A Well-Tended Tale

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By Tanara McCauley

My parents are gardeners. Not your average throw-a-plant-in-a-pot-and-let-it-fend-for-itself gardeners; they are certified members of the green-thumb club, with a significant portion of their yard dedicated to fruits, vegetables, and herbs of every variety. Their garden thrives, and they are neighborhood-famous for it.

Of course, their success was neither accidental nor instant. They started small. They planted and replanted. They researched, consulted, and experimented.

They figured out what worked and what didn’t, what was worth the hassle and what was literally for the birds. They honed in on their garden’s potential and cultivated it over time to make it the lush, bountiful feat that it is today.

Then they built one for me. Not like their own, mind you, but a starter plot similar to what they chanced in the beginning.

My father built a large planter of wood, painted it, lined it, paved the ground around it, filled it with soil, and eagerly turned it over to me.

He was excited to see what seeds I would put in the ground and how I would tend them.

His excitement got me excited. I planted a few garlic bulbs around the perimeter to deter the deer and bugs, planted strawberries and jalapeño seeds, bell peppers and herbs.

A bit of a mishmash, yes, for I was anxious to see anything grow.

Expecting quick results, I became discouraged when day after day turned into weeks of no sprouts. I was also not a little put out by the garden chores: dragging the heavy hose all the way to the side of the house and dragging it back again, checking for snakes, fending off moths, cleaning the planter of rain-splashed soil.

I began to water begrudgingly, and on some days I skipped watering altogether. By the time a few buds introduced themselves, I was almost as affronted by the low yield as I was excited by the splash of green on brown canvas. This little bit of progress was a long way from the magnificent garden I imagined, and my enthusiasm was fading.

I wanted a garden to boast about; I wanted none of the tedious tending involved.

Then one day, while I crouched over the planter doing a disappointed sprout count, my story came to mind. I thought about how excited I’d been in the beginning when the story idea was new and unique and full of potential.

I remembered the envisioned final product: how it would be special, lingering.

I considered the early days of writing and praying, of probing God for ideas and for His reaction to the words unfolding. I recalled His excitement.

I knew the timing of this garden was intentional on His part. For it came when I was growing tired of the tending of my story—the writing, rewriting, and OH-MY-COOKIES rewriting yet again; the researching and consulting and putting down words and pulling them back up; the experimenting and failing and small-but-not-quite-satisfying successes.

Unlike the garden, my story was far past the early mishmash of ideas phase, but I’d reworked it enough to still experience the fading luster of the vision.

And God wanted me to remember the vision in all its early radiance.

He wants all of His writers to remember and trust that He, our loving Father, has built us this bed of dreams and placed it in our care, excited to see what we would do with it, what we would plant in it, and how we would tend it.

Tending it is hard. Waiting is often harder. But if we continue to hone and cultivate without getting weary, these stories of our dreams will bloom large, special, and lingering. They will be ripe with the evidence of our toil and care. And they will glorify our Father with their fruit.

God wants us to remember that He has built the garden of our dreams, and is excited to see what we plant and how well we'll tend it. @TanaraMcCauley #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Tanara McCauley is a writer of stories inspired by the adventure she lives in Christ. That adventure includes one husband, three children, and a fearful little dog named Charlie. And books. Lots and lots of books. Visit her website at tanaramccauley.com or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tanara.mccauley/.


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