Carefully & Lovingly Planted — Carol McLeod Ministries

    I remember the feeling of the warm, damp earth under my bare toes … and the sweet thrill of companionship as I walked up and down the garden rows with my father. 

    The memory lives on in the picture book of my soul although the years have quickly passed. 

    My short, bouncy steps were always frustratingly trying to equal my Daddy’s long and steady steps.   

    We were quite the pair out in the family garden … me with long blonde braids and a sunburned nose … my dad with dirt under his fingernails and weathered skin that bespoke of decades of farming. 

    Every spring it was our tradition.   

    He planted and I watched.   

    He taught and I learned.   

    He talked and I listened.   

    He led and I followed

    I giggled and he smiled.   

    I stumbled and he caught me.  

    I looked up and he looked down.  

    I chatted and he whistled. 

    I lost interest and he encouraged. 

    We carefully prepared the soil for the seeds that would soon be nestled in the safety and comfort of the spring earth.  My dad taught me how to remove the weeds and the small stones that could potentially harm the growth of that which was soon to be carefully and lovingly planted. 

    After the planting had been completed, we retrieved those little packets that had initially held the seeds. Each colorful seed envelope was attached to a small stake.  My patient father pounded the stake into the ground so that we would know what we had planted in that garden row as the days and weeks of spring passed by. 

    Radishes. 

    Carrots. 

    Onions. 

    Green Beans. 

    Tomatoes. 

    Pumpkins. 

    Zucchini. 

    The weeks of sunshine and rain … weeding and watching … made my mouth and my heart water for the harvest. 

    When the abundant days of August were upon us … the investment of those spring days came to fruition. 

    Our garden was abundant … lush … and full. We would eat from the family garden for an entire winter … and so would most of our neighbors and family members. 

    I wonder what stake you have planted in the rich and expectant soil of your heart.  What do you intend to grow in that fertile ground that is known as “you”? 

    I determined long ago that the character stakes planted in the open ground of my life would be labeled “integrity” and “kindness”. 

    I long to be known as a woman of unmatched integrity.   

    My word is my bond. 

    I will be faithful to complete that which I have committed to do.  

     I will not lie, exaggerate, or take that which is not mine.  

    Honor has been planted in the deepest part of me and I refuse to allow the weeds of compromise, deceit, or corruption to mar the harvest that integrity provides. 

    Do you see it?  Do you see the stake in my life labeled “integrity”? 

    I know that often I have a long way to go and much to learn … yet the small stake that is labeled “integrity” serves as a reminder of what I intend to grow in the earth of my soul. 

    When I am at a crossroads, I look at the stake marked “Integrity”. 

    When I am tempted, I remember that stake with the word “Integrity” on it. 

    When the world crumbles around me, I whisper, “Integrity”. 

    When I have failed, I cry out for “Integrity”. 

    “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity and works righteousness, and speaks truth in His heart.” – Psalm 15:1 & 2 

    The second stake in the garden of my character is one with the virtue of “kindness” emboldened on it. 

    It is my desire and delight to be the kindest woman in my generation.   

    I will not ignore what kindness has called me to accomplish. 

    I will not forget that the simple deeds sown in kindness will often reap a gargantuan harvest of blessings. 

    Perhaps my family members and friends will be nourished for decades from the bounty of kindness grown in my heart. 

    If spite is the weed … then kindness is the flower. 

    If impatience is the stone … then kindness is the fertilizer. 

    If selfish living is the problem … then kindness is the answer. 

    If gossip is the virus … then kindness is the cure. 

    “She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26 

    Preparing.  

    Planting.  

    Harvesting. 

    Receiving. 

    In a garden, the gardener must prepare the ground to receive the seed; then, that same gardener skillfully and purposefully plants what he or she intends to harvest.   

    And finally, the gardener is the recipient of bounty! Of an unmatched harvest! Of a multiplication that only God could have planned! 

    What stakes have you set immovably in your life?  Have you labeled that which you intend to grow? 

    I hope that today you will plant a garden with your loving Father and that you will listen to His wise words as He prepares your heart for a greatness and a harvest that only He will accomplish. 

    “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on your life.” – Hosea 10:12 

    Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is! 


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