Garden Notes: A Summer Story

Last night when I went running I couldn’t help noticing how the Queen Anne’s Lace is crocheted into all the in-between places—softening the thistle and chicory, weaving delicate places through rough edges.

Since I’ve returned from Haiti I haven’t had time to breathe.

I had one week of home and then we packed the minivan and headed to the sea for our family vacation.  This week I look around and see that the world hasn’t waited for me to catch up. Summer is in full story and my garden tells the tale.

Before I left for Haiti, I harvested the broccoli; did a quick blanch and froze the florets individually. Jeff made a casserole with some of it Monday night and it tasted fresh on the tongue. 



While we were at the beach last week, there was little rain here. My mother-in-law was kind enough to water for me, but the tomatoes still look a little peaky and there were a dozen cucumbers on the vine—all past prime with tough yellow skins and chewy seeds. I’ve been eating them anyway—peeling away that outer shell and letting the cool of the fruit speak summer to my body. There will be a second crop for pickle making.

But the bush beans were the surprise. When I pushed aside their viney leaves yesterday, I saw the first crop—ready for picking. What I love about picking beans is how it’s so much like a treasure hunt. Just when you think you’ve found the last, just when you’ve given up—something new appears.

But you have to keep looking.

This morning in William Barclay’s commentary on Matthew he says, “We hear only what we’re listening for.” If we don’t practice listening for God’s voice, if we don’t practice looking for goodness and truth … we can lose the ability to hear and see it, he says.

Yesterday, I gave into the grief that I am not enough. We had gotten up early to drive Teddy down to St. Mary’s for a surgery we’ve had scheduled for months. It’s the same procedure he had done on his right ear last summer and we were hopeful this might put an end to these ear troubles that have plagued him his entire life. But he woke up with a cold and when we arrived at the hospital the doctor decided we should cancel the surgery. He didn’t want all the delicate work he needs to do on the tympanic membrane to be undone by sinus pressure and the like.

We are all disappointed, but what can you do? It was the right decision. But now some other plans will have to change and our schedule is always as tight my jeans the first time I put them on in the fall.

That afternoon, I sat on the couch and thought about the mounds and mounds of laundry waiting for me, of my family reunion this coming weekend and how my sister wants me to drive to Clarksburg early to spend some time with her. I thought about that trip to Connecticut Teddy and are planning to visit colleges and meet up with his best friend. I thought about band camp starting next week and how school begins early this year. I thought about that article waiting for me to edit—the one that needs a lot of work and I thought about my upcoming book release and how I’m not ready for that. I thought about that promised endorsement that was never delivered, and how I wanted to get my novel ready to release as an e-book. I thought about Teddy’s college search and the Jumping Tandem Retreat and that preaching engagement I have coming up, and all the difficult, heartbreaking patients we have on our caseload at the hospital right now. And then I took Teddy to the pediatrician to get an antibiotic and I took Bonnie for a walk and I fought back tears all day long.  

Because I’m not enough.

And when Jeff came home from work he said, “Just go.” So I go for a run. And I can’t help noticing how the Queen Anne’s Lace is crocheted into all the in-between places. Giving beauty to the harsh edges, creating a soft place for the tiny songbirds to land. And because I’m looking, I see an Indigo Bunting light on a crusty cattail—his brilliant blue a sudden shock of delight.

And today I am thinking that this is how God weaves beauty into life—in the in-between places. But, just like picking green beans, I have to keep looking.

Because He is the soft place for me to land, my sudden shock of delight.


Psst … did you hear? I’m giving away one copy of Emily’s book Atlas Girl. For a chance to win, just leave a comment on this post before next Sunday (7/20). I’ll announce the winner on next week’s Playdates with God post on Monday. 

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree ( is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.

Garden Notes: Pentecost

On Pentecost I harvested the last of the kale and lettuce in my little garden. The leafy greens loved the little cool snap we’d been having, but the heat of the day was threatening wilt. So I picked it all, one leaf at a time, and pulled up the roots and stems to feed to the goats.

Cleaning greens is a lengthy process. I don’t use any insecticides, so I examine each leaf, rinsing and inspecting closely for insects or other bits of nature. I spent most of the afternoon rinsing kale and lettuce greens, spinning them dry, and dreaming of recipes for them.

I am not a detail person. Tedious work makes me tired, and maybe a little irritable, but for some reason these garden tasks do a good work on my spirit—slow me down and relax me. Sometimes, as I dab a leaf dry with a paper towel I discover a little friend, part of the garden world accidentally brought inside. On Pentecost, it was a little garden orb, hiding under a kale leaflet. I carried her outside on her green chariot and instead of being creeped out that she could have been part of my salad, I let myself be filled with wonder at how all the small things work together in this world. The yellow of her abdomen was so beautiful and I whispered to her how grateful I was that she kept my garden well.

On that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as wind and fire. And all these years later I feel the after ripple, the warm glow of his breath breathing new life into my spirit through the garden.

I’m joining Kelli for Unforced Rhythms this week.