Before the calendar turns, I want to share a few words.
Be careful where you get your advice from.
As an entrepreneur at heart, I love learning and gleaning advice from the best. I wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat self-employed from 15-25 without at least some great advice. But I took some a few years ago, “When you’re new, say yes to everything,” that I think wasn’t meant for me, or maybe it was meant to teach me, to almost break me, so I would have to slow down and ask for help.
For a girl who prefers to turn the volume all the way up, this past year has been a challenge as I chose to turn everything down. I aimed to pare down, to kneel down, to keep my head down, and to remember what it feels like to turn from lost to found. And with only one day left, I can confidently share that I accomplished everything I set out for this year- especially my garden in the margin.
If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram since the spring, or perhaps before, you saw how much it fulfilled me. I am meant to get messy, to find truth in the dirt. It’s always been a part of me. As a child, I led the charge every summer to dig an underground hideout in the one empty lot on our street. As a young adult, my morning ritual began with the watering can on my apartment patio. Hanging plants, potted plants, vines and dreams of sprouts. When those died and I started a new life with Phil, the first thing I did was get in the dirt. Uproot, replant, add color. But those didn’t last long either.
After we moved to our current home on almost three acres, I was overwhelmed with a baby and a toddler and no margin to grow anything except them. It took three more years for me to realize I needed to get back in the dirt to grow something else. I started my first garden in 2014 and it ended up growing my family and me. Phil, always willing to lend a hand. The girls, fascinated to grow food on their own land. The day their little fingers first learned to harvest the edamame- forever etched in this mom’s faulty memory.
And we did it all again in 2015, but then three more years of nothing. Until I actually felt God calling me back to the garden during a trip to Germany.
I knew I would have to give up things I loved. Otherwise, I simply didn’t have the margin to plan, prepare, plant, and provide for a garden. But I also knew God wanted to teach me things there I couldn’t learn anywhere else. And by the time the plants went in the ground, things shattered in the foundation of my life.
Some devastating things, some things I never saw coming, others I should have. In the past, I would have given up in all kinds of ways. This time, I was able to stay. I took all the pain and all the anger and all my bones-to-pick-with-God outside. God carried me through the valley by asking me to get down in the dirt.
And at the beginning of summer, on one of the worst days, as I begged God for a clear way out of the haze, I found a gift.
Most of my plants had already ripened with first fruits, which meant the pests had come to nest, and part of my regular tending this garden in the margin was to search the leaves for aphids. While I expected another raucous season of my favorites- okra and tomatoes- this year brought a consistent supply of a pleasant surprise, eggplant. One morning, as I knelt down low to get underneath every leaf, I found this one a few inches off the ground.
Two distinct hearts nibbled in one eggplant’s leaf.
The same one framed above my writing desk today.
Even though my own heart was battered, bruised, and repeatedly abused, I found this little love note. A promise of hope, He wrote. And I knew I had to keep loving anyway. Even if I know I’m not good at it. Even if it looks different than I want. Even if it takes forever to grow. Even if it doesn’t work. Loving is my life’s work. It’s not a path I can choose or ignore; I cannot choose to ignore it because it is the only path.
God gave me all the advice I needed through His promise in the plants, the pruning, the protecting, and the collecting. Even through the gnawing and gnashing. Especially through the slow.
I don’t know what you are possibly neglecting that God wants you to grow. But before this year is over, I hope you’ll pray and know. Because my life is forever changed by a year in the slow. A year to sow. A year to grow. Because it’s Him I know.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.