Monday, May 24, 2010

Dixie Cup Gardens

By Elisa Morgan
My first garden was planted in a Dixie cup. My kindergarten teacher passed out Dixie cups and marigold seeds, and then troweled mounds of dark earth into each of our "flower pots". Tiny servings of water were added to our dirt to create what looked like mud to me. Finally she instructed us to gently punch the marigold seed down into the dirt.

I took my Dixie cup garden home, carefully carrying the cup in my chubby fingers until I safely arrived and lodged it on the kitchen windowsill - just above the sink. Each morning I sprang from my bed to check its progress. I'd race from my bedroom to the kitchen, drag a chair to the counter and clamber up to peer into my cup. It always looked the same to me: brown, muddy dirt in a cup. Faithfully, I watered the soil. Loyally, I turned the cup so that all sides experienced equal exposure to the sun and the view from the window.

But each day, the inspection of my Dixie cup garden revealed nothing. Zip. I remember one morning I was particularly impatient. I scrambled up on the chair and peered over its edge. Brown dirt in a cup. Bother! I ran to get my mom and begged her to let me dig up that stupid seed so that I could see what it was doing down there in the dark. My mother wisely explained to me that I could certainly dig up the seed but that if I did, I would interrupt its growth and it then might not grow at all.

So much of life is like this Dixie cup garden. We fill a cup with our best provisions and punch in the seeds of our dreams and desires and then sit-waiting-starring at the brown dirt in a cup, wondering when something will grow from our efforts. Gardens of dreams for this season and the next. For our leadership to yield fruit. For our marriage to be more meaningful. For our homes to reflect our values - and tastes. For our children to need us just a tiny bit less -so that we can breathe! We plant the seeds of our dearest dreams today...and wait for what the future will bring out of what looks like just brown dirt in a cup.

I supposed God must feel a bit like us as he waits for the seeds he's planted in the soil of our days to sprout. But unlike us, he knows what flowers he has planted. He understands the right circumstances (sun, water, manure) that will help us grow. Where we see brown dirt in a cup in our own lives, he sees beneath the soil to what is developing in us. He provides a model of how to wait for growth to occur.

Despite my doubts, that seed in the mud eventually sprouted and stuck its head up and over the edge of its Dixie cup container. Seeds grow in the dirt, in the dark, over a long period of time. They demand patience, persistence and a tremendous amount of faith. Help me - holy, heavenly Gardener, to resist the urge to dig them up.

Elisa Morgan is Publisher of FullFill™ ( and author of She Did What She Could ( For twenty years, she served as CEO of MOPS International ( and is now President Emerita.


  1. I love the imagery of the little cup of dirt, and how we need patience and faith to wait on those dreams!

  2. Thank you for this reminder to be patient.Yes , we learn and learn , and learn it again .It will be easier now after sooooooo many years because the seed is taking roots .I love the garden applications in life . We have a great and good Gardener .
    Thanks and Shalom .

  3. I am finding that the more I turn to God and ask for his guidance and help the worse my situation gets. I am not being smug or crass. It just is. Not sure what to do. It's without fail. I turn to God, bad becomes worse time and again. If I'm being told something, what is it?

  4. I too understand my dear anonymous friend. I have been in ministry for 8 years and still I ask why. Many days are more than i can bear. The Valley of Baca is so painful and full of many salty streams. Take heart my friend you are not alone. This is the purpose of this divine media board. Unity. I will pray for soothing oil to cover your tender traveler's feet. Until the oil arrives, I will rewrite the words my husband read to me.

    " 'If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left.'(Genesis 13:9)

    As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your right, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.

    Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. It would seem the wisest thing in the world for Abraham to choose, it was his right, and the people around would consider him a fool for not choosing. Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relaying on God to choose for us, We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eye on God. 'Walk before Me' " (Chambers, 1992, p. 105)

    Chambers, Oswald. (1992) My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour: Uhrichsville, Ohio

    Joyfully choose to waive your right and leave God to choose for you.