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Growth in the Hands of the Master Gardener | by Jessica Wolstenholm

Growth in the Hands of the Master Gardener | by Jessica WolstenholmI did an amazing thing last year.

I planted tiny tomatoes and successfully harvested enough of those red, candy-like fruit for the entire summer, even well into the fall.

For some, this may not seem like a large feat, but for this girl with a black thumb, it made me feel like I could conquer the world. And it made me think about my mother. My mother was so good at growing things.

She wasn’t a very structured person. Her life, largely built on the foundation of family, faith and love, was simple. She wasn’t type-a and she never followed a recipe. But my mom could nurture living things. She applied the same tender care to plants and flowers as she did to our hearts. Though she never received an official label, I consider my mother a master gardener of living things — both botanical and relational.

When my mom passed away we received many lovely flowers and plants from friends and family. My high school best friends sent me a magnolia tree to plant in her honor. It was a beautiful gesture, complete with engraved plate to hang on the tree when it grew big enough.

Maybe it was my grief but I didn’t know what to do with that tree for many months. And by the time I thought about planting it, I didn’t know where it should go. Time passed and that tree died in the entryway of my house. I saw my failure as a glaring picture of what life would be without my mom. If she were still here, that tree would be thriving in one of our yards.

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So you can imagine my joy when I honored my mother’s legacy of care and cultivation by successfully growing a living thing and better yet, something that brought nourishment to my family. This small win has been meaningful on so many levels.

It’s just about time to begin planting again. This year I will not fear failure because I’ve realized anything is possible when you carefully cultivate that which you desire to grow. I learned many lessons about growth last summer through my gardening success. Lessons I will apply to my garden again this year and also to my family, my ministry and my relationships.

  1. Growth comes when the time is right. We know that different plants, flowers, and foods grow best at certain times of the year. Growth is not guaranteed for all at any given time. Seasons play a large part in the growth process. And patience is required if we want to see something bloom.
  2. Growth isn’t something to be afraid of. I put those tiny starter plants in a large pot wondering if they’d get too big for the space too soon. I was afraid the tomatoes would require more care than I could give at the time. They grew slowly and then I feared they wouldn’t grow at all. I learned whether too fast or too slow, growth is not something to be feared. Growth is a process we must surrender to, patiently expectant that if we remain faithful, the fruit will come and we’ll be equipped through the practice to steward it well.
  3. Growth doesn’t come from a formula, it emerges through nurture. Sure, there are specific steps to take and care to be given, but more than a formula for successful growth there is a nuance of nurture that is required. We can’t force growth by simply following a formula. It is our passion and our commitment to cultivate it that brings life.
  4. Growth is hard work, but the payoff is beautiful (sometimes delicious!). Focus, intention, sacrifice, commitment. Cultivating growth requires all this and more. It is hard, risky work. But when all of our tending brings something to life — it’s worth it. And as we enjoy the fruit of our labor, we’re compelled to do it again and again, season after season, idea after idea.
  5. Growth comes from the Master Gardener. Whether through the soil of the earth or that which emerges in our hearts, God is the Gardener. No matter what we do or don’t do, He brings life when we faithfully follow Him.

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV

I think my mother knew this truth. She didn’t strive in her garden. She didn’t fuss. She carefully tended and left the rest to the Master Gardener.

Spring is here and with it, the hope of new life. It’s planting season, definitely for our gardens, maybe for your dreams. As you celebrate spring and the Easter season, I hope you’ll be inspired to begin planting or continue cultivating the desires God has put in your heart. Maybe this is your year to see life emerge. I’m praying for a beautiful garden to grow.

Jess Wolstenholm is an author, blogger and freelance writer. She writes about family and faith at graceformoms.com and gatherandgrow.co Jess lives outside Nashville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (8) and Joshua (5).

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