Suzanne Burnett
2 min readSep 1, 2022


Tender. Loving. Care.

What’s the difference between the three watermelon plants grown by my in-law’s and the three watermelon plants on my property? They were planted at about the same time. We live in the same area. As our local retail variety is rather limited, I’m pretty sure we bought seeds at the same location.

Their robust plants have taken over a third of their garden space and are producing monster fruit the length of my arm. My measly plants….. have not died yet. For a long time, I wondered if they were going to cough up some produce at all, but recently we have found four strangely shaped melons, each palm sized.

So I ask again, what’s the difference?

Alma 41:15 states “that which ye do send out shall return unto you again”.

Apparently this eternal truth applies to watermelon raising as well as to all aspects of life.

What you put into it is what you will get out of it.

My mother and father-in-law have applied some major TLC to their garden, and you can tell! There’s not a weed surviving anywhere. The ground is soft and moist. Happy plants are flourishing under tender DAILY care. Their hard work is paying off!

Suzanne’s watermelon plants were put on an automatic watering system and promptly forgotten. About half way through the summer, a passing pedestrian sent an SOS to the garden owner, who organized a weeding crew the next day. “I have marked the three plants with upright sticks. Everything else has to go.” And that’s how we uncovered the struggling watermelon vines. It became apparent that the plants needed a lot more water, but addressing that issue never bobbed to the top of a crowded priority list (pretty sure cleaning the smelly boys’ bathroom beat out the garden’s needs every time).

And so here we are. In each location — -what the gardener sent out has returned unto the them again.

Home garden produce size is absolutely inconsequential, but there are principles to be gleaned here as well.

“Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man.”1

NOTHING is ever going to “bob its way” to the top of a priority list without our purposely placing it there. So what will we choose to place there?

Relationships, talents, testimonies, careers, life roles and gardens will flourish as we give them regular tender loving care. Or they will shrivel and struggle to survive, bearing strange fruit while enduring sporadic bursts of attention and thoughtless neglect.

Are the right things flourishing under our TLC?



Suzanne Burnett

Mother of twelve children and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares spiritual insights learned through parenting and marriage.