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Planting Fruitful Families

Posted by Children's Ministry on with 2 Comments

An age-old saying goes like this… “Spring showers bring May flowers”.  Here in Southern California we are blessed to live in a region with beautiful ocean beaches, challenging mountain trails, and enchanting desert landscapes.  We live where millions of people throughout history have made a living by tilling the earth, growing food and flora through God’s provision of good soil, water, and sunshine.  Truly, we live in a land of rich abundance.  However, often times this abundance of growth doesn’t happen “naturally”.  Take my home area as an example.  I live in the Inland Empire, a land with clay soil, abusive heat, and dry, stifling winds.  So, when WE are fortunate enough to get rain, OUR Spring showers bring something different…Weeds.  Waving oceans… of green weeds.  From far away they look like beautiful hills you might see in a movie based in Ireland; rolling fields of green.  But up close... weeds.  

Every Spring I look down at our lawn to inspect it, to see what work needs to be done.  Unfortunately it’s a constant job.  I guess that’s why they call it yard "work.”   Even when I think I’m on top of the job, there is always something to be done in this season.  As I dig and scrape and cut away at the rough edges of my lawn, it often makes me think of my life and my home.  Just as I need to inspect our lawn regularly for weed invasion, I also need to examine and reflect on “life”.  As I have matured, I have gotten better at this.  It’s not as much of a chore now as it used to be.  I know now that I need to be aware of what I’ve unknowingly planted, and what is trying to take root on my watch.  Is it fruitful?  Abundant?  Or are weeds growing, draining the limited resources of my soil and water?

It started a few years back with me pulling just the yellow flowers from the weeds.  I was hopeful that I could prevent the flowers from going to seed and spreading all over.  But this lazy way of completing the job, this ineffectual solution, only delayed the inevitable…more and more weeds sprouting all over.  One morning as I was out working on the lawn, I was trying to pull what looked like a small and weak weed.  For some reason I couldn’t get to the root and then I realized that the weed wasn’t as small as I thought.  I had to stop, go to the side yard, search and find the spade shovel, and return to dig for what turned out to be a deep, thick, invasively rooted weed. I found myself kneeling down on the ground, sweating in the heat, knees caked with sticky dirt, and finger nails filled with moist soil…all of this the evidence of my attempts to get to the root of this dastardly weed.  I was very pleased with my success as I exposed the root the size of a carrot and then... There is always a "and then"…  I looked at the lawn.  I had thought that our lawn was pristine and nice, but as I looked closer I noticed dozens of weeds that had been mowed over.  Mowed over!  Time and time and time again.  The roots of the weeds were established.  The tops had been and were camouflaged by the surrounding lawn.  I stopped and was discouraged.  This would take forever.  

As I sat and contemplated the upcoming challenge, my daughter who was playing outside came up and asked why I was bothering.  There were too many and no one noticed but me.  My daughter just wanted me to come inside with her.  She wanted to relax on the couch and watch a show.  From her point of view, it looked fine.  But…was it?  Did it really look fine?  This made me think about my life... How do I look on the outside?  Fine?  Just because things aren’t visible through my lightheartedness, does that mean there aren’t weeds rooted deep in my heart?  In my life? 

Back to our story.  I want my yard to bear fruit, literally.  It’s tough but we do our best and are able to grow vegetables, have a few fruit trees, and even get berries from our bushes.  So, I had some work to do on the yard.  Realizing I needed some help, I called out the kids.  Through groans like, "Why mom?” & “It's hot out here!" I started talking.  I started telling them about why the weeds wouldn’t do, explaining to them that we needed to get the weeds out of the yard.  Then, it happened.  My son said “You know, these weeds are all Adam & Eve's fault.”  I was proud that he remembered the Genesis story.  After he brought this up, our talk changed.  I started talking with the kids about me and my childhood.  My struggles and the way God had been willing and able to change those struggles in my life.  God turned sadness to joy, hardship to blessing, anger to peace.  As I talked… we pulled weeds.  I told my boy that even though it was “Adam and Eve’s fault”, we still had responsibility because we’d been watering and nurturing the weeds.  We were helping them to grow and take root, whether we knew it or not, or whether we did it intentionally or not.  We talked about things in our lives that we don’t have the energy to dig out.  We talked about how sometimes we “mow over” problems and don’t deal with them before they root. 

The rest of the story?  As I continue to think on and pray through the "yard work” of my life, I want my life to bear fruit…figuratively.  I pray that my kids’ lives are a testimony to the faith life and the parenting mistakes and wins my husband and I make.  We will toil through and enjoy the next years as we do the best we can to train them.  We wish to see their lives become lives that honor God, lives of service and care to and for others.  We don’t want to “plant” or nurture rooted weeds.  Instead, we want to plant seeds that will become a harvest of good fruit.  That is our prayer.  We’ll need to get muddy and sticky sometimes.  Down on our knees, working the soil and toiling in the heat.  But, that’s okay.  That’s what we are honored and blessed to do as the parents for our kids.  It’s a constant job.  We need to take the seasons as they come. But that’s okay too.  We’ll be real and we won’t be scared to fight the weeds. 

As you dig up the old and do a little gardening with your kids this spring, get some new seeds…get a few new plants.  Plant them together.  While you do so, talk.  Teaching comes from talking.  Share stories about you.  Share Truth about the Sower, the Seeds, getting rid of weeds, and looking forward to the harvest.  You’ll learn a lot about them, and it’ll be okay for them to learn more about you.

Spinach, Broccoli & lettuce harvested from my garden… What will your family grow?

Irma Bates
Nursery Coordinator

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Comments

Lara March 9, 2016 8:45am

Great analogy!And the picture of Ian is precious

Jen March 9, 2016 2:58pm

Beautiful story Irma, thank you for sharing and writing this! It really was a blessing to read :)