I turned my back to the class of fifth graders in order to write their responses on the marker board. The chatter continued behind me.
I had placed the students from my midweek church class into groups and had asked each to read from Genesis in their Bibles to discover what God made during each of the six days of creation.
“I have day 3! We know it!” one of the boys shouted.
“Go ahead. What did you find in Genesis chapter one?”
“On the third day, God made land and vegetation.”
I nodded and wrote with the smelly dry-erase marker again.
Day 3 – Land and Vegetation.
“That’s right.” I confirmed. “Now, can you tell me in your own words what vegetation is?”
“Oh sure! Vegetation is what vegetables grow on, and fruititation is what fruit grows on.”
I should have turned my back again, because I laughed out loud – right to his young, eager face. A technique surely not recommended in the teacher handbook.
“You’re right about the vegetation, but fruititation is not a word. Fruit grows on vegetation as well.” I said, bursting his bubble and maybe wounding his pride.
But, I’ve got to admit, I like the word.
It’s really growing on me.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about fruit. The kind of fruit that we bear in our lives, and how it’s seasonal, just like the kind of fruit we pick, whether from trees or the produce department.
Recently, I walked through the hallway at church, on a Sunday morning, and was stopped by a friend. She told me she’s in a small group Bible study, and they are currently using my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels, as their study guide. I was shocked and humbled.
She went on to tell me that they’d been having such great conversations within the group and were learning so much. I thanked her and walked away in a daze.
My mind wandered back to the hours I sat in my home office with tight shoulders and an exhausted brain. It took me three years to write that book! I literally spent days in front of a blinking cursor pouring my heart onto the page. I devoted time, tears, and cash preparing for the book launch.
One specific night, I stayed up well past midnight adjusting margins and headers, section by section, in my manuscript. It was tedious, boring, and frustrating work. I did not enjoy it. I remember being tired and annoyed.
I came back to the present and walked up the stairwell in the church that leads to and from the childrens’ classrooms. I had just dropped my own children off, and was now heading back up the steps. I passed two kids carrying their Bibles and curriculum. I wrote the curriculum they carried. The kids had their arms wrapped around it as they walked past me on the steps.
Again, my mind flashed back to the season before that curriculum was finished. I spent months writing the content, years teaching it and fine-tuning it, a solid year giving it a “makeover” and learning graphic design tricks and tools to make that possible. I put a lot of sweat equity into that curriculum.
And now, preteens, whom I don’t even know, are carrying it with them to class on a Sunday morning and unknowingly passing the author on the steps on their way.
Could this be the culmination of fruititation?
Is this the wonderful cycle of bearing fruit?
Those tedious and seemingly wasteful hours of mundane and difficult work are important. In fact, they are more than important.
They are a vital part of the fruititation cycle.
Vital how? Vital because during those tedious tasks, the not-yet fruit was being tended. It wasn’t time for the fruit to be picked, but time for it to be watered, cultivated, lovingly pruned, and painstakingly nurtured.
The fruit wasn’t yet ripe. It was out of season. And being out of season usually means it can’t be seen. It’s not ready.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t growing.
David, the psalmist, wrote about this in Psalm 1.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
David mentions the tree that is planted and prosperous. But, he also mentions that the tree yields its fruit in season.
Not always. Sometimes the tree does not have visible hanging fruit. But it’s still a fruit tree.
Sometimes my efforts are not publically visible either. They are margin moving, cursor crunching, photo editing, head gripping, tear rendering, heart stirring moments of cultivation.
And sometimes, the fruititation cycle in my life has nothing to do with writing, but with raising kids, cultivating my marriage, planting seeds of deep and meaningful friendships, and tending the soil of my own heart. It looks like difficult, honest conversations that would be easier to avoid, midnight touches of warm foreheads and beeps of the thermometer, tough love and deliberate discipline that wrings your heart into a knot, intentional time set aside for listening and truly seeing the needs of a friend, and daily surrender to selfish desires.
It’s a struggle. A daily toil.
But the cultivation leads to the culmination of fruititation.
The fruit becomes visible. But only for a time. It won’t last forever. It’s just ripe for a bit.
But oh, how fun it is to see others enjoy it!
I am thankful for the moments when the fruit of my life is juicy, and ripe, and ready. But I’m also thankful for the reminder to press on in my daily, mundane, unnoticed, and often frustrating cultivating efforts.
Because they are vital.
Without them, fruititation is just a made-up word.