Relationships are a lot like plants...they need time, attention, and care to grow. Every year, I come away from ForColumbia with new friends.

Planting Flowers, Growing Relationships

By Lauren Eisleben

I’ve always had a brown thumb. I really, really want it to be green, but no matter how hard I will it, it’s mostly brown.

When I was a college freshman, I gave a speech in my Intro to Speech class on “How to Have a Green Thumb.” (I was overly ambitious, obviously.) I even painted my thumb green and wore one of those big, floppy farmer hats. It was a great speech that ended in a dead plant.

Needless to say, one of my favorite ForColumbia projects is planting flowers and spreading mulch. There’s something about a project that can clearly be seen as finished. Isn’t that so rewarding?!

As much as I love planting flowers, though, I can do that any day. What I can’t do every day is plant flowers alongside 1500 other people, listen to life stories, see smiles when dirt gets flung about, and talk with my new friends about “I sure hope these make it till next year!”

Planting flowers is like growing relationships.

It takes planning…lots of planning. It also takes a few more things.


I have to think about the people I want to get to know better.


I have to do something; call or text someone, drive somewhere.


Relational growth doesn’t happen overnight or even in a week. We have to come back, again and again, check in on each other, bring meals, give a hug.


Find out what your new friend likes and dislikes, how much “water” they need, what makes them really shine?

Weeding and Pruning

Make adjustments, repair broken spots, allow for rest and dormancy when times are tough.


The whole ForColumbia team is praying for sunshine on April 30th and a nice, big rain the day after, to water all those plants we put in the ground. In the end, we have no control over their growth; only God does.

Friendships need continual prayer, continual surrendering.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of friends right now. Maybe you’ve gone through a season of drought and no new sprouts have popped up.

Perhaps you are coming out of a pruning phase and have a better idea of the specific types of relationships you want to grow in your life. Or, maybe, you have a ton of friends and you have enough energy to spread the wealth and introduce your friends to new friends!

Participating in ForColumbia 2022 on April 30th is so much more than planting flowers, fixing broken shelves, or assembling freezer meals. It’s about cultivating relationships – new and old – and making silent promises to each other to continue to grow them throughout the year. It’s no coincidence that ForColumbia takes place each Spring; when new life springs from the ground, we are reminded it’s our time to do the same.

So what happens with these relationships after April 30?

Fast-forward to April 30th when you’re kneeling in the dirt next to a couple of folks you just met, you don’t go to church together, and they’re definitely not in your “circle” (yet).

You’re working in an individual’s yard in downtown Columbia, planting flowers, clearing brush, and visiting with the homeowner on the porch. That day will come to an end, we will all pray for rain, and you may wonder “whatever happened to Betty-Sue from ForColumbia?” I have great news for you!

Betty-Sue happens to live in the neighborhood of one of ForColumbia’s 46 partner churches and that congregation has “adopted” her. You were there for a day, and they will be there for the next 364 days, giving of their energy, being intentional, weeding those flowers, and praying. You planted the flower, and they’ll grow the relationships.

What a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God being lived out through you and me.

ForColumbia is only a couple of weeks away and we need a lot more flower-planters and relationship-growers. Join us, get your hands dirty, and leave with a happy heart. It’s that simple.

And [Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (ESV)


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