I am grateful to report that I received my Advanced Master Gardener designation from the Cooperative Extension Office of Purdue University, Fort Wayne yesterday. God is good.
To become a Master Gardener in a University-affiliated program in the United States, a person takes a three-month course, six hours per week, successfully completes all class assignments and projects, takes a comprehensive exam, and completes 48 hours of related volunteer work. Each additional rank of recognition, requires additonal volunteer hours and educational classes. For me, the volunteer work and training was accomplished while undergoing treatment and complications of Lyme Disease! How does that work? By the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ alone!
Sometimes I would stop at the Extension Office to water the Vegetable Garden in the cold or extreme heat because it needed me to do so as one of the members of the Vegetable Garden team. Sometimes I went to an educational class a “shred-over-nauseous” in the evening just to get out of the house and be around people. And the Lord allowed me to sit at my computer last Winter and research a beautification project for my housing association . . . to help me get out of bed! I remain grateful for this opportunity to accomplish something meaningful to me and even more grateful for the love and support of my husband, Steve.
Steve encouraged me to cut back on my work schedule and take the Master Gardener class before illness first struck in October of 2011. After that it was the friendship of our special project group within the class that kept me going as viral hepatitis set in: Jim Battin, James Poiry, Sue Hauck, Cindy Trygg, and Beth Fiato. Sue Hauck is in the picture above, to my left (I’m the gal in black) and Cindy Trygg is in the audience: two sweet gardeners extraordinaire that took an interest in me and kept the friendly connections going after the class ended. When I began treatment for Lyme Disease in January of 2012, Fran and Karen Yorio and Bill Diedrich joined what was to become the Willow Run Community Association Beautification Project and kept it all going with great support and feedback when the going got tough for me. Later in the year, Cindy, Jim Neuhouser and Jo Ellen Smith allowed me to work at my own pace and sometimes alone late in the day to hang in there this past summer with the Veggie Garden team. These crazy hours of volunteering and ongoing training, with the support of kindred spirited Master Gardeners and Interns, helped me earn this designation. Thank you! You da best! I could not, would not have been able to do anything without your friendship.
Last night was a pause, a moment to reflect, despite the ongoing chaos that is in our home right now. We ate banquet food and listened to a presentation on prairie management from Blue Heron Ministries, Inc. Just that we were out for a special night then returned to the hotel room to crash while our home begins the mold restoration process. Throughout this past 1 1/2 year, I am grateful to know that gardening, one of my favorite passions (with Steve being number one, of course!) will be there when the dust settles (and goes away!) in our home. Maybe this Spring I’ll plant a commemorative specimen to represent this amazing journey of discovery, of healing.
Hmmmmm . . . Any ideas what that should be? :J