Home projects were created by the devil himself. Oh my dear Lord in Heaven…help us! Ok, I’m being dramatic. Landscaping a retaining wall and patio isn’t nearly as bad as gutting out your kitchen. Regardless, attention to detail in both scenarios is crucial. It will be the determining factor in whether or not the project holds up over time and under pressure.
I’ve had this dream. Ever since we moved into our new home 1.5 years ago, I’ve dreamt of creating this amazing space with our backyard. Brick steps, patio, stone fireplace, soft cushy chairs, greenery, flowers. You know, the pictures you see in Southern Living Magazine when the family is entertaining their friends with mint juleps and grilled shrimp with garlic cheese grits? That’s what I saw every time I looked out into our rocky, dirty, sandy back yard. We had a long way to go before I could send out those custom invites for my Southern Living-esque party.
Michael, my husband, finally agreed that this summer we would start the project. I have been
stalking checking in on the crew throughout the process and documented the growth with my iPhone. Here is the before:
Here is half way finished:
I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because it’s not perfected yet. It’s been a tedious and meticulous process. Before we even called the landscaper to discuss the project, there were nearly 10 trees we had removed from the yard. Space needed clearing for the new work to be done. Congestion was created from the quantity of trees. We removed the ones that didn’t promise further growth, that created gum balls, and seemed nearly dead. Quality is what we desired. Once there was room to grow, the workers then had to do an enormous amount of digging, throwing away, bringing in more dirt, leveling off, patting, and measuring before even one stone was laid.
I would watch them level the ground, smooth it out, then level it again. Anxiously awaiting the stones to be laid, I got annoyed and impatient when I saw them get their darn level stick and smooth it out just one more time. Good grief people…it looks good…just start building! Then, once two stones were placed onto that perfectly smooth surface, the landscaper retrieved his level and balanced it on both stones, ensuring they were exactly the same height. He did this for EVERY.SINGLE.STONE. If one was a tad higher, he got his rubber hammer and beat on the top until it lowered to the precise spot. Oh my gosh, dude! I think it looks totally great, let’s move on.
My personality is known as ATF….Act, Think, Feel. I typically act on something, think about what I’ve done, and then feel the repercussions later. If I were building that back yard retreat, no digging would be done, I would start stacking up stones like I was playing with Lincoln Logs, and build that sucker without using a tape measure, level, or any strategic planning whatsoever. Common sense would tell anyone that my patio would be uneven, crooked, have no drainage system for rain water, and my friends would trip and spill their fruity drinks and never want to come to any more of my parties again! ;)
I do this in life, too. Maybe you can relate and make me feel better for not being the only one who is impatient during the process, and only wants to see results. We (I’m going to assume you agreed with me) have dreams, like my backyard. But more importantly, life changing dreams…like graduating from school, getting that job, saying “I Do”, having a baby, buying a house, running a marathon, starting your own business, mending relationships, repairing marriages, fighting illnesses, or overcoming personal obstacles. We want the results. Most of us want them immediately. Some of us have learned some patience during the waiting. Regardless, we all hope to see our desires come true. We yearn for the finished product, but easily find ourselves questioning and doubting God’s building process.
Before God brings us to where he has planned, there is some ground work that needs to be laid. Like the trees that required removal from our yard, things in our life need to be cut off, weeded out, and gleaned. It’s not always about quantity, it’s the quality that counts. The old must go to make room for the new. God is prepping us for the good that is to come, but first he may have to dig away at our spirits, ridding us of the qualities and characteristics that are not of Him. It looks ugly, and we would never want our friends to see that part, but it’s necessary for the finished product. We may see nothing but dirt, but God sees a work in progress.
I’m so glad God takes his time with me, carefully inspecting me and meticulously molding me into the woman he sees. I can choose to look at the circumstances in my life like a big pile of bricks and a horrible mess.
But God sees the finished product. He knows where he is taking me and knows the method that is required to get me there. He’s laying down the ground work in my life in order to build up a woman who reflects Christ. It’s a process, but I know I can rely on Christ to provide patience, grace, understanding, and wisdom while I am waiting.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”