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Graves into Gardens

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: ‘I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” – Ezekiel 37:5-6 (NIV)

“Fourteen days to flatten the curve,” they said.

The barrage of cancellations beginning in the spring of 2020 flattened our summer plans instead. There were so few places we could go, not because we were afraid, but because either nothing was open or the only places that were open felt like insanity.

Our family lived outside that spring. We had suddenly been granted the time to take care of projects around our property. Our trips to hardware stores and inflated lumber prices revealed that everyone else had the same brilliant idea we had.

The back corner of our property was used as a dump by the previous owners. They would burn trash or toss unused scraps of metal, broken bottles, knotted rope, oil cans, and garbage. It was a big project that we had barely chipped away at since moving in. The area around the trash heap was subtly beautiful, though. I saw potential in the natural grotto carved out of limestone by centuries of runoff water from the hillside, and all it would cost to complete the project was the price of a pair of good gloves for each man, woman, and child in our family. We didn’t exactly feel like we were ‘all in this together’ with the rest of the world, but as far as this trash heap went, our family could certainly work side-by-side until we could make something beautiful of it.

Strapping the baby on my back and donning gloves, we all set to work, moving debris piece by piece and day by day throughout our quarantine affliction. We made memories while sifting through garbage, discussing plans for what we would grow there when it was gone, organically manufacturing inside jokes that will live on forever. When the trash had been cleared, we moved existing rocks to build our terraced flower beds, planted seeds, and hung solar lights.

This grave was now a garden. Resurrected from a hopeless trash heap that was too much for us to tackle in the seven years we had been there, our family worked together to transform this place of death and refuse into a place of peace and refuge.

Three years later, this garden is still a place of enjoyment and togetherness for our family. We routinely clean it up together, pull weeds, picnic, and play in this garden. We’ve hung bird feeders, found a used table and chairs set, and built bridges to go over the ravines. We won’t forget that it was created out of chaos, but we’ll always remember that it lent us peace in the midst of turbulence. It still does. When I need a few moments of solitary prayer when the daily turmoil catches up with me, I slip away out there and commune with Jesus.

I believe that as women, especially mothers, there’s something about a garden that reminds us of the home we are missing. God created us in a garden; it was a place of beauty, and our own pride and sin led to our exile. Since that day, we have been yearning for that garden. I believe He missed us too – walking with us, talking with us, giving us freedom to be fertile and multiply and labor without pain. He made a way for us to find it again through the sacrificial offering of His own Son, Jesus.

We will be there again someday, but please, Mama, don’t lose that yearning. He created us to be the homemakers, the world changers, the people-growers, the cathedral builders. We might be living East of Eden for the time being, but He gave us the creative freedom and eye for beauty to establish a little bit of peace in our homes.

Make a space for you and your children. We do not all have trash heaps in the back acre, but we have some corner or area that can be made beautiful and designated for prayer. Pastor and revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, reflected on the example of his mother who was known to slip her apron over her head for a bit of silent prayer, and that was all she needed.

Who knows, maybe even the most hopeless and unsightly spot in your home can be resurrected to glorious beauty. God loves that—taking the most hopeless cases and transforming us into something beautiful, from death to life.

Your fellow Able Mom,

Karen Herzog

Loving Father, You have prepared a place for us in your heavenly home. Please help us to build Your kingdom here on earth, beginning in the place where You have us, with the people You have placed around us. Help us to make space in our hearts and homes to fill with Your peace and Your love. If there is any place that needs to be cleaned, emptied, pruned, or even destroyed, please reveal it and help us to make something beautiful in its place. Amen.

Connect with Karen:

Director of Marketing for And Then There Were None and ProLove Ministries

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