Keep Planting

Dear Lindsey,

New Year’s Day, 2012: It was unseasonably toasty as the record-warm winter reached

Blue sky 1

its mid-season celebration. Just one year prior, our North Carolina hometown had had its first white Christmas in fifty years. What a contrast that was to the 70-degree-sunshine that now crowned my head as I headed outside on January 1st!

Being relatively new to North Carolina, I was elated by the weather. The contrast to the northern gray skies to which I had become accustomed, living north of the Mason Dixon most of my life, was enough to make me sing! I love the outdoors, and the blue sky extracted me from my family room, still decorated with evidence of torn Christmas wrapping paper.

The warmth made it seem like I should be gardening, though the threat of frost could not be far around the corner; it was January after all, despite the day’s forecast. I remembered I had bulbs to plant – the perfect solution to my garden craving, since they required weeks of cold before they could bloom.

Tulip bulbs on the table

As a clever house-warming gift, my parents had sent bulbs from their Colorado garden. I grabbed my bulb-planter from the garage while dreams of tulips, lilies, and daffodils danced in my head.  Unlabeled upon arrival, these seeds would each present a surprise color as they emerged from the ground in 6-8 weeks. The love of gardening was passed to me by my father, who was raised on a Kansas farm, where his mother, 96, still lives and gardens. Now I would have a piece of my parents’ garden in my own, like a cycle of life that would continue to keep giving, year after year.

I was in a dreamy mood. That morning’s church service was full of praise to God for giving us another year of life, and the gifts that it included.

I sang.

No, I didn’t have an iPod plugging my ears. I was alone with my tools, the unwrapped bulbs from my parents and the dirt from God. I began the project.

“This is My Father’s World…” I sang three verses while I planted His seeds in His soil and sprinkled with His provided water. My knee cushion had the worth of gold, as I scooted it sideways on the backyard path, planting a pattern of what I assumed would become tulips. I sang and “painted” a rectangle, matching the bricks that encompassed.

I moved to the next flowerbed, with what looked like 80 more bulbs in the shipping box. Scattering bulbs down either side of the stone walkway, I hoped for a beautiful array of color by spring. I imagined looking out the back windows from my homeschool room.

“In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere,” I sang.

Wow. I really had no idea how far 100 bulbs would go, nor how much effort it took to dig a hole for each one! Two flowerbeds done, and I still had at least 60 bulbs!

I moved to the front of the house. This time, I dug large holes and tossed a smattering

Tulip [Explore]

of bulbs into each.  I figured this “confetti” look would be good out near the road, in front of the backdrop of the hedges, which seemed boring in contrast.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness!” I sang another hymn as I dug holes in pure clay. Thinking of Jesus’s words from Matthew 13, regarding the seed growing in the proper soil, I filled the cavities with some potting soil to better provide for the smattering of bulbs in each.

Twenty bulbs left, and my shoulders ached. My knees didn’t want to bend back into the position for digging. My working sweat was giving me a chill as the temperature dropped with the sun.  I pushed on, not knowing the weather forecast for the following day.  “Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials there…” came the song out of my mouth, as I forced my body into much needed work to overcome the holiday sedentary state in which I had been. The songs rang through my ears, and I praised God for the gift of a beautiful day, and the colorful hope that each seed represented.

100 bulbs done.

And I rested.

One week after that worship-filled Sunday for which I praised God, I looked outside to see a pattern.

There was a dark pattern around the rectangle perimeter of the backyard flowerbed.  Dark spots lined each side of the stepping-stones.

Were the flowers starting to emerge already, in just one week?

I went out the front door to check on the others, and the dark spots were there too.  Large HOLES broke up the potting soil next to the hedges, and HOLES were in the woodchips lining the sidewalk to the door.


Masked man

I raced around to the back of the house, and to my dismay, the holes continued.

Like some horror flick, “holes” made a pattern as if leading me to the culprit, but no culprit was to be found.

I felt like a thief had come in the night and destroyed my hope for a colorful spring. All of the times in the past when I had enjoyed watching a squirrel run in the grass, a raccoon race up the tree or a fox and deer relax in my back yard became negative thoughts as I blamed them all, not sure which one was so selfish as to steal my dream!

“I wasted my New Year’s Day!” I thought, just as I heard a favorite song on Pandora: “I’m smellin’ coffee, birds are singing just outside!” Chris Rice carried the tune, which I recognized as one that I had happily hummed the day I had planted the bulbs.

