I am famous for my “brown thumb”.  Even though we have moved several times over the years, changing climates, states, neighborhoods and soil conditions, nothing has altered the fact that if I touch any living plant, its chances for survival are slim.  My husband has fared no better in his numerous attempts to plant trees and flowers.  I fear that the “brown thumb” disease is contagious.  There is more.  I see undeniable evidence that this gardening malady is hereditary. My son, bless his heart, has tried to rescue wilted flower after crispy plant from his mother’s clutches.  Like his father, every tree or flower planted by Jered has died.  But there is hope!  My daughter, Danna, is not only able to keep living plants alive for an impressive amount of time, she can plant seeds and green things will actually grow!  It is absolutely amazing to me! 

When Danna was in kindergarten she had a very creative science teacher, Miss Kay, who constantly planned fun activities and projects for the children.  Danna loved her and was always talking about what she learned in science class.  While waiting for Danna in the carpool line, I spotted her standing by Miss Kay, grinning from ear to ear, jumping up and down as if she simply couldn’t wait for me to get there. As I pulled up, Danna hopped into the car, gave a huge sigh of satisfaction and stretched out her tiny hand, proudly displaying the amazing reason for her enthusiasm - a wadded up paper towel.

Now I am normally very good at being excited about the things my kids find important, but for the life of me, I couldn’t fathom why Danna would be so thrilled with a crumpled paper towel.  “Honey, what is that?” I asked.   She looked up at me with sparkling brown eyes and whispered, “Mom, there are seeds in here.  Miss Kay gave them to me and I am going to plant them and they are going to grow.  Can you believe it?”

Given my morbid experience with seeds, I declined to answer that question but instead, chose to join my daughter in her excitement – until I saw the seeds.  Evidently, Danna had been carrying them around all day because when she carefully unfolded the paper towel, all I could see was a big mess of broken, mismatched, crushed and crumbled seeds. Looking into the eager eyes of my daughter I said, “Honey, if these seeds don’t grow for some reason, remember that we can go to the store and buy new ones.”  Clutching the seeds tightly to her heart and safely out of my reach, Danna said, “Mama, they have to grow ‘cause I prayed and asked God to please make them grow and He said He would!”  I began planning a trip to Wal-Mart.

Danna was silent all the way home but when we pulled into our driveway she jumped out of the car and darted into the house, leaving her doubting mother behind.  Moments later, Danna reappeared with a small paper cup in her hand. I watched as she scooped up dirt from the front flower bed and marched confidently back into the house. I followed her, moaning my silent complaint, “Father, do you realize that your reputation is on the line here?  Why did she have to pick that particular flower bed, the one we filled with rocks because nothing, not even weeds, will grow there?”  Once again I tried to reason with Danna.  “Honey, why don’t we just buy some new seeds?”  Ignoring my faithless question, Danna stuffed the broken seeds down into the cup, marched to the kitchen sink and, placing the cup under the faucet, turned the water on full blast.  Just as fast as the seeds and dirt spilled over the edge of the cup into the sink, Danna scooped them up and poked them back in, all the way to the bottom of the cup so they couldn’t escape.  “Miss Kay says that they have to have sunshine to grow.” With this announcement, she placed her soggy cup of broken, mismatched seeds on the kitchen window sill that looks out over our screened-in porch; a place purposely designed to receive no sunlight at all.  By this time, I knew my words were falling on deaf ears and decided to let God handle this one on His own.

Several days later, I was standing at the kitchen sink preparing dinner, when I glanced out on the porch to see my daughter’s faith on spectacular display.  A small paper cup filled with green sprouts confronted my doubting heart.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. Dropping the potatoes in the sink, I literally ran to Danna’s room shouting, “Danna! Danna!  Your seeds are growing!”  I found her calmly playing “Chutes and Ladders” with Danielle, her best friend. “Danna!  Did you hear me?  Your seeds are growing!”  A brief glance and knowing smile from Danna said it all.  “I know!”  She and Danielle resumed their game, leaving me to gaze in awe and wonder at the faith of my child who dared to believe in a broken dream. 

I know you are desperately clinging to the broken and mismatched remnants of your life, wondering how you can go on.  Whispers of the enemy creep into your heart, soul and mind, taunting you with the lie that you are just too dirty and broken for God to love or use.  It seems as if nothing and no one can change that reality, so you might as well give up. 

Nothing could be further from the truth, my friend. In fact, God is drawn to broken people, choosing the most broken to do His highest work. Never underestimate the power of one, tiny broken seed.  Placed in the right hands, it will surely grow into an expression of His beauty for all to see.

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. 
A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise. (NLT)


Mary Southerland is the author of Coming Out of the DarkSandpaper PeopleExperiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, and Escaping the Stress Trap.  Mary is the founder of Journey Ministry, member of Girlfriends in God (featured among Crosswalk.com's daily devotional offerings), and a popular international speaker for conventions, retreats, and conferences. For more information, contact Mary by emailing her at: journeyfriends@cs.com or visit her website at:  www.marysoutherland.com.