Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

The Year I Killed the Cucumbers: Thoughts for the New Year

Dec 11, 2023 | Life, Faith

To be fair, I also killed the tomatoes, carrots, beans, and pumpkins. We harvested exactly one green cherry tomato that a child picked too soon, surprised himself, and dropped. Our first foray into gardening was a resounding disappointment.
Another one.

It was early May when a dear friend gave me a lively little tomato plant. I bought a bag of potting soil, and since I had enough left from the one plant, (it would be poor stewardship, of course!) to not use the rest of it. Thaddaeus, age seven, had chosen the cucumber seeds from our local library and was wildly impatient to plant them. Likewise, the others with their chosen seeds, which meant more soil, and I bought several more bags—making my frugal husband, Paul, nervous—and we planted recklessly and with the thrill of anticipation.

This family needed a thrill. One evening in March, I had plopped down by Paul on the couch and declared, “This has been one hell of a year already.” I meant no vulgarity and he agreed. He was recovering from an injury-related shoulder surgery while I was recovering from my third miscarriage within eighteen months. We were in the turmoil of evaluating our church situation, and we had known the ups and downs of job searching for so long.

When these seeds sprouted, there was excitement. We watered and watched. I was weird about doddering about my “garden,” which was merely a collection of six large buckets. I prayed for a harvest. They seemed to be doing well for a while. Then they stopped. As a novice, I did not know how long to anticipate more growth or what else to do, but others were getting produce from their plants, and soon I came to realize we would not.

At the same time, and since, we continued the up and down of job searching, made decisions about surgeries, continued recovering, dealt with water damage, and lived the regular day-to-day of loving, feeding, and educating our six children.
To be sure, the cucumbers were a mild issue, but like my gardening ignorance, so much felt—feels—unknown and unknowable. We are putting one proverbial foot in front of the other. I recall Elisabeth Elliott’s exhortation to “do the next right thing,” and even that feels elusive. What is the next right thing? We are trusting the Lord to make His way known.

That’s basically the point. I do not have a precious list of “Three Things to Do While Waiting” or “Seven Things I Learned from Cucumbers.” What I know is the goodness of God despite, or because of, the circumstances He has chosen for our family.
Our circumstances and trials prepare us. In one very real sense, they prepare us to enjoy heaven’s eternal glory and the perfect presence of Christ that much more—to be free from these “light and momentary afflictions” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We are strengthened by hope: the absolute confidence that God is true to Himself and to His word, and if we are in Christ, “we do not lose heart” because we know this life is temporary.

But often we question what we are to do in the here and now. “How should we then live?” asked Francis Schaeffer. How indeed?
We “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10). We persevere. We live joyfully. We “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We give thanks; we have to be told to do this “in all circumstances,” not just the ones in which it is easy to give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I must rehearse and submit to the gospel daily because, especially in the times when it is hard to give thanks, I am “prone to wander,” to fuss, or to begrudge or complain, yet as I know the Lord better through His Word, I am better equipped for this walk with all its hills and valleys. I am better equipped to see the Lord’s providence. The apostle Paul continues in Colossians why this vital: for “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” My trials, seen through a biblical lens, teach me how to live now to grow in sanctification as well as prepare me for ministry to others, the “good works” God has called me to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). We are not called to an isolationist’s faith but to community and fellowship. What we learn from affliction and how we walk through it buoys the fellow saints around us (Psalm 119: 74, 79).

This boils down to faithful obedience to Christ. Whatever place God has placed me is where I am to be obedient. He has given us trials in which we can mature and practice steadfastness. Steadfastness works in us to be prepared, to be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). In this moment, trust Him and obey. Whether it is the simple obedience of relational (marriage, parenting, work, ministry) and household tasks or it is facing trials, we are called to faithful obedience.

How will I live? In fear and anxiety of what is to come? No—I must “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and “offer to [God] the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 116: 17). In the midst of our trials, joys, disappointments, and victories, thanksgiving and faithfulness teach and encourage our fellow sojourners how they, too, should live and walk.
I cannot say that those sprouting seeds gave us a “thrill of hope” because, clearly, produce is not a guarantee, but hope is. Hope is sure, confident. Crops fail, but God “is good and does good” (Psalm 119:68). As we round the final corner of this year, so much still feels unknown and unknowable. Yet I know the One who knows, who “has ordained whatsoever comes to pass,” and who has proven Himself trustworthy. “Till now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12), and in “due season we will reap” the harvest He provides (Galatians 6:9), and maybe next summer, that will include cucumbers.

About the author: Jilian Hernandez is wife to Paul, and they have been married 25 years.  Their fun crew of six children range in age from 4 to 15, and they currently live in southwest Missouri.   Though Jilian is a former high school teacher, she now spends her days homeschooling her children.  For free time together, they have family movie nights, play games, read stories, and show hospitality.  Jilian enjoys lively discussion with family and friends about theology, education, culture, politics, and wherever these intersect.  She has a heart to help women get into the Bible and to build culture starting in the home.


  1. Anonymous

    Jilian has a heart for God and family. Her faith both holds her steady and moves her down the path of a beautiful journey.

  2. Anonymous

    The brilliance and yet simplicity of Jilian’s writing is so appreciated. She is a Truth- bearer and honest sharer! It will be so great to read more! Thank you.

  3. Diane Wilson

    I always love what you write! You have a gift, indeed! Although, I must say I worry about my grammar and punctuation when I respond! Love you!

    • Anonymous

      Ditto. About the grammar. 😂

  4. Anonymous

    I love your down to earth real life sharing of your heart and life. Looking forward to more posts!

  5. Denise Peplinski

    Honey, you really area gifted writer. Maybe this is your calling?


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