What if you could be a seed-starter?

Back in elementary school, I tried growing an avocado tree from a pit balanced on the rim of a water glass with the help of toothpicks. Not sure what happened to that seed, but there was never an avocado tree in our backyard.

It was Maddie, our 12-year-old granddaughter, who inspired me to try this fun nature experiment once again.


Photo: Marlys

We had guacamole with dinner one night while Maddie was visiting. Afterwards, she asked if she could set one of the seeds in water.

In time, though, that seed started growing mold on top, which spread to the toothpicks. Which prompted me to try and sprout another pit for her.

I read somewhere that it takes between two and six weeks for the pit to sprout. And it takes 10 to 15 years for a tree to grow large enough to bear avocados.

Who has that kind of patience?!

Apparently God does, based on this verse from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to believers in the ancient city of Philippi:

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6, NIV

This has always been one of my favorite verses. Because it’s so hope-giving. Because it reminds me that no matter how often I blow it, God isn’t planning to give up on me.

He will continue the process of shaping me into the woman He wants me to be, the woman I want to be—kind, compassionate, wise, gracious, forgiving, and so much more—no matter that it’s already been years and there are those days/weeks/months in which I see zero progress.

I recently came across this thought from Cynthia Occelli, a mom, author, and radio show host:

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.


This one’s for you, Maddie (photo: Marlys)

There was a season in which I attended longer-than-normal hours of that school where God was working on me. I was in class all day long, and then had to return for night classes. I’ve often referred to that period of time as the wilderness years.

I would never wish my wilderness years on anyone. But I’m grateful for the breaking open. I’m grateful for what seemed so devastating at the time, for the kindness and compassion that grew in me because of so much loss.

Here’s the thing about growing an avocado tree: 10 to 15 years seems so far off. Why even try?

But if someone had started growing an avocado tree from a pit 10-15 years ago in your backyard, you would’ve been making guacamole this summer.

What if you could be the seed-starter? What if you could be the one who might not ever get to pick the fruit (you did know that an avocado is a fruit, right?), but you received the satisfaction of knowing your efforts could someday be a tree for someone else’s enjoyment.

And what if we could not lose heart that the process of shaping us into the men and women God wants us to be is taking much longer than we bargained for? What if we could believe that the Master Gardener knows what He’s doing?

What if?


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  1. Inspirational and grounding as Marlys is! I love this wonderful pieces of wisdom Marlys, thank you!

    • Peggy, I came across the quote by Cynthia Occelli right around the time the avocado pit was starting to crack even deeper. No coincidence! I love Occelli’s thought-provoking quote.

  2. Mary’s, you never fail to not only inspire me but prod me gently to keep going when I want to say, “I’m done.” The “wilderness years” feel like forever, but I KNOW God loves me and has a plan. Thanks for the image of the broken seed. I will take that one with me.

    • The wilderness years are never fun when you’re experiencing them. And I’m so glad I didn’t know in advance that they would be 13 years long, followed by 6 seasons of widowed years. That’s entirely too long to be in school, if you ask me!

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