A few weeks ago I was sitting outside in my backyard, covered in sweat and dirt. I had just spent a good portion of the morning and early afternoon taking care of my garden beds. As I sat on our porch swing drinking water I looked over the work I had done. My eyes slowly swept over my new little fairy garden, the flowers by the fence, the three raised garden beds full of flowers, herbs, and fruit plants. I was so proud of how they looked I got my phone out and took a picture. Then I took a picture of our large veggie garden because it looked so clean and weed free.
Only, I hesitated to add that last picture to my social media along with the others. My son had mowed the lawn earlier in the day and had given me the grass clippings to use as mulch for the garden. So while it was clean and weed free, it wasn’t exactly pretty. But I added it anyway. After all, who doesn’t like to look at nice clean, weed free garden?
(My garden. See how small I made the picture of the veggie garden in the top right?)
As I continued resting from my efforts I started thinking about all the work that goes into growing food. In the past three summers, our little garden in the back yard hasn’t produced very much. Sometimes I think the only things that do grow are rocks. I’m constantly pulling rocks from the soil. I could probably make a good sized rock garden somewhere in my yard with all the rocks that come from that small square of dirt if I really wanted to. (I don’t)
Anyway, I don’t consider myself to be a natural gardener, or someone who has a green thumb. I’ve researched nearly every plant in my yard and if I haven’t researched it, it’s because I’ve forgotten what it’s called and I’m waiting for it to bloom so I can take a picture and post it to some garden forums so I can find out. I also have to refer back to all my research notes constantly, because the information doesn’t stick in my head very well.
I also have this bad habit of not staying consistent with the watering, weeding, pruning, etc., so by mid-summer my garden usually looks overrun and dying at the same time. I’m determined this year will be different. Especially since we have had our first great crop of sugar snap peas, and the strawberries, squash, and tomatoes are looking promising.
(Our corn from last year. Not only did it grow deformed,
it didn't survive thanks to earwigs.)
I have sometimes been overwhelmed by what each plant needs. Whether it’s how much sun they need, or what kind of soil they grow best in, or how to prune them so they thrive, each plant is unique. I can’t even imagine how Adam must have felt when he had to start growing his own food instead of just having it there in the garden, ready to pick.
A lot of work goes into getting a good crop. Dirty work. And it’s not always fun. In fact, the only thing I really like about working in the garden, is enjoying the beauty of it afterword. As I sat on the porch swing thinking about all the hard work, I thought of something else. I thought of all the work God has been doing in my life.
I’ve been a step-mom to a special needs boy now for more than three years. It has been an incredibly difficult road and God has revealed a whole bunch of rocks and weeds in the garden of my life. It has been a painful process getting them removed, but God has given me words along the way. Encouraging words that show me He has a plan for me in all of this. I am on a journey of learning and growing. And it’s dirty. It’s unpleasant. Sometimes I don’t like what comes out of me as the weeds and rocks are being removed.
Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll even make it through the process. And sometimes I think I could be satisfied having the remaining rocks and weeds there because it’s much easier trying to ignore them, than to deal with them. But I have a promise that in end, something beautiful will emerge. And now, I have a visual reminder of that promise. Every time I look proudly over my freshly weeded, deadheaded garden, I can be reminded that God is still working in me. I don't have to be ashamed in the midst of the process because without it, without the weeding, the mulching, the smelly fertilizer, I would not be growing. I would simply be an ugly plot of ground with overgrown weeds and lots and lots of rocks.
The process isn't pretty, but everything involved in the process is proof that I'm being taken care of by the Master Gardener who doesn't get overwhelmed by all the details and who most definitely has a green thumb. God still has a plan for me and the results are, and will be, beautiful.