“My Bumper Crop of Faith,” Ensign, June 1997, 66–67
In the spring of 1990, my husband, Dave, and I decided to alleviate our financial crunch by investing extra time and energy in a garden. The turn of the economy had brought Dave’s job at the university to an end, and we were scraping to make ends meet for our large family while Dave searched for another job. In addition to planning a vegetable garden, I made sure our fruit trees were sprayed and pruned early so we would have a good fruit crop.
The weather that particular spring was unusual. It warmed up early, and the trees quickly reached full bloom. Having spent enough money on seeds and supplies to pay for two weeks of groceries, we expended much energy planting and cultivating the garden.
Everything seemed to be going fine until the weather changed and we had a late freeze that ruined every blossom on every fruit tree in the yard. Then it rained almost every day for more than a month, making our vegetables grow too fast and become thin and spindly. Many seeds didn’t germinate because there was too much moisture, and when the weather did dry out, the soil baked until it was too solid for the tender seedlings to break through. Nothing grew well except the peas, which soon reached five feet in height—but the pods didn’t form until midsummer, and they shriveled in the heat before they could mature.
Rarely in my life have I been more discouraged. I became so angry about the failed garden that one evening I asked Dave, “Will you please read Malachi 3:11 [Mal. 3:11] and tell me what has gone wrong? Haven’t we done our part? We’ve paid a full tithing. We’re serving the Lord to the best of our abilities. But our fruits have been destroyed, and the vines have cast their fruit before their time. I just don’t understand!”
Dave picked up the Bible and turned to James 1:3. “‘The trying of your faith worketh patience,’” he quoted. “Honey, maybe the Lord thinks we need patience more than we need the food, and this is a trial of our faith. We need to just keep doing what we have been doing and not give up.”
By the end of the growing season, we had harvested only a few tomatoes and a half-dozen bitter cucumbers. I was so discouraged about the garden that I completely gave up on it. When spring came the next year, I told Dave I wouldn’t invest ten cents on seeds. In my opinion, they were a total waste of money.
Spring was short that second year. The trees bloomed for about a week; then the frost hit and refroze all the blossoms. I tried to pretend I didn’t care when the apricot blossoms turned brown; then the peach, cherry, and pear blossoms followed two weeks later. By mid-June, the weeds in the yard were high. I decided to weed the flower beds first, since they had grown just fine for me.
As I began to weed the flower beds, I noticed that several parsley starts and squash plants were coming up. The squash plants turned out to be watermelon vines from seeds that someone had spit into the flower bed the summer before. I soon found that our whole yard was alive with volunteer vegetables from last year’s crop, which had gone to seed prematurely. Potatoes, corn, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, pole beans, cucumbers, beets, and tomatoes higher than the chain link fence were spontaneously growing in our backyard.
Then I discovered that the blossoms on the fruit trees were brown not because they had frozen but because they had been pollinated. We had bumper crops on every fruit tree. Few of our neighbors had fruit that year, but we were blessed to have all we could use and some left over to share.
We had reaped where we sowed and even where we had not intended to sow. Humbly, I realized that the Lord had looked out for us after all. He had taught us to have patience and faith, and he had kept his promise to “open the windows of heaven, and pour … out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).