Drum roll, please! At long last, I am happy to announce the upcoming arrival of my new book, My Father is the Gardener. Pre-orders through my publisher, BRIT Press, begin today, September 1st, and the book will be released November 26th. Join me that day, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden gift shop for book signing and celebrating God’s Word in the garden!
My Father is the Gardener features devotional essays on gardening themes and plants of the Bible, beautifully crafted with original artwork, mesmerizing macrophotography, and classic botanical illustrations to bring you pleasing-to-the-eye pages that are sure to delight! The book invites you to tag along with the Lord in His gardening work—preparing the soil, planting, watering, cultivating, composting—and discover that gardening provides a logic and poetry essential to growing a deeper communion with God and His Word.
Meanwhile, the ministry of God’s Word grew by leaps and bounds. Acts 12:24 The Message
While the world seems to be on the brink of disasters in every direction, God continues to call us to intimacy with Him—to meet with Him, spend time with him, linger over His Words and let Him restore us. May this new book bless you and grow you closer to God, all the while inspiring you to grow your garden, too!
Behind the Scenery
It has been a multi-year journey working with a gifted group of professionals behind the scenes to bring this new book to you. Let me showcase my editor, book designer, photographer, and artist out of deep gratitude for their devotion, hard work, creative insight, and great patience as they came together to publish My Father is the Gardener.
Through it all, we had the constant prayer of a loyal prayer team, the Garden Prayer Warriors, watching over and interceding for the work. Often I asked for prayers to resound the artisanal blessing poured out on the tabernacle-building in Exodus, hoping to create a book-sanctuary for our readers:
[Adonai] has filled him with the Spirit of God — with wisdom, understanding and knowledge concerning every kind of artisanry. [B’tzal’el] is a master of design in gold, silver, bronze, cutting precious stones to be set, woodcarving and every other craft…[Adonai] has filled them with the skill needed for every kind of work, whether done by an artisan, a designer, an embroiderer using blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen, or a weaver — they have the skill for every kind of work and design. “B’tzal’el and Oholi’av, along with all the craftsmen whom Adonai has endowed with the wisdom and skill necessary to carry out the work needed for the sanctuary, are to do exactly according to everything Adonai has ordered.” Exodus 35:30-33, 35-36:1 CJB
Barney Lipscomb, BRIT Press Editor
Barney L. Lipscomb has served as Director/Editor at the BRIT Press, the publishing department of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), since the institution was founded 35 years ago. Barney— editor, author, writer, public speaker, and researcher—is the Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany. He began his career at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, as the herbarium botanist in 1975. Soon after his arrival at SMU, he became assistant editor of a botanical journal now called Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
In addition to editorial duties with the biannual journal, Barney oversees the publication of several botanical books every year, ranging in content from taxonomic to biographical to flora guides. Two of my favorites: The Beauty of Houseplants, which first drew me to BRIT Press, and The Sunflower Family, an essential resource on the sunflower family for gardeners, botanists, and nature-lovers.
Coinciding with his research interests with the Cyperaceae species and the Texas flora, Barney has a personal passion for plants of the Bible. He has collected books on Biblical botany throughout his career, including several rare editions from previous centuries. Connecting his faith to the land came naturally, growing up on his family farm in southwestern Oklahoma and adventuring outdoors in fields and creeks with his 7 brothers and 5 sisters.
A chance connection through garden-writing colleague Ann McCormick crossed my path with the fascinating, faithful editor of BRIT Press, surely a move of the Holy Spirit! Barney was enthusiastic about the publishing project from the beginning, guiding the proposal process and fundraising effort to make this first book of a series a reality.
Rebecca Horn, rhorngraphics
BRIT Press’s lead book designer, Becky Horn, was the anchor of the project. She has produced most of the manuscripts for BRIT Press and has a gifted eye for bringing botanical beauty and order to a wide variety of projects. Yes, she is a gardener! When I babbled on about illustration ideas using macrophotography, historical illustrations, along with original artwork—as if heaping a tangle of vines on her desk—she sorted them fabulously into an engaging format and enlivened the text with earthy elegance.
