God’s Green Earth by Maddie Dumas

Maddie Dumas, author of God’s Green Earth, believes there are no coincidences in life, only God-instances – and the fact that I am reviewing this book at this time in my life feels like an incredible God-instance. I, like Maddie, don’t consider myself a gardener, but I have been feeling myself being drawn, further and deeper, deeper and further, into celebrating the growth of plants, seeing that growth as a stunning example of God’s masterful work. I imagine delving my hands into the earth’s rich soil, smelling sunshine, and I contemplate the trees, amazed at how they unfold, capturing the sun’s energy while also sending their roots deep into the ground.

Maddie’s book focuses on the theme of gardening and greenery as she explores and shares her faith, with the first chapter containing this compelling imagery: “Can you see it? Can you just imagine it? The lush, green grass between your toes. Flowers in every color of the rainbow. Huge elephant ears and towering oaks. Vivid red apples and purple grapes. The sun is shining through the canopy of trees, not too bright, not too hot, but just enough to warm your shoulders and illuminate your surroundings.”

In chapter two, she explores the concept of the fruits of our labor; sometimes, we see them – and, other times, we don’t. She uses examples from mission trips to illustrate her point (that we don’t always see how our actions are used by God) – and the same is true in our daily lives, even if we never travel far from home. We live in a hurry-up, why-can’t-I-have-it-now world, as she points out, a world where “We get upset when we don’t get ‘likes’ immediately after posting pictures on Instagram, or when our food takes too long to be delivered at restaurants.”

Patience. It’s time for more patience, both in any gardening that we do and in our lives, overall.

Plants take time to grow (so why shouldn’t we?). “We plant seeds,” she writes, “provide nutritious soil, water, sunlight, and then we wait. We forget God’s affinity for gardening. Sometimes we need a little, well, a lot of cultivating. God knows the perfect soil for each of our needs. He knows when we need a little rain or a few days of sunshine.”

God’s Green Earth contains 18 chapters, each one exploring a different aspect of faith through the lens of the growth of plants. Scriptures are sprinkled throughout the book, along with occasional other quotes from a hymn or other source.

Throughout the book, Maddie invites us to look at the world of greenery in a new way. Near its conclusion, she writes the following: “The next time you receive a bouquet of flowers or see a plate of fresh produce, take it at more than face value. Thank God for the meaning behind it. Reflect on the soil in which it grew, the seed that started it all, the sun and water that nourished it, and the Creator who designed it to begin with. Think of the hands God equipped to plant it and the time it took to grow. Apply it to your life and see just how God has grown you from a tiny seed to the flourishing person you are today. It is only by God’s grace.”

Although this book was not written in a format that includes writing prompts, it could be used in that way because the concept of life and growth is inherent in plant life and is therefore natural fodder for introspection.  Readers could take snippets of the book that call to them and free write about what that particular passage means to them. As just one example, you could read the conclusion of this book, and then literally gaze at a floral bouquet or fresh salad before beginning to write. What fresh insights about life and faith arise?

More about Maddie

Maddie blogs at Jesus and Jello. She has a degree in Family and Child Studies, with a minor in Religious Studies, graduating from Louisiana State University. As a certified child life specialist, she focuses on making hospital experiences less stressful for children and families as they navigate the challenges associated with chronic illness. Married to Daniel, the couple has two children: Hudson and Harrison. God’s Green Earth was published by Westbow Press.

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