Unfinished business

A gardener’s work is never done, much like a mother’s work — only less urgent and important. When we finally have a flower bed or vegetable plot just the way we want it, things happen to change it. Often, however, the change is for the better!

We are all familiar with the sentiment, “Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

We understand that when it comes to our own failings and shortfalls, but do we really put that idea into practice as we deal with others?

For a very long time — far TOO long — I tried to be a good houseplant grower. My little homemade shelf was a miserable collection of straggly plants in need of better care until I finally admitted that this pitiful hospice for plants added nothing good to my already-challenged home decor.

Houseplant culture is decidedly not one of my better skills.

The backyard, on the other hand, is our “favorite room of the house.” As I perused my old photos, looking for descriptive ones to bring to a seed swap, it became evident that a lot of good work has been done outside over the past few years.

A large arbor was built in 2014 from reclaimed wood, and it is now a focal point for the yard. In 2016 we had the opportunity to scrounge up some flat stones for a firepit and surrounding pavement, accenting the curved beds at the farthest reaches of the yard.

A striking “Jane” magnolia is already budding for a stupendous magenta display in March, but was only added in recent years.

Yes, those old photographs without these features remind us how bare and boring some parts of the gardens were.

While we never want to put our elbows out of joint patting ourselves on the back, we do want to recognize growth in ourselves as we do in our garden beds.

But more importantly, we want to recognize growth and betterment of those with whom we live and work each day. The classic example is the common complaint from young adults that their parents don’t see them as anything but children.

While this may be largely true, it is understandable. As close as we are to our gardens day by day, we don’t see the change and evolution of the good things happening…not even when it is with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Those close to us are not always commended for their improvements, just as we don’t notice our gardens improving.

This happens even with casual relationships, unfortunately. People who disappoint us are rarely given another chance to prove themselves.

Jesus was able to see past….well…the past in people. The tax collector Zaccheus was singled out for honor (Luke 19:1-4). The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears was given special attention in the Bible (Luke 7:37-48).

Even the thief on the cross received a promise that a convicted, dying criminal couldn’t have hoped for (Luke 23:39-43).

Some people seem to have it all together from their youth. Others are like those pitiful little clearance plants we spent fifty cents on, and they need a lot of care to reach their potential. Whether it is family, coworkers, or even public figures who may have apologized for their past or turned around and have done better, it’s our responsibility not just to “be the change,” but to “SEE the change.”

Let us look at one another with hopeful expectation of good, as we help one another to grow!

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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