I can’t help taking pictures of my garden in all its loveliness, close-ups of the blooms and their charming faces. It’s the same sort of deep-in-the-gut joy that I get from catching a picture of my sleeping beauty, passed out on my bed (and full of juice, so essentially a ticking pee-bomb waiting to explode), peaceful and so very temporarily small.

They’re not so very different, my flowers and my children. In this vocation of motherhood, I am but a gardener, tending the seeds that have miraculously come to life through God’s grace. It’s my job to determine whether the tough love policy (no water on you, you’re a perennial with deep roots even if it is a drought year) or the compassionate green thumb approach (here you go, little plant, take a deep long drink of this fertilizer and grow big and strong) is the right one to take. I have to give up my little comforts to take care of the transplants and work a little harder to weed the unmulched areas. I have to do the heavy work of mulching and the back-breaking weeding. I have to clean things up in the spring, deadhead throughout the summer, and prepare the beds for winter, weeding as I go. There is no rest. The flowers don’t say thanks, except with their blooms and the gift of butterflies, bumblebees, hummingbirds, and happy girls that parade around me.

And in the end, my reward might not be in the beauty of the blooms or in the hardiness of the plants. My reward might just be that I toiled and that the Master said “well done.” My reward might not be what I expect at all, and there’s a chance I’ll have nothing to show for it in my photo album. My reward could be the relief of getting out my frustrations by playing in the dirt instead of the luxury of sitting back and getting a massage.

Thankfully, I don’t do this alone. God has blessed me with a spouse in the gardening adventures, one who is so much wiser than I am, one who has strengths that I don’t, and one who loves me as much as he loves the garden. He’s also given me the gift of Himself, and when I check in at the end of the day, I wonder what He thinks of His garden, and whether I am doing my part to make my garden like His.