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Intersection Column | What I Learned from Tearing Apart an Indigo Plant

by T.I. Lowe

There is an indigo revival happening in my home state of South Carolina. I didn’t realize just how much until I started researching for my novel Indigo Isle. One day, as I looked into the history of the plant in our state, I stumbled upon workshop listings. This discovery was truly a gift. I attended one of the workshops, a full day of learning and getting my hands dirty—blue actually.

This hands-on experience gave me so much insight for my story. We began the day by pruning sections of indigo stems that were over six feet tall. It made my skin itch a little, reminding me of gathering fresh okra. If you know, you know. After that, we stripped the leaves off the long stems, then placed them in mason jars with water. While the jars steeped in boiling pots to extract the dye—which reminded me of making tea—the indigo artist led a discussion on the plant and its history in our state. Then we spent the afternoon learning the art of shibori, folding silk scarves and dyeing them with the dark-blue dye we extracted from the leaves.

It was a long day, tedious at times, and we had to patiently wait for the dye to extract. But the beautiful outcome made it all worth it. The thing is, that weedy looking plant had to go through that brutal process. It’s the only way to cultivate the exquisite pigment.

Since attending that workshop, I’ve often thought about how similar life is to indigo. We have many stages in life, or chapters as I like to refer to it. The beginning of our story may start out the way we plan, but the outcome rarely looks like what we have envisioned. Some parts of the journey may be smooth, but just like those indigo leaves that had to be torn and bruised, unforeseen circumstances can leave us feeling beaten and battered.

In the midst of difficult life chapters, it’s hard to see anything past it. It’s also not easy to be patient while enduring this, but I’ve come out on the other side of some pretty hard times and I’m always at awe with the way God was at work in it. Even though my life may not look the way I’d imagined, there’s still beauty to be found if I take a closer look.

In my office, I have a picture of an indigo plant on my bulletin board and the shibori scarves I made from the indigo dye on display. Both are reminders that life can be tedious and require change, but even in the harder parts of my life’s story, beauty can abound. I just have to be patient and wait on God to reveal it.


About the Author

T. I. Lowe is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She is the author of nearly twenty published novels, including her recent bestselling and critically acclaimed novel, Under the Magnolias, and her debut breakout, Lulu's Café. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina. Find her at or on Facebook (T.I.Lowe), Instagram (tilowe), and Twitter (@TiLowe).


About the Book

Sonny Bates left South Carolina fifteen years ago and never looked back. Now a successful Hollywood location scout, she calls home wherever she lands, and between her busy schedule and dealing with her boss’s demands, she has little time to think about the past . . . until her latest gig lands her a stone’s throw from everything she left behind. When Sonny wanders onto a private barrier island and encounters its reclusive owner, what she finds is a man much more complex than the myth.


Did You Know?

The Greek word for joy is Chairo, and New Testament people used it as a greeting like, “Welcome.” How great it is to be welcomed with a joyful heart! Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Joy improves an individual’s life—lowers stress, improves your health in many ways and even boosts creativity. The greatest joy comes from a deep relationship with God. Here are a few ways to cultivate joy:

  • Cultivate inner joy by letting go of anything that disrupts peace. Choose to rejoice no matter the circumstances. Trust God and express thanks because gratitude generates more joy.

  • Relational joy grows as we develop stronger relationships that are based on love and as we mutually give and serve one another, or unconditionally love someone.

  • We can choose joy by understanding that God always loves us and by trusting that He chooses what is best for us. We may make poor choices and evil may disrupt life, but God will bring out the best in us that will help us grow.

  • Spreading joy is also a choice where we bless others with God’s love through acts and words of kindness.

Joy is much deeper than a happy feeling. Happiness is made from 50% DNA, 10% circumstances and 40% choices we make! That statistic comes from The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky and reflects how much choices impact our emotions. Choose joy!

-Karen Whiting, Growing a Joyful Heart


Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore

“I love my Christian bookstore because I can always trust the books I find on their shelves to be appropriate, uplifting and true to a Christian worldview.”

-Linda W. Rooks, Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light



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