This is the biggest bell pepper I've ever harvested from my own garden. We've had record lack of rain in our area coupled with consistent heat and I think that's why. I'm a pretty neglectful gardener, so imagine my surprise when I went to the garden to get peppers and onions for our pizza and found this! It's actually sweet! Usually my peppers don't have time to get sweet before the frost withers their leaves.
As I was editing the pictures, I noticed that the sky and trees were reflected in the skin of the pepper. The world becomes that plain in the garden. I'm reminded that life is as simple as the earth God created, the creatures who live upon it, and the food we cherish that comes from it. All the worries about my kids being nudged from the nest into the madness of middle school faded for a bit this evening in the garden and I was able consider our life in this very simple way.
Yes, my oldest children are being nudged from the nest into a frenetic and exciting world, but they always have this to come home to: the reminder that they have a God who is wild enough about them to grow giant peppers, purple potatoes and sweet carrots in a garden their mom brazenly neglects. He is looking out for them even as they swim through the sea of students and step out into the world of greater responsibility and self control. He is there, even when I can't be.
I could feel it coming, this new stage of life for our family, even before we made the choice to have two kids go to mainstream schools. It has frightened me. We are leaving the era of potty training, Ergo carriers and sippy cups and are at the foot of the mountain that is puberty and young adulthood. I have been fearful that we won't ever be together in quite the same way anymore, but that's not true. We might not be pushing the kids in strollers anymore, but for certain we are there to link arms with them and face the challenges of this world together at times.
More than that, I think my job is becoming more of a scout and a spotter: checking out the trail ahead and being prepared to catch them if they fall. At 11 and 13, our oldest kids are the ages children used to be sent off to apprenticeships or to work just as hard any adult out in the field. They are taking burdens from my shoulders because of the work they can do around the home and property and the big help they are with their younger siblings.
It feels painfully natural that they should step out into this new adventure of learning and maturing. I know that the best I can do for them now is to pledge to be for them the mom I always have been, never forgetting that my job is certainly not finished. I must be careful to step back when it's time for them to step out on their own, but acutely aware of when it is time for me to remind them that there's a lifeline they can always cling to. It's as close as a prayer, a hug or a late night talk. It's simple as a walk out to the pasture to soak in the splendor of the fog at dusk; a reminder that though we're so small, we have a God who is SO big, so that even when they feel smallest or loneliest, He is right beside by their sides.