Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Garden

It seems we've had some major setbacks to planting our vegetable garden this year. In May, we had a record amount of rain and storms which rendered our ground useless to till. In between the rains, we'd check the soil, but it needed more time to dry out. The garden would have to wait again. Then, the rain stopped. We had a stretch for several days of good weather and our good neighbor came and tilled the garden for us. Finally, we could begin planting. Another setback was lurking on the horizon. Our family contracted a nasty cold virus. *Sigh*. I'm happy to say that we are on the road to recovery, so we began the planting over the weekend. There were two more potential setbacks on Saturday, however, when first, the temperature rose to 92 and I, being with child, could only handle short increments of time in that heat. Returning to the soil in the evening helped, but then, we heard distant thunder. I felt a prayer rising within me that said, "Please Lord? Can you hold off on the storms just a little while longer?" Of course, whether we got the storm then or later, it ultimately was in the Lord's hands. We would get planted what we could and just have to rest knowing we did our best. To our delight, we only had a short rainfall and some thunder.

We were able to finish the planting of the main vegetable garden the next evening with only the herb garden left to plant. I like to add to my herbs every year. This year, I'm adding peppermint, sage and chives among other things. I am so thankful that even with all of the setbacks, we were able to plant the garden.

The work has only begun, however. Yes, we've tilled, dug our rows, planted the seeds and watered, but there is still more watering and weeding to be done before we can enjoy the harvest.

Gardening always reminds me of our children. I referred to this concept of planting, watering and weeding when speaking of why we've chosen to home school. It is imperative, no matter what the setbacks are, that we put in the extra effort and "prepare the ground" for planting. We need to take the time to plant the seeds and to water and then, we have to continue these actions while they are living under our roof. This is obedience to God. In Proverbs, we hear again and again the importance of training our children, of children following the instruction of their parents and of seeking Godly wisdom. "My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck"(Proverbs 6:20-21). The Deuteronomy passage is always timely in this admonition to teach and to train the children God gave to us. "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up"(Deut.6:7). Paul reminds fathers, "do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord"(Ephesians 6:4).

How do we tend this "garden" that God has given us? To me, preparing the ground is praying. Praying before we ever have children and then, praying every morning before those little ones awake. Praying