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  • Dawn Shank

Down on My Knees

Good morning friends,

Last week you heard from Wesley. This week you get to hear from Dawn, my dear wife of 33 years. Dawn is a thinker, so when she's working, she's usually also pondering. This week you get a peek into some of those meditations.

- Edwin

Meditations From My Garden

I spend many summer hours working in my vegetable garden. It used to be a family project. When the children were young, the planting, weeding and harvesting were all opportunities to work together to nurture respect for the ground and to teach the rewards of diligence, hard work and stick-to-it-ness whether fun or not. A work ethic that they are now teaching to their own little ones.

Then there were the days when my teenage daughter and I worked side by side to garden and harvest not only for our family of growing boys, but for The Family Cow customers as well! Some of you might remember. :)

Those were truly busy days. But we were partners, Gwendolyn and I... companions day in and day out from sun-up to sun-down. We forged a deep friendship. Now she has her own little girls to work with and bond with.

I feel a twinge of sadness in knowing that part of my life is now over. But I still remember it with fondness.

All this to say... that while by times I still recruit the help of my husband and two boys that have not yet flown the nest, the garden is usually mine to tend. The solo hours I spend planting, weeding and picking give me lots of time to think. I enjoy meditation. So, I embrace this stage of life too.

Edwin suggested that I share some of my meditations. I wasn't so sure, but he encouraged, so here goes... I invite you to think along with me.

Picture a large garden. Even though there’s not as many growing boys around my table as there once were, my garden produce doesn’t go to waste. If my daughter or daughters-in-law didn’t get enough green beans to freeze or cucumbers to pickle from their smaller garden plots, you will hear, “Ask Mom. She might have extra!” Or like one of them said this year, “Let’s plant a big corn patch in Mom’s Garden. Then we’ll have plenty of it and a fun family day too, husking and creaming it for the freezer!”

And I love the sharing and togetherness it brings. So... I keep on planting and tending and weeding. And thinking.

Weeds. They are part of the curse, right? I think so! Thistles definitely are. I know, because I personally do battle with them every year. But that’s another subject. Maybe I’ll save that one for later.

The weed that I didn’t have a name for 6 months ago, I now have become intimately familiar with. I saw this weed around before, sure... but this summer it almost overwhelmed my patience and garden skill!

I’m used to the burst of living things (including weeds) every Spring, so I was not immediately daunted by this weed that spread over most of my garden. I just set to work with hope and zeal as fresh as the Spring air.

I pulled and I hoed. I even solicited the help of my son, Jefferson, a few times to run the rototiller (a bucking beast I leave to him) up and down between the rows of onions, beans, tomatoes and peppers. Ahh... it looked so clean and nice. It felt so rewarding.

Lo and behold, just a few days later... Those weeds were growing back! As hale and hearty as ever. And pretty soon, they covered my garden like they owned it. It truly looked as if every chopped-up piece of those weeds took root and started growing. This happened several times over. Pretty soon my frustration and distress spilled over to the family and that’s when one of my field savvy menfolk said, “Mom, that’s Purslane.”


So, I learned some things about this fleshy, deceptively tender weed called Purslane. (And yes, I even read that some people call it edible!) This kind of weed was no wimp. Even the tiller didn’t faze them. This was because their cut stems root quite readily, so tilling them quite literally only multiplied them! Which is why they seemed to spring up a hundred-fold and take over my garden in short order.

I realized I would need to try a different tactic.

I discovered the secret was in the root. When I got down on my hands and knees and grasped the thing gently but firmly, right down at the ground level and pulled... It came out, roots and all. Ah-ha. It was a goner this time. Never mind the hours of crawling along, soil wedged underneath my fingernails. I was going to do what it took to get ahead of this thing!

My thoughts were keeping time with my hands. You can’t think mad thoughts at Purslane for hours on end, right? So maybe instead... what can I learn from this troublesome weed?

I let my mind run and I couldn’t help but compare my vegetable garden to the garden of my heart. In fact, there’s an uncanny resemblance. Those weeds... pride, selfishness, bitterness, impatience, you name it... grow unbidden. With a tenaciousness I’m familiar with. I am reminded of the phrase in Hebrews 12:1 “...the sin which doth so easily beset us...”

It’s easy enough to just break off the tops (quite like the Purslane). Maybe I manage to stop the biting, unkind words. I feel better about myself already and it even makes me look like a pretty good Christian. No one else can see what’s stirring in my heart or just boiling under the surface. I think if I keep it down, I have it all under control. But beware. What’s inside is bound to come out sooner or later. Likely sooner.

Let me flesh it out a bit more (no pun intended, but this IS about getting the carnal flesh out of our hearts, right?!). These tiny, almost delicate weeds... they’re such little things. But harmless as they may appear, they can very quickly get out of control. So how do we go about conquering these heart weeds?

Hmm, I think the secret is in the root. Same as the Purslane.

I need to pay attention to what’s growing in my heart and regularly, daily uproot those weeds. See them for what they are – sin. A whack across their tops won’t do it. I will have to go for the root.

It’s not easy. It takes some hard work, getting down on my hands and knees. And I can’t do this alone. I need God, the Master Gardener’s help. When I call out to Him (yes, down on my knees!), He promises to help. And with God and the aid of His Spirit, there is always hope. We can be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37

Another helpful tip I found in my battle with Purslane: You can’t just uproot these weeds and leave them lay. I learned that the hard way! Even when I pulled them up by the roots, if I just tossed them aside, they had the uncanny ability to start growing again right there in my garden rows!

More symbolism here maybe?

If I really want to get rid of that root of sin... I’ve got to cast it FAR away. Out of the fertile soil of my heart. Which reminds me of Romans 13:12 “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” And verse 14 – “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” We have to do something about it. Intentionally get rid of those weeds and replace them with the Fruit of the Spirit.

No, it won’t be the last time I see weeds in my garden. Weeds are a part of this life, unfortunately. Ever since Adam and Eve fell to Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden. The weed seeds will always be there, drifting into my garden. Nor will it be the last time I struggle with the roots of sin. The garden of my heart is still susceptible to Satan’s lies today. But when I see those weeds begin to grow...

I know I'll be down on my knees.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23 & 24

To God’s glory.

The Farmer’s wife,



Song of the Week

Just let the message sink into your heart. Sing along if you wish. Remember... it's only the message of the words that feeds the soul!

Click on the title to hear the song:

Search me, Oh God, and know my heart today;

Try me, Oh Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray:

See if there be some wicked way in me:

Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin:

Fulfill Thy Word, and make me pure within;

Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame:

Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine:

Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;

Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;

I now surrender: Lord, in me abide.

Oh Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee;

Send the revival, start the work in me.

Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need;

For blessing now, Oh Lord, I only plead.


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