Last Updated: April 9th, 2019

Much-needed peace and quiet

I’ve always felt the most content when outdoors and in the wilderness. Growing up in a house with four younger siblings meant that if I wanted peace and quiet, I had to leave the house to find it!

Luckily, we lived in the country. We were surrounded by fields and forests. That’s where I spent much of my time walking, thinking, discovering, imagining and learning about God’s Creation, not to mention finding my much-needed peace and quiet!

Now that I’m married with four girls of my own, I appreciate my outdoor adventures with God all the more. We don’t live in the country, so I’ve had to create my own backyard oasis where I can connect with God and nature. It’s not exactly the Garden of Eden, but my backyard is full of gardens and thankfully, a decent number of mature trees that give us some privacy from our neighbours.

As much as I enjoy other people, it’s important for me to have alone time. My husband and children know that when Mama feels crabby, it’s best to let her go outside by herself and I typically come back in feeling calm and refreshed.

Lessons learned from a raspberry patch

A big selling point when buying our place was the large raspberry patch. Every year, it bears berries twice: once in the early summer and again in the early fall. I spend a lot of time picking raspberries.

There are important life lessons that can be learned from a raspberry patch. Sometimes, to get to the sweet berries, you have to be willing to maneuver past the prickly stems, all the while being prepared to get pricked!

Some people can be a lot like a raspberry plant—both sweet and prickly. Not everyone will be willing to take the time to get to know such people, especially if they get “pricked” right away, but I think that’s the price you pay to get to the sweetness that can be found in the very same person. Their grumpy demeanor may be a defense and only the most patient of people will take the time to get to the delightful, nourishing soul that resides within.

Indeed, my raspberry patch has taught me that patience pays and that the saying, “no pain, no gain,” is true!

Think like a tree

As I mentioned earlier, we have a lot of mature trees in our yard. They provide privacy from the curious eyes of the neighbours, especially in the summertime when they’re lush with green leaves. However, come autumn the leaves begin to fall, and slowly but surely each tree becomes exposed, as does our yard. It’s no longer my private refuge, but a stage!

In all reality, my neighbours are most likely going about their own business and not paying much attention to me, but I know that sometimes, looking out the window to watch me just happens. I’m learning to be OK with this. I don’t mind if people watch me and are entertained, or better yet, inspired.

However, my fear is that they’ll find fault with or want to control some aspect of my behaviour, which I’m not OK with. The Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear, so I’ve chosen love. I choose to assume the best about people and their intentions until proven otherwise. If a neighbour were to become overbearing, we’d simply move.

The take-away lesson here, I suppose, is learning to accept feeling exposed at certain times in life. Do trees worry what we’ll think of them when they’re bare? Do they silently cry out, “Look away!” or do they proudly state, “Here I am, take it or leave it!” Perhaps, neither. Most likely, they’re just busy being a tree, doing what comes naturally, without giving any thought to the thoughts of others.

Lucky trees! Of course, our advantage over trees is being mobile, for a tree can’t escape the approaching human with a chainsaw, nor seek shelter from the winds. They’re stuck.

Let’s all be thankful for the ability to move. If physically unable to move, as in the case of the paralyzed, then let us be thankful for freedom of thought—the ability to take the mind wherever the imagination is capable of taking it.

As much as I enjoy spending time in my backyard, I often feel the need to temporarily change my surroundings. Sometimes I simply drive to my parents’ house just down the road and wander around their two acres (about 0.8 hectares).

This is like stepping back into my childhood in a way, yet it’s not quite the same. For example, the trees are different. Some are gone, some are much bigger and some are new. The gardens my Dad kept when I was small have changed locations. What used to be a field behind the house is now a golf course and the forest that was behind the field is now a housing development.

Change is the only constant

Isn’t it ironic that change is the one constant we can count on in this world? The Bible tells us that God is unchanging. His ways and love are the same now as they always have been and will be the same forever. In a world that’s ever-changing, this is a comforting promise.

For now, the key to a life of contentment is to be welcome and open to change. Things will change whether we want them to or not. Our mission is to be as adaptable as possible, while remaining loyal to a loving, unchanging creator.

Now that I’m a parent, I have an easier time relating to God. I simply think of the hopes I have for my children. As co-creator of my children, I have an unconditional love for them, similar to the love I believe God has for all of us.

As a parent, I know my children will experience change in their lives. My hopes are that they’ll be able to embrace change whenever possible, overcome any fear of it and have the courage to be the change they wish to see in the world.

I believe that these hopes of mine regarding change will be fulfilled, as long as my children know with confidence that no matter what happens in life, my love and God’s love for them will remain constant and unchanging.

Opening the doors of the heart and mind

As you can see, just strolling through my backyard, paying attention to my surroundings and asking God to walk with me always helps shed light on problems and can also open up doors to questions I didn’t even know I had.

Ultimately, spending time outside in nature leaves me feeling refreshed and spiritually satisfied, yet eager for the next opportunity to have a nature walk with God.

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Melissa Hartner lives in Minnesota with her husband and their four daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, photography, spending time outdoors, gardening, cooking, eating, laughing and dreaming. She blogs once in a while at She can be contacted at
image: mako via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY)