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OPINION

Green: Never give up

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

I don’t want to tell you what I had for lunch today. You’ll be jealous. Even if I could share with you, I wouldn’t. It was that good.

I had a tomato sandwich. A big, fat, juicy, sweet tomato, grown right in my own garden. It tasted like candy. Y’all, my mouth waters just typing these words. I’m about to go make another sandwich, and I’m not even hungry. I’m just in love with those tomatoes.

This is the fifth year I’ve grown tomato plants.

This is the first year I’ve had a harvest.

Five years ago, I planted tomatoes in my garden. They just sat there all spring and summer, and didn’t produce any fruit until just before the frost. At that point, they were still small and green, and I lost them all.

The next year, I moved them to a shadier spot. I thought maybe the heat was too much for them. I think I got three tomatoes that year. They didn’t taste great.

The next two years, I moved them again, trying to find the perfect combination of sun and soil, trying to coax them to produce some red summer deliciousness.

Nothin’.

So this year, I gave up. I planted cucumbers. Squash. Peppers. Okra. Basil and cilantro. I even planted black-eyed peas. But no tomatoes. Until one day, in late spring, I walked through the plant aisle at Lowe’s and saw a new variety of tomato. (Or at least, new to me.) It was called “Heat Master” tomato. It was created by the tomato gurus specifically to withstand the scorching Texas sun. I scoffed and walked away.

I came back. Looked at the label.

Walked away again.

Came back. Several times.

Finally, I decided to buy one plant. Just one. It was four dollars. If it didn’t produce, no big loss.

Within a few weeks, Heat Master had little green balls all over it.

A few more weeks, and they were big green balls.

And starting last week, those green balls turned orange, then red! Right now, I have eleven enormous, juicy tomatoes on my kitchen windowsill, and more on my plant! I’ve eaten three, and I gave one to my mother. I might give her another one.

Might. I probably will. But it’s not for sure yet.

At the beginning of spring, I was ready to give up on tomatoes. But then, when I least expected it, when I wasn’t even looking for it, the right tomatoes found me. Now I’m living in tomato abundance, and it’s a glorious way to live.

I wonder how many times in my life I’ve given up, just a tiny bit too soon. How many goals have I tried to meet, only to throw the towel in after the first few failures? I should know by now that failure just puts me one step closer to success.

I’m so glad those tomatoes found me. I’m glad I took a chance on them. They’re not only a great sandwich-filler, they’re a faith-builder. Because of them, I’m reminded that failure isn’t in the disappointments or the bombed attempts. It’s in the giving up.

In 1941, Winston Churchill gave a speech to the Harrow school (his alma mater). He said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Churchill’s conviction to never give up served him well; it wasn’t until 1953 that he became Sir Winston Churchill.

Next time I’m tempted to give in, to give up, I’ll remember Churchill. And I’ll think of the sweet, delicious tomatoes that almost didn’t happen—wouldn’t have happened, if I hadn’t taken a chance, in spite of my many failures.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” Galatians 6:9.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.