My sons were almost 2 and 4 years old. I’d just purchased a cute little mobile home, one we’d live in and enjoy for five years. When summer came, I had a deck put on the side, and was then excited to move on to the weed pulling, and get the large corner lot we had cleaned up! I was determined to make my light blue mobile home an adorable little place for us. There was a lot of grass to cut, and so much potential for vegetables, strawberries, brightly colored flowers, and a sandbox for the kids to play in while I tended to yard duties!
Loading the kids into the car, I was off to buy my flowers one Saturday morning! Purple impatiens for the front, strawberries on the side of the shed, marigolds on the side of the deck, and some brightly blooming flowers in pots for each of the stairs. I could hardly wait. Dad came over with his shovel, and we went to work digging up the dirt in front of our new home. Then, I brought the flats of flowers out from the shed. “Not yet,” he said. And we continued to dig.
“Now?” I asked. “Not yet,” it seemed Dad said over and over. I watched as my Dad took the large pieces of grass he’d shoveled out. He shook them off. He’d tell me how important it was to get the “good” dirt back into the ground. Don’t waste it. So that’s what we did. We shook off every chunk of grass we had dug up. And we kept shaking all the good dirt back into the bed that my purple flowers would soon be planted in.
“Now?” I asked again. “Not yet,” he said repeatedly. We got down on our knees and then began digging up, and really combing through many inches of dirt, loosening the soil really well. Dad said we had to prepare it just right for flowers. It was not quite ready. “We have to get the dirt nice and clean, and that takes time and patience,” he said. It still needed a lot of work. I didn’t really understand yet, but we spent the rest of that afternoon removing every little stone, every chunk of clay, wood chip, or weed. The bigger rocks of dirt we picked up piece by piece and crumbled them it into very fine dirt.
We finally got around to planting the flowers that following day. I never added one ounce of bloom boost to my flowers, but that summer I couldn’t count the number of people who stopped and asked me what my secret was. Dad and I just laughed. My flowers were BEAUTIFUL, and so bright purple that people would slow down on the main road just to see them! I finally understood why we took our time and cleaned up the soil!
Today, I brought my flowers home – purple ones again. I live in a condo now, and have a much smaller area where I plant flowers, so I actually was able to get it all done in one afternoon, but not without shaking dirt, crushing chunks, and sifting through to throw out the stones. My sons are 24 and 26 now, and not one summer has passed since that first spring in our new little home that I have not sifted through my dirt and thought of Dad.
Today was a little bit different though. Today there was just something about being down low. And there’s always something about getting my hands dirty (and my dirt clean ;).
My heart is often just like my dirt, sometimes more than others. Full of all sorts of things that need to be removed, or crumbled, or sifted out…. My flowers are going to look phenomenal again, I just know it. I did the hard work. I cleaned my dirt up just like Dad taught me. And my heart? Oh boy. It’s ugly lately. I’ve done more whining and complaining recently than I’d like to admit to. My hearts not been in such great shape. But down there on my knees for a few hours with my hands in the dirt, God reminded me that He’s not left me, and that He’s going to complete in me what He began. And He’s not going to get all my dirt clean in one day 😉 But He definitely wants me to keep combing, sifting, and tossing out the stones…..
Yep. Sometimes, I just gotta get down low. Down on me knees. And sift through the dirt.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6