Miracles in the backyard

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance for us to do.”


It’s what I love bearing witness to. It could be someone growing in their ability to speak English, my kids’ growth and development, someone growing in their walk with the Lord and a beautiful testimony, which is always encouraging, or co-operating with the natural world to bring about plants as they bear fruit. Growth and transformation and bearing fruit are all miracles. 

I planted three varieties of lettuce, fennel, and cucumbers from seed on the southwest side of the yard in early May. The cucumbers are supposed to sprout within two weeks. We watered. We weeded. We waited. Nothing happened. By the beginning of June, I was googling “what makes cucumbers grow.” A lot of water.  Plant seeds one fourth of an inch deep according to packet directions. I got down in the soil and worked my fingers in the dark, soft earth where I know I laid the cucumber seeds. Nothing.

Lettuce is slower to grow, but it’s coming. I’m not sure what’s going on with the fennel.

Gardening is no easy task.

cucumber plantsSoil composition matters, much like our environment in which we grow up. A seed needs five basic ingredients to germinate, which are minerals, organic material, living organisms, gas and water. But different seeds require different levels and combinations of minerals and water, so the challenge is to get the right seed in the right soil with the right amount of sunlight.  When a seed doesn’t germinate, it’s not necessarily because of bad soil, as I originally believed.

In my case, two factors are likely working against me. My best guess is that I planted the cucumbers seeds too deep and not enough oxygen reached them. An employee at our local nursery clued me into the other factor beyond my control. Whacky outdoor temperature fluctuations in early May also could have hindered germination. She said several other customers were also having problems with their cucumber seeds and did the same thing I have done –  buying already started cucumber plants because it’s mid-June and too late to start over with seeds.

At least I have an idea of what’s in their backyards! How exciting that others are also trying to grow their own food.

Choosing the correct seeds is no easy task.

Some seeds just aren’t viable, due to age or damage. Take thestrawberries expiration date on the seed packet seriously. You need to make sure you have a quality seed AND quality soil in order for germination to happen.

Or, squirrels may help themselves to newly planted seeds and enjoy a snack. They almost destroyed my raised herb garden. Strawberries are also a delight for them. I’m also chasing them out of the strawberry patch every day. If it’s not the squirrels, it’s the birds. Between the furry little critters and winged creatures, there is little left of the lush, red fruit. We need to find a better way to protect them next year.

Raising kids to know God is no easy task. My husband and I are intentional, putting forth concentrated effort, at providing a nurturing environment and doing our best to limit screen time to G-Rated movies and National Geographic documentaries. And Star Wars. 

bean plantEach Sunday I ask my eight-year-old what he learned during his Sunday school class. He cannot give me a clear answer, yet he can review an entire day in his public school classes with great enthusiasm and detail, so I know it isn’t a cognitive, developmental issue.  In an effort to distract him from battling Star Wars storm troopers and making strange nonsensical noises, I bought some simple, commonly known Bible verses written on card stock and presented them to him like a deck of cards.  I told him to draw one from the pile, and read it and challenged him to memorize. He drew the card from Psalm 55:22 “Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you!”  That heart-warming moment lasted exactly 60 seconds. Then he returned to eight-year-old imaginative play. We pray with him. We pray for him. We read scripture. We discuss it, on his level. Nothing obvious is yet breaking through the surface of his soul. 

tomato plantsOn the southeast side of the yard, however, the climbing string beans are flourishing, the carrots are thriving and the potted tomato plants are about to blossom. Soil composition and seed quality seems to be perfect. All I have to do is water.

Good soil. Water. Viable seeds. Energy radiating from the blazing yellow day star combines with one hydrogen atom and two oxygen atoms that collide with chlorophyll between 70 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and brings about beautiful green sustaining life.

That’s not just science. That’s God’s creative touch. It’s nothing short of a miracle when a seed bursts open and pushes through darkness to find light. Don’t we all want more miracles? 

We still rely on a process we can’t control to sustain life. We can’t replicate or duplicate photosynthesis. We can’t produce our own energy. We can’t control rainfall, the water cycle or the sunshine. We can’t control outdoor temperatures.  From farming to gardening, we rely on the laws of nature and God’s provision.

When raising children, it’s not necessarily an easy formula of taking them to church,  being a good role model and directing them in making better choices. We still must rely on God’s grace, mercy and  provision.   

Aren’t we all like seeds? We are God’s handiwork. Full of his potential, and with the right conditions, we co-operate with God’s original design for sustaining life. When we do so, our physical and emotional wounds begin to heal.  

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us bloom and sprout to our full potential. Somedays we feel like a seed, buried in the darkness, unknown and unseen.  Pull our outstretched arms out of the pit. Lead us to the light.  Bring the resources we need to help further your Kingdom. Guide us to the correct path. Lead us to the people who need us and allow the people who need us to find us. Thank you for providing the miracles of sun, water, soil. Help us harness those with seeds as we co-create together.  Amen.


Published by Digging Deeper

I have a TESOL degree from Iowa State University and taught for three years at Kansas State University and one year at Chatham University in Pittsburgh while earning a Master's degree in Fine Arts in creative writing. I am currently a stay at home mom for two children and have returned to Des Moines, Iowa, where I grew up. Religion has always been a part of who I am but only in the last 10 years have I considered myself a genuine Christian. In my writing I explore issues of faith and how it relates to living life, sharing my faith and my personal journey of growth in my daily walk with God, so I'm not a theologian or a seminary student, but just enjoying uniting faith with a love for writing.

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