This spring I did something I’ve never done before: I planted a garden. Why? Well, I was determined to breathe some new life around our home after the tough winter we had. I bought seedlings of okra, cucumber, tomato, green peppers, cantaloupe, and jalapeños, as well as 6 different types of herbs. I also bought new flowers for my pots in the backyard. If there wasn’t going to be new life in my belly, then I was going to make sure there would be new life surrounding my house!
This garden makes me laugh every time I look at it, because it reminds me of how little I knew before I started it. When I bought the seedlings for the vegetables, they were as small as a little weed. Not thinking about how much they would grow, I planted them really close to each other. Lots of love has gone into this tiny garden. I’ve spent the last few months watering my tiny garden each night, fertilizing and dusting it each week, pulling weeds, researching each plant, and watching it grow slowly but surely. My garden has gone from little weeds to one giant HOT MESS. It has grown over the side of the flowerbed and into our yard. If you came over for dinner, I’d be embarrassed to show you it, and I’d laugh hysterically at the face you would make when you saw it. There’s absolutely nothing pretty about it.
Last Thursday, I was on track for another IUI. I went to my ultrasound appointment hopeful, but later in the day I got the call saying that this month’s cycle was cancelled because my body was just not responding to the meds. That was the 11th call we received with the same news- my body just wasn’t doing what it was “supposed to do.” My husband and I were sad, but so thankful our family vacation was the following week and we’d be able to get away for a little while. We needed to get away for a little while! We loaded up the car and headed to my parents house a few days early.
We were gone for a total of 10 glorious days. With how quickly we left, I didn’t have time to ask anyone to water my tiny garden. I was certain ten days of 100 degree Tennessee heat would surely kill it. I had spent a lot of time tending to those plants with no crops to show for it. If they all died, I told myself it would be okay; nothing was growing anyways. I said a prayer asking God to send rain, and hoped for the best.
When we got home from our vacation, I immediately went to check on my plants. I saw immediately that my tomato plants ( the ones separate from my garden) were dead. They were the easiest crop I had. They didn’t need to be planted, just dropped into a pot. I had gotten several tomatoes off each plant, and knew they were done producing anyways. I walked into our backyard and right away, I noticed our pretty flowers on their last leg. They were close to dying, which was a bummer.
I nervously walked a little further to my tiny, messy garden. My sweet husband was unloading the truck when I started screaming, “Taylor! Come quick! You won’t believe this!” My tiny garden, that had yet to produce any fruit, was teeming with 5 fully grown cucumbers, 3 plump tomatoes, 3 jalapeños, 5 green okras, and 2 baby cantaloupes. Not only was it not dead, it was better than it had ever been. My “easy” plants died. My “pretty” flowers withered, but my “hot mess” of a garden was thriving.
In that moment, I saw myself as that tiny garden. It was as if the Holy Spirit stopped me in my excitement and spoke to me ever so clearly. That hot mess in my backyard represented infertility. It hasn’t been pretty, but it has produced so much fruit! The Lord showed me how He had been using the mess of infertility, and how He was making me thrive through it. This mess (not the easy or the pretty) has made me see God more clearly than I ever have before. It’s made me depend on Him and trust Him. I’ve seen His hands planting new life into me each day. I’ve seen Him weed out the bad and make all things new. I’ve seen Him water my soul and make me thirst for Him more than I ever have before. I’ve seen Him work out of the tiniest spaces in my heart that I have slowly surrendered- just as tiny as that little flower bed. I’ve seen Him take those tiny places, one at a time, and produce fruit I never knew I was missing. Not only has He produced fruit, He’s made my heart overflow with joy and comfort in the midst of the messiest season and biggest drought I’ve ever experienced. It’s overflowed just as the vines of my cucumber and cantaloupe plants have. He’s shown me how to take my mess and help others- just like He gave me an overflow of crops that I had to give away because we couldn’t eat them by ourselves! Instead of planting vegetables, He’s been planting patience, endurance, faith, and trust, and He’s been watering them slowly but surely. He has shined through my mess, and He has brought fruit from my weakness and shortcomings.
I’ve worked so hard tending to those plants the last few months, just as I’ve worked so hard following doctor’s orders. I waited patiently for them to grow, but honestly wasn’t sure if they ever would. I had planted them with no space and barely any sun- odds that were as great as my chance of getting pregnant. Yet, the second I stepped out of the way, let go, and let God, He showed up. My Father sent the rain and He yielded the harvest, all while I took a break at the beach. Not just a little fruit, but a bounty bigger than I expected. He’s already taken the impossible, and sprinkled blessings throughout, because that’s how good my God is.
Immediately after this happened, I started googling Bible verses that spoke about crops and harvesting. As I was reading one after the other, tears began rolling down my face. To my surprise, the verses I found on Google also just so happened to be the verses I had taped to my bathroom mirror a year ago. Those verses have been my sword and shield throughout this journey, and never once did I realize how many of them talked about crops or harvesting! I could only smile as the floodgates opened. God wasn’t done revealing Himself to me. Some of the verses I have read over and over were:
“The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock.” Duet 28:4
“I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” Lev 26:9
“Your wife will be a fruitful vine within your house.” Psalm 128:3
“Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees.” Duet 30:9
I still stand in awe of my tiny garden and that tattered and worn piece of paper that holds those bible verses. My Father gave me a bounty of fruit from a garden that was meant to die. He provided in the small, and He will certainly provide in the big. Every time I look at my tiny garden, I see God in the vegetables that continue to grow. It’s almost as if I can hear Him whisper, “See what I can do? I have made something so beautiful in your tiny, messy flowerbed- just imagine what I will do for your life. Ashley, just wait until you see the rest of the bounty I have for you. It sometimes takes the rain to bring life.”
I may be the only one who has ever seen God work through vegetables, but that’s just what happens when your heart starts to notice the small, seemingly ordinary things. It’s not always a burning bush or a mountaintop where God speaks, it’s often in the ordinary and simple things of life- even things as simple as a messy, tiny vegetable garden.
Still believing with everything in me….