No, I guess I hadn’t wasted New Year’s Day. No one (or animal!) could take away the joy-filled day I had had:  grateful for the gift my parents had given me, happy to be singing of My Father’s World. I had enJOYed the planting.

A daffodil closeup showing the various parts o...

It reminds me of a John Maxwell quote that says success shouldn’t be measured by the harvest that we reap, but by the seeds that we plant.

I am not naïve enough to believe that every seed that I plant in my children, my husband, my brothers, sisters-in-Christ and neighbors will bring a harvest. But I want to be naïve enough to enJOY the planting anyway. We are responsible for the planting, but only God can make them grow.

1Cor3:7 says, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

And grow they did!

Six weeks later, as spring arrived, the same pattern became visible: the rectangular bed, the stoned path, the smattering in the hedges, all in a beautiful array of colors. I don’t know if the animal had decided to leave pieces behind, or if the pieces he had taken were too insignificant to affect the overall painting, but God had made the right seeds grow in the right time.

He always does.

May He bless your days of planting for Him,

English: Daffodil field at Mawnan Smith. These...


22 thoughts on “Keep Planting

  1. Oh Terri, you always hit home with your blogs! It’s so easy to be discouraged when you keep going and going and see few results. I need to remind myself “God’s time, not my time” and you just reminded me again that sometimes the results are there, i just need to keep planting, be patient and wait for them to show themselves! You were awesome this weekend, as always! Thanks for all you are!
    Maureen Hanratty
    Roswell GA

  2. I don’t know If I use the right word, but communing with God, which I have been taught that commune means to “close the gap” or “draw closer” to him. What a great way to do that. Thanks so much for sharing. I believe that we “commune” it several ways, just thinking on him opens communication. I thank God for your courage to share!

  3. I love your statement … ‘I am not naïve enough to believe that every seed that I plant in my children, my husband, my brothers, sisters-in-Christ and neighbors will bring a harvest. But I want to be naïve enough to enJOY the planting anyway. We are responsible for the planting, but only God can make them grow.’ Thank you for sharing from the heart. I love the way you put everything into the proper perspective. Thanks for signing my Italy book this weekend – you are a lady of strength and grace. Blessing to you on your life’s journey.

  4. So much wisdom here, GF! Sometimes we need to not get bogged down in the process and keep our long term vision…and sometimes we just need to enjoy the process…always trusting the Creator. Loved this post!

  5. Thanks for the attitude check Terri! I remember in the early years of my career in community building how my happiness was always waiting on my next goal. Over time, I began to recognize and really appreciate that the joy is in the journey. Thanks for “planting” so much time and love into our families life and our team. The harvest has only just begun!

  6. What a relief to know that we just need to be obedient to Him and do the work and that the joy IS in the work! It is up to Him how He allows the end to turn out.
    Thank you for great words for us and songs of praise to Him.

    • Seeing this comment touched my heart! How sweet 🙂 Your children are very blessed to have two authors teaching them! Although I love reading your books and you can keep them coming — if/when the time is right — I would love to read a book composed by your lovely leading lady!

  7. I love this wonderful reminder of us planting the seeds and it’s up to God to make them grow! It applies so much in the LIFE business as well. Commune with God, through the people we meet and let Him make the seeds grow as we pass out information to them. God bless!

  8. What a beautiful post! I’ve had horrible success with my veggie garden this year and I’ve complained at time or two (or a hundred) to whom ever will listen. Thank you so much for the reminder that the joy needs to be in the planting whether we’re planting seasonal seeds or eternal ones!

  9. Terri,

    The way you have highlighted JOY in your article reminds me of my study last week that gave JOY an acronym of Jesus Others then Yourself! How appropriate in our “planting” process.

    Be blessed,

  10. Wow, Terri! What an amazing example and reminder of re-framing! This blog was EXACTLY what I needed — another attitude adjustment! It was nice to see that God did honor your commitment of planting though — and He probably appreciated that you learned the lesson so many of us miss! Thank you so much for taking the time to inspire and relate :o) You are amazing!

  11. Awesome–reminding us all to be thankful for another day to plant and grateful for EVERYTHING! The weekend was the best. Thanks for all our work and preparation and prayers on our behalf. Love you…

  12. At Major, when you played the video of Chris and your daughter dancing in Italy, I immediatly had thoughts of my husband Chris, and wanting him to have the opportunity to dance with our daughter in the streets of the world. Thanks Terri for sharing that moment with us, it touched us deeply.

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