When I was a kid, I wanted to save the Earth. I “caught” my mother’s contagious love of flora and fauna at an early age and wanted to protect nature’s beauty for future generations.
My Earth Day Birthday
As soon as I was old enough to understand that I was born on Earth Day, I thought saving the Earth was my personal, God-given mission.
My mom encouraged my environmentalism, because, of course, she, too, loved nature–plants, animals, insects, even rocks.
We amassed a whole collection of rocks and gemstones, each neatly labeled by type, throughout my childhood. And I still peruse my mom’s North American field guides for birds, snakes and butterflies, as well as her herb encyclopedia and gardening books, on occasion.
My “green” momma
Truth be told, my mom was “green” way before my nature-loving hometown of Austin, Texas, was green.
She taught me the importance of recycling, organic gardening, and composting back when that was hippie (or farmer) stuff. My mom diligently cut all of our soda can rings apart before she threw them away and did her best to save various wild animals that ended up in our suburban North Austin backyard–bats, possums, even a very large nonpoisonous snake.
I remember grocery shopping with my mom, at the original Whole Foods store at the Crossroads shopping center in North Austin, buying organic produce years before hipsters hit the scene. She loved Whole Foods because she had grown up eating fresh foods straight from her grandparents’ farms and couldn’t bear the thought of feeding her kids foods filled with pesticides and hormones (but somehow, Taco Bell was okay).
Saving the rainforest
When I was in third grade, my mom fueled my love of the Earth by giving me a book that listed different environmental projects for kids. She encouraged me to see one particularly ambitious project through to completion.
I convinced my favorite teacher ever, Mrs. Calhoun, that our class should raise enough money to buy an acre of rainforest in Costa Rica for preservation. If I remember correctly, we only had to raise $1,000, circa 1993, and my teacher sweetly asked the neighboring teacher and her classroom to get on board with our fundraising efforts.
Achieving that goal and receiving that certificate in the mail for our adopted acre of rainforest was one of my proudest moments, rivaled only by winning the three-legged race with my best friend Christin on field day that year.
Monet’s water lilies
On my 9th birthday, my mom gave me one of my all-time favorite books, Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson, forever marrying my love of gardens with my love of art and beginning my love affair with Monet’s famous water lilies and Japanese bridge:
The longer Monet lived there, the more beautiful the garden became. He planted more and more flowers. Later he used the garden in his paintings. He even had a pond put into the garden, so that he could have water lilies to paint.
I actually got to see a few of Monet’s paintings of water lilies in a London museum during college. I remember wishing my mom was there with me.
My momma’s “green thumb”
You see, my “green” momma also had a “green thumb.”
She taught me to identify, appreciate and care for plants in almost any garden–Texas wildflowers, culinary herbs, summer vegetables, citrus fruits, antique roses, even drought-tolerant succulents.
I loved visiting farms, gardens and plant nurseries with her. We frequented the Zilker Botanical Gardens, even when I was very small, and my favorite part was always the Japanese water garden. It’s no wonder I was drawn to Monet’s Japanese bridge and water lilies.
I took my daughters to the botanical gardens for the first time during the Zilker Garden Festival last month, after winning free tickets for correctly identifying a photo of a Texas Bluebonnet with both its common and Latin name, Lupinus texensis, in a Facebook contest. Winning seemed entirely too easy but I wrote it off as an early Earth Day birthday present.
I think my husband secretly calls his homegrown Austin girl a “hipster” behind my back. Recycling, cloth diapering, organic gardening, farmers’ markets and yoga are definitely in my repertoire.
I held onto my idealist “environmentalism” through college but later came to realize that saving the Earth is not on my shoulders. I love the Earth and all of its natural beauty, but my personal mission should be to love God and people, not plants.
These days, I like to think I’m a “practical” environmentalist, trying to do my part to lighten our toxic load on the ecosystem and promote natural health and wellness, but it’s mostly a selfish effort to keep my family healthy and avoid as many toxins as possible in and on our bodies.
Herbal Momma Essential Oils
I’m a big believer in essential oils, and, if my husband’s really being honest, he loves them, too. He even voluntarily applied lavender to my mosquito bites the other day 🙂
I have been using therapeutic grade essential oils for almost a year now, after experimenting with various store-bought essential oils for several years.
Carefully harvested and steam distilled, essential oils are life-changing, plant-based therapy for the mind, body and soul.
Right now, this herbal momma is finding relief from chronic sinusitis with peppermint and melaleuca (tea tree) essential oils. I wish that I had discovered therapeutic grade oils sooner so that I could have shared soothing essential oils like lavender, frankincense and sandalwood with my plant-loving momma during her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about essential oils.
Recycling and Resurrection
Yes, I was born on Earth Day but I was also born on Easter Sunday. Clearly, God has a sense of humor–my birth date is the intersection of recycling and Resurrection.
I think it’s fitting that my parents gave me the middle name Elizabeth, which means “consecrated to God” or “my God is bountiful.”
Easter, and Springtime in general, is about new life–Christ’s resurrection after His death on the cross and nature’s annual awakening after winter.
God gave the first man and woman He created a bountiful garden to supply their every need and gave them dominion over all His creatures. When they inevitably disobeyed Him, God cast them out of paradise.
Mankind remained separated from God by sin until Jesus died and rose again to reconcile us with our Creator.
Easter is our annual celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death to give mankind new life, just as Spring is our annual celebration of Mother Nature’s triumph over winter to blanket the Earth in fresh new life.
Celebrating God’s creation
I am called to be a good steward of God’s creation but He doesn’t need me to save His Earth. His Son already redeemed it.
The purpose of God’s creation, of Earth and mankind, is to bring glory to Himself:
Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. – 1 Chronicles 29:11
Yes, Earth Day is about celebrating the Earth, but for me, it’s actually about celebrating God’s creation and glorifying Him in all the Earth.
How blessed I am to be an eternal part of His creation, born at the crossroads of recycling and Resurrection:
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.” – 1 Peter 1:22-25