Jennie Heideman is a writer and editor. She works full-time as a staff editor for The Daily Grace Co. She lives in Spokane, WA with her husband and two adventurous boys. She is passionate about teaching financial literacy to people living in under-resourced communities, discipling women, and using words to glorify God. In her spare time, you can find her reading, writing, or playing with her boys at one of Spokane’s many parks.
A GARDEN OF HOPE
The world had just frosted over, and my grandma was dying.
It was the fall of 2013. I had just announced my second pregnancy, and the month before, I found out my grandma had terminal bladder cancer.
Growing up, I wasn’t necessarily close to my grandma. She loved hiking, farming, skiing, biking, and eating for nutritional purposes. I loved shopping, reading magazines by the pool, and eating potato chips while watching TV. At least, that’s what I loved as a child.
Now I was a mom with a second baby on the way, and my interests were changing. I was obsessed, as all new moms are, with feeding my sweet baby boy only the best. This led me to put aside my potato chips in search of healthier options to feed my family. That led me to farmers’ markets to explore different types of vegetables, which inevitably led me to start my own backyard garden.
My husband had built a few cedar raised beds for me the previous fall and placed them in our backyard right before winter came. After which, I got to work researching companion gardening and soil types in preparation for the spring. During this same time, my grandma moved into the mother-in-law suite at my mom’s cousin’s house. She only lived 20 minutes away from me, and I had just become a stay-at-home mom, in desperate need of ways to keep my 18-month-old son busy during the long Spokane winters. So, every Monday, I would pack up my son and make the 20-minute drive from the South Hill in Spokane through the wheat fields of the Palouse to see my grandma.
My grandma, Joy, with a caught fish
My grandma and I would sit together for about one hour every Monday. We talked about nutrition and books we loved. But her memory was fading. In moments when she couldn’t quite remember who I was, she would look at my son, remembering a truth planted deep in her heart and begin to sing, “Oh, the Lord’s been good to me. And so I thank the Lord for giving me the sun and the rain and the apple seed. Oh, the Lord’s been good to me!” And thus winter drifted on.
When winter finally thawed into spring, my mom’s cousin put in a vast garden on her property and offered me a plot where I could expand my ever-growing gardening interests. So late that spring, I planted watermelon, butternut squash, and all the other viney things that my little box garden could not hold at home.
Me in the garden at my cousin’s home
I cultivated the garden all summer with my fast-growing toddler. And then harvest came, and we spent most of September collecting the literal fruits of our labor. But now it was October. October brought brightly colored leaves, warm sweaters, frost, and, consequently, the end of my garden.
As I walked on the hard soil the day after the first big frost, I couldn’t help but reflect on how God prepares us for hard losses with seasons that bring small losses. I looked at the things I failed to harvest before the frost— herbs that were green and vibrant the day before were now brown and wilted. Yesterday, there was abundance. Today, it was all rotting. And my heart grieved the possibilities lost.
"As I walked on the hard soil the day after the first big frost, I couldn’t help but reflect on how God prepares us for hard losses with seasons that bring small losses."
As I mourned my wilted garden, I thought about my grandma who lay not 200 yards away dying. I thought about all the moments we would lose and conversations we would never have. I felt like I was just getting to know her—my interests finally colliding with her interests—my heart grasped at these moments. But time drummed on, and by the end of October, she was gone.
I visited her on her last day on earth. It was my birthday, and she neared heaven with every breath. As I sat by her bedside, newly pregnant and my wilted garden right outside the window, I reflected on the ways God weaves together birth and death, harvest and frost, eternity to eternity. The seasons feel like breathing in and out. And the thought of next year’s spring brings hope in heartache.
In that moment, as I listened to her raspy breathing, I was so aware of the real garden my heart longed for. The human race began in a garden, and we are told that at the end of all things, there is another garden waiting for us (Revelation 22:1-3). In this garden, there will be no death, sickness, or tears. I thought about how God puts eternity in our hearts—that though I learned the story of the Garden of Eden and our fall as a child, I also know instinctively, deep down in my soul, that this isn’t how it was supposed to be. I know that this pain and yearning points me to some truth planted in my heart. I long for a flourishing garden where no frost ever comes—my soul thirsts for something that doesn’t exist here.
As I reflect on these past moments, I think about you too, dear reader, with all of your longings and heartaches—and I have this hope to offer you:
There once was a beautiful garden where we walked with God. Then, there was a fall and an exodus from paradise. However, God longed for us to return to the garden so we could experience His rich abundance. So, He sent His Son, who took on a punishment that should have been ours to give us His righteousness. Because of this, we know that someday we will return to an abundant life with God—where there are no tears, no pain, and no death—all you need to do to experience this is believe in Jesus, the One our Father sent to die for you.
Until then, God gives us reminders of what is to come through His common graces: a world that thaws every year, soil prepped for seeds, the pleasantness of digging in the garden, and the beauty of the harvest—those sweet memories we build with our loved ones that give us a picture of the abundance to come where no leaf will ever wither.
And so we wait. Season after season, the earth breathing in and out as we keep our eyes peeled on the horizon, waiting for the sun to rise, waiting for spring to come.
Written by Jennie Heideman for The Anchor Journal
Catch up on last week’s journal entry!
Anchor Moment with Paige Green
In August’s Anchor Moment, Paige shares about a time when her faith has truly anchored her, inspired her and/or directed her decision making.