I will say as a revelation, I have long held the belief that we are connected to plant life. God gave us everything we need to nourish and heal our bodies in the plants that He created for us; we just have to use the “fuel” He has given us. We came from the earth, just as plants come from the earth… I am hoping that your book will give readers the incentive to grow more of their own food. God IS the original gardener, not only of plants, but of us as well. Hopefully, by planting our own food, we will get a sense of who God really is to us.Becky Horn, rhorngraphics, from email correspondence, August 2022
Layla Luna, Layla Luna Studio
Layla Luna, a Fort Worth freelance artist, was Barney’s first choice for artwork; she created the cover illustration for Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas, another BRIT Press book. Layla’s drawings brought instant vitality to the project with her vision of the rustic garden for the cover and her interior tool drawings sketched against bursts of color. Playing with her preliminary art pieces in the manuscript layout, we quickly expanded her workload so that her drawings would adorn nearly every essay of the book. While the project increased in intricacy, she faced the daunting demand with forged Texas grit, infusing her playful flair into botanical details with a holy grasp of child-like realism.
The hyssop [with bees] has been my favorite to work on so far (the worms were a close 2nd!)…I’ve learned heaps from this project. It is always great to work with passionate people making work they care about.Layla Luna, from project email correspondence, Winter 2022
Gary Logan, Gary Logan Photography
Gary Logan has also worked with Barney and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas over the years, and characteristic of Barney’s “people,” approaches his work with jovial brilliance. Barney and I aimed to incorporate botanical specimens in a novel way, inspired by a book of quiet genius, Botanical Treasures, Objects from the Herbarium and Library of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Through macrophotography, the pressed specimens could actually reveal a rugged depth, dimension, and texture.
Since these botanicals sit in dark cabinets for much of their collected life, we wanted to display them with drama and intrigue, evoking the time-preserved nature of the Scriptures they illustrate. Gary grasped our charge intuitively, staging lighting and composition in his studio with unmatchable energy. And Mexican food.
Preview the New Book
Be sure to visit my new book page for My Father is the Gardener and click here to go directly to the “flippable” feature to see for yourself the book’s first chapter (complete with the sound of pages turning!). Pre-orders are being received at the ShopBRITPress website, and my book page will click through to theirs. Book copies are scheduled to ship the week of Thanksgiving, in time for Christmas and Chanukah gift-giving for your favorite gardener!
Inspiration from the Beginning
As I began to pursue gardening themes of the Bible and writing about them back in 2008, many verses began to nudge and prod me with their nuances and relationship to keeping a garden and taking care of it. One Scripture that I adored from the start, Luke 6:47, has a special revelation as you turn the pages of My Father is the Gardener.
What matters is that you come to Me, hear My words, and actually live by them. Luke 6:47 VOICE
As we gardeners practice the progression of work involved in gardening—found in the chapter themes of the new book—we are indeed putting God’s Word into practice; that is, “actually living by them.” Cultivating a garden moves our minds and bodies to work out the ways of God personally and create through garden care our own working knowledge of the Lord.
There is a crazy love in cultivating, our hearts captivated by beautiful flowers or whatever plants capture our fancy. Why did God make plants for us to cultivate (Psalm 104:14)? Perhaps so that we might gain a working knowledge of worship, understanding its value through the simple practices of our hands and hearts.Shelley S. Cramm, My Father is the Gardener, page 121
Pre-orders begin today, September 1st, for My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible. Click the link to learn more about the book and preview the first chapter.
©Shelley S. Cramm, and my mom snapped the one of Becky and me
“Worms” by Layla Luna, www.laylaluna.com, contact Shelley S. Cramm for copyright permissions
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
VOICE denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2012 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.