The Story Behind the Name


People often ask me why we named our business the Mustard Seed. In order to explain this, I need to tell you the story of my life, the story of how I became a Christian, the story of God's relentless pursuit of my soul. It all began when I was a little boy…

My childhood was not a peaceful one. My parents were divorced when I was 5 and I then lived with my mother, brother and sister in south Minneapolis near Minnehaha Falls. I didn't attend church at all with my Mom, but my father had visitation on Sundays and he would often take us to his church before we did something fun. My strongest childhood memory has dominated my life. It was 1971, and I was six years old when I took a boy from my kindergarten class, his name was Franklin, down to the Minnehaha Creek after school. While we were there, I intentionally pushed him into the creek. He was immediately swept under the water and disappeared. I instantly realized the seriousness of what I'd done and I ran as fast as I could the 2 blocks to the falls. I kept running back and forth looking for him until I finally gave up and went home. Later that afternoon, my kindergarten teacher called on the phone and asked if I knew where Franklin was. I said no. I didn't tell anyone the truth until that night. The police were called and brought me back to the scene that same night. They were very nice and had even brought some popcorn, but I was so afraid they knew I was a murderer, that I wouldn't eat it because I imagined they might have poisoned it. Once at the creek, I lied to them and told them that Franklin had slipped in. His body was found, below the falls, later that night.

After this tragedy, I was often teased, ridiculed and called cruel names. I dealt with this by physically fighting back. I became a good fighter and utilized my talent on a weekly basis up until high school. I think I spent nearly as much time with the principal as I did in class. This effectively dealt with outside problems but it didn't solve any of my internal turmoil. I was a very angry child. Mad at myself, everyone else and especially God. Why did He allow this to happen? And why was I at fault? Why couldn't this have happened to someone else? Why did I lie when I should have confessed? I often thought of taking my own life but I didn't because, even as sad as I was, I really felt God did have a plan for me and that I could only make up for what I had done by making a positive difference in this world. I knew that I was special to God even though I wasn't so special to myself. I felt I was obligated to suffer through my pain and that quitting the struggle was just a cop out-I promised myself that I would never give up, that I would eventually win this battle.

In 1984, I met a woman named Kay. We were friends for some time until I eventually had the guts to ask her out. After our first date, I remember telling my mother that this woman was an Angel and that I thought that some day I would marry her. That feeling was so strong that I never questioned it. It was obvious to me then, and even more so now, that Kay was a gift straight from God to me.

In 1986, Kay and I were married. We were living in Maryland at the time but moved back in 1989 to join the family business and to start our own family. My life was coming together and I thought I had resolved all of my past issues from my parents' divorce and Franklin's death. Kay and I were blessed with our own son in 1990. We hadn't attended church since we were married, nor was God invited into our daily lives. It wasn't until our son was about three and Kay and I began to talk about pre-school, which led to talking about kindergarten, which led to my remembering that Franklin died while in kindergarten, and I all-of-a-sudden realized that I hadn't resolved any issues at all, I'd just hidden them! They all came out at once as I began to fear that God would take my son from me as my penance for killing Franklin-As a parent, I finally realized how sad Franklin's parents must have been and what a great loss I had caused them. I didn't trust God and I truly feared He was going to get even with me. My life was in turmoil and my marriage was paying the price.

But God didn't desert me. I wouldn't let Him in the front door, so He came in the back by prompting Kay and I to begin thinking that it would be good for us to bring our son to church so he would learn good values. Our own salvation wasn't even considered at that time. I remember one Wednesday evening when we were on our patio and I turned to Kay and I said I really thought we should find a church, and I suggested we start attending the following Sunday. As she agreed with me, the phone rang. It was Dave and Clare, our neighbors, inviting us to a Bible study at their home that night. We knew this was divine intervention and we went. The Sunday after our first Bible Study, we started visiting a variety of churches. We tried several local churches, like seven or eight, and then we heard about a new church, called Westwood Community Church, from a friend, and we attended for the first time in October of 1995-within 10 minutes, we knew it was the church home for us.

But I still didn't trust God and I was fearful for my son until I was invited to Promise Keepers by Dave-yes, the same Dave as before, who, unbeknownst to me, had been praying for me for over two years. While at Promise Keepers, I felt for the first time that God had truly forgiven me for my sins, years and years ago and that it was time I forgave myself as well. I believe that night at Promise Keepers was the beginning of my true relationship with Christ; that was the night I let Jesus into my heart!

After continuing with Bible study and going to church on a regular basis, I realized that I was now attending for myself and not just my son. I was finally building my own personal relationship with Christ. It is now very obvious to me that God has watched over me and guided me throughout my life. It is only because God sent the right people, at the right time, that I began building my own personal relationship with the Lord.

And, since welcoming God into my life on a daily basis, my marriage has improved, my outlook on life has completely changed, I am active in a church that I love, and our family was blessed in 1996 with our 2nd child, a beautiful daughter. I am so thankful for all that God has done for me. My life has been changed for eternity!

My story doesn't end here, however, because God continues to work on me and within me each day that I walk with Him. He has impressed upon me ever so deeply the desire and importance of first loving Him with my entire heart, mind, soul and strength, and secondly, loving others with the same love He has bestowed upon me-the desire to share God's love with others has consumed me, it has become a part of my daily life, I simply cannot share enough. I have come to realize the vast measure of His grace and mercy for me and tried to allow Him to shine within me like a light on a mountaintop. My walk with God is by no means a perfect one; I was born a sinner and I will die a sinner, however, I know I am a forgiven sinner, made righteous by the very creator of the universe! Each day I remember that my standing with God has been secured, nothing I do will ever change that, I will spend eternity with Him in heaven! My faith is ever growing and ever changing, becoming much less dependent upon my deeds and much more dependent upon God's love for me. I now realize that nothing has changed except my growing consciousness of God's love for me, and yet everything has changed, I am a new person, God lives within me more and more each day, creating, adjusting, changing, amending and growing me to be more like Him! Each day I awake with the desire to see the miracles God has planned for me and to fully experience fellowship with Him-my prayer is that I will see every possession and relationship as a gift from Him, every struggle and temptation as an opportunity to grow my faith, every failure a blessing of His forgiveness and mercy, and that I will not miss an opportunity to share His love with others!

Sharing God's love is where my faith and my job as Steward of The Mustard Seed unite. The parables of the Mustard Seed can be found in Matthew 13:31, 32; Mark 4:30-32; and Luke 13:18, 19; wherein Jesus describes his kingdom as starting very tiny and growing very large. In Mathew 17:20 and Luke 17:6, Jesus explains that with just a tiny amount of faith in Him, nothing is impossible. Leaving an established business and lucrative career behind, I started our new business with faith and trust in God that He would provide for our needs-it was a true leap of faith! My hope is that we will grow into all that God has planned for us, that we will be a source of comfort, shelter, and encouragement to everyone we meet, and that we will be able to point everyone to the Way the Truth and the Life which is Jesus Christ!

The reason I named our business The Mustard Seed, is so that people would ask me why I picked such a strange name, and then I could share my faith story with them. You see, this isn't really our business; I believe its God's business, lent to us for just a short time, to do God's work, not ours. God is in the business of redeemed lives, not landscaping, and, although we do landscaping for a living, our real business is sharing the love of Christ!

In His Love,
Mark Halla