Early this past summer, between the rows of kale and marigolds in my make-do garden, I planted four leafy-green Brussel sprouts. Tomatoes I knew. Cucumbers and green beans and zucchini too. I’d never grown Brussel sprouts, but the thought of harvesting my own organic, farm-to-table mini cruciferous cabbages was too delectable to resist. So I scooped four shallow holes in my loamy soil, packed it around the promising shoots and waited to see what grew.
All summer I watered and weeded—sometimes too much, sometimes too little. The shiny red orbs of cherry tomatoes ripened first, followed by prickly-skinned cucumbers. Heavy leaves grew wide from the now thick shoots of the Brussel sprouts.
With one lap to go, my child fell behind his teammates running around the soccer field. From the look on his face, I knew something was wrong. Not something as simple as a stitch in the side or a sore ankle, but a wound that burned far deeper.
As soon as practice was over, he followed me to our truck. “I don’t think I want to play soccer anymore,” he confided, head hanging.
“You don’t?” I asked. “Was it hard today?”
No way did I plan to come home from the Litchfield Fair with a pig. Sure, when our family moved to the rural countryside of Maine my husband, Dana, and I had talked about the benefits of raising a couple of pigs. Humanely raised meat. Fertilizer for our garden. Less dependence on the grocery store.
Only, we don’t eat much pork. And there was the whole process of pig farming, which we knew nothing about. There didn’t seem to be much risk, however, in entering our youngest son, Ezra, in the pig scramble at the local fair. While my husband and Ezra sat in the bleachers of the exhibition barn, waiting to see which children’s names would be drawn to participate, I wandered off with our 8-year-old to hear the results of a free bike raffle.
She was rescued from the middle of a Florida highway, a soft brown ball of fur surrounded by whizzing cars. One driver stopped, scooped her up and brought her to an animal shelter. Ten days later, when no one claimed her, she was vaccinated, spayed and trucked to Maine by an animal rescue organization.
“We’re getting a puppy,” I told a friend.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said with more certainty than I felt.
I was blessed this week to share at Ladies of Hope, a local monthly Bible study, about a practice that helps prepare me for my day: praying the armor of God. Plenty of people pray the rosary of the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray, it is often helpful to have a guide or template. Such forms give our prayers structure and can help us relate our concerns to God when we don’t know what to say. One passage that helps me pray is Ephesians 6:10-17, which urges believers to put on God’s armor: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes to spread the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, God’s word.