Searching For Tomatoes When the Vine Looks Empty

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We went to visit my father in-law last weekend.  He insisted we take some tomatoes home with us.  His vines were overflowing and he couldn’t eat them fast enough.  The next day, as I looked at the tomatoes sitting on my counter, I suddenly remembered back when I was a little girl and my mom would often enjoy a toasted tomato sandwich during the summertime. For some reason, when I think of all the things I can do with a tomato, I always forget about this tasty option. I made myself a sandwich and enjoyed every bite.

Yesterday, my husband went to visit his dad again. Last night, he came home and placed another bag of fresh tomatoes on our kitchen counter. I know what I will be having for lunch again today.


While finishing up a time sensitive project for one of my clients, I had three missed calls from my dad in a span of 10 minutes.  I was about to hit redial when my phone rang again.

“Hey, Dad. How’s it going?”

“Not that great. I’m depressed. This place is really getting to me.”

(and I kicked myself for picking my client over my dad)

“Have they taken you outside today?” I asked.

“Yeah, got back in a little bit ago.”

“Where are you now?”

“Back in bed. Time passes quicker if I spend it sleeping.”

Ever since my dad had his stroke (two years ago this past May) we talk almost every day. We rarely have anything new to say to one other. And, sometimes, our five-minute “conversations” consist of dead space.

The time passes and, in the silence, I rack my brain in an effort to think of something more to give him. But the harvest is empty, the field of words and stories has been picked over and over.

Yet, I keep searching. I know he is hungry.

Maybe more fruit is hidden a little deeper in the vine, maybe there’s another piece buried further back.


Sometimes, I wish the words of encouragement could ripen and grow as quickly as tomatoes in the summertime. I wish that talking to my dad didn’t feel like a picked over field at the end of the season. I have grand expectations of encouraging him, but sometimes I feel so powerless to do so.

Today, Lord, when I talk to my dad, I pray for lots of tomatoes. I pray a harvest of encouraging words will fall from my lips. I pray I can help provide five minutes of nourishment to a weary traveler. 

Who needs to hear some words of encouragement from you this week?  

6 thoughts on “Searching For Tomatoes When the Vine Looks Empty

  1. Anne

    Thanks Eileen. I’d been contemplating and your words helped me to make a decision. I will be visiting with my friend who’s in a nursing home today.

  2. Bill (cycelguy)

    It is hard sometimes to “put yourself out” there when the response is not what you need or would like. I applaud you for trying to keep communicating with your dad. Also good prayer to pray.

    1. Eileen Post author

      Bill, if nothing else, this journey really has drilled home the truth that I can’t “change” someone. I’m just called to support and love them.


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