Thank you, Bonnie for choosing
me for “Special Spotlight” this month. I feel honored knowing my latest
book isn’t fiction—but that’s where it gets interesting. I have a YA
novel completed and a second in the works. I’ve had articles, devos and
shorter works published, and my God Glimpses blog, but this book isn’t
any of those, not even close.
Who knew a year ago I’d be the
author of the only garden journal purchased by the Pennsylvania
Horticultural Society for their store at the 2016 Philadelphia Flower
Show? God knew.
About this time last year it
seemed like nothing I did was working out. I stopped striving and
prayed instead, asking God where I should focus my efforts. I had
enough art supplies for the first time in many years to actually do
something, but what? I kept getting the answer, day after day. “What’s
in your hand?” So I did an inventory of what I had to work with.
I knew God gave me these talents
and interests because he wanted me to enjoy them as a gift without
strings attached—to feel his love and pleasure.
I knew my artwork was on his
But I also needed money! Any
project I worked on needed to pay for itself, and more, because I knew
that our family would lose most of our income at the end of the year.
What project could I do that
would combine my interests and talents, that would also have the
potential for income?
That’s when I remembered the
garden journal I’d started years before. The most important aspects of
the journal could be included in a paperback book. I knew I had a
winner. I had a peaceful confidence unlike my experience with so many
projects in the past. God impressed on me that he would use this in
ways that would surprise me. “See what I will do” was the phrase that
kept me going for the nine months it took to put the book together.
While preparing the forms, I
researched the competition. If I was going to spend that much time on a
garden journal, I wanted it to be the most practical, useful garden
journal out there. However, listening to my husband repeat,
“commercially acceptable – it just has to sell” helped. Left to myself,
I would have perfected for years and never published.
Then my book wouldn’t be the
only garden journal sold at the 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show, known as
the number one trade show event in the world.
Here’s the thing—all my life
experience came together in this one book. That Aha moment came when I
realized God had been preparing me for most of my adult life to produce
this one book—this not-a-novel, not-an-earth-shattering piece of fine
art—garden journal, of all things.
I had worked for the most
important plant supplier for the Philadelphia Flower Show, J. Franklin
Styer Nurseries. I was not a landscaper, or horticulturalist, but the
lowly receptionist in the office who directed phone calls and answered
plant questions. That meant I was in constant contact with the
landscape designers and nursery people regarding the care and selection
of plants, plus I was encouraged to study the vast library between
Having that connection fifteen
plus years ago, and peace that God was in this gave me the confidence
to contact the merchandizing manager for the flower show to ask if she
might carry my book. She invited me to meet with her in person, where
she told me they have been looking for a garden journal for years, but
none had met their requirements. She especially liked the individual
plant pages, with their check-off circles for the fifty or more things
possible to record about each plant.
I did my best to make each form
meet the needs of the most avid gardeners, and act as a learning tool
for novices. Here’s a brief summary of the contents of The Garden
Journal, Planner & Log Book.
• Individual plant pages with over fifty possible check boxes for each
plant, plus space for additional info, photos, drawings, seed packets
• Logs for annuals, biennials and perennials, with code, location and
• Logs for weather, formulas & recipes, pests and diseases,
cultivation and propagation, bloom and harvest times, flowers, bulbs,
fruit, vegetables, herbs, vines, shrubs, trees, wildlife sightings and
• Prune, trim and tidy logs with guidelines.
• Planning pages for up to four years.
• Garden plot graph pages for twenty beds with lined note pages
• Purchase record logs.
• Supplier contact list.
• A diary for all the things you simply must write out using sentences
or drawings, because as much as gardening is a science, it is an art
• Information pages for many of the logs to guide the novice or remind
those with experience
I’m donating a portion of the
proceeds of this book to our nonprofit food pantry, the Lifewerks
Giving Garden. In addition, I’ve priced it so that churches, schools,
garden clubs or other groups can use the journal as a fundraiser for
their cause. My goal is to be able to contribute to our Giving Garden,
and other causes as well. That’s why I worked so hard to make this the
most comprehensive garden journal out there.
I’m excited to share my story,
because, like me, you may be getting frustrated with where you are in
your creative journey. Before this my goals were about making a
statement in the kingdom with Christian novels, or through artwork done
in church on stage, or depicting Christian themes. This garden journal
has nothing to point to God other than one little line in the credits.
Since its release Nov. 28th, I’ve had more conversations about God with
complete strangers as a result of this garden book than I’ve had in
years as a pastor’s wife! God knew all along what would happen.
Bio:Joy is a
pastor’s wife and mother of two young adult daughters, living near
Philadelphia, PA. Joy edited J.A.M. Magazine, which required that she
and her husband start a nonprofit, Lifewerks, Inc. They began by
mentoring student writers and artists, soon offered classes and
seminars, and now run a food pantry, the Giving Garden, so that hungry
young writers (as well as the rest of the community) have the fuel to
create. Joy’s artwork was used by the White House as Christmas gifts,
but that's another story. For more on Joy there's joykieffer.com, and
for the garden journal, GardenKitch.com. To help directly with the
Giving Garden and Lifewerk’s programming for young people,