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The Ugly Backyard

Rachael Carman | April 5, 2024

God is so good. I realize that sometimes it is an overused statement, but too often, it is the only statement that can explain Him. He is the Great I Am, the Creator God, the Master of the universe, and He is so good.

After selling our house, we needed a rental house until our new home’s construction was completed. Our realtor laughed when we told her what we were looking for. We said we wanted a four-bedroom close to Davis’ work in Monroe.

You’ll never find that!” she said. And yet, God provided. 

But as usual, God went above and beyond our request. He provided us with a neighborhood complete with a pond where the boys could fish, a field to explore in the back of our house, and neighborhood friends for soccer games. He also provided us with a homeschooling family just three doors down. They had two daughters, and my three girls loved to play with them. 

My favorite thing about the rental house was the sunroom, where we ate our three square meals a day. I am a sunshine girl, and the sun shone brightly into the room with windows on all three sides. Sometimes it was so bright that sunglasses were in order!

The only downside to this beautiful room was that it overlooked a not-so-beautiful (some might say “ugly”) backyard. It was all rocky and barren. No grass grew—only weeds. It was the home to many a fire ant pile and at least four black widow spiders we had killed. There was a little hill in the middle of the backyard where they bulldozed to build the house, but they never leveled it out. 

I was raised to be a doer and not a whiner. So I decided that I was going to redeem the backyard.

If we are going to be overlooking this for the next several months, let’s do something about it,” I said to the kids.

Now I love to play in the dirt. We grown-ups refer to this as gardening. In my time, I have tackled some pretty challenging yards. On the morning of my bold declaration to the kids, I went for a walk in the backyard after breakfast to plan my strategy. 

After surveying the area, I returned discouraged and said, “I don’t know, it’s pretty bad back there. It’s more rocky than I thought. I don’t know if the tiller can handle it. We may not be able to do anything after all.

This disappointed the kids. I was not enthusiastic about the possibilities, so things must have been pretty bad.

We bought seeds anyway. The truth is that I always buy seeds; I keep the seed companies in business. My hope springs eternal. Tragically I have been known to buy seeds and never plant them. (Hmm…think about that….I think that might be another article.)

Anyway, we bought seeds and ten bags of topsoil. Davis wrestled the tiller and loosened the soil. Only halfway believing, I planted and watered.

I told Davis, “I don’t know, that is the worst dirt I have ever worked. It’s not even very fun.

But God is so good. The little plants sprang forth from the rocky, dry dirt on that hill. They came up, lifting their leaves toward the sun and begging for water. I watered, fertilized, and marveled at the Creator. Even in the awful dirt, He brought life. In between the rocks, ants and spiders were clear signs of life. On the side of a rocky hill where death had ruled, God brought life.

the ugly backyard blog quote

Why was I surprised? He had done that before. It was a different rocky hill, but on a cross long ago, He did what only He could do. He gave us life by His death. And three days later, when He rose again in a stone garden, He had conquered death for us. 

Dead seeds on a hill in my backyard pointed me back to the wonder of His death and life. I was reminded of the impossibility of life without His death, my need for His living water and His eternal word, and His constant weeding and pruning.

I may have redeemed this ugly backyard, but more importantly, I have been redeemed. This made the little seedlings on the little hill among the rocky soil that much more special.

God is so good.

May you remember your Redeemer, and worship Him as you see His creation. 

Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”