Every now and then, I come across a real gem in the piles and piles of books that I purchase, collect, and basically hoard until I’m able to devote the time to read them. I don’t believe it’s all a happy coincidence though. There’s a time and season for everything, right? The title and the cover definitely has to draw me in and I like to think that has something to do with my selection. But before anything else and without me even knowing, God has worked his plan and purpose into my selection. He knows that it’s something I NEED to read right now and he never makes mistakes. This time Cultivate was speaking to me and it makes perfect sense now because I’m in a season of growth.
Summer is going by so fast and everyone and everything is busy and growing, including our garden. In late Spring, I found myself growing seedlings from anything and everything I could get my hands on and filling our Tower Garden with every vegetable and fruit it would hold. My kids have even gotten into it, especially my daughter Grace, eating basil straight from the garden, taking care of the slips in the window sill, and helping me plant and look after our seedlings. For months now we’ve been watching things blossom and grow. I’m usually slacking in the green thumb area, but this time around I’ve found a lot of success and managed not to kill too many plants. Growing my own foods from seed has been so therapeutic and rewarding.
So it was amazing to pick up a book like Cultivate that likens where I am in my life right now to gardening, especially since I’m actually in the thick of it myself (the gardening I mean, of course). The author also had a daughter named Gracie like me and we had shared a lot of the same life experiences. If I’m being honest, I’m in the thick of it in my life right now too. I’m an almost 45 year old stay at home mom and I hit a major speed bump. I always knew being a mom was part of my purpose and the sacrifices we’ve made as a family have been so worth me being stay at home mom. So going back to the “working outside of the home world” after twelve years was not my cup of tea, nor did it feel like it was filling my need to serve and fulfill my purpose. I had been pursuing other interests that were leading me absolutely nowhere thus far. I was feeling like I was being called to something more, but I just didn’t know what that something more was.
Then along comes this book and I realize, I’m right where I’m suppose to be. Right now I don’t need something more. Something more may come later. Does that ever occur to you when you’re feeling lost that you really aren’t lost at all? You always hear there is a time and a season for everything, but I guess I never realized I was in a season of my own right now. I didn’t realize that being at home and here for my kids right now was all the purpose I truly needed. More importantly, that it matters a lot and that it’s enough.
Embrace Your Season
In our society, we’re conditioned to think that we always have to become something more or start something new, because if we don’t, we won’t be enough. We’re always wanting to jump from point A to point Z in our lives to find our next purpose, without thinking about the time in between. What if we’re just suppose to sit in our season, whatever it is, and let ourselves grow?
In reading this book, I discovered that you can cultivate a purposeful life right where you are at this very moment. That doesn’t mean that if you’re going through a growth period like I am, that it’s easy street. On the contrary, it’s hard as hell! There are major growing pains, there are stumbling blocks all along the way, there’s loss, and you have to rely on others sometimes during the process. It also requires a ton of patience, which I can always improve on. But just like my garden, the growing can be so beautiful and inspiring if you just let it happen!
I’ve had some growing pains like pursuing my Masters Degree, which may or may not pan out. It just might not be the season for it…still TBD. That’s just like the growing pains my squash is having as it keeps developing all female blooms and no male blooms, which consequently will make no squash. Clearly it’s the season for girl squash…whoop whoop! Money has been a stumbling block for both me and my garden. Until I got back to business, money was a little tighter and that also meant waiting until now to purchase the dirt for our raised bed garden. Our sweet potato slips have been growing and ready for weeks and finally they have the loose, rich soil they needed to be planted in.
Loss and Being in the Wait
As for loss, we all experience that regularly. It’s the sad part of life. Loss of a loved one, loss of a friendship, loss of a dream, or just feeling you’ve lost your way or purpose. I’ve experienced all these types of losses. In my growth, I’m not immune to loss and neither is my garden. I didn’t give my plants enough water and they shriveled up. Then I gave them too much water and not enough sun, so they wouldn’t perk back up. It wasn’t a total loss, but a loss nonetheless. Not every seed germinates, not every seedling takes to being transferred, and not every plant produces fruit. Our strawberries will probably not produce a single fruit and our one strand of cilantro may not last the summer, but they served their purpose and some bird or insect will benefit. Everything has its time, it’s purpose, and it’s season.
Gardening takes a lot of patience and time. You can’t have a full grown plant overnight. You are at the will of the weather and garden pests. There’s a lot of waiting for a fruit or bloom. Sometimes there’s too much rain and sometimes there’s not enough. You depend on the sun to come out, the clouds to provide just enough shade, and the rain and soil to provide just enough nutrients. When you’re growing, you have to be patient in the time and space you’re in. You have to be comfortable in the wait before whatever may come next. You have to be open to change and you have to rely on the help of others when things get tough or trying. Think about how our children rely on us as they navigate childhood and grow up to be amazing little humans. They need us to grow to their full potential, just like our garden needs the weather.
Giving Yourself Grace
One other important lesson from the book is the one of grace. This is something we all need a little more of. When you’re in a season of growth, you have to give yourself grace. There are going to be good times and bad, but you have to embrace them both. You have to be easy on yourself because you’re not always going to feel like sitting where you are. You might become completely stir crazy and wonder when something is going to change. We all have to do better at giving ourselves room for making mistakes. That’s when the real growing happens. That’s when you see all the rare beauty.
I recently transferred some rain lillies from my mother’s garden in the Keys home where I grew up. My mom reminded me that they are the same flowers I’ve seen in pictures that she used to put in my hair as a child. I mistakenly let them sit out of water for a day or two before I replanted them and another plant I brought. For days they just sat wilting in the window box I planted them in. I thought for sure I had killed them all and I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t transfer them quick enough. The other plant never took to the soil, but then, when I wasn’t looking, the roots of the rain lillies miraculously took hold in the dirt and the blooms opened up up for a few days before they fell off. Even after my mistake, there was still beauty, if only for a moment.
Time To Grow
It’s so true what they say, you grow through what you go through. If you’re going through a growing period, you’re not alone and you’re in the right place. Don’t feel like you have to be more or do more. I promise if you read this book, you’ll feel better about standing firm in this place. Embrace this time fully. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the beauty that is waiting to blossom in this season for you.