My husband drives his shovel into the ground, carving a perfect circle into the grass. He motions to our daughter, and she drags a large pot over to him. Together they pull a small apple tree out of the pot—my daughter has named the tree Champion—and nestle it carefully into the dirt. Kevin covers Champion’s roots with earth. With every thrust of his shovel, I feel something tearing loose in my heart. A sadness letting go, a healing settling in.
Five years ago our family moved to North Carolina in an unexpected whirlwind of loss and change. In a dizzying three-week span, we stuck a “For Sale” sign into the front yard of our dream home and moved away from family and friends, all while suffering a miscarriage. I feared we would never heal, never find happiness again. For months I borrowed prayers from Psalm 86: “In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me” (v.7).
We settled into a small rental house, and my oldest daughter, then eight years old, decided to become a farmer. She ate an apple and planted its seeds in nine pots outside. Weeks later, she sprinted inside squealing with glee: “My trees are growing!” Four of the little green sprouts survived their first winter on the back deck. Some, too cramped in their pots, started growing sideways—but still they survived; still they hung on.
For a long time, whenever I looked at my little farmer’s trees, I ached inside. I remembered the Japanese Magnolia we had planted in our last house right before we moved—had it ever bloomed? Did the current owner treasure its blossoms as I would have done? Every time I looked at my little farmer’s trees, I felt a throb of sympathy: I too felt trapped in a cramped and temporary home where I couldn’t put down roots. Sometimes I looked at those trees and prayed, “Lord, please give us roots of our own again. Please give us a home of our own where we can plant these trees and watch them bear fruit.”
We waited five long years—five rich years, raising four wide-eyed kids—but finally, God said “yes” to our prayers. He gave us a house of our own, and helped our new hometown become home. We celebrated our first spring in the new house by planting Champion and his sister trees in the back yard.
Now when I look at Champion, my heart still aches, but for different reasons: I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. How He sustains us through barren seasons. How He Himself is our home, the safe place for our roots. How He helps us rebuild and recover, even when we’ve been rootless or grown sideways. Now when I look at Champion, I pray, “I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave” (Psalm 86:12–13).