Message in the Morning Glories

I’ve always felt sorry for morning glories.

I discovered them when I was four years old. I’d gotten up early one morning and tiptoed outside. The purplish-blue flowers covered our front porch–so pretty, I ran and woke Mother. The blooms climbed the strings just as she’d intended, all the way to the top of the porch like Jack in the Beanstalk.

We sat enclosed in an enchanted garden.

“Morning glories are fragile,” Mother said. “They can’t take the heat.”

Poor flowers. I felt so sad for them.

Sure enough, right before lunch, their violet heads drooped, colorless and wilted. Mother told me they’d be back the next morning, but I didn’t believe her.

How could they? I’d watched them die.

Doubtful, I woke early the next day and slipped outside to the porch.

How could it be? There they were again. Waiting for me! In all their glory! I ran my finger along their velvety petals.

Now, almost fifty years later, my husband called me out to the garden last week. “Well,” he said grimly. “The morning glories finally won. They took over the garden.” He stooped to pick a few tomatoes and jalepenos. Somehow the delicate flowers had outshined the green beans, field peas, and cucumbers.

I knew I should be upset about losing the vegetables, but I wasn’t. I was proud of the determined little purple flowers!

They twirled around my heart as though they held a message.

What is it, Lord? Why am I rooting for morning glories? Why do I love them so much?

Because You relate to them, He seemed to say. Sometimes the flowers that appear the most fragile are the strongest. Like people. I’ve seen the discouragement in your heart. I will take that delicate dream you’d almost given up on it and make it strong. Trust Me.

Praying for you my friends, and for your delicate, sometimes fragile-feeling dreams.




Daddy’s Garden

I grew up shelling butterbeans and field peas in the summertime. Last week, my husband brought in his first giant buckets of vegetables from this year’s garden. He lined up his tomatoes and cucumbers in long neat rows on the kitchen counter. “Thirty-three of each. Can you believe it?” He pointed to the bucket of peas.

“Uh-huh,” I said,  trying to remember how my grandmother froze tomatoes. And wondering how long it would take me to shell all those peas.

The next day I sat at the kitchen table shelling peas, my mind wandering through childhood summers. Mother called.

“What ‘cha doing?” she said. I told her.

“Reminds me of your daddy’s garden. Remember how much I hated it? Your daddy grew up with a garden and most folks in our neighborhood had one. Sometimes he worked in it by moonlight whistling, “Blueberry Hill” while I sulked inside the house.  For years I hated his garden. Until September of 1982. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The sun was broiling hot that day, but he never stopped smiling. The diagnosis didn’t seem to be a big deal to him. He got his bucket and said, ‘I’m going to pick butterbeans, and I said, ‘Let me go,’ and he said, ‘You don’t like picking butterbeans.’ But I wanted to more than anything in the world. So I did. Bugs and maybe a snake crawled by. It was so hot I had spots before my eyes, but I wouldn’t have left his side for anything. Finally he said, ‘That’s it.’ We went inside where it was cool and sat at the kitchen table drinking sweet tea and shelling butterbeans. That was the first time I’d ever shelled butterbeans with him. I told God I could do this for the rest of my life if He would just let your daddy live.”


A pause formed in the conversation.

Then she said, “He never stopped smiling shelling those butterbeans. Somewhere inside my heart I found the grace to smile with him.” My father died the following July.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I decided to praise my husband and my Father for our glorious garden this year. “Plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” Jeremiah 29:5 (KJ)