There are a lot of benefits of marrying into a farming family. First, it’s the fruits of their labor. I have eaten some of the best fruit in the world, blueberries especially. I have learned about different varieties and seasons and harvest schedules. I’ve learned about soil acidity and the importance of water and the necessity of pruning and training the plant.
I love learning these things because I am part of this family so I want to know and care like the rest.
As a Southern California kid removed from the world of agriculture (AG) I didn’t grow up with much thought as to where my food came from and I certainly didn’t appreciate the love and care that goes into it.
I am thankful that we got to learn by immersion when we moved to the Central Valley and Gunnar started working for his family. My favorite part was the blueberry plants he got for our back yard- three little “snow chaser” plants. They lived in pots for a bit at first and then in the fall he planted them. That spring I was so excited to see the little flowers. Gunn explained that those sweet blooms would be where they would set fruit. You could imagine my shock and disappointment when he took them off! What the!?!?! How can I eat blueberries if you just killed their opportunity to even grow?
Gunn said the first year they’re planted you have to strip the blooms so that the plant won’t put energy into growing fruit, but growing it’s root system as well as it’s branches and leaves. It made sense, but I didn’t like it. There was some pruning and there was work done to make sure there were not stray branches growing laterally but strong canes going up.
The next year he thinned the blooms, but let me have some fruit and oh my goodness was it awesome. Fresh blueberries right on the plant in my backyard. It wasn’t even enough for a decent cobbler but it was good for an occasional snack or to sprinkle over a bowl of vanilla ice cream, (which you should totally try).
Year three there was finally a sweet pay day! All the waiting and watering, training and pruning literally came to fruition. Those pretty little blooms, tons of them, set fruit. Little green berries grew and changed color and we got lots of ripe delicious blueberries. For the month of their harvest window we ate blueberries whenever we wanted and it it was amazing. But the most beautiful part of it was that I saw that ran a pretty similar parallel to my life.
When we moved to Visalia, we were transplanted and it was traumatic in a way. All the friendships and relationships we left were severed to an extent. Thank the Lord for technology and face time and social media to stay virtually connected. But here we were starting life all over again. It felt a bit bare and scarce emotionally and relationally. We started meeting new people, and we worked hard at this new life. Gunn and I were new parents living in a new city and we were having to set a new foundation for our home. We went deeper into God and with each other, and I see now that we were needing to put our energy into these new roots!
That next year we got to enjoy more external blessing. We bought a home. We were growing closer to the friends we made in year one. We were getting more involved in our church and in our community. It was not the involvement and intimacy we had in So Cal, but it was getting there. There was some fruit so to speak, and we enjoyed it wholeheartedly!
By year three we were feeling at home and healthy. We had another son, we felt settled and secure in so many places of our lives – family, work, community. It felt like a harvest of sorts as we were enjoying the fruits of our labor. It was such a blessing and so very sweet. And then something crazy happened. It felt like all the sudden there was some more pruning!
What the what?!?!?
Gunn started school, my closest friend moved to Scotland, we had to pull back from so many of the friendships, commitments and other things we loved. We had to reevaluate our lives and it was a little uncomfortable.
I am so thankful for the word of God that gives truth and perspective. I love that he offers us his Spirit to be our helper and comforter. As we were (and continue still) adjusting in this season of reevaluation I was reminded of John 15:1-2 where Jesus says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
I understand he’s talking about grape vines not blueberries, but I love that sweet reminder that even good things will be pruned, not just for the sake of pruning but to bear more fruit.
John 15:4-5, goes on to say to, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Dictionary.com defines abide as a verb and gives the following definitions:
1. to remain; continue; stay:
2. to have one’s abode; dwell; reside:
Oh how I want this!!
The passage continues and verses 7-9 say, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
No matter where we find ourselves in the process be it transplant, root growing, cane pushing or fruit producing the only work we really have to do is abide in the love of God. He’s the one who will do work that needs to be done.
I thought it was fascinating that as I asked Gunn about what pruning looks like on a mature plant he once again described my life. The mature canes will bear fruit for years, but then must be cut out to make room for new canes to grow and produce. The “canes” of my twenties look different from the “canes” now in my thirties. The fruitful places grow and change as life goes on.
As much as I hate change I love the hope in that. As I continue to abide in Christ I am promised that as a disciple I will bear much fruit. Though the season change, when the harvest window comes there will be sweet and beautiful fruit.