We noticed it first when we walked through this property, listed for sale years ago. The lot was simple and spacious, the house functional and fine. But in the backyard, surrounded by a low, white fence, was a garden we could not wait to plant.
For this area, our garden is considered huge. Many in the suburbs have small garden plots, but the area set aside in our backyard can easily grow enough produce for us to eat all summer with leftovers to freeze for the colder months.
When we first bought the house, we had no idea what that garden would take. We spent money on plants and seeds and hours on planting and weeding. Our zucchini died of fungus, our beans refused to grow, our tomatoes were too tiny and our questions were endless.
But we hung in there, and slowly we learned—we’re still learning—how to garden.
Now, come spring, we head out as a family and work to prepare the ground for the season ahead. Side by side, we yank up unwanted plants and turn over the soil that will nourish our seedlings. We have learned much about companion planting, and we plant our vegetables near other plants they enjoy. We consider the needs of each small crop and check out the light levels and watering requirements carefully.
And we dream. We dream about the meals we will enjoy, the fresh fruits and veggies we will pull from our own yard that will help feed our family for many months to come.
And yes, there is some complaining. The work can be hard and tedious. Sometimes, our children do not want to spend time planning and planting and plowing, but my husband and I know that this work is good and that sitting side by side in the dirt, waiting for something to grow, is time well spent with those we love so well.
And every year, I remember that what we are doing outside together is much like the work we do as. This growing of a garden in a suburban plot is not very different from raising children in this space.
We have to watch and water, pouring into our little ones the truth and light they need to grow faithful, healthy, strong. We have to weed and sow, helping them to see what must be pulled out of their lives and carefully planting what God has given us to plant.
We have to watch the conditions that affect their growth and then we have to take the time to pray and to dream. As parents, our words and our lessons are placed deeply inside, and we trust that God will bring to fruition the wonder that we hoped we would see. We must wait and water and watch to see that whatever we have offered our children will cause them to grow into the people that God needs them to be.
Every summer, we wonder at the first red tomato pulled from a vine in our garden. The fruit is fragrant and the color, deep. It is unlike anything we can buy in a store and totally worth the wait.
My prayers for my children are the same. That they grow in faith and become people that are blessed by God and a wonder to me. How I want to find that they are a fragrant offering to the Lord, roots deep, arms raised high in praise to the One who brought their lives to be.
Even as we weed, may this vision, this hope, this prayer, keep us committed to the garden we tend.