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It’s Monday after a holiday. For many it’s also a Monday after a week of vacation. Back to the grind, but how do we pick up where we left off? And was that someplace good? Before we get going too far, start by having that morning cup of coffee and take a minute to breathe deep!

It’s summer and trying to muster up the strength to go hard after anything is just difficult. It’s like trying to lift dead weight! We’d rather be back at the beach, hanging out with our kids and living the “good life”. But life draws us back and says we can’t live in leisure forever. Today we are just at the halfway point in the year (Actually last week was halfway, but everyone was on vacation, right?), so it’s time to do some reflecting and self-evaluation. We have half the year to accomplish those things we set out in 2019 to do. For me, it is to become a finisher.

Many people have said of my life that it is one full of accomplishments. Yes, I suppose to many, this is true. However, I look at my life through a different lens. I see all the areas I have failed, and especially all of those I didn’t finish. It took me well into my 30s before I understood how much I didn’t finish in my life. It might be the little things, but those little things, left undone, become those pebbles in your shoes that make it more difficult to walk. And the more I lived, the more I would leave unfinished, because ultimately, life would move on and the time for finishing something would end and I would have to move on.

But over time, leaving behind this trail of unfinished things in my life has taken its toll. So I have determined in this season that I will unlearn the bad habit I allowed to form in my life. I will finish what I start. This past week I faced something that has been staring me in the face for the past few months — my garden.

My garden has become a true visual for me to see something everyday that I have left unfinished. My kids remind me of it, and I stare at its emptiness out my living room window. A garden seems like such a simple thing to do, right? Actually, when I took the time to evaluate why my garden was still empty, it made sense.

You might be thinking, “Really? Your garden?!” Throwing some seeds in a garden can’t be that difficult, right? True. We actually did the hard work of making a raised garden in a new back yard that had nothing in it. So why was my garden still empty after all that work to make the garden bed? If you really want to know, it’s simple. I have two boys — 4 and 5 years old, and I wanted the garden for them. I wanted them to experience growing plants this summer. Because this was more for my boys than for me, I wanted them to be able to learn about how seeds grow. Thus, we started our seeds in egg cartons, with each of the boys having their own trays of seeds they were responsible to water and grow. It was fun to watch them take care of those seeds every day, using their little misting bottles to keep the seedlings moist. As I watched seedlings turn into spouts, I was happy and excited for us to be able to transplant them to the garden. However, enter the small, curious, 4-year-old. Sadly, one day all of the boys’ egg cartons were overturned, leaving only a few plants that we were able save.

Not wanting to duplicate the egg carton experience all over again, we planted the three or four plants that we were able to save into the garden. But let me be the first to tell you, having four plants in the garden doesn’t exactly excite anyone, and getting them watered just didn’t happen. Then summer happened, and I didn’t know what to do. The seed bags said they should be sprouted before planting them in the garden, but I didn’t want to go through that all over again. What was I to do? Well, ultimately my confusion or uncertainty, whatever you call it, led to one month later having an empty garden. And before I knew it, I had another thing left unfinished in my life. The sad part about it is that I realized that my habit of leaving things unfinished was affecting my kids. They would grow up experiencing less because their mom didn’t finish things. Not cool!

Finally, I grew tired of not finishing. So this past week I did some personal reflection on why my garden was left unfinished and decided, I just had to finish it! All I had to do was go to the store, buy more seeds, and plant them in the garden. Forget what the seed bags said! I wanted my kids to experience growing plants in the garden. So the boys helped me plant the seeds into rows in our garden. They have joined me every day in watering them, and with these warm summer temperatures, the plants started sprouting in just a few days. They are thrilled and proud of the garden we have created. They don’t care that we didn’t start it from the seeds in their cartons. They don’t care that we’re off by at least a month. They don’t care that we can’t grow the full variety of plants that I had wanted. They just care that there is a garden at all and want to watch something grow. And according to my boys this morning, “Mom, the seeds are amazing!”. I am determined to finish this for them, and just maybe, we’ll have some fresh produce to show for it.

What I have learned through this experience is that when I run across a hurdle, my tendency is to stop and allow myself to be distracted. I move on to something else, most times not returning to finish what I started earlier. If each of us took the time to evaluate why things are unfinished in our own life, there might be some similar reasons. What things are left unfinished in your life? Maybe if we are willing to look that thing in the face, we might be able to tackle it. Today, I move on to another thing I haven’t finished. I will not let the unfinished things of my life pile up, and I will live in the accomplishment of what I have already finished!