Do your roots run deep enough for resiliency in the midst of the fires of life? Do you have a few gardeners who lovingly care for you?

You are a beautiful flower, created to bloom and flourish. Give yourself some extra TLC this spring, and see how vibrant and vigorous you become.


  • Carla April 24, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I love this so much. As a non-gardener – – I have that black thumb people joke about – – it’s not anything that would ever have occurred to me to make this parallel. I need to up the pest control this week. Thank you for the reminder 🙂

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Thank you, Carla! I thank God and sunshine for the success of my garden. I am pretty diligent about pest control, too. I’ve seen an entire rose bush stripped in one day! Just like those people who can strip us of our joy in a flash.

  • Haralee April 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

    How very lovely! Yes I aspire to be like a well planed, maintained beautiful garden

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Haralee, each of us is an exquisite flower, unique in design and beauty. It is definitely a reason to love who we are! And not wish for something else.

  • Jennifer Dunham April 24, 2017 at 10:00 am

    This was such a wonderful metaphor. It is so important to take care of ourselves and accept ourselves the way we do other things.

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Thank you, Jennifer! We must give ourselves TLC, just as we do our tender plants. We are worth ever so much more!

  • Brenda Coffee April 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I wouldn’t have thought about this analogy, Susan, but its perfect and beautiful, like you. With this post, you’re the butterfly that’s gone from plant to plant, woman to woman, to remind us how we can better bloom and flourish. xoxox, Brenda

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Oh thank you, Brenda. That’s an analogy I hadn’t thought about! I love the thought of touching every flower in God’s garden of women, reminding each one of its beauty and unique value. Thanks for the kind words!

  • Roxanne Jones April 24, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Like Carla, I’m a non-gardener, and would never have considered this analogy. But it’s lovely. And I’m in the mood for some pruning this spring!

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Roxanne, we all need a little pruning from time to time! Especially in our overcommitted lives. Spring is a perfect time to cut back, to allow yourself room for new growth!

  • Rena McDaniel April 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    This touched me so deeply for some reason. I’m pinning it so I can pull it out again and again. What a beautiful way to think about it. I think I need some Miracle Grow!

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Thank you so much, Rena! I am so blessed that this spoke to you in a special way. Do a little pruning, fertilizing and pest control, and see how much more abundantly you flourish!

  • Esther Zimmer April 25, 2017 at 2:43 am

    This is so beautiful, Susan. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful and inspiring writing. Esther xx

    • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Thank you, Esther! I appreciate you so much!

  • Mary Louise Hagler April 25, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I am a gardener and completely appreciate this analogy. I believe every plant, just like every person was placed here on earth for a reason! Thank you for sharing! Mary Louise

  • Susan Tolles April 25, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Mary Louis, now when you are working in your own garden, you can remember how you are like the beautiful flowers you are tending. Yes, we each have a unique role to play, from making people smile to providing nourishment and a place of refuge for others. Thanks for your comments!

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