A temperate day in the middle of winter beckoned. I ventured outside with only a light sweater — no gardening gloves. The sky was clear above me as I moved along our deck to the flower pots that just a few months ago had held vivid, flowering geraniums, and begonias, and petunias. Now only the skeletons stood, the remnants — brown and brittle.

I pulled one dead geranium from a terra cotta pot and then another. I ended up clearing all the pots — not really having intended to, but I liked the results and so moved to the planter boxes surrounding the back deck. Then I went to the shed and picked the hoe and the pruners off the wall and on my way back to the beds, trimmed back the indigo and oregano in the miniature herb garden. By the time I was done with all the pots, beds, and boxes, my hamstrings were tight and my fingernails were dirty, but what a sense of satisfaction.

The tilled dirt looked dark and rich and ready for spring planting. Some years this chore doesn't get done until the moment I'm ready to replant in April. When this happens, there's no period of time that could be called, "ready and waiting." What a shame because there is something beautiful in "ready and waiting." There's something beautiful about clearing out the clutter — the ugly stuff, the stuff that isn't serving a purpose — and being left with what is clean and ready and waiting. We may have less, but here's a great example of when "less is more."

While I was admiring my debris-free planter boxes, the evergreens suddenly became noticeable. These plants, while not "showy" in the petunia sense, maintain their color in spite of seasonal changes around them. "I want to be an evergreen," I thought, looking at my dwarf fir, "steady and lovely no matter the circumstances swirling around me."

I also noticed how just one evergreen, whether a boxwood or a juniper or a fir, kept an entire planter box from looking barren. This was God's reminder that it doesn't take much for life to be pleasing and winsome, even joyful. It just takes something of lasting value to be our focus.

And what is of ultimate lasting value? The Ever-Loving, Ever-Gracious, Ever-Faithful Savior planted in a ready and waiting heart — more than evergreen, He is Everlasting.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom (Isaiah 40:30 TNIV).

And what is of ultimate lasting value?
Winter gardening has its perks.