I made a pot of green chili stew this afternoon using home grown Anaheim peppers. In May I planted a small garden: 2 tomato plants, 4 cayenne peppers and 4 Anaheim peppers. David laughed and said it looked a little scraggly. He was right, but the squirrels didn’t mind. They watched carefully, and every time a tomato got about the size of a ping pong ball, they carefully snatched it, leaving no broken leaves or incriminating paw prints. I don’t know how many I lost; I quit counting after 30.
The squirrels didn’t like the peppers though, and I got several dozen Anaheims. I used a few in cooking as I picked them, but I roasted most of them and put them in the freezer in anticipation of stew season. I also got lots of cayennes. I used jalapenos from my aunt’s garden to make salsa, but I used some of my cayennes to make hot pepper relish and hot vinegar. David is eating most of the rest of them raw, one or two with each meal. I think he’d even eat one for breakfast if I put them on the table.
Encouraged by my success, I planted some black-eyed peas in August. I guess squirrels don’t like peas either, because some of the pods started to mature a few days ago. I pick a few each day as the shells start to thin out and the tips begin to turn purple. A few more days and I’ll have a pretty good mess – that Texan for enough to cook for dinner.
Several years ago when we still lived in Florida, I was pretty active in the stock market. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I knew how to buy and sell, how place several kinds of stop losses, how to sell options against my positions. I was doing really well, and my 401K was growing to fairly impressive proportions. But then I got laid off, and we started having to draw funds from my account to cover living expenses. I held my own for a while, but then the market got really crazy. Anybody with a little bit of knowledge and the nerve to hit the buy or sell button once in a while can make money in an up market, but it takes some real expertise to make money when the charts look like a roller coaster. I didn’t have that kind of expertise, and before long my small gains couldn’t keep up with the withdrawals. When we moved back to Texas, our limited internet access made it almost impossible to follow the market, so I retired from trading. I still have a few shares of a couple of old favorites, and I have one share of Google I got when one of the companies whose stock I held was bought out, but my account sits idle, and I hope for slow and steady growth.
Even at my most successful, my trading return on investment was nothing compared to what I’ve seen in my garden. It’s true that my tomatoes were a total loss unless you count a few happy squirrels, but my peppers more than made up the difference. Each Anaheim plant produced at least 2 dozen peppers, and the cayennes more than doubled that yield. I planted 60 black-eyed peas (yes, I counted, and yes, I may have a slight case of OCD), and I’ve already harvested almost a cupful. I haven’t counted, but that’s probably 5 or 6 times as many as I planted in a little less than two months. If I had made that kind of profit in the market, we’d be rolling down the highway in a brand new motorhome!
Jesus liked good returns on investments, too. In the parable of the talents, he told about two faithful servants who were praised for doubling the money that had been entrusted to them. But in the parable of the seeds, he talked about a much greater return:
The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Matthew 13:23
I love watching my little garden seeds germinate and produce fruit that far exceeds my expectations. It’s even more exciting to watch the seeds that God plants come to fruition. When verses come to mind while I’m writing, I always try to use them. He might be planting a seed, and who knows what kind of return on investment He has in mind.