• Dana L. Butler

On Gardening in the Rain and the Hard Work of Waiting

Friday evening finds me in our front yard, up to my elbows in dirt and pathetic-looking tulips that’ve long since quit blooming.

We have a showing tomorrow, and this flower bed needs some serious attention.

Stan has already mowed the yard and is bathing our boy, while our littlest sleeps soundly upstairs.

I look down at my dirt-covered fingers and I’m stopped for a second by this gentle tug: “Dana, be awake to this moment.”

Okay, Lord. I’m listening.

“Hi, Miss Dana!”

I’m jolted out of my contemplation by our neighbor girls’ enthusiastic greeting. Standing in their driveway, they toe the edge of our yard as the older one inquires, “What exactly are you doin’?”

I explain to curious faces how tulip bulbs work, that the tulips are done blooming for the season and they’ll come back next spring even though I’m cutting the fading stalks down to the dirt now.

Their eager smiles tell me my loving attention is feeding their souls.

Mom appears, harshly orders them inside so she can whisper to me about how their dog got hit and killed by a car, how her husband mowed the yard yesterday and he’s back home now and she’ll call me later to fill me in.

She never calls.

So much for a restraining order, I guess.

My heart sinks a bit as I bump up against reminders of the desperate brokenness of the human race, the gaping dysfunction that is so in-my-face here in these parts.

I ache over those sweet kiddos next door as I keep on working in my too-long-neglected flower bed. Stan and Isaac step outside to say hi, Isaac freshly bathed but forever in his storm trooper costume, even though he doesn’t know what a storm trooper is.

I shoo him inside so he doesn’t get his white costume dirty, not to mention his freshly dirt-free bod, and no sooner than the two of them walk in the door, the mostly-sunny sky starts pouring rain on me.

I grab clippers and trim our big ol’ bushes so potential buyers can make their way up our front walk without having to squeeze between pokey evergreen branches.

Cars drive by with wipers running and I imagine people must think I’m nuts, trimming bushes in the rain. And it’s entirely possible that I am. But I can’t make myself go inside.

Something in the rain is keeping my heart beating and hoping beneath the heaviness.


Saturday morning arrives and I’m up and in the shower a few minutes after 6, my “scratch piles” of randomly mixed music I’ve complied to spark creativity blaring on my iPhone.

My body’s bone-tired from the still incomplete work of getting house and yard in ship-showing-shape, but I will my heart awake anyway. Will my soul to worship.

Stan and I spend the morning feeding kids and cleaning up last-minute messes and letting Isaac watch too many episodes of Dora and Curious George because it’s impossible to keep the house in perfect condition unless he is sitting. perfectly. still.

The showing is scheduled for 10:30 and by 10:15, Stan is corralling the kids out to the car while I’m sprinting around like a madwoman, vacuuming and straightening the playroom, moving train tracks from the dining room window bench and replacing them with decorative pillows.

Whew. Done.

I’m out the door at 10:26 and we head to Costco.

And pray. Oh, do we pray.

Jesus, please give our home favor. And please, pleeeease let these people show up.

We had a no-show showing a couple weeks ago. Our realtor says it’s rare for this to happen, and rare it may be, but oh, it was so disheartening. HOURS of working like a crazy person to somehow make our home look like it’s not occupied by a family with two tiny mess-makers… only to have no potential buyer show up to admire all my hard work.

So we wander Costco aisles, Isaac’s storm trooper costume drawing grins from fellow customers, and we keep breathing prayers. “Please God. Let this be the one. At least let them show up…”

We arrive home and I dash inside to check positions of bedroom doors and shower curtains. I’m becoming an expert at determining whether our “showings” actually show.

And today? They didn’t.

Our realtor calls theirs. Turns out they have young children who were melting down and they needed to cut their house-hunting escapades short for the day — RIGHT before they got to our house.


Really? Really?  My generally optimistic heart is quickly slipping into discouragement. Isaac pulls toys out and groceries and diaper bags cover the dining room table. My “perfect” house is in disarray again and we haven’t been home 10 minutes.

Stan gets Maia-bean ready for her nap and I try to keep my frustration inside as I unpack groceries into the fridge.

This heart-nudge had begun back in the Costco aisles and I’d tried to brush it aside. Now though, it becomes impossible to ignore.

“Is it enough, Dana, if it’s all only for me?”


All this holding out hope, all the pouring out of heart and prayer and sweat and WORK into the preparing, into the choosing to believe this could be the one? All this refusing to allow disillusionment to take root like it so easily could on this roller coaster ride of house-on-market-ness?

If the all work and faith and pouring myself out are actually not unto a showing, but unto simple worship and trust? Unto blessing His heart?

Is it enough?

Oh God, I want my answer to be YES. But the waiting and the work, they feel so hard and I need *more* grace, Father, if this kind of offering is what you’re asking of me.

I drag my exhausted self into the living room, sink to the floor in front of Stan’s chair. He prays as he works the tension out of my upper back. “Father, give Dana grace to see all her hard work as an offering to you, to know your pleasure in it…”

Okay. I hear you, Lord.

I trust you for grace to respond to your invitation. Grace to do all this working and waiting, all this pouring out of every ounce of energy for every showing (or non-showing), all this still holding out hope — to do all of it as an offering to you alone.

Because if it doesn’t move us an inch closer to Colorado, but it does move your heart?

It’s enough.

You’re enough.

–Sharing this post with my sweet friend Lisha’s community, #GiveMeGrace.–

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