Today I am honored to feature the heart of my friend Laney Wooten. Laney lives outside of Longview, Texas. She is a wife to Jon and a mother to 8 children. Laney is a worship leader, gardener, homeschool Mom and a faithful follower of the Lord.
In the years I have known Laney she has lost a father, released a special needs son to full time care, parented a second child through special needs and walked through adoption and trauma. She invites you in on her most recent journey through loss, grief, and healing. I pray her vulnerability will inspire you to visit the neglected spaces in your own heart where you too may find the strength to worship the Lord and experience the joy of knowing that God has been working all along.
Tonight, Hazel and her cousin Claire came running with screams of joy from my mom’s house. “A peach!” She exclaimed over and over. The whole family made a quick trek to my parents’ back lawn to confirm the claims. Sure enough, on the tree were about 8-10 beautiful peaches. My dad had planted a peach tree several years ago but we’d never seen any substantial fruit from it.
I had a moment. One I’ve desperately needed to have for a while now.
About a month ago, our adopted daughter went to live with a new family-one whom we love and respect dearly. Our load was heavy from multiple unrelated hardships, and the intensity of providing her the care she needed was simply more than we could bear. What began as a short term plan for respite, quickly and obviously revealed itself as a much better living situation for her and us both. The separation was brutal. All of our hearts are still healing, but we see a hopeful future for her and us both. One day, I will share more, but for now, that’s all that needs to be said.
When our adopted daughter left, I fell apart. To my surprise, all the other losses I’ve had over the last ten years came slamming together like a ten car pile up on the highway of my heart.
During that time, I received counseling, started exercising and went on our first family vacation. The Lord is healing me ever so slowly and tenderly.
I neglected my garden during this time. The weeds grew tall, blight took over my fall tomatoes and peas dried under the scorching sun. I could barely look at it each day as it was such a painful reminder of where I was emotionally and the great losses we’ve experienced in our family.
That little peach that Hazel discovered tonight ignited something into the smoldering joy embers of my heart. I looked over at the garden I had planted at my mom’s house and decided that I would face it, no matter how much it stung to see the effects of my depression induced negligence. So, my mom and I took the box of peaches, made our way to the peas and started picking. My sister Jeni joined us, but contributed with song instead of labor! We sang old Gaither choruses and Darlene Zschech songs from the 90’s. These were the two greatest worship influences of my life.
I picked peas, peppers, tomatoes and peaches and I was overcome as the box began to fill up. Look at what God had been doing during my darkest days. Even in my neglect to work, to sing, to believe or to anticipate. He did it anyway, because He’s good. He blesses. He provides. He pours out mercy on the battle -scarred-faith-as-small-as-a-mustard-seed-believer. Yes, he does. Because that’s who He is. And thankfully, He doesn’t wait on me or depend on me to do anything. His plan is so infinitely and supremely higher than my ability, position or will.
It’s humbling. It’s sobering. It’s beautifully breathtaking to see how unnecessary my existence is to Him. Yet, He invites me still to work in His “garden” with Him. He doesn’t need me there, He wants me there. To learn from Him. To worship Him. To love Him.
Yes, I am learning a lot from the master gardener these days. Let’s just say that I am standing much more amazed of Him and much less impressed with myself. And I am happily resolved to stay in this place for the rest of my life.