Growing up our neighbors had a huge raspberry patch. The plants grew all along the side of their garage and every summer, right about the time the raspberries were perfect for picking, the neighbors went out of town for a two week camping trip. Every summer they told us to help ourselves to the raspberry plants along with the rhubarb and a few other goodies in their garden that wouldn’t last until they returned home.
I remember day after day going over and picking large bowls worth for snacking and baking. My mom would make batches of raspberry pancakes that we’d douse with syrup.
It was magical because there was no work on our part, other than the harvest. We were simply enjoying the fruits (literally!) of someone else’s labor and generosity.
Fast forward to four years ago when we bought our house. I was thrilled to discover the small patch of raspberry plants in the back yard. We moved in at the end of August so I figured I had already missed my chance at raspberries for the year and didn’t pay much attention to the plants. Plus I was about 30+ weeks pregnant with twins and unpacking boxes so traipsing out to the back yard to investigate was not high on my priority list!
The next year we got a small harvest. And by small, I mean tiny. And I thought it was strange that the best berries showed up in September, not mid summer like I was expecting.
Each summer I have anticipated a larger return, only to wonder why my plants weren’t producing. Oh sure, we’d get a cup or two total, but with the amount of plants we had I thought for sure we should be getting more! I mean, a typical picking produced enough for the kids and I to each get a couple berries - not exactly what we were hoping for!
Only this summer, four years after moving in, did the lesson I didn’t know I needed sink in. And not just about raspberries, but about everything.
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Four Life Lessons from Raspberries
God speaks in so many different ways. His Word is alive and working but sometimes reading the stories isn’t enough to get the message into our brains! We need it spelled out in multiple ways, sometimes in creative ways, sometimes through others, but let’s face it - we can be dense!
God used my little raspberry plants to remind me of some very vital life lessons. Lessons I can apply to parenting. Lessons I can apply to blogging. Lessons I can apply to just about every single aspect of my life and I hope you feel the same.
Growth takes time
I don’t know how long the raspberries were planted before we moved in. They were growing so I assume they had been planted at least a year or so before, but I really have no way of knowing. Judging by the size though, they couldn’t have been very old. Expecting a large harvest even the year after moving in was silly of me.
Think back to all the lessons we teach our kids when they are young. All of them are not going to sink in immediately, even if we want them to. We are throwing information, expectations, life hacks, and so much more at them ALL THE TIME. It’s understandable that some of it is going to need to be repeated. Multiple times. And then again.
But slowly, over time, we begin to see the fruit of those seeds we planted in them. We see one child comfort another when they are sad. We see one choose to help out with a chore, even if it’s not their turn. We hear them ask to pray for a sick family member. It just takes time.
Weed out the bad
Even amateur gardeners know that weeds aren’t good for plants. They take away the nutrients the plants need to survive. Some can wrap around the plants and actually choke the life out of them. We need to get rid of the weeds!
But see, I’m a lazy gardener. I like raspberries because I don’t need to replant them every year. I really don’t need to do anything to them and they will grow! But this year I took the time to pull some very large weeds out from around them. I wish I had taken a true before picture because the weeds were taller and taking over the raspberry plants. But within two weeks of removing the weeds the raspberry plants had nearly doubled in size! They were clearly starving and in need of help.
Not all weeds appear as thorny evil things. There are plenty of distractions or even good things in our lives that can still be weeds and stop us from thriving as individuals, as parents, as families, as Christians, as “insert title here”. Whatever it is you want to be, there are weeds in your life draining you from doing it.
It could be an activity, it could be a person, it could be a mindset. Weed those life suckers out and start blossoming.
Do the hard work
Weeding is not fun. I was sweaty, dirty, and gross when I finished. And to be perfectly honest, I threw my back out doing it this summer. That was mostly my fault because I wasn’t being completely careful in my posture but it stunk. I was out for two weeks because of it. But I saw the growth that came after the work, I know it was worth it. But I also know I need to be smarter about it next year.
Parenting is hard work. We can’t sit back and hope our kids turn out okay. Marriage takes effort. We need to be connecting and communicating with our spouse on a daily basis to keep up the relationship. Paying bills and managing a home requires daily effort. Writing a blog and hoping it encourages readers and reaches the right people requires work. Stepping out and starting a business will have loads of challenges. Training for a marathon requires daily effort with hard work.
Whatever we want is going to require us to be challenged and uncomfortable. And I’m realizing that as soon as I start feeling comfortable, I need to push myself again or the growth will stall. I need to stop using excuses, get brave, and do the work.
The harvest will come
This year’s raspberry harvest? Incredible. At least a cup every two days for several weeks. At one point I could barely keep up. I made raspberry muffins, raspberry syrup, and raspberry pancakes. We ate raspberries for dinner most nights and the kids took raspberries and yogurt for lunch at school. It was wonderful!
But I also learned something about our raspberries - they are fall bearing! I’m sure those of you who are gardeners are shaking your heads and saying, “Duh, Katie! Of course they are.” But I had no idea that was a thing! Berry season is in the summer which is why there are always deals on them at the grocery store at that time. Raspberries aren’t supposed to be ready in September and October!
The harvest will come when it’s supposed to. I could have gotten frustrated that our raspberry plants weren’t producing in July and August when I thought they should. Instead I let them grow and bloom as God designed and they flourished. In fact, as I write this I can see our plants and they are still producing on October 9th!
Just because you aren’t experiencing a harvest today, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.