The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Secret Garden: Anna’s story

When lockdown hit, Anna quickly found herself feeling boxed in.

A mother to three sons, time with her family was one of her main frontlines. But as her world suddenly contracted to the four walls of her house, she couldn’t help but feel like all the opportunities she normally had to be fruitful in those relationships were being cut off.

How could she encourage her energetic boys to flourish while they were trapped indoors, separated from their friends, from sports and walks and adventures? How could she be a loving mother while also somehow finding time away from the kids every single day to focus on her work?

Big challenges – challenges which so many parents have faced this year. And so Anna prayed. And God answered in abundance.

Anna takes up the story:

‘In June I heard from my children’s infants school that there wasn’t going to be space for non-keyworker children to return before September. I was really disappointed, as we’ve all been struggling through lockdown, especially balancing work with looking after our boys. Homeschooling has not been a success for us!

‘The boys are really outdoorsy, and although we have a small garden at our house near the town centre, I’d been wishing we lived in the countryside, or could afford to move to somewhere with a bigger garden for them to have some “wild space”. I prayed for hope and patience, and that God would give me inspiration for what to do with the boys every day.

‘Around a week later I had a call out of the blue from the local allotment-holders group, to say there was a plot available if I’d like to view it. I’d put our name down for an allotment back in January but I’d been told it could take a year or two for one to come up.

‘I went down to the site with the secretary and she showed me a small plot in an open group of plots. I asked if by any chance they had something a bit bigger, more private, maybe with a hedge? The secretary said something along the lines of “well, we do have something – but it hasn’t been touched for years.”

‘Well, it was the allotment of my dreams! The plot is set away from the others, so the boys don’t have to worry about being noisy, it’s surrounded by high hedges, it has fruit trees, and even a pond with frogs. To top it off, my kind dad has built the children a platform in a huge old pear tree.

‘It has really inspired and energised us all and it feels like an amazing blessing from God. It turned my feelings of hopelessness into positivity. We have something we can work on as a family right now, without having to wait for ‘normal’ life to return. We’re all really excited about growing our own food and the children have loved being there, chopping weeds, digging and finding creatures. We can even have fires in autumn.

‘And on top of all that, it also meant we could pay a young person from church to help us dig it to help fund their planned gap year – even though, sadly, it was eventually called off due to Covid.’

For Anna, the worst thing about lockdown wasn’t the way it limited her life – it was the limits it placed on how she could help those around her flourish. Through God’s lavish gift of the allotment, just at the right time, Anna was given an amazing way to invest in her family and friends – to help her kids thrive even in lockdown, to provide part-time work for a young student, and even to give her dad a DIY project he could get stuck into.

God gave Anna something big she could use to serve others. What might God have put in your hand – big or small – that you could use to do likewise?

Submit Your One About

Each of us will have moments or stories like these, but we easily forget or don’t see them. Yet they can be such a source of encouragement to us, and to others.

Why not take some time to tell us your own story of God at work in your everyday? We’d love to hear it – and, with your permission, share it to help others see how God might be working through them!

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