By Jody, TFG Volunteer
A little over a year ago, it was freezing cold outside. The ground had been frozen for a while. The holidays were over, and I was feeling the mid-winter blues creeping their way into my heart. As in years past, I would sit by the fire, flipping through seed catalogs and gardening books to help me escape the cold. It was in one of those moments I had a passing thought that I should start a farm stand specifically set up with flowers.
Gardening has been something I’ve enjoyed since I was a little girl, and gifting someone with a bouquet of flowers has always been something that seemed to bring equal joy to the person I was giving flowers to, and to myself.
It was also around that time that I heard Pastor and Author Mark Batterson in an interview with Susie Larson on her radio show. During that interview Mark made mention of the dream he and his wife have of reaching a point in life where rather than giving 10% of their income to God and keeping 90% for themselves, they would flip that idea and live off of 10% and give 90% to God.
When I heard that, I just knew I wanted to grow flowers, arrange them, and set up a flower stand.
Rather than the stand being a source of income for me, I was super excited to see what God would do if I committed to offering flowers for people, while requesting donations to pass on to a local charity. I wanted to take on the challenge of donating 90% and using 10% to put back into flower garden supplies in order to continue the process the following season.
I was nervous the first time I set my bouquets out by the the roadside. I worried no one would stop to get flowers. To my surprise, the bouquets were gone in a short amount of time…which was awesome, but this presented me with another problem…if I was going to have many people want my bouquets, I was going to need many vases.
As I started talking to God about this, He whispered to me in the most caring way, “Jodes (that’s the nickname only those closest to me use), let Me take care of the vases.”
To my surprise and delight, vases started showing up in all sorts of ways.
Friends brought me vases, a couple of times there were boxes of vases left by the flower stand anonymously, and once a lady pulled into my driveway and explained that she was helping her friend clean out the home of her friend’s mother, and she had 3 boxes of vases she was getting rid of…she wanted to know if I’d be interested in them…Yes, please!
So the summer went on and I continued to enjoy my time in the garden and set flowers out by the roadside.
It’s hard for me to find words to explain the enjoyment I found in the whole process…the best I can come up with is that I could tell that God was having fun with me.
I would be in the garden cutting flowers while I had praise music playing.
I would head to the flower stand to close things up and I’d find $100 bill in the donation box!
My mom would come and work with me and we’d lose track of time getting covered with dirt while we were visiting.
A friend would stop by to get flowers and we would walk the garden connecting with each other while they picked out the flowers they’d like for their bouquet.
My boys would be playing in the yard and I’d chuckle to myself as I heard their giggles…and sometimes, they would even come and ask questions about what I was doing and I was thrilled to pass on some gardening knowledge to them.
My summer was the Bible verses, “God loves a cheerful giver” and “It is more blessed to give than receive” woven all throughout it!
When the gardening season came to a close, it was time to add up all the donations and decide where they would be passed on to. I had been praying about this all summer. I felt strongly that the money should go somewhere local.
A few years earlier, my family went through the process to become a host family for Together for Good. We hosted a couple of times, but with four young boys and a farm, it just wasn’t a good fit for that stage of life.
My husband and I have been so impressed by the ministry of Together for Good. We love the way it serves families.
Although my stage of life did not allow me to help in the way of being a host family, I strongly desired to help the ministry of Together for Good in some way, and I knew this was a wonderful way to do that.
My flower stand allowed me to help TFG out financially, and that really brings me joy!
[November 2022 update]
Jody recently shared with us an update as she brought in another donation to TFG from her 2022 flower stand proceeds:
“The flower stand was great this year…just as much fun as last year. The word has gotten out around my smaller town of Hastings, so I had reason to pick so many more flowers than I did last year.
There were even a couple nights before predicted frosts where our driveway was like a Chick-fil-A drive through and my whole family was working to keep the stand stocked! So. Much. Fun!! I can’t wait for next year!
You can see the new and improved stand we had this year (my husband repurposed our old entertainment center). It was great solution to my struggle against the wind that kept blowing things over. I also added some “encouragement flags” for people to add to their arrangements and pass along an encouraging word to someone they may be getting flowers for.”
How much fun is this? We LOVE Jody’s creativity and joy – thank you, Jody, for generously donating proceeds from your flower stand to TFG. Your support allows us to keep supporting families with wrap-around care in their time of need. We’re so grateful for you!