Monday, August 25, 2008

The Summer of My Discontent

My husband and I like to take long motorcycle rides in the country. We have had several trips this summer through the farmlands of Ohio. I have a tendency to look at farms or large parcels of land for sale and try to commit the realtors’ numbers to memory. On more than one of our rides, I commented out loud that, “I would love to have that place.”

My husband's reply was surprising, “That’s why I sometimes hesitate to take you riding. It always makes you discontented with what we have.” I felt a quick bite of shame at his response. It’s true…seeing secluded farms or properties with plenty of space between them and their neighbors evoke a longing in me…every time.

I pondered over my husband’s comments for a long while, determining that I would suppress that longing the next time it reared its green and envious head. I have been somewhat successful. I started looking for ways I can implement characteristics of the farms I like into our property. I have focused on the gardens in particular.

The second weekend in August we were riding on Ohio county road 775. We passed many farms, including four Amish farms. I examined them closely to see what made their places so appealing. I discovered three things:

  1. There was no clutter of belongings everywhere. (“…a time to keep and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:6b [NIV])
  2. The gardens were well tended. (“…a time to plant and a time to uproot.” Ecclesiastes 3:3a [NIV])
  3. The farms were just big enough for the Amish farmer and his family to tend without needing expensive equipment. (“That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:13 [NIV])

Our garden is a bit of a sorry affair. After I spent the first half of the summer in physical therapy unable to bend and dig because of my back, we were overrun with weeds…massive ones as tall as me in some instances. My husband spent the better part of his time off from work trying to get his mother’s broken water line fixed. It was a huge undertaking (involving laying 450 feet of line and going back a couple weeks ago to fix yet another leak at a joint).

I just spent a week digging, hoeing, and tugging weeds trying to reclaim the space. My husband jumped in on Saturday to shovel up some of the weeds. I am, as of this writing, itching to get out there and plant some Red Russian kale, Bloomsdale spinach, and Mammoth Melting Sugar edible-podded sugar peas. With my loaded tomato plants staked, the pepper plants doing beautifully, and my one surviving okra plant steadily producing a pod a week, we will have a small, but lovely harvest soon.

We have a nice place. It’s not huge, just an acre and a half. It’s not secluded at all, with neighbors on each side and a highway in front, but it backs up to Twelvepole Creek and has a mountain on the other side of the creek, so our backyard is private. And it is ours with out the burden of mortgage payments.

It is just where God intends us to be. If that were not true, I am sure He would have given my dear husband the same longing to find a bigger and better place. Since He has not, I can only conclude that I am, like my plants, meant to bloom where I am planted, focus on the blessings I have, and work to be a good steward of these same blessings.

And I have this great promise to cling to when green-eyed envy tries to rear its ugly head:

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough.” ~~1 Timothy 6:6-8 [The Message]

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