Believe In Tomorrow

Our friends who live in the north may have a difficult time believing this, but it is almost time for me to get out the tiller and turn over the ground in our garden patch in order to begin getting it ready for planting. I’ll have to till it up two or three times, weeding and leveling before we make rows and plant seeds and seedlings. But those seeds have to be in the ground by Good Friday around here, or there won’t be much to pick this summer:

I read this quote from Audrey Hepburn recently which caught my attention because I’ve got gardening in the back of my mind. She said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” That, my friends, is truth. We almost didn’t plant a garden last year because we weren’t sure if we would still be living here, but we went ahead and did all the work for the garden, whether for ourselves or someone else. I’m sure glad we did because we enjoyed a lot of veggies out of that garden all the way up into fall.

So, I’m planning to plant a garden in the back yard again this year. Do I know that we will be living here in the same place “tomorrow?” No, I do not. But someone will be living here. And someone will be glad we did the work to plant that garden.

You see, doing all the prep work and then planting a garden is an act of faith. It is believing there is going to be a tomorrow to go out and harvest what we’ve planted. It is an act of hope… trust… faith. It is believing that all the effort will have been worth it. It is believing there will be a pay-off or return for our investment.

The same is true in life. When we make the investment in time and effort and energy today, we say to ourselves and those around us, “I believe there is going to be a good tomorrow. I’m planning for it. I’m preparing for it. I’m looking forward to it.” That’s faith.

So, whatever you’re facing today, plant a garden… that is, believe in tomorrow. Don’t give up. Don’t avoid the prep work because it seems early… or looks daunting… or because you think you may not be the one to enjoy it. Getting ready says you believe there is a good future to look forward to. And there is! God has good things in store for those who love Him and follow Him. So, get your work gloves out, grab some tools, and let’s get that garden planted!

Weed As You Go

So last week I pulled up the remains of our early summer garden… along with a ton of weeds which had grown in amongst the plants. I’d like to tell you that I was being spiritual and doing like Jesus mentioned in a parable where the master told the workers to just let the weeds grow with the plants, and they would separate them at the harvest… but that’s just not true. It was hot, and I plain ol’ got tired of pulling weeds each day.

The garden had started out so beautifully. I had tilled and re-tilled. We had pulled out grass and weeds. We made wide paths and nice hills. It looked so great. And as the plants grew initially, I was so keen to make sure we kept the weeds out.

But then it got crazy hot, and it got easier each day to just let this little weed or that little weed go till the next day. Only it was still hot the next day. Plus, we were getting veggies from our plants. So who cared if there were a few weeds?

I’ll tell you who… this guy… last week when I began to clean out the garden for our late summer & early fall planting. There were so many weeds! I worked for hours till my shoulders and neck and back and knees ached. I sweated my clothes through. I couldn’t even finish. I will still have to go back with the tiller to get some of the more densely weeded areas. It will still be hot. And it won’t be any easier. In fact, it will be harder.

In much the same way, we can let little things go unchecked in our lives over time. A bad habit… a poor attitude… not keeping spending in check. If we would just deal with those little things as we go, one here or there, it wouldn’t be that tough at all. Sure, it may not be fun at the moment, but it will certainly be easier than a major overhaul if we let things build up and multiply.

So, stop today and do a little weeding. What negative thing do you need to pull up & toss out of your life? Don’t put it off. It will still be hot later. You’ll sweat less if you just tackle it now.

Weed now, or weed later. It’s your choice. I say we just weed as we go. You’ll be glad you did later!

Peppers, People & Patience

I am worse than our boys (9 and 7 years old) when it comes to waiting for plants in our garden to produce. I till the plot, and help pull the weeds. I help rake and hoe the rows. I may even help plant the seeds. Then we water… and wait.

I am always amazed when four to seven days later little plants begin pushing their first little leaves up and out of the soil. And I know it will take a little while, but most of the plants grow so quickly that I get excited. At the sight of that first bloom, I know that a veggie or fruit is not far away… or so it seems.

This year, we planted red bell peppers. We chose to start them from plants instead of seed. And right away, they took root, grew and out on blooms. The blooms have turned into big bell peppers. Green bell peppers. One has grown so large that it began to bend the entire plant over… and yet it is green.

We wondered why the peppers are not turning red, and so we did a little research. What we learned helped me understand the problem. The problem, it would seem, is not with the plant but with me. Apparently, when it comes to waiting for plants to be ready to pick, I am impatient.

