I don’t try to fool myself into thinking that the average person who passes by our home on their morning jog will understand our "landscaping." Landscaping being a word I use very loosely. See, landscaping on a budget doesn’t necessarily allow us to choose the foliage in our yard so that it compliments the house. In fact, landscaping on a budget barely allows us to make sure our foliage even compliments each other.
We pick our plants something like this…
Last year, during our Christmas tree hunt, our tree "accidentally" uprooted a sapling. So the sapling came home with us and we planted in our back yard. The little guy didn’t survive the winter, but he put up a good fight before shedding all of his needles. The year before that, we tried to transplant a few elm trees that were growing up against our house into other locations throughout the yard. As it turns out, elms like it better between the cracks of cement.
When summer came, our yard welcomed transplanted irises, a couple peonies, and a single stalked rosebush that was once mutilated by the lawn mower but has made a beautiful comeback.
We’ve received raspberry bushes, dried chives, a few green bushes that I don’t know the names of, and one English-lavender bush that I accidentally forgot to water.
In our three short summers here in South Dakota, we’ve noticed two things. First, we live on the only busy street in the entire state. Second, all our neighbors have lilacs planted out front to block the traffic noise. Being the logical and quiet loving individuals that we are, we’re in the middle of transplanting lilacs.
I’ve priced them at the store. We can’t afford them. And the truth is, we don’t really need to buy them.
You see, our neighbor’s entire back yard is fenced with the fast growing bush-trees. We took a few lilacs that had naturally seeded across our fence line and moved them out front. They are just little guys though, and while I know they grow fast, we started to worry that the five, eight-inch tall plants weren’t going to accomplish our mission of blocking out our entire view of Sheridan Lake Road. Luckily our neighbors are incredibly generous and needed more space for a new garden spot. As a result, they gifted us with a large lilac bush from their yard.
So last Wednesday, around 10 o’clock at night, my husband and I dug a hole that was two and a half feet deep. We then proceeded to haul that 130-pound monster the 30 feet from our neighbor’s back yard into our front lawn.
We had picked the perfect spot for it—at the end of our walkway that led to the front door. It was almost 5 feet tall and was going to have fantastic odds of success. The next day, on the other side of the sidewalk, we planted an identical tree that was only 3 and half feet shorter. They were the perfect pair.
Yes, I suppose we aren’t really in the same caliber as places like Biltmore or Busch Gardens. But as I was pulling out of our driveway a few days later, I realized it is all about the vision.
We are visionaries. My husband and I realize the potential those trees possess and are hopeful they’ll bring us quietness and a little peace of mind. We’re willing to have various sizes of the same plant lined up together in a straight row before our house because we know they’ll grow. Hopefully tall and proud before we move, but if not, someday the next tenants will thank us for our stroke of genius.
Life is a lot like our gardening. God can pick us up and transplant us anywhere He’d like if we are willing to uproot for Him. And the truth is, I’ve been craving lately for God to transplant me and my family.
I’ve read two books that have led me to the realization that I’m raising children in a world that teaches them the right shoes create the right identity. In my day it was Keds and Air Jordans. Today, or maybe it was yesterday already, it’s Hurley’s. If I can’t afford lilacs, I can’t afford Hurley’s. Which leaves me wondering how I’m going to help my children transition through school with the least amount of scarring?
I told my husband we’re going to move. I originally believed the best place to be transplanted would be the Philippines. They needed a leadership developer and we happen to own a wilderness ministry whose main focus is leadership. I thought the Philippines looked great. They’ve got beaches and children with large eyes. Their homes are fortunate to have solid foundations and few of them have Hurley’s in the closet. I also noticed that lush landscaping appeared to be built into the scenery, which would make my task as a gardener a lot less daunting.
My husband had several objections to this move. The main one being we’d be too far away from family.
I was disappointed, but not discouraged. I went back and located a need for an interim worker in the Czech republic. The job required working in sports ministry. I reasoned, what father wouldn’t want his three sons to be involved in sports? He said no and made some faithless comment based on the seeming instability that has rocked their government for the last 20 years. Truth was, I wasn’t genuinely sure about that choice either.
We ended up having a talk about the root of the issue behind my sudden desire to relocate.
While I can joke about it, the desire is very real. I want to be a part of a community that doesn’t look perfect. I want to be a part of a melting pot of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. I want to surround myself with others who are more concerned about their need for lifesaving medication rather than matching decorative pillows with new couches. I want to help them in their search.
We’ve been saving up for a home, but I’ve suddenly realized the absurdity of spending thousands of dollars on a place that can only keep me from being uprooted for God’s work. I’ve realized the enormity of the global need for care, money, food, and medicine. In America, even the college, entry-level graduate has an abundance compared to so many children across the world.
In essence, when I compare the life I can chase after by stockpiling money, buying a home, and allowing my children to participate in all the extras, to the worth and value found in the people who are surrendering hopes and dreams of something better, I see no reason to stay planted where I am.
Which leaves another question for those of us who long to make the world a little smaller: Where are we supposed to go? And if it doesn’t require crossing an ocean, how can I remove my children from the consumerism I immerse myself in?
I’ve come to a place of peace with these questions. You see, the best part about being planted by God is that He intricately and perfectly landscapes the seemingly random community that He places us in. He has a mission that we can help accomplish. With a little growth and longevity, He can use us to block out the static and noise of the world so that His voice and His beauty might be better heard.
So, until He thinks I’m ready, I’m just going to stay here and grow.
Truthfully, right here in my community, there are locations full of children who are victims of alcoholic homes. There are women who are uncertain of how to start fresh once free from the blanket of abuse that’s covered their lives. There are elderly men and women who have sacrificed the best years of their lives working so that we might live in such a comfortable America today. This is where God has planted me, so this is where I will bloom.
I will be His lilac. Fragrant with the smell of God.