Thursday, September 19, 2013


This time last year, I had a really awesome vegetable garden.  It was so awesome, in fact, that my little kids had to exercise teamwork just to get a single cucumber across the yard and into the house.  (I kid you not. Those suckers were HUGE).  The tomatoes were so plentiful, I began experimenting with fresh salsa recipes, heading up to the garden to pick a basket brimming with 'matoes each time I felt the urge.  And still, their remaining kin were left to rot on the bushes or, better yet, to provide the local mammalian with delicious, juicy red snacks.  Apparently, our furry neighbors enjoy tomatoes a heap of a lot more than my mom-in-law, who can barely look one in the eye.

Anyway, I didn't mind sharing our garden with the animals last year, although I admit there were a few hard feelings toward the deer or whatever-it-may-have-been that chewed all the leaves off my acorn squash vines, resulting in an entirely acorn-squashless fall.  I'm still a bit bitter.  However, squash aside, there were plenty of fresh veggies to go around.  I would've been happy to have sent Mom home with her own brimming basket of tomatoes if I'd thought for a moment she'd have taken them.

Being our first garden, we kept the variety to a minimum last summer. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, corn, peas.  Every seed that we planted seemed to sprout forth from the earth with a sense of pride in its purpose.  Each plant bore its fruit with gusto; except those blasted deer-eaten acorn squashes (see? still bitter) and the peas, which withered and croaked under the scorching sun of the hottest summer I can remember in Michigan.  In spite of the horrible heat, the rest of our garden grew and thrived and yielded well into the fall.

And then there were the pumpkins.... 


Last fall's bountiful harvest
We had oodles and oodles of pumpkins; a whole jolly-orange pumpkin patch sprouting up from our field in which we had simply dropped and covered a few handfuls of seeds.  The pumpkins grew proudly in such aggressive numbers that we were able to have our entire Sunday school class over for a pumpkin picking party (a PPP?) in October.  Each child in every family went home with a pumpkin, and my kids were still able to make a handful of cash at their little roadside pumpkin stand. 

We made such great plans for the next summer's garden. 
New and different varieties. 
More pumpkins,
more people over to pick them,
more money made at the little roadside stand.

Lots and lots and lots of plans.

And that's where my happy little tale ends.  With plans and good intentions.  If you only like stories with rainbows and unicorns and lovely fairy-tale endings, then stop reading.....NOW.

Because this summer,
I discovered that I'm a really crappy farmer.

True story.  Cocky and confident from our garden success last year, we just threw some seeds in the ground again this spring and expected great things.  Never mind that we planted everything about a month later than planned (this happened last year, too!).  Never mind that we really never researched what we were doing.  Never mind that LAST year, the actual farmer that "for-real" farms the acres around our property had mistakenly treated, plowed and fertilized our entire little piece of earth on which our inexperienced hands then threw their handfuls of seeds. 

Could well-prepared soil have had something to do with the success of last year's garden?

Sometime this summer, I was standing forlornly in the overgrown weed-patch that had, a year ago, been our thriving garden.  I was sad and frustrated.  We had spent days planting this garden.  We'd worked hard.  We'd doubled our pumpkin patch space in anticipation of using it to bless more families in the fall.  I had been so excited to see everything begin to grow, and the kids had been looking forward to setting up their little produce stand.  I'd even planted several extra squash plants to share with the deer.

What really got me, though, was that I had prayed over this garden.  I'd asked God to bless the fruits of our labor so that we could share them with others.  We'd watered and weeded and watched, but the weeds grew in by the hundreds, faster than we could pick them.  The seedlings didn't grow as quickly as they had before; they couldn't keep up with the weeds and got choked out.  For the most part, our garden has been a disaster. 

All because we didn't first prepare the soil.

Why did I think I could skip such a crucial step?  Do I really think that farmers spend all that time and energy preparing their fields for nothing?!  Did I think I was above the dirty work and that God would bless my work and desire to serve Him when I wasn't even willing to put in the effort to prepare the soil?

I have a lot to learn about farming and gardening.  Over the winter, there will be some serious research going on in this house in preparation of spring.  What's funny, though, is that what I actually learned this summer has a lot more to do with myself than with gardening.
Last year's pumpkin patch.

You see, I'm not just a crappy farmer.
Sometimes, I'm a really crappy follower of Christ. 

So often, I've barreled into my life saying "Lord, today I am going to serve you!  These are my plans.  Please bless the fruits of my labor even though I refuse to or forget to or neglect to prepare the soil of my life by reading Your Word and by spending significant time with You today."

How can I possibly expect to yield a bountiful harvest in my life if I haven't first prepared the soil?

I'm committing to change.  To never again waste my seeds of faith and service in unprepared soil.  I want the fruit that my life produces to be God-honoring, God-blessed, and accomplished with my eyes firmly fixed on Him.  From now on, I begin each day with Him.  Only then can I give the fruit of my marriage, kids, babies, homeschooling, friendships, music, writing, and anything else He puts in my path...only then can I give it the best chance to flourish.

And if this change in me and in the fruit that I bear is the result of the complete and utter failure of the garden I asked God to bless, then I guess He answered that prayer more beautifully and fully than I ever could have imagined.

Maybe next year?

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