Of Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, and Disappointments



My mother and I didn’t know anything about brussel sprouts the spring we decided to plant them in the family garden, back when I was a girl. We planted an entire row in between the rows of peas and green beans. In the back of the garden we added several rows of tomatoes and pushed cucumber seeds into rounded mounds in the black earth. Mom bordered the garden with zinnias and marigolds and we waited for the fruit of our labors.

We expected the obvious–for the brussel sprouts to appear like broccoli crowns, right up top for all to see.  And because we expected the obvious, we missed the fact that the sprouts were growing.

And growing.

And growing–there under the protecting leaves, hidden from sight.

We finally found them, no longer tender and sweet, but old and bitter. Mom grew up in the Depression, so there was no thought of throwing the brussel sprouts into the compost pit. She boiled them for dinner, where we kids gagged them down with large gulps of fresh milk and tears.

Mom never planted brussel sprouts again.

Which is the danger of disappointments and unfulfilled expectations.

It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I enjoyed the deliciousness of brussel sprouts bathed in olive oil and roasted garlic, an experience I almost missed because of the garden mishap.

This summer I had the grand idea of offering giveaways on my blog during the month of July. I anticipated interest, increased blog traffic, and multiple shares of the posts. Unfortunately broccoli results have yet to materialize. 

But today I boxed up one of the giveaways to mail to a little girl who has brain cancer. I sent another gift to a woman whose husband recently died. She was nominated by a friend for the giveaway. 

Brussel sprouts are growing this summer among the leaves of social media.

So let me ask you:

When things don’t turn out as you hoped, will you continue to plant new ideas? Try new things?

Or will you concentrate so hard looking for broccoli that you miss what may be growing in secret?



Lynne Hartke has her first book coming out with Revell in 2017. She writes about courage, beauty, and belonging to a loving God at http://www.lynnehartke.com. And brussel sprouts. Sometimes she writes about brussel sprouts. She and her husband live in Chandler, Arizona, located in the Sonoran Desert.

9 Replies to “Of Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, and Disappointments”

  1. Wonderful food for thought. I am often too busy looking for broccoli sprouts and missing the brussel sprouts. Thanks for the reminder. Isn’t it wonderful to find the brussel sprouts?

    1. This article began with a writing prompt about cabbage! Suddenly I found myself remembering those miniature “cabbages” all those years ago in my mother’s garden.

    1. Yes, me too! I am not a gardener like my mother was since I live in the desert, but the principles still apply. I want eyes to see the brussel sprouts.

  2. Lynn: You ask how I feel when things don’t work out as I wanted. I have had those experiences; we all have. I am not in control, God is, You did an admirable thing by sharing those items with a young girl who needs encouragement. (We had a young girl in our church who had brain cancer. She had the prettiest smile. A lot of people helped her family. God took her home to be with Him.) Encouraging a woman who lost her husband is also admirable. God will bless you for your efforts.

    1. Thank you Cecelia. I am constantly relearning the lesson that I am not in control. I do so much better when I let Him be God and not try to be in charge!

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