Out here at the lovely Stable Days Youth Ranch, we have the very best garden this side of the Mississippi. We plant a hodgepodge of fruits, veggies, and herbs (and weeds) every year with a growing desire to expand our skills and knowledge of the greens. This garden supplements well over a hundred families with delicious seasonal produce. We are blessed to have so very many volunteers who plant, weed, water, trellis, plan and more every summer to help us accomplish this amazing feat.
In this amazing garden, we seek to do more than just grow foods. We love it even more when we grow character, work ethic, relationships, and confidence. We use the garden to encourage our volunteers and participants to grow in their decision making by encouraging them as they move through rows of plant starts and various weeds. We encourage work ethic as we pound fence posts on ninety degree days while our arms shake and our brows sweat. We build relationships over lame jokes and occasionally an overflow of tears as we weed what feels like hundreds of thistle plants. You see character grow as our volunteers lead by example with great attitudes and strong hearts as they head up to the garden to work before they do the fun stuff like water gun fights and horse painting. And we see confidence build when harvest comes and a kid gets to literally eat the fruits of their labor.
Gardening teaches more about life than any of my other hobbies, so I’ve put together a little list of thoughts and lessoned learned in the garden:
1. We learn about the dangers of letting unproductive thoughts take root like weeds do, and how taking them captive early on is essential before they take over space that could be used for good! See 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says that we should bring every thought captive to obey Jesus Christ.
2. We learn that there is a season for growth, a season of blooming, a season of collecting the reward of our hard work, and even a season of death. See Ecclesiastes 3:1 which says that for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
3. We learn that everything here on earth really does depend on the Son (sun) and how the more we turn our faces like a sunflower to the Light that we can find in Christ, the more we will grow and the more our lives will be productive while we are planted here on this planet. See Isaiah 45:22 where God says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other.”
4. We learn about how essential a good foundation is, and a firm understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as we test the soil to ensure that it has the essentials we need for growing plants. This also teaches us how important it is that we are ready and knowledgeable, even before it shows. See Matthew 7:24-27 where Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The wise builder made sure he had a firm foundation before he started building and the Bible says that if we hear and obey God’s word, we are like a wise builder.
These lessons are just of a few of the words we’ve heard whispered on the winds as God speaks to our hearts while we work. What will you hear?