Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The black and white sign overhead showed this fruit was priced by the pound, and most were larger than I wanted to pay for something I knew the kids wouldn't eat anyway.
Even so, the idea of brilliant fall colors in the house was appealing, so with children bouncing, I dug through the precariously-assembled mound of sunset oranges and snowy whites, carefully pulling out the very smallest ones as I checked for dings and dents.
As the other shoppers turned more than one raised eyebrow our way, we weighed each on the scale before placing the winner into the buggy.
All autumn, it was the crowned jewel of our kitchen, little hands daily moving it around the raised counter tops and then back to the center of their small breakfast table.
Before Christmas when its skin began to turn rubbery and its newness had long ago worn off, I dropped it on fallow ground behind the red barn, invisible to anyone who didn't make the special trip back there.
All winter, it silently sunk into itself until the first spring rains came, washing away the melted away skin and pulp to reveal a pile of sun-bleached seeds. When curious hands wanted to pick them up, I mentioned the possibility that God would make them grow. Maybe. Maybe.
And then, oldest son found a book at the library that sparked more excitement than 79 cents should be able to buy.
Out of all the fourteen, 12-foot long, triple-tiered shelves devoted to children's books, God ordained that Wyatt should "randomly" pull out Pumpkin Jack, the story of a boy who carved his very first pumpkin. When the pumpkin began to rot, he put it out in his garden, covered the seeds with dirt, and watched as the green vine sprouted, sported orange blossoms, then green globes, and finally, another large, orange pumpkin.
Even as we sat together on the sofa, I could see Wyatt's mind turning. Sure enough, the book was barely finished before he realized why our seeds hadn't already grown into a great pumpkin.
"You have to put dirt on top!" he chastened me. "And they need water. We have to go do it now."
Now it was. My three helpers took turns using a garden trowel to scoop up a couple fist-fulls of dirt. I tamped it down on top, added the requisite water, then felt a motherly urge to warn them it still might not grow.
Who knew what kind of seeds these were. Sure, they came out of a pumpkin, but if they were hybrid seeds, we might merely see a vine with no fruit--or no vine at all.
And so I did what I have learned to do only since becoming a mother. Children listening, I spoke a simple prayer out loud for the insignificant miracle of life from these seeds.
Pumpkin Jack returned to its home at the library, and the late frosts of spring turned into the too-early summer of April. One Saturday afternoon, my face broke open to see the first sprouts of a vine. For a month, it stayed there, small, bush-like, with sickly pale green-yellow leaves.
Then, with the hot days of May, the vine suddenly woke up, trailing six feet, twelve feet from the barn's edge, leaves turning a deep emerald and growing large enough to give shade to the orange flowers forming beneath.
Even though I had expected as much, I still felt disappointed. Explaining that the "pumpkin was gone" felt like telling the children someone had died. I gently broke the news several times, then tried to emphasize the brighter side--at least we got a beautiful vine from the seeds.
Surprisingly, that was an okay answer. We had done out best, so we quit beating a path to the barn to say indoors through a solid week of rain, then another of too-hot summer.
Once outdoors again, there it was--a pumpkin. Not a small nut. Not an apple. But a pumpkin the size of a softball, green, round, and perfect. We literally grasped hands and danced around in the open hay field.
That was two Saturdays ago. Today, we went to check on our baby. Guess what we found?
All grins, all happiness, all thankfulness for our God who took a simple prayer and gave it breath.
I can't help but hope this one answered prayer will help continue to build a lifelong foundation in their young lives, teaching tomorrow's hope to pray, no matter how small, no matter how impossible something seems.
It's this kind of foundation that we all must have if we're going to change our world for Christ. We must remember His faithfulness in the small things like growing a single pumpkin and then keep lifting those prayers to heaven--courageous prayers, radical prayers,prayers that will literally shake the place where we are standing.
at 8:54 PM