I have been a gardener for as long as I can remember … or at least attempted to be one. As a child, there was an open lot next to our house in Nigeria which my dad made into a large garden. He and Mom worked tirelessly in that garden along with the help of a hired Nigerian worker. The produce they grew during the rainy season helped so much at that place and time in history, when getting food was not as simple a task as stopping by the grocery store on my way home, like it is now.

And I helped them garden. At least I toddled along behind Daddy and pestered him, asking how I could help him. I was the only one of his four children who showed an interest in gardening and I have been drawn to it for as long as I can remember.

One of my fondest gardening memories is of climbing inside the angled cucumber trellis my dad had built, to pick ripe cucumbers inside that he could not see or reach. He’d built a long teepee-like structure with the two sides about three feet apart at the base but meeting in the middle a few feet off the ground. I would crawl along inside that structure picking cucumbers and tossing them out to him. I felt like I was in my own little botanical wonderland with lush vines all around me. And I felt so big and important to have been given the task of deciding if a cucumber was ready to be picked or not.

The first year I was married, over 40 years ago now, I talked my husband into renting a tiller and tilling up a patch of land in our back yard for me to plant vegetables. I had no idea what I was doing back then but worked away at the endeavor anyway. I have had a garden ever since but these days I at least know which plants do better in dryer soil, which need more water, which should be planted by seed and which need to be started indoors a few weeks before planting. I’ve also learned a few tricks like planting marigolds around the edge of the garden to help keep the bugs out.

Last year, I tried something new. My college-age son put in a raised garden for me and, oh my goodness, that turned out so well! I don’t know if it was that the new location got more sunlight or if it was the new bags of garden soil I put in the area, but I have never had such a successful garden. Ever. I had a couple rows of okra that grew to be taller than me by several feet. I had to bend them over to pick the new produce by the end of the season. My family ate roasted okra all summer and fried okra all winter that I had cut and frozen.

So, it’s summer again and you can bet if I can’t be found inside my house cleaning, cooking, or writing, I am outside playing in my garden.

Since I often write devotions, I naturally find Bible verses for many aspects of life. Here is my favorite gardening verse:

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

Click to Tweet: “It’s summer again and you can bet if I can’t be found inside my house cleaning, cooking, or writing, I am outside playing in my garden.” — Harriet Michael via @InspiredPrompt #gardening #FridayThoughts

Writing Prompt –  Finish this paragraph: Ellen dumped another shovel-full of soil into the wheelbarrow. All this work better pay off. If the garden didn’t do well, Marty would throw a fit.

There is Fun to be Done!

“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to summer all year long. Even now, when I’m semi-retired and could actually take a vacation any time I choose. Well, almost any time.

But summer is the best time, don’t you think? While planning this post, I heard Dr. Seuss’ voice in my head. His books were just pure fun, and fun is what this post is all about. You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So…get on your way! — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

One of my favorite all-time summer adventures happened in Colorado. We ascended Pike’s Peak (by car, of course) and on the way back down, stopped to take this photo beside a mountain lake.

When I was a kid, we didn’t really take vacations. We visited family. Grandpa lived in L.A., and we lived in Tennessee. So cross-country drives were a thing we did. My child’s mind was fascinated by the western scenes that passed by my window at breakneck speeds (Dad had a heavy foot). He also loved to hug the edge of the road in those high mountains and hear all of us scream. Mom didn’t scream, but she scolded him, which made us laugh. Ah, the memories…ah, the thrill of it all.

When my sons were younger, one of their favorite things to do in summer was to visit the grandparents in West Tennessee. Mom and Dad lived on a lake way out in the sticks. Dad never lost that sense of adventure. My boys adored him, followed on his heels all week. He taught them to bait a hook and drive a tractor, even though their feet couldn’t touch the pedals. We picked blackberries and took long walks.

Now, those guys are grown with children of their own, and Granddad’s sense of adventure firmly instilled in their hearts. I love that their children are reaping the benefits. Oh, the places they’ll go…

Hubby and I are contemplating an adventure of our own, but we can’t decide—mountains, or sea? Beaches usually win, but it’s been a while since we’ve feasted our eyes on the Rocky Mountains, or the Grand Canyon. Living “sort of in the middle” is a definite advantage, because we can head any direction and find diverse adventures. We’re ten or so hours from the Atlantic, ten or so hours from the Gulf of Mexico, a couple days’ drive from Colorado…where to, this time?

One thing is certain…it’s going to be fun!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go… Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Writing Prompt: Dawn broke over the open road, revealing scenes of grandeur. Arlene loved a good adventure, and this one topped them all. [Mountains, or sea? Finish the paragraph with your favorite view.]

Click to Tweet: Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! #Summer Fun via @InspiredPrompt and author Betty Thomason Owens, @batowens: where to now? #travel #adventure

The Faith of a Child

by Harriet Michael

Owens GKs-1964In the summer of 1988 when my oldest son was six years old, our family took a vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Sadly, it did not turn out to be much of a vacation. We only had five days. Travel took up two of them, leaving us only three days of actual vacation time.

On the first day, my younger son fell off the couch while playing.  He suffered a cut on his forehead that required a trip to the emergency room for stitches. On the second day, our dog died. She was a very old dog, and we knew she didn’t have long to live. In fact, that was the reason we brought her with us rather than leaving her at a kennel. But even though it was not unexpected, it was sad, just the same.

Aside from all of this, the weather was lousy! Hilton Head was having a torrential rainstorm. There was so much rain; the water came half-way up the wheels of the cars in some places on the roads. Rain poured down the entire three days of our vacation … well, almost.

ocean rain

On the third day, my oldest came to me complaining, “Mom! I want to play on the big tree house in Harbor Town. Let’s go play!”

I told him that I wished he could too, but it was still raining. I added, “And I can’t make the rain stop.”

His eyes lit up and he said, “Well, I know who can stop the rain!”  Then, with a big smile, he exclaimed, “God!” He added that he wanted to pray and ask God to stop the rain.

prayerI must confess my reluctance to even let him do this. I was full of doubt. I listened with doubt in my heart as he prayed this request in his innocent way.

After the prayer, he went back to watching television. I went back to cleaning the kitchen, where I turned on the TV to check the weather. It did not look hopeful. There was a front dropping rain on all of South Carolina as well as several other states. Furthermore, it was a stationary front. It was not going anywhere for quite a while. Since we were leaving the next day, I was fairly convinced this prayer was not going to be answered the way my son hoped. I began considering ways to help my son understand that sometimes God says no to our requests.

sky-912238_1280To my surprise, within the hour, the rain began to taper off. Then it stopped altogether. I quickly put my children in the car and drove to Harbor Town. I watched with amazement as they played on the giant tree house. I watched with more amazement as the skies completely cleared. For about two hours, there was not a cloud in the sky. People came onto the tennis courts, swam in the pools, perused the shops, and visited the restaurants.

I kept thinking, “The entire island is indebted to a six-year-old for his prayer, even though they don’t know it.”

treehouseAbout two hours later, clouds began to form again and drops of rain began to fall. We piled back in the car, went back to our condo, back to playing inside and watching TV.

But what a little miracle God did in response to a prayer prayed in faith–the faith of a child!

Writing Prompt: Write of a time when you experienced a direct answer to a prayer.