My husband and I were sitting on our deck Sunday morning, sipping coffee and enjoying the quiet of our still sleeping neighborhood. We don't get that window of time very often and it's such a gift to be able to just sit with him and enjoy a few peaceful moments. I guess I'd been quiet too long and he suddenly asked me what I was thinking about.
He's a pretty brave man, that could sometimes be a loaded question.
But not today.
"Tomatoes." I replied. "The tomatoes in our garden."
The look on his face told me that he thought I hadn't had enough coffee yet, so I shared my thoughts with him.
We've had a small box garden in our backyard since Emma was in 4th grade. When your 10 year old comes home from school one day and decides she wants to plant a garden, you do it, right? So my Dad, ever resourceful, gave us some scrap lumber and Mark built our little space that would produce some surprising results over the years ahead.
|Very proud of their little garden|
I have such wonderful memories of growing up, helping my Grandma with her garden and being given the treat of a whole, fresh tomato with a shaker of salt. Biting into that sweet red ball and letting the juice run down my chin was a rite of Summer for me, almost as much as slicing one up and eating it on white bread with mayo. Yummm....can't you taste it?
There really is nothing much better than true love and homegrown tomatoes.
In our 6 years of gardening, there have been two years that we have not been able to plant - the year my Dad died and this year, as we've dealt with my Mom's cancer diagnosis and all the life change it's brought.
But an amazing thing happened in these two years - God gave us tomatoes anyway.
The year Dad died, we had an abundance of volunteer plants come up in our unweeded, untended, unloved box garden. It was such a sweet blessing to me. He loved homegrown tomatoes and I took it as a gift of God that my Dad was making sure we got to enjoy them - and our shared memories - even though we were hurting too badly to plant that year. Each tomato we ate reminded us that he was still with us and was an assurance that we'd see him face to face again someday.
I love how God holds us through the simplest of gifts.
This year, we once again found ourselves too overwhelmed to even think about our poor little garden. Through the late Spring and all Summer, our lives have simply been turned upside down in many ways, with more stress and heartache than we've ever dealt with as a family.
The enemy has attacked us from all sides, causing disruption and havoc in his attempts to discourage and isolate us from the truth of God's love for us.
He just loves to kick us when we're down.
I could stop right there. Those words are all the thought correction we need.
God always rescues us.
He is always faithful to provide for us.
In every way possible.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? " - Matthew 6:25-27
This June, Mark went out back to just clean out the garden box. Pull all the weeds and clear it up so we could have an easier time with it next year.
And he was amazed to discover once again that we had tomatoes growing. Green Peppers too! (No cucumbers, they are still a mystery to me.)
But lots of tomatoes. Multiple varieties and some interesting cross breeds. Pretty cool actually.
Like our life right now, those volunteer plants aren't pretty, they are awfully thin and reedy and spindly. Kind of stretched out like a string of Christmas lights.
Definitely mimicing the life in our days.
It's really ironic to see those plants, stretched so thin and having received no water or nourishment except what God chose to deliver, still producing fruit.
Good, sweet, trickle down your chin kind of fruit.
And what I love about this story is that it's such a picture of what God, our Father chooses to do in us when we are pushed to the limit and pressed from every side.
We can be stretched out so thin and worn down to the point that we aren't getting any refreshing or nourishment for our souls - or anything else for that matter - and THIS is the time He grows us the most and produces the best fruit in us and provides for us beyond any expectation we have.
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Since we have this amazing promise of God's goodness and grace to us, we can stand up to any attack by the enemy. He will meet every need and carry every burden and dry every tear.
All we need to do is lay them all down at His feet and trust that He will restore us and fill our cup and give us.....tomatoes.
With a Courageous Heart,