I am an unlikely gardener. My grandfather could grow tomatoes with his eyes closed, but I never seemed to get it. For most of my life I craved instant results and quick fixes. I wanted flourishing and full bloom, right from the start.
I preferred to skip the in-between part. The sometimes-awkward waiting, tending and growing part. So, it’s no surprise that I’ve killed a lot of plants in my life.
But, after a miraculous season of God transforming my hopeless marriage and redeeming what felt impossible to change — infidelity, hurt and broken promises — I felt a new, somewhat unexplainable, desire to start a garden.

Gardening had always seemed like a gentle hobby for those who had more time on their hands. Yet, here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, much less live: God was transforming a plant-killer like me into a gardener.

As my life was being changed by God’s grace, my hands followed.

One Saturday morning, I stood in the yard and opened a packet of yellow pear tomato seeds. As I unsealed it, I steadied my hands. If you’ve ever enjoyed an heirloom tomato in the summer, you may have noticed the seeds. They are tiny and delicate. I reached into the packet and touched one with my pointer finger. It grasped on to me, as if I now held some responsibility for its life. I could choose to cultivate it or let it remain dormant.

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Inside a seed is something powerful: potential. And potential is scary, isn’t it? It calls us to grow — to take action, become and step forward in faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

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Planting seeds is risky. It’s putting our trust in something bigger than we are. It’s optimism and faith. It requires letting go, and I don’t like letting go. I like being in control. I like efficiency, security, routine, predictability. I like having a plan.

As I looked down at the seeds, I knew I held possibility in my hands. What do I do now? How do I plant this? How many seeds do I plant at once? What if I don’t do this perfectly and it doesn’t grow?

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I had a choice to make: Risk imperfect progress to grow new life, or regret not growing anything at all. In that moment, faced with the possibilities in a tiny tomato seed, I chose fear over faith.

Yes, you read that right.

I flicked the seed off my finger back into the packet and sealed it up.

I was too afraid to plant anything from seeds at first. I feared I would mess up and everything in my garden would die. And I believed the lie that if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I wasn’t going to do it at all. I was conditioned to think that messes were bad and doing it perfectly the first time was good.

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We don’t like imperfect starts, do we? We want perfect right out of the gate.

But all plants grow through the dirt, and so do we. Making a mess doesn’t mean you become one.

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Trying to cultivate an intentional life without making a mess at times is like trying to garden in white pants. I’ve done this — stepping out into the tomato vines, thinking I’ll just prune a couple of rogue vines and somehow walk away dirtless. But keeping my white pants clean isn’t possible when pruning “the Bobs,” as we call our tomatoes (thank you, VeggieTales). That doesn’t ever happen, no matter how hard I try.

And you know what? When I’m focused on keeping my white pants dirt-free, I end up missing the joy in what the garden calls me to do: be fully present right where I am. The garden begs for my presence, and when I give it — with leaps of faith and garden-dirtied pants along the way — it grows.

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I am an unlikely gardener. My grandfather could grow tomatoes with his eyes closed, but I never seemed to get it. For most of my life I craved instant results and quick fixes. I wanted flourishing and full bloom, right from the start. I preferred to skip the in-between part. The sometimes-awkward waiting, tending and growing part. So, it’s no surprise that I’ve killed a lot of plants in my life. But, after a miraculous season of God transforming my hopeless marriage and redeeming what felt impossible to change — infidelity, hurt and broken promises — I felt a new, somewhat unexplainable, desire to start a garden. Gardening had always seemed like a gentle hobby for those who had more time on their hands. Yet, here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, much less live: God was transforming a plant-killer like me into a gardener. As my life was being changed by God’s grace, my hands followed. One Saturday morning, I stood in the yard and opened a packet of yellow pear tomato seeds. As I unsealed it, I steadied my hands. If you’ve ever enjoyed an heirloom tomato in the summer, you may have noticed the seeds. They are tiny and delicate. I reached into the packet and touched one with my pointer finger. It grasped on to me, as if I now held some responsibility for its life. I could choose to cultivate it or let it remain dormant. Inside a seed is something powerful: potential. And potential is scary, isn’t it? It calls us to grow — to take action, become and step forward in faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Planting seeds is risky. It’s putting our trust in something bigger than we are. It’s optimism and faith. It requires letting go, and I don’t like letting go. I like being in control. I like efficiency, security, routine, predictability. I like having a plan. As I looked down at the seeds, I knew I held possibility in my hands. What do I do now? How do I plant this? How many seeds do I plant at once? What if I don’t do this perfectly and it doesn’t grow? I had a choice to make: Risk imperfect progress to grow new life, or regret not growing anything at all. In that moment, faced with the possibilities in a tiny tomato seed, I chose fear over faith. Yes, you read that right. I flicked the seed off my finger back into the packet and sealed it up. I was too afraid to plant anything from seeds at first. I feared I would mess up and everything in my garden would die. And I believed the lie that if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I wasn’t going to do it at all. I was conditioned to think that messes were bad and doing it perfectly the first time was good. We don’t like imperfect starts, do we? We want perfect right out of the gate. But all plants grow through the dirt, and so do we. Making a mess doesn’t mean you become one. Trying to cultivate an intentional life without making a mess at times is like trying to garden in white pants. I’ve done this — stepping out into the tomato vines, thinking I’ll just prune a couple of rogue vines and somehow walk away dirtless. But keeping my white pants clean isn’t possible when pruning “the Bobs,” as we call our tomatoes (thank you, VeggieTales). That doesn’t ever happen, no matter how hard I try. And you know what? When I’m focused on keeping my white pants dirt-free, I end up missing the joy in what the garden calls me to do: be fully present right where I am. The garden begs for my presence, and when I give it — with leaps of faith and garden-dirtied pants along the way — it grows.