Ten years ago my family moved from South Florida to Washington State. Look at any map and you’ll notice that this was a move from the Southeastern corner to the Northwestern corner of the United States. The adventurous move brought on a huge change in our gardening environment. In Florida we mostly grew coconuts, tried our hand at growing pineapple (with little success) and a variety of tropical plants including hibiscus, bougainvillea and the quintessential birds of paradise.
We now live near Seattle, where the growing season is short. Being exceptionally fond of melons, I knew that a gardening challenge would be to grow mouthwatering melon with only 70-75 days of growing time. In case you are wondering, many varieties of watermelon require 85-100 days to mature.
What started with reading the back of seed packets became a bit of research by the Midnight Gardener who selected an assortment of shorter season melons, including the Blacktail Mountain Watermelon. In the early 1970’s, Glen Drowns was a seventeen-year-old boy who lived in the mountains of Northern Idaho where the summer nights could dip into the 40’s (Fahrenheit). Drowns grew up in a poor family where most of their food was grown in a garden. Just once a year he wanted to relish crisp, sweet watermelon during his August birthday. He didn’t let the temperatures during those summer gardening months stop him. Instead he persisted during four summers, crossing heirloom seeds until he developed a watermelon plant that would mature fruit in his short season. Let me tell you that if you like watermelon even slightly, you will come to crave this dark, dark green, cannonball shaped summer beauty.
When our oldest daughter, Clever Girl was seven, she began to pray every night for a baby sister AND a baby brother to join our family. Her three-year-old sister heard her prayers and joined in them. It might seem strange for them to pray for babies to come to our family, but we were active in the adoption process at the time. In fact, these two daughters knew that they themselves had joined our family through adoption. If you aren’t familiar with the adoption process, we can tell you that it takes a lot of faith, obedience, time and lots and lots of prayer. Our daughter had heard her parent’s constant prayers that we would be able to adopt again, and so she added her bold, persistent prayers to ours–but upped the request to two babies!
These little angel daughter’s prayers continued night after night for over two years. What were we as their parents to say to them? We didn’t want to discourage their prayers or not show absolute faith that these two tiny, faithful, daughters of God would not have their prayers answered exactly as they were offered. What were the odds of a sister and a brother coming to our already blessed family of two children? How were we going to explain to our darling daughters that God doesn’t always answer our prayers as we expect, or that maybe God intended for us to only have two little girls and no other children? What were we to do? Well, we kept praying and hoping in our heart of hearts that God would answer their prayers. We also worked on being obedient, wanting to do all we could for such an amazing blessings as having a family with more children.
While our daughters continued to pray, we made that move from Florida to Washington State. Within a brief time, we received that wished-for, but unexpected phone call. The voice on the line asked us if we were willing to consider bringing a fourteen-month-old little girl into our family, and then his words brought the rest of the answer to our two daughter’s non-stop, absolutely sincere prayers. The fourteen-month-old had a soon to be born brother due in May. The birth mother invited me to be at his birth, which is the only birth of our four children that I was able to witness.
We are certainly delighted that Glen Drowns persisted until he created a watermelon we can now easily grow in our short summers here in the state of Washington. When we each take the first fall bite of this mouthful of sweetness, we all just want to bury our faces in it. Similarly, growing a family for us has taken twelve or more years of persistent faith, prayers, and obedience and to be honest, a lot of tears, worries, and stress. And, oh yea, did I mention tears and crying? As we have held our three daughters and our son close at each stage of their lives, we have felt blessed and know that God is a God of miracles.