Each spring, I try to plant something weird. I am not sure just how I got into doing this, but it brings me great joy.

My wife is a gardener at heart; her mom was the same. She is your typical country girl with a green thumb. Like her mom, she can plant flowers, vegetables or anything she wants, and it will grow into something beautiful.

On the other hand, I have been the cause of many plants dying a slow and painful death. There should be a poster of me in every nursery with my picture and a warning below: “Do not sell this man any seeds or living things.”

But recently, I have found out I am good at growing plants that are weird and out of the ordinary. In the midst of my wife’s flower garden, I planted a Tabasco pepper plant. I heard it was the only pepper plant where the pepper grew upward as if pointing to heaven. I had never seen a Tabasco pepper except in a bottle, so I planted it. It grew and grew. First, it was two feet tall and then four feet. It got wider and wider until I had a giant Tabasco bush with hundreds and hundreds of yellow, orange and red peppers stretching upward to the heavens.

The only problem? My wife’s flower garden isn’t that big, and my plant dominated everything else. It wasn’t as bad as the okra I planted the year before, which could have been used in filming the movie “Jack and the Beanstalk.” I had to use a stepladder to harvest the pods.

In case you can’t tell, I really like things that are “the world’s largest.” Now, Titus the Honorable and I have gotten into seeing what weird thing we can plant next. This year, I thought we could plant the world’s largest sunflowers. They are called Mammoth Sunflowers and can grow up to 14 feet tall.

I was sharing this idea with my wife. She notified me that 1) These sunflowers would not be planted in her flower bed (I think she is still upset about the Tabasco plant), and 2) The plants had better not draw squirrels, birds or any other type of varmint. I could comply with request No. 1, but she would have to talk to God about the other.

I have tried planting these sunflower seeds before, but either they never came up or they were eaten by some of God’s finest creatures. This year, I planted four, and after they sprouted in my wife’s back garden, she dug them up and moved them to the south side of our yard.

Two of the plants took root and started growing. And grow they did, racing toward the sky. It was as though the two plants were trying to outdo each other, but the one on the right outdistanced the other one. It had the first bud and the first yellow petals peeking out from the center. I was so excited that my first sunflower was about to burst forth, but the next day, I looked out my window and there was the plant, headless.

I stood there in shock. Yesterday, it was so beautiful, all ready to reveal its glory, and now, it stood beheaded. There on the ground lay its head; something had taken several bites out of it and broken it off.

Rite of passage: Sunflower seeds - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 1

‘…my giant sunflower is now in full bloom, reaching almost 14 feet into the air.’

I knew if something had happened to the first one, it wouldn’t be long until the same thing would happen to the other one. There had to be something I could use to protect the near-budding sunflower. I searched the stores and found a product called “Repels-All.” I sprayed the fence, the budding bloom and the ground around it.

That stuff did its job too well. It repelled all the birds that used our bird bath; all the squirrels have left our yard and who knows what other critters have been put at bay by this product. But my giant sunflower is now in full bloom, reaching almost 14 feet into the air.

I tell you this story because just as I had to protect my sunflower from its enemy, we must protect our children and grandchildren with that same diligence. Remember, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

There is a repellent that will protect all our children, and it is called the Word of God, the B-I-B-L- E. Every good church will put a priority on surrounding your children with the Word of God and teaching them the truths of Scripture. “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11).

Plant, nurture, protect and enjoy!