In late November of 2016, we bought our first house. It was, in my eyes, idyllic. Murals were painted on the walls of each of the children’s rooms, a blue ocean with a tiny boat sailing on the horizon for Elijah, and a willow tree with a picket fence covered with flowering vines for Lily. Our walk-in closet and spacious bedroom had me pinching myself twice a day. The sunrise cascaded over our kitchen table through the bay kitchen window. We could peer out Elijah’s window to say goodnight to the moon each night. The carpets were lush, the walls were painted rich, welcoming colors, and we even had our own fire place. The basement, though unfinished, could house the play room where the kids could play freely whenever they felt so inclined.
The most attractive feature of our new haven, however, was its sprawling yard. The previous owners clearly had green thumbs in addition to their artistic flair, and they took better care of this yard than any other yard in the entire neighborhood. In Kansas, the land of sparse trees, we have eight trees around our house. One is a massive willow, whimsical in every sense of the word. One is a luscious bradford pear, another an apple tree. The grass is the richest shade of green that I could imagine, with a built-in sprinkler system, to keep it velvety-soft and fresh.
When we moved in late November, as fall was descending into winter, and colors were fading into grey, white, and black, we had no idea what the garden would look like: if any flowers were perennials, returning in the spring, or if we would have to start from scratch. All we had were dead stalks, skeletons of flowers, and I am no expert on gardening. Thus, I couldn’t even guess what the landscape would look like in the spring. I had no idea the beauty that could rise out of this garden, now my own, that I never planted.
Spring is blossoming into summer, and this garden that I inherited has been a highlight of my year. As the months of April and May have passed, I have inhaled the glory of tiger lilies, dark red lilies, marigolds, roses, and hostas. Each plant blooms on its own time table, and each day is like unwrapping a gift from someone I never knew. When we toured the house initially before we made our offer, I whispered to my husband, “I could be friends with these people. I love them already.” Amazing how you can feel a kindred spirit in a home, even when those who made it the home are not even present. It is also amazing the impact a person can have on the life of another person whom they may never meet. I met the husband briefly. He brought the extra garage door opener over the day that we first moved in. I greeted him at our door (his door), our eyes locked, and I gave him the biggest, most appreciative smile that I could muster, and he left, to drive about five hours, to his new house. This one encounter was the extent of the overlap of our lives.
I am too sick to garden. Even being outside is a strain. I could never do to our yard what the previous owners of our house did. I am so thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of a crop that I did not sow. They planted a little vegetable garden in the back yard. My in-laws are keeping it bursting with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. My life is grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing. I get to tuck my babies in at night and admire another person’s artwork on their walls. In God’s special way, He met our needs before we even knew that we had needs through someone that we would never really know.
The lives of those who went before us sing from the walls of this house and burst forth from the soil surrounding it. Their love, their innovation, their unique giftings and personalities paint shades of color that extend into the life of my little family. They will never know their impact. They were just doing what they loved, and it colored the world.
We have a ripple effect that can heal and bring hope. God has used our home as a picture of His provision and hope. He knows that I love flowers, murals, and beauty, and He knows that I cannot produce these elements of life that I love at this point in my life. He used someone else to plant the seeds that would blossom in my life as symbols of providence, hope, and His own Shekinah glory.
Our God is great enough to show up in the little things, like orange crimson carnations and a wistful sail boat painted on a toddler’s wall. Our Father God gives good, sweet, thoughtful gifts to His children, even, or maybe even especially, in their suffering.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17