Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When You Feel Like Giving Up

Lots of branches on the ground after a good pruning

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to do that you find yourself wanting to just sit down and cry?  That you want to quit before you've even started?  That's how I feel about my yard.  This past Friday I was looking out my window for the thousandth time this spring, and I realized that there was not one square foot of yard that did not need my attention.  The enormity of the work involved overwhelmed me.

I wanted to light a match and set the whole thing on fire.  I wanted to bulldoze the whole yard.  I wanted to shut my blinds and ignore it.  Anything but go outside and attempt to bring order to absolute chaos.

I was praying on Saturday morning, mostly putting off doing yard work, and though I never actually complained about my yard to God, He knew my heart.  I was praying about something entirely different and I asked God, "What's the Next Step?"  The thing I should do to move forward.

Go outside and fill the bucket with rocks.

Huh??  God, You know that's not what I meant, right?  I didn't ask about how to move forward with my yard.  I asked about something else.  I am busy ignoring my yard, in case you missed that.

Go outside and fill the bucket with rocks.

Fine.  Clearly I was getting no where with God on the issue I was praying about.  All He wanted to talk about was my yard and the patio project we've been working on for two summers so far--where we remove all the rocks from our front porch area and turn it into a real patio with bricks.  But all those rocks stand in our way of making a patio.  Bucket by bucket, wheel barrow by wheel barrow, we are making progress.  I really did not want to go outside and tackle the patio.  But I obviously needed to go start working on my yard.

I put on my shoes, grabbed my work gloves, and set to work weeding my very overgrown garden plot.  I pulled a lot of weeds, one by one.  Slowly reclaiming my garden so I could actually plant some vegetables this year rather than just letting it go like I had planned on doing.

When I was finished I decided I needed to go to the store and buy plants to grow in my now cleared garden.  Not a lot of plants, just a few.  I bought 2 big tomato plants, 4 cucumber plants, 1 summer squash plant, and a few herbs.  Oh, and 2 ground cover plants for my flower garden that needed 2 new plants that would hopefully spread and squash out the weeds.  Way less than I have ever planted before, but it was all I felt I could handle this year.

I came home and planted the vegetables.  Then I weeded out my flower garden and planted the flowers.  Next I had to weed wack around the house because, while David does an excellent job of keeping the lawn mowed, he is still learning the finer art of edge work.  Ya.  That's a good way of putting it.  Which means there are always tall patches of grass and weeds that he misses.

As I was weed wacking, I noticed that the tree in the front yard needed its canopy raised up so people could walk under it without ducking.  Of course I had to get our new loppers and prune.

Then I was done.  Very done.  But I felt successful and that I'd knocked out a big chunk of the work.  Until I stepped back and looked at the rest of my yard.  But I digress.

Later I felt like the Lord said, Lisa, take it one day at a time.  Commit to spending 15 minutes on your yard every day you are home and you will eventually get all the work down to a system.  Right now you are playing damage control after years of neglect.  The work is a lot, but it's not impossible.  You will be overwhelmed if you look at the yard as a whole.  But you will get it done if you take it in small chunks.

I realized that God is so wise.  Every time I looked out my windows I saw every little thing that needed doing.  God urged me to see one project that I could do in 15 minutes.

Today I pruned two more trees.  I just raised the canopies so they could be walked under, and then pruned back the tree that touches our house so that it no longer touches our house.  15 minutes of work that didn't lead to me being stressed out or overly tired.

It puts me to mind of the saying, How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

How do you turn an overgrown, neglected yard into a real yard that isn't the scourge of the neighborhood?  One plant at a time.

Just as we should approach everything in life.  One step at a time.  Do the Next One Thing.

The part of my yard that I am pretending not to see--
all that horrible garlic mustard that I have to HAND PULL!!!


  1. I'm doing similar with my WHOLE house right now. Four years of neglect is...well, a lot of really overwhelming projects.

    But isn't it similar to how God works in our lives as well? It's not, "you have to give up [fill in the blank] today" -though He can do that- but usually it's more of a whittling away at our vices one notch at a time until a masterpiece begins to appear. Maybe that's why Jesus was a carpenter.

    1. Since writing this I have seen applications to every area of life. I see the end picture for homeschooling and am overwhelmed. God says "Do the next one step." Or I see where God is calling me and it's huge. God says "Do the next one step." One step at a time.