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Hud’s Harvest

August 20, 2023

I remember vividly running up and down the rows of my Nanny’s garden while she picked tomatoes with her thin, hardworking hands. It was the perfect place for me to pretend to be a garden fairy, or a princess of the kingdom of Shelby Forest. 

“Come here and hold this bucket for me,” she said with her big grin. “We’ll do this together.”

I felt so special because I had a job and I was a “big girl” helping in the garden. 

As we put the tomatoes in the bucket, she’d count, “One, two, three, oh that’s a big one right there . . . don’t squeeze too hard!”

I was so proud, and my confidence grew with every pick. We’d wash them, lay them all out by the window, and I’d excitedly show everyone who came through. “Look what I picked! Look at my tomatoes!” 

Those moments have been treasured in my heart, and I knew if I was blessed with motherhood that I would want to share them with my children. 

Now I’ve got Hud-bud, my 4-year-old, first-born, brilliant boy. Hud is a natural leader, a confident teacher, and a little Command Man. Now that he’s a big brother to one sister and has another on the way, I knew a special project we could do together was plant our garden. This would be something memorable we could share, and in the process he would learn significant lessons that he’d carry through life with him. 

Our first lesson was teamwork.

All hands on deck! My parents came over and helped us till, dig, pick, and clean out our garden. 

Hud learned the importance of communicating and seeing the job to completion. Sometimes an appropriate job for a 4-year-old is “Hold this, please,” or “You stand here while he tills. Watch how the dirt churns. We’re getting it all ready to plant our special garden!”

Now, for a little Command Man, he doesn’t always want to listen to direction because he has his own ideas and wants to take the lead. Often, he wants to jump in and take over, but as a child, he has to learn to respect, listen, be patient, and trust. Giving him a specific “big boy” job where he feels important and satisfied is essential. The job that day was helping me pull up that pesky crabgrass. We talked about how we had to get the roots out so it wouldn’t grow in our beds and take over. When we finished he showed me his muscles and said, “Look at me! Look how strong I am! That was hard work, Mama!”

He found and handled all sorts of worms and bugs, every boy’s paradise, so he definitely had fun. 

Our second lesson was patience.

This is a lifelong lesson and an important one!

Once the prepping was all done, Hud and I got to do the rest together, just us two, mother and son. 

Together, he and I decided what flowers and vegetables we wanted to grow, and we chose “a home” for each one. I tried to use terminology that would express that our plants are blessings, individual and unique gifts from God that we need to handle with care. 

His little fingers made special places for us to place the seeds, and he’d say, “Okay, baby flower. Here’s your home! We’re going to give you some water so you’ll grow big and tall. The bees will love you!”

He would then come out every morning for his garden chores, really believing the plants would shoot up overnight. I’d remind him to be patient, that every good and perfect thing comes from above . . . and takes time! 

Our last lesson was to be intentional.

Everything we do serves a purpose. The mundane, the difficult, the tedious duties all contribute to a beautiful, bigger picture. 

Hud believed that we’d plant our seeds and wake up to a garden full of flowers and vegetables, but instead he woke up to a daily duty that would eventually produce beauty and nutrition for his family. He and I water together, pinch off the tomato suckers, pull the weeds, and pick off ginormous hornworms. He finds earth worms and puts them in the garden and says, “Here you go, worm! Here’s some good soil. You’re helping our plants grow!”

It’s not all on his shoulders, make no mistake, but he is learning the steps to care for something, to listen and be observant, and to be a helping hand. He says next year we’re going to grow cucumbers and carrots too. He’s already thinking of our next plans!

Now, we can pick our basil, onions, and tomatoes to make his Daddy’s favorite meal—spaghetti! He sees the whole process from tilling to planting the seeds, watering, weeding, harvesting, cleaning, cooking, and then eating. All of this is done together, with patience, intentionality, and with a lot of love and fun. We can have many conversations in our own backyard (or garden), but most importantly, I pray one day while he teaches his own children, he will tell of the fond memories with his mother who loved him so, reminiscing of holding his own little bucket, harvesting his first tomatoes in his own magical, special garden we planted together. 

Consider your God-given gifts a garden that the Master teaches you to cultivate, feed, and produce a harvest for his glory. 

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