Monday, June 23, 2014

Everything I Needed To Know About Raising My Kids I Learned From My Gardens

Jesus taught them many things by using picture-stories. He said, “A man went out to plant seeds.  As he planted the seeds, some fell by the side of the road. The birds came and ate the seeds.  Some seeds fell between rocks. The seeds came up at once because there was so little ground.  When the sun was high in the sky, they dried up and died because they had no root.  Some seeds fell among thorns. The thorns grew and did not give the seeds room to grow.  Some seeds fell on good ground and gave much grain. Some gave one hundred times as much grain. Some gave sixty times as much grain. Some gave thirty times as much grain.  You have ears, then listen.”


Why Jesus Used Picture-Stories

The followers of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in picture-stories?”  He said to the followers, “You were given the secrets about the holy nation of heaven. The secrets were not given to the others. He who has will have more given to him. He will have even more than enough. But he who has little will have even that taken away from him.

“This is why I speak to them in picture-stories. They have eyes but they do not see. They have ears but they do not hear and they do not understand. It happened in their lives as Isaiah said it would happen. He said, ‘You hear and hear but do not understand. You look and look but do not see. The hearts of these people have become fat. They hear very little with their ears. They have closed their eyes. If they did not do this, they would see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts. Then they would be changed in their ways, and I would heal them.’  But how great are your eyes because they see. How great are your ears because they hear.  For sure, I tell you, that many early preachers and men right with God have wanted to see the things you see, but they did not see them. They wanted to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.


Jesus Tells about the Man Who Planted Seeds

“Listen to the picture-story of the man who planted seeds in the ground.  When anyone hears the Word about the holy nation and does not understand it, the devil comes and takes away what was put in his heart. He is like the seed that fell by the side of the road.  The seed which fell between rocks is like the person who receives the Word with joy as soon as he hears it.  Its root is not deep and it does not last long. When troubles and suffering come because of the Word, he gives up and falls away.  The seed which fell among thorns is like the person who hears the Word but the cares of this life, and the love for money let the thorns come up and do not give the seed room to grow and give grain.  The seed which fell on good ground is like the one who hears the Word and understands it. He gives much grain. Some seed gives one hundred times as much grain. Some gives sixty times as much grain. Some gives thirty times as much grain.”


The Picture-Story of the Good Seed and the Weed Seed

Jesus told them another picture-story. He said, “The holy nation of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field.  During the night someone who hated him came and planted weed seed with the good seed in his field and went away.  When the good seed started to grow and give grain, weeds came up also.

“The servants of the man who planted the seed came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not plant good seed in your field? Why does it have weeds also?’  The man who planted the seed said, ‘Someone who hates me has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Should we go and pull the weeds out from among the good grain?’  He said, ‘No, because if you pull out the weeds, the good grain will come up also.  Let them grow together until the time to gather the grain. Then I will say to the workmen, “Gather the weeds first and put them together to be burned. Then gather the good grain into my building.”’
~ Matthew 13:3-30, NLV ~ 

With the coming of the warmer weather, I have been spending more time in my gardens.  Neglected for the few years we had a camper, they are getting much more attention since we were forced to sell our little piece of enjoyment.  Gardening is therapeutic for me in that, unlike so much of the rest of what I do, I can see tangible results for my efforts.  That brings a bit of peace to my burdened soul.

This year, it suddenly occurred to me that so much I know about raising my children - chronic illness, special needs and all - I have learned from tending the soil and encouraging growth in my own backyard. 

Here are some thoughts...
  • You can't have a productive outcome if you don't first till the soil.  Like a garden, the soil of a child's heart has to be broken up before seeds can be planted.  Just as the stiffness of the soil needs to be broken up and softened, so the willful, disobedient heart of a child needs to be constantly worked by a parent in order to plant the seeds of good character.  Rocks must be removed.  Weeds must be pulled.  It may be painful hard work, but if these things are not dealt with from the start, things can get very ugly over time.
  • Weeds always seem to grow much easier than the good seeds we plant.  Just as the wide, easy path is the one that leads to destruction, so weeds come too readily.  And the more apathy we show, the more strength they gain, choking out anything good we have planted.  It is no different with our kids.  The evil of this world is so pervasive and alluring that its nasty byproduct pops up in our children with no effort at all.  If we don't pay close attention to what is sprouting up in the hearts of our children, unwanted behaviors and character deficits can win out.
  • Despite our best efforts, sometimes we need a great deal of help to grow something.  I have had difficulty with our vegetable bed for years.  Even though the garden was started with good quality top soil, I have had a terrible time getting things to grow in the healthy and vital way they should.  I have added horse manure and mulch and plant food.  This year, we sent our soil to our state university extension office for testing.  We consulted an expert at our local garden shop to help us interpret the results and pick out the right fertilizer to mend the soil.  As a result, things are growing much better this year.  Who of us raising a child with a chronic illness or special need can't relate to having gone through this process in our child-rearing?  When growth is not occurring as it should, we subject our children to various tests, treatments and therapies.  We need much help and remediation to get our child going in the right direction. 
  • Patient perseverance is essential.  Just as we cannot rush a garden, we cannot rush the growth and development of a child.  In order to have any sort of yield, we must faithfully stick by our responsibility day-after-day.  Devoting time to doing the necessary things like watering, giving the necessary ingredients like plant food, will result in fruit we can be proud of in the end.  There are really no shortcuts.  It's not always fun or easy to hang in there with our children.  It can seem like we are getting nowhere at times.  Still, longsuffering with our offspring is critical.
  • Sharing the yield can be incredibly joyful.  As we pour ourselves into such worthy pursuits, the outcome can be so gratifying.  Is there any food more delicious than that using ingredients from our own garden?  Oh, how satisfying to tell people that you grew the fruits or veggies they are enjoying in their meal!  Having people admire a lovely flower arrangement or picturesque planting of blooms you have tended is such a delight as well.  It is much the same when people are touched by the children we have so lovingly and tirelessly poured into.  What a blessing to have someone tell you, "I just love your daughter," or "What a fine young man your son is becoming."  At times like this, it is such joy to share with others what God has given us the privilege of tending.
I pray that you have time to relax and enjoy some lush, beautiful gardens this summer.  The lessons in parenthood God holds for us there offer a breathtaking, powerful meditation.

PRAY:  Gardener of life, store in our hearts all of the remarkable insights on parenthood you have for us as we watch the earth burst forth with buds and blooms.

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