Do you like garden vegetables? If you don’t, its ok. I didn’t for a long time. It was pretty much because I didn’t know what I had ‘til it was gone. Pretty sure someone wrote a song about that – even though they weren’t talking about vegetables.

My dad was the master gardener – and his dad before him. When it came to the yard, my mom was the tree and flower artist, but the garden was dad’s. It was his hobby, his pride and joy, and my brother and I were his “free” labor. We lived on a regular neighborhood house lot that was 1/3 of an acre. 1/3 of that was garden. When you are a kid growing up, 7200 square feet of garden is plenty to whine about. Before we could do anything, every day of the summer, we had to weed TWO WHOLE 25’ ROWS of vegetable plants. Pretty sure that was child abuse…. Nevermind that I was allowed to live in his house, and eat the deliciousness that came from said garden. At the time, I didn’t exactly appreciate it.

Now that I am grown, I have a different take on vegetables, as well as the lessons I learned from that garden.

First of all, how cool is God?! If you look at the vast array of things that can be grown in a garden, the shapes, sizes and colors are a beautiful palate of colors, flavors and artistry. Greens, reds, oranges, purples, yellows. God’s creativity is mind-blowing!

Another lesson: hard work didn’t kill me. It made me realize that you reap a harvest from it.

As time has passed, dad’s garden has gotten smaller, but the staple, tomatoes, are the last bastion of vegetable to be cultivated by he and mom each year. There is no kind of yum quite like a homegrown tomato.

Well, it took a while, but this year was my year. I started my own garden. I prepped it, built a fence to keep the rabbits out, and planted a few veggies. There was no question that tomatoes would be out there. I tried a few varieties and despite an incredibly slow start, I GOT TOMATOES FROM MY VERY OWN YARD!!! It was a big moment for me, picking my first tomato. I proudly called my mom and dad, sent photos, and felt like super-gardener, extraordinaire. They were delicious! Just like I remembered, once tomatoes start coming, they keep on and keep on and you start making up ways to use and give tomatoes.

2 weeks ago, we had a freeze. I figured, well, it’s October, I guess its ok that my tomatoes will be done. I called my dad and told him that I was a little sad because my vines were still loaded with them. He said something that floored me. “Hang the vines in your garage and you will keep getting tomatoes.” Whaaat?? He said, “don’t you remember we hung vines in the garage when you were younger?” Um, nope. I took his advice and hung a million vines in my garage (or maybe 20ish), and just like dad said, its November and I’m getting about 10-20 tomatoes every other day! My daughter asked where I was getting all of the tomatoes. I asked, “didn’t you see all the vines in the garage?” Nope. Like mother, like daughter. Ha!

Prior to the freeze, had I stripped the vines of the tomatoes that were green and picking size, I wouldn’t have gotten near the number of tomatoes that I have since I moved the whole vines, and they surely wouldn’t have tasted as good. There is something about the connection to the vine that has made tomato magic.
Jesus tells His followers, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

I am seeing this illustrated through my garage vines. Jesus is our source of everything – love, wisdom, power, LIFE – both now and forever! If we don’t stay connected, we cannot grow, mature, nourish and bless others in a way that is meaningful for eternity. Even when we change surroundings: location, stage in life, jobs, family dynamics – we must stay connected to Jesus, the Vine.

I have had a special relationship with tomatoes since I outgrew my vegetable aversion, but after this year, I won’t look at tomatoes the same. They will be a great reminder that even in winter, things connected to the vine are fruitful!