First, it was no vacation. For that you have to vacate—and kick back and rest. The only vacating I did was a two-night B-and-B stay, meeting a friend visiting my state. And instead of time off work, my “staycation” was dedicated to a certain work:

I had a mountain to move.

Small mountain for a big bulldozer, but challenge enough for li’l ole me! So how does a puny, aging woman move a “mountain” (without that bulldozer)?

How about… one shovelful at a time?



Faith can move mountains, sometimes without even a finger-lifting.

I once read a delightful example of that:

A little church, outgrowing its facilities, wanted to expand. But the local powers required more parking lot to go with bigger buildings. And the only property available was a hill behind the church.

Yet this group? They prayed. Prayed, and waited.

Then one day the phone rang. A builder needed fill. Would they let him dig that unused area behind the church?

Voila, mountain moved! Voila, parking lot!


But sometimes something else is required: the active outward expression of faith:

Footwork. Elbow grease. Effort.

Three years ago I started dreaming of a raised-bed garden which, God willing, I could tend and enjoy even in my “declining years.” The idea had rooted in my head when I’d happened upon pictures of colonial kitchen gardens like my Pennsylvania German forebears must have grown.*


I also learned raised bed gardening harkens back to medieval times, while our present row-plantings separated by wide patches of tilled soil weeds developed only in the last two centuries.

So I began to dream.

Then I found durable, non-toxic framing pieces (composed of wood and recycled soda bottles)—so easy to assemble, even a non-carpenter, wimpy woman like I could put them together and set them up…

(one catch, though) …on level ground.

My plot area was entirely… slope! In fact, I don’t think we owned one square yard of level ground on our whole property, apart from what the buildings stood on!

That was then. Now’s a different story…

Back in September, I blogged my aim to make every day a “D-Day,” by practicing virtues like Decisiveness, Determination, Diligence, Dedication. But fact was, during the previous two and a half years, I had already practiced those virtues—in garden building.









Truly it was faith expressed by action. You’d have to know my limited constitution to realize how much  faith it required. My nearest and dearest now tell me they never expected I’d carry the whole thing out–also that they never realized how much the land sloped there.


But God (amazingly) enabled, I labored…


…and there it is!


And what I (re)learned about faith is how it often comes to fruition one small shovelful at a time.

Real faith will do the dirty work, will keep prying out the embedded sharp stones and near-boulders of hindrance where vibrant growth will one day hopefully burst forth, will keep sweating through difficulty’s heat, keep going even when ache and fatigue keep protesting against more battle strain. Real faith will endure the stings and blisters, will persevere where the heavy clay of adversity, made sticky and clumpy by rain, builds up into balls on the bottom of shoe soles and confounds footing.

Until by one shuffling agonized step (or shovelful) after another, you find you’ve reached goal!


Q: What in your life right now calls for the dynamic duo of faith and footwork? What one shovelful of faith-follow-through will you take in hand today?

(I ask myself the same question.)


*Book pictured is Pennsylvania 1776,  a bicentennial publication put out by Penn State University Press.

4 thoughts on “How to Move a Mountain, or How I Spent my Summer Staycation

  1. Wow. when you told me you were building the raised beds, I did not picture 9 of them! I had no idea of the magnitude of the project. I am going to carry the picture of one shovelful at a time in my head — for all sorts of things that lie ahead.

    1. Yeah, Laurie! This is a real “Phew!!” Now I get to enjoy it. Like I just told my neighbor friend that I go walking with, I want this to be a garden I can sit in with friends (like you) and have tea or do needlework or just talk and laugh. And yes, it’s really become a living parable for me, for “all sorts of things” that might lie ahead.

      (So good to see you here again, friend.)

  2. Wow, that truly was a mountain you moved! I’m impressed…and inspired; have thought about changing my low rows to raised beds, hmmmm

    1. Lynn, I’m so glad to meet you! I’ve just visited your blog and love your poetry. And there’s this “coincidence”: I came upon your comment here just after editing a little poem I’d “happened on” in my messy files and transferring it to my blog drafts. Hmm, looks like we share more than one interest—though poetry and gardening really seem related somehow, don’t they?

      Re the raised beds: I love them! This is my kind of gardening. I would recommend that you start with just one bed the first year, which is what I did. (I would have been overwhelmed, and undone—and quite possibly dead, if I had tried to do all the above at once!) I also recommend the book “Lasagna Gardening” by Patricia Lanza, for rich and easy, weed-free beds. Let me know if you start in on this venture—and God bless it!

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