You see, basically, all peppers will turn red if left long enough on the plant. But most of us can’t wait. We would do well to wait. When the bell pepper is left to ripen to that full red color, it is sweeter to the taste, which makes it better to cook with… bringing full flavor and beautiful color to the meal. On top of that, by letting it fully mature, the pepper’s vitamin levels increase multiplied times over, making it more beneficial to eat. But you have to wait. And wait. And wait some more for it to mature.

Apparently, when it comes to waiting in my own life, I am again the problem. I am impatient. My Heavenly Gardener has placed me where He feels I will do best for the time being. He has made sure I have the right amount of what I need to thrive. I feel like I’m ready to be picked. But God says, “Wait. You’re going to be even better. Just be patient. You will look better, taste better and be better.”

I suppose we people are a lot like peppers. We require patience to reach maturity and be our best. Maybe that’s why God said in His Word that if we wouldn’t give up, we would reap a harvest of blessing at the right time.

The right time.

For the red bell peppers in our garden, that means waiting till they have actually turned red. For you and me, I’m sure He’ll let us know when we have ripened sufficiently. In the meantime, let’s just hang in there. (See what I did there?)

If you’re not ripe, you’re not ready. Be patient so you can be your best. At the right time, you’ll have all you need to be the biggest blessing.

Weeds and Seeds

The Old Farmer’s Almanac email that PR31 received last week said it’s time to start planting veggies outside where we live. Now some would consider us “Coca-Cola Cowboy” type country folk, but we kind of feel like we’re farmers because live on four acres in a wooded… we are now raising chickens… and we have a garden plot that is about 25′ by 25′.

Now, you may think the almanac is a joke, and that there are more scientific methods, but if the almanac says it, that’s good enough for us. So, this week we got out the tiller, hoes and rakes, and we got dirty.

The ground had laid fallow since last year’s summer garden. Grass and weeds had crept in and hidden our beautiful soil. But the boys and I were determined to fix that. We did the initial tilling and pulling to get the ground turned over. Surprisingly, it was in great shape and didn’t require as much work as we expected. We will go back, pull more turned over grass and weeds out. Then we will till in some fertilizer to prep the ground. Rows will be mounded, pathways left to be able to navigate the future garden. Shortly thereafter, seeds will go in that beautiful black and brown plot. And we will wait.

That garden isn’t a whole lot different from our lives. Left alone for almost any length of time, weeds of stress… fear… doubt… and worry can creep across our hearts and minds, sucking the nutrients of joy and peace right out of us. If that has happened to you, it’s time to pull the weeds. Take some time for introspection… spend some time in God’s Word and talking with Him. See which priorities have gotten out of whack, or which disciplines have been allowed to slack. Put the guards back up. Keep a rake and hoe handy. Get a shovel if necessary. Just pull those weeds. You can’t grow the good stuff with them in the way.

Then plant seeds of faith in your heart and mind. Find some Scriptures that remind you of who God is and of all the good things He has in store for you. Find a great quote that builds you up. Write them down or print them out. Or do like we do and create a piece of home decor with them on it, then place it somewhere prominent so that you see it every day. Don’t just plant a few seeds either. Plant plenty of seeds of faith in the garden of your heart and mind. Nurture them, and soon they will grow.

As the seeds grow and spring up, the weeds may try to come back, but they will be much easier to spot and much easier to keep pulled. Soon, you will see blooming and productive plants, and memories of that weed-covered plot will fade away.

This is God’s spiritual almanac message to you today… It’s time to pull the weeds and plant the seeds!

You Are Such A Seed

I love that we homeschool our kids.  Wow, even as I typed that, I realized it was worded incorrectly.  Technically, PR31 homeschool’s our boys, and I am a very limited teacher’s aide.

Recently we began a new year-round model that seems to be working for us, and I’ve had some time to be at home during the day while they are doing their schooling.  Occasionally, on a break from writing, I’ll sit in on a lesson or be the sub for a class if PR31 needs to tackle something else.

Well, the other day, we were studying science and I read something in Alex’s textbook which caught my attention.  It read…

The size of the seed is not determined by the size of the plant…  Every seed contains a new living plant.

I learned in some of these lessons that there is a certain palm tree which produces a seed that can weigh as much as fifty pounds!  That’s more than our six-year old, Austin, weighs!!!  Yet, even though the giant redwood tree is much larger than this palm tree, it produces a significantly smaller seed.

Then it hit me that not only does the size of the plant not determine the size of the seed, but the size of the seed does not determine the size of the plant.  As I’ve mulled this over,  I have found myself reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 4…

Jesus said, ‘How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.’” (Mark 4:30-32)

You see, it doesn’t matter how big or small we think we are.  We are each just such a seed.  You may view yourself as insignificant.  Someone else may seem to have so much more potential.  But the truth is that, inside of you, there is everything needed to produce something else great.  That something may be much larger than you appear to be as a seed.

You have life in you.  You have potential stored up in you.  You have greatness in you just waiting to be released.  Just like that mustard seed, you have the ability to grow into more and be a blessing to a lot of others who need what you have to offer.  You are just such a seed as that mustard seed.

So forget the fifty-pound palm seed, you wonderful giant redwood seed!  Just let yourself be planted by the Master Gardener… then sprout… and grow… and bloom… and produce.  Be the seed this world needs!  A lot of people around you will be glad you did.

Persistent Little Pumpkins

If you read my post from February 13th of this year (click here to read it), then you know that pictured above are pumpkin plants beside the sidewalk leading to the front door of our house.  In February, I tried transplanting those first several pumpkin plants to the garden in the back yard.  Sadly, they didn’t survive my farming skills.

But to my surprise, three more pumpkin plants recently came up in the same place out front. I had to mow and weedeat but have decided to leave these alone and see what happened since my transplanting efforts failed last time. I just couldn’t bring myself to mow these down, even though it’s the “wrong place” to grow pumpkins… and the “wrong way” to grow pumpkins… and the “wrong time” to grow pumpkins.

PR31 thought it was funny that I left them because she didn’t think they would ever produce.  So I had to snap this pic this past Monday when I walked by and saw the one plant blooming.  They are some persistent little plants.

They remind me of what Jesus taught people about talking with God.  Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest followers, recorded in the seventh chapter of his account of the Good News about Jesus.  This is what he wrote…

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  You parents– if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”  – Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)

Sounds to me like God doesn’t mind if we are “persistent little pumpkins” when we talk with Him.  In fact, it sounds to me like He even encourages it.

So let’s be persistent today.  God won’t mind. And we can be sure that we will receive what we need when we keep on asking… We will find what we’re looking for when we keep on seeking Him… We will have doors of opportunity opened to us when we keep on knocking.

And when you are tempted to give up, just remember those pumpkin plants that just keep growing in my front yard… and ask, seek, knock one more time!

A Little More

I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I tend to want to give up on DIY projects PR31 and I tackle.  Okay, I can confirm it… I just don’t want to.

It’s true… I have great intentions. Then the project gets more complicated… or takes longer than expected… or just ceases to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  The mundane and the minute details set in. And I just want to quit.

“Let’s just stop for now and go to bed.”

“Let’s just leave it at that point and pretend that was the look we were going for.”

Now, to give myself a small pat on the back, I have gotten a little better.  (Or I’ve learned not to tackle as many projects.)  But I’ve learned something from PR31…

At the point I want to give up, I’m much closer to being finished than when I began. And when I realize how much time, effort and energy I’ve already invested, the amount that is left to do seems small in comparison.

It would be like a runner getting to mile 25 of a marathon and wanting to quit. At that point, there is only 1.2 miles left.  If they will just press on, they will accomplish something very few people do.

It would be like tilling the ground, pulling the grass and weeds, planting seeds, watering, feeding plants… and then giving up because you haven’t been able to pick any veggies yet.

This is much easier when we’re talking DIY projects and running and gardening than it is when we’re talking about finishing writing a book… or finding the right person to marry… or overcoming an illness… or finding a job.  When these more serious tasks in life seem to drag on, we can get weary of doing the right things… We can want to quit.

But that’s not the time to quit!  C’mon… you’re further along now than when you began.  You’re almost there! Just a little more!  You can make it! Don’t stop now!  If you won’t give up, you’re closer than you’ve ever been to seeing that dream come true… that miracle take place… that project completed… that relationship restored.

Just a little more!  You can do it!!! He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion… if you won’t give up on Him.

Take a deep breath… get your second wind… get another sip of coffee… and see this thing through!  You’ll be glad you did!

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