This would normally be a “Saturday Surprises!” post, but yesterday was a great day to work out in the yard and garden, so nothing got posted. Instead, we have “Sunday Surprises!” From looking at this photograph, you may think I needed to do some serious weeding!

My house was built in 1920 and will be celebrating its one hundred year anniversary in December. Over the years, many different vegetables and flowers have been grown in my yard. Every now and then, my own turning over of the soil brings old seeds closer to the surface, close enough to sprout and grow. This spring, these delightful little flowers sprang up and bloomed.

Yes, something new for my chickens to look at and enjoy, but not taste. At least not this year. Perhaps next year after this spot has been protected and allowed to reseed itself.

Whenever I’m working in the yard, my mind wanders. As I studied these yesterday, I was reminded of Mrs. Brown, our elementary school lunch lady. Her husband’s name was “Chicken Brown.” At the time I wondered why anyone would name their child “Chicken,” and finally I just assumed giving people nicknames like this was one of the odd things grownups did which would never really make sense to me. He was a mechanic and wore overalls with his name on them. My grandfather was a mechanic too, and that made him okay by me even though he had a strange name.

Most people never give much thought to lunch ladies, not even ones married to someone named “Chicken Brown,” but I think perhaps lunch ladies have one of the most important jobs in any school. It’s not just in the preparation of the food (which back then was all prepared “from scratch” like the very best homemade meals). It’s something else entirely different. Lunch ladies have a rare opportunity to see children as they are outside of the classroom when they don’t need to impress any adults with how smart and good they are.

Several years ago after surveying the damage from a hurricane that had come close, but not too close, I spoke with Mrs. Brown briefly. I found that she was a very prayerful woman, and she prayed for the children that went through her lunch line. I think she saw things in our faces that no one else saw. She knew who was troubled. She knew who felt lost. Her prayers were like those old seeds in my garden soil. They didn’t sprout and blossom right away. But she planted them anyway with her kind words and smiles, trusting that one day all would be well.

Somewhere in your life, there has likely been someone like Mrs. Brown. They may not have been an elementary school lunch lady, but they wanted good things for you and for your life to turn out well.

Today may be your day to turn over some soil and see what happens. Or plant some seeds of your own into the life of someone who needs them. You may not see what happens, but love, kindness, prayers, little flowers, and an extra helping of real mashed potatoes are never wasted.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

23 thoughts on “My Life With Gracie…Sunday Surprises!

  1. Wow. I love that story/ anecdote. It’s especially true of lunch ladies. The good and the bad. Since they stopped cooking from scratch I believe the in depth potential loving witness was lost a bit too. All that magical pot stirring and chopping and peeling really gives you time to think.
    Thanks for that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that those flowers appeared after years of being buried. Scratch in the dirt and our past arises to be reborn to deal with anew. We get to make new choices with old material. Facing this current crisis offers me the opportunity to see how I am managing now compared to my old habits and responses in the face of so much change. The final result is still out on that, but I sincerely hope to plant new seeds in my new life in a new state, in a new community. Time to think is so necessary while raking the yard, peeling potatoes, or readying for yet another zoom meeting. Thanks, as always, John.

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  3. That’s such a neat analogy. I love the idea of prayers for children or attention to them being like planting seeds that will bloom later. It’s true too. How we treat children, or people, now can really affect them throughout their life. What a great reminder.

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  4. I had a Mrs Brown (her actual name), but a classmate’s mother, in 7th grade. She prayed with me during a very difficult time and very likely prayed for me then, as well. I found her son recently and asked if he would extend my gratitude to her, these many years later.

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    1. Yes, indeed. I find myself saying a silent prayer when I am out shopping and I see a child who I feel needs a prayer. I never feel like those prayers are wasted. It’s like if God opened my eyes to see and opened my heart to be touched, and so some good will come into that child’s life.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, John, you have returned a perfectly-timed and needed post to ME! I have such similar surprises in my yard and neighborhood, and find such wonder and reflection in them as well, connecting so oddly with, and championing, wildflowers and weed-beauty. I teach high-school seniors and unknowingly with the last time I was able to see them being before spring break, your wonderful tale hit home as someone who loves each dearly and prays for each secretly. What an absolutely wonderful account you have so beautifully sown! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Laura. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I imagine that at times being a high school teacher can be extremely demanding. It is like you are the last ones who have a chance to influence students before they graduate and are on their own. (For me, my high school years were the best because of the great teachers I had who truly took an interest in the future of each student.) Keep up the good work! One day, those seeds will bear fruit!


  6. This is so inspiring. I think I had someone like that in my life.
    I don’t remember much about my grandmother’s going to church or reading her Bible in front of me or talking about God, but one of my earliest memories of her is of looking up and seeing her leaning over my crib, praying. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that you found this inspiring, and thank you for sharing your memories of your grandmother. I like how much her silent witness to her faith had such an impact on your life. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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