As I consider the word, “landscape,” I notice a few things. Last month when traveling into Ukraine, the bus traversed a curved road through the Carpathian Mountains. Lush green trees and rolling hills filled the landscape. While riding the train from Kviv to Kharkiv, I recall miles of fields covering the open spaces. The landscape showed many crops growing, awaiting harvest.

Then, I think about the landscape near where I live in Colorado. The Rocky Mountains reach into the sky with its peaks, rocks, and trees, while the rolling Hogback along the front range features a curving, spine-like ridge with rocks, trails, and greenery.

Landscape – The visible features of an area of countryside or land. To make (a piece of land) more attractive by altering the existing design, adding ornamental features, and planting trees and shrubs.

Look at the landscape near where you live. What features do you note?

Even though I’ve looked at these broad scopes of landscape, I have also been watching a smaller landscape unfold – the landscape of the yard surrounding our house. When we moved into our home, dirt, clay, weeds, and small rocks encompassed the space around us. We eagerly awaited the landscaper’s arrival to transform the mud, clay, weeds, and rocks into a peaceful space to enjoy Colorado days and room for Grace to play.

The landscape of our yard will include trees, grasses, raised garden beds, decorative rocks, and a small patio. We designed our small yard space to offer rest, growth, and life. I look forward to growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Grace looks forward to playing fetch and rolling in the turf. Gary awaits slow evenings, visiting with friends and family on the patio. We each live with anticipation of the landscape surrounding our home.

Take a moment to take in the landscape surrounding your home, apartment, work place, and roads nearby. What elements do you see and smell? What textures might you be able to feel with your fingers and toes?

Jesus cares about the landscape of our souls. Through the parable of the sower and the soils in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, Jesus invites us to pay attention to the state of the soil of our hearts. The conditions of the soil: rocky, weedy, or fertile, served as vivid word pictures to propel us to think about the soil of our souls. Jesus posed questions to evoke reflection, repentance, and renewal within the soul.

I wonder about the landscape of my soul. On what does the soil of my heart feed? What kinds of nutrients does my inner being need? Are there rocks to be removed or weeds to be plucked? Does my soul lack water or fertilizer in order to flourish?

If you’d like a 30-Day Devotional called Flourish to water and feed your soul  – click here.

Am I mindful of the hills and valleys within my soul? Do desert spaces exist? Where are the lush green forests and plush verdant grasses?

What about your soul? Reflect on your soul’s landscape.

Let’s welcome God, the Creator of all things, into the landscape of our soul. Allow God to rake the unnecessary rocks, plant new grasses, warm the land with His presence, and tend to our eternal transformation.

How does living water nourish the plants and satiate the yearnings within my landscaped soul? Within your soul?

What about the dangers to each soul? In Ezekiel, we read that the heart apart from God resembled that of stone (36:26). How do the things of this world hardened our hearts to the things of God? Is the landscape of my soul and yours pliable, able to be worked by the master Gardener? (Ezekiel 36:25-28)

Ponder with me the state of the soil of your soul. Talk with God about what you perceive.

Join me and live with intentional awareness of the landscape of your soul. Let’s live with anticipation as God forms and transforms the landscape within our interior being. Look to the Lord and welcome the peaceful, beautiful, and reflective space He shapes in your life. Allow your landscaped soul to reveal its Creator.

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Matthew 6:28-34 –  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Ezekiel 36:26 – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Dr. Carolyn A. Roth. God as a Gardener: Exploring Bible parables illustrated by plants. Roanoke, VA. 2019.

Bruce Demarest. Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality. Colorado Springs, CO. 1999.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Passion, Brandon Lake. Graves into Gardens.

Hillsong. From the Inside Out.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

If you’d like to watch a video from when I shared with Denver Seminary students about my trip to the Ukraine – here is the link: