Exposed Places

July 22, 2009 | 21 comments

This week, we tend to bare spots
in our yard,
in our lives.

There is a time for everything, Solomon wrote,
a time for birth and death,
for uprooting and for planting.

Yesterday, it was time to plant.

And so we did.


We wanted to do something to remember “Bop.” That’s what the girls called Grandpa Paul. He died six months ago yesterday after a year-long battle with leukemia.

His absence leaves a series of firsts: the first crop planted without him. The first words spoken by grandbabies, who’ve also taken their first steps.

We’ve celebrated the first Easter without him here (though I imagine how our celebration paled in comparison to his!)

We’ve had the first Father’s Day. And then, of course, there have been birthdays and anniversaries and silly card games and the Fourth of July fireworks, which we watched from his driveway.

Oh, how we miss him!

His absence leaves bare spots in our hearts, exposed places that God heals from the inside out. Those spots ached a lot yesterday.


That’s when I discovered a bare spot in the landscaping bed while pulling weeds near the aspen tree — yesterday morning, on the anniversary of Paul’s home-going.

Two bare places needed tending — one in my landscaping, one in our hearts.

I asked friends on Facebook and Twitter for advice: “The girls and I are planting a perennial in the landscape today in his honor. Any suggestions?”

They suggested bleeding hearts and butterfly bushes, an evergreen or a “Big Daddy Hosta” for the big daddy we’d lost. My sweet friend Pat suggested “Boppies,” (aka poppies) in honor of Bop.

One friend said this: “You’ll know the right plant when you see it.”

And we knew.

There amidst the colorful display of rudbeckia and daisies and Russian sage at the Quarry Landscape center, the girls and I tarried over a clump of unadorned plants that, to them, looked more like broccoli than a perennial. Yet it seemed just right to all three of us when we read the name on the tag.

We brought it home and planted “joy” in the bare spot next to rocks and blooming yarrow.

It doesn’t look like much now, this clump of “Autumn Joy Sedum.” (Can you even find it in the picture below?) But in the fall, at the end of its seasonal life, this plant will bloom most beautifully, long after the other blooms fade.

This fall, when farmers begin to shear the fields, joy will bloom in a spot that was bare.

You bloomed beautifully, Paul, bringing color to our lives. Your absence still hurts. But we are grateful to God for tending to the bare spot in our hearts. We know your bloom never fades in the eternal springtime of Home.

Final photo: Lydia and Anna dropping petals and blooms on the bare spots of Bop’s gravesite.


Like summer blooms, memories fade, especially for young ones. Our girls are ages 7 and 5. What do you do to keep memories vibrant?

by | July 22, 2009 | 21 comments


  1. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    What a beautiful tribute to Bop! I love the way you write, Jennifer!
    ~ Wendy

  2. RCUBEs

    Great tribute to "Bop". I love the way you tied the bare spot in the garden with the bare spot in your hearts.

    That plant slowly turns to deeper red as the flower matures. That will be beautiful…Kinda' like the blood of Christ that washed us and instilled that inner joy to heal the "bare spots" of our souls…Your post encourages me to keep writing 🙂 God bless you and your family sister!
    Don't forget to take some pics when they start to bloom! And post it maybe? 🙂

  3. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Love that idea, RCUBEs. Will try to do that. And your thoughts on a plant that turns gradually deeper shades of red. Wow … Thank you for that gift.

    RCUBEs and Wendy — thank you both for your words of encouragement. It means a lot, coming from you gifted writers.

  4. mom2six

    So touched by this post. Still tending the bare spots left by my father when he passed to heaven a year ago this month. Thank you for your words. Your writing always encourages and moves me.

  5. Julie

    Beautiful, Jennifer. I imagine "Bop" looking down and smiling at you and the girls as you remember him while planting something in his honor. The colors are so pretty and vibrant here on earth but imagine how much more so from his perspective!

    You are doing such a great job keeping him alive in your children's hearts. Keeping a memory book for the girls might help too. Have them write down things they recall while posting pics throughout. Then they have something to look back on as they grow older. I did something similar for me a few years back of some of my dads relatives that have passed on that left prints on my heart and in my mind.

    Their "Bop" (and yours) will never be far….. 😉

  6. Runner Mom

    This is precious! Bop would love this! And, the sedum is perfect! I have it in my backyard, and it will bloom in the fall when most everything else has withered away. It will stand strong and be beautiful!


  7. Melinda

    What a perfect choice!

    When we lived in Iowa, I planted a huge perennial garden with my next-door neighbor to adorn the sides of a dry creek bed that ran between our houses. It was that wonderful "Autumn Joy" that bloomed, deep and vibrant, after the last of the bulbs had withered and even the mums lost their punch.

    Deep and vibrant, which I imagine is a perfect description of Bop.

    Blessings on you all as you remember.


  8. Carol

    Just beautiful, Jennifer. As I have told you before, there have been many firsts for me and then they move on to 2nds and 3rds and it has been 4 years now since Mama went home. I know she is well and happy and singing away. Her very first great grand twins are such a memory for me. They were born while she was dying. They are 4 and they KNOW her. You asked how to keep the memories alive for the girls? They will always know "Bop" if you continue to talk about him and give them memories. Those boys met her the day after they got out of the hospital and they KNOW her because of my gift of photography and my gift of gab! There has to be a reason for everything….who knew…my gabbing has a purpose! Love you and enjoy all the memories!

  9. Mike Franey

    Very nice tribute to Paul! You have a way with words girl!


  10. Kee

    Beautiful and a perfect way to keep his memory alive.

    My sister and father died way before my kids were born but they know who they are. I have a picture of my sister in each of their rooms and all over the house. I constantly talk about both of them. On my sisters birthday each year we light a candle and keep it burning all day.

    Memory books, as someone mentioned before, is also a great way for kids to remember and deal with their loss.
    Praying for your family, I know all the firsts are the hardest part sometimes.

  11. Beth E.

    What a great idea! Such a touching post, and a wonderful tribute to Grandpa Paul.


  12. Billy Coffey

    Beautiful, Jennifer. Simply beautiful.

  13. christy rose

    What a great idea! That perennial will continue to come back year after year bringing with it the memory of "Bop" filling in the bare spots of your hearts. Just beautiful Jennifer!

  14. Chris Godfredsen

    What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful thought. To plant in the exposed places – the bare spots.

    I love that thought. I am so thankful to a God who not only helps me to plant, but also waters those plantings with Christian community.

    Be blessed today for blessing me!

  15. Chris Godfredsen

    What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful thought. To plant in the exposed places – the bare spots.

    I love that thought. I am so thankful to a God who not only helps me to plant, but also waters those plantings with Christian community.

    Be blessed today for blessing me!

  16. Jennifer

    Wonderful way to remember. I think there's just something special about planting "life" to remember a life. Our family plants trees when someone is born so that they're remembered long after they're gone. Our family knows, "There's the Jennifer tree."

    Since memories are fleeting for your kids and mine, you may get into the habit of storytelling: my 2 1/2 year old, each day for naptime, I tell him a "story" of something he did in his first two years, seeking to give him a continued memory of the event. Other times, I tell him stories of mommy & daddy before he was born or of other people in our family. He loves looking through the picture albums and hearing me recount stories of when he was a baby.

  17. peggylee

    Beautiful post, my heart is moved. blessings to you and your family

  18. Monica

    Joy in the bare spots…

  19. L.L. Barkat

    These small rituals… how big. How profound.

  20. Deb

    I understand that ache. It slipped up on me once again as I read your post.

    Thank you for sharing your heartache.

    And the moving tribute to your grandfather.

  21. elaine @ peace for the journey

    I will wait to see the blossoms of your bare spot in the days to come, both inside and out! God is faithful to bring the blooms as we are faithful to open up our soil… our souls for the tilling.



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