ripe tomatoes & prayers answered suddenly

I witnessed the fullness of a miracle this morning, and it came right on time for me.
I am broken-hearted right now, frustrated, hurt, almost paralyzed
by too many life changing worries at once.
And I desperately needed to see that God is still in control.
He reassured me this morning, and I am so grateful.

Sometime late in May I had a few scraggly tomato plants leftover from a market-to-garden bonanza. I had bought and planted and bought and planted until my fingernails were caked with soil and my raised beds were just plain full. Too full, as the weeks since have proven. But still these five or six little seedlings needed a home, along with a couple of jalapeno starts, so I dug up enough narrow holes in the herb garden to accommodate them, thinking, Ah well, if I need to move them later I will. I'm going for a run. Running is my most favorite excuse for procrastinating.

Well, the plants did marginally okay. I decided to leave them there near the Rose of Sharon and hope for the best. They faltered a bit, sagging in the poorer soil of the herb bed then drowning in those monsoon days we had last month. They stayed tiny for weeks. But I left them there, grooming them from time to time, shoring up the soil, providing stakes nearby. I scattered coffee grounds at the base of the tomato plants and scratched marigold seeds around them. Fingers crossed, you know? I had plenty of doubts whether these tomatoes and peppers would survive, let alone produce fruit.

Oh ye of little faith.

Then one day I was at the kitchen sink gazing outside at the voluminous and colorful herb garden, and I noticed that rather out of the blue those scraggly little babies had grown several inches. They were suddenly recognizable tomato plants! They were actually fluffy and beautiful with fuzzy arms, shy yellow blooms, branching elegance, all of it. The stalks were thick enough to stand up to the south winds. It was amazing.

The tomato plants grew and grew, towering lately to about three feet plus as many feet in every direction, laterally. My herb garden is not for the faint of heart. I like things crazy. Then I let the morning glory vines and wasps take over the herb bed and thought perhaps all was lost again.

Well, I didn't want to give up because I love tomatoes, I really, really wanted those tomatoes. The little sugary cherry kind, the oblong grape kind, all of them. My raised beds out back have the big beefy prize winners (when Romulus isn't robbing me blind), but in the herb bed I wanted every sweet little speck of juicy red pleasure I could get, and I was sad to think it might not happen.

Oh ye of little faith.

Early this morning after Hot Tub Summit I strolled past the herb garden, two empty coffee mugs in hand, just looking. Enjoying the twisted purple, pink, and white blooms of morning glories not yet open to the sun. Robust sage and parsley plants. Zinnias in every shade of happy confetti. Then I saw them. Heavy, glossy bunches of scarlet red grape tomatoes. Just dripping off the vine, weighing it down almost to the dirt floor.

It literally took my breath away. I'd glimpsed a few green beginnings recently, but the vines were so thick and I was so distracted by other things that I didn't register where to watch. How many were coming. The green jungle was concealing the surprise being prepared, and today that surprise was revealed. Because even in a thick, shadowy green jungle the color of a ripe tomato is unmistakable.

I collapsed onto my knees and reached in to collect the three or four taut little fruits I could plainly see. I dropped them into one of the coffee mugs, squealing and giggling. They rolled around in the sugary film there, letting a few stray coffee grounds stick to their perfect skin. I felt so relieved that a month and a half ago I took a gamble and jammed those seedlings into the poor dirt here by my kitchen window. Thrilled that every roller coaster detail since that day has swirled together to grow those challenged orphan plants into wild, gorgeous, food-producing machines.

So I had three or four grape tomatoes in one mug. Then I saw another bunch of them on an adjacent vine and collected those. Then more. I kept plucking and dropping and plucking and dropping until both coffee mugs were packed with brilliant red miracles. And I am not exaggerating when I say that about ten times that many miracles are still green on the vines, waiting patiently for that morning when they will be the surprise, the miracle, the promise come to fruition.

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