Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On Endurance and Greenhouses

My greenhouse last summer. Photographed by my sister, May.
Last spring, I had a greenhouse offered to me at a great price. In the balmy days of April, it seemed like a wonderful idea. Our family needed a greenhouse, plus it just sounded like a Proverbs 31 woman type of investment. Never mind my record of growing pathetic plants. Besides, in a regular garden you have pests, weather and destructive dogs to demolish  it. But a greenhouse, how much more control could you ask for? Oh, did I have a lot to learn! 
As the weather turned cold, I planted a bed of lettuce in the greenhouse and my mom moved in her potted lavenders. All went fine, until a few weeks ago when the first blast of winter hit the Ozarks. Though I knew the storm was coming, I neglected to ask my little brother-who-is-now-bigger-than-me how to start a fire in the greenhouse wood stove -- until the night the storm hit.

Lesson # 1: Don't Put Off What You Know You Should Do – Especially With a Greenhouse In Winter.

Thankfully, my little-brother-who-is-now-bigger-than-me is a patient teacher and willingly gave me my first class in building a fire. “You'll probably have to wake up during the night to put more wood in.” Preston advised. No problem. Years of tending our farm animals had made me well acquainted with sacrificing sleep. Only this time, my body failed me. Let's just say, that night I resembled the Proverbs 26 sloth more than the Proverbs 31 woman. Ugh! Needless to say, the fire was a smoldering ash pile the next morning, forcing me to find more kindling. Just one problem: everything was now covered in ice and snow - including my kindling.

Lesson # 2 Stock Up On Kindling Before It Storms Snow and Ice

While my quest for dry kindling was in vain, I did find a few paper feed sacks. Now if you've ever started a fire with paper only, you know that it is a very slow and l-o-n-g way to build a fire. Eventually, my labor was rewarded and I had a small fire crackling in the stove. But by the end of the day, I was stumped again. Even after restocking the stove every couple of hours, the greenhouse was barely warmer than before. And it was getting dark again. That night I set my alarm for every 3 hours and made a couple of chilly treks to the greenhouse. Some reason, I didn't feel as heroic as I did in my days...eh...nights of tending sick animals.

The good news was my fire stayed aflame. The bad news was the greenhouse was still cold, cold, cold. After investigating, I found out the gaps in the roof were letting all the heat out. A brief warming spell had relieved us from the snow, so I let the fire go out. I was advised to buy some expandable foamy stuff to fill the gaps. I had to let it sit for a couple of days due to the risk of explosion if exposed to heat, so by the time it was safe, our second blast of winter had already hit. (Though maybe I should have gone head with the fire. An explosion would have made a more dramatic ending to this saga *wink*). Unfortunately the waiting was the last my poor lettuce could take. It fell from its great height of two inches, very withered and very sad. 
That night, I took the piece of plywood I'd spied a couple days ago and an ax out to the rusty stove. At least I had dry kindling this time. I took a couple of hits at the plywood and made a terrible discovery: plywood does not split! I was too discouraged to feel ignorant for thinking plywood could be chopped with an ax. I only felt one thing. Give up. This silly greenhouse isn't worth all the energy and time I'm putting into.I thought. I never was the gardening type. Probably couldn't grow enough lettuce to feed us anyway. But in that cold plastic building, God spoke to my heart. Kenzi, don't you give up. This is a small thing, but don't you quite just because it got hard. So...I stood up, found the driest twigs I could find and worked until I got a fire.

Lesson #3 Never Make Decisions When You Are Discouraged

That has been almost a week ago. As I write, it is over 60 degrees in the greenhouse. It's been days since I had to start a new fire. In fact, my little sisters enjoy the warmth so much they have accompanied me out to load wood and have spent several afternoons  pretending the greenhouse is their Indian wigwam. I still have some problems I'm working out, but I've gained much more ground than I had last week. And I think I'm about ready to try another bed of lettuce. *grins*

Greater than the victory of having a functionally greenhouse, I was given a needful reminder. If we are going to do anything worthwhile in life, we need endurance. Endurance is the strength to keep going when everything in you screams to quit. If God has called us to do something, we can be sure there will be challenges. Problems will arise. Our own weaknesses and lack of experience will trip us up. And it comes to all of us. I've used humor in telling you about my greenhouse, but in reality, I struggle with the temptation to give up more than I want to admit. Some days it's really hard to keep the fire glowing. But you know what? I'm grateful I have a God Who gives me strength greater than any weakness. Girls, if we are obeying Him – be it in a small or great matter – He gives us what we need. But we learn this lesson only after we trust Him enough to stay committed. So whatever you're facing, I pray you'll trust in His strength. Don't quit until God says the victory is won.

Lesson #4 When Fueled by Christ, Even Weak Fires Keep Glowing

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  1. A great lesson on endurance and told in such a manner that it was very easy to apply from the physical to the spiritual. Thank you, McKenzie!

  2. Thank you for your encouragement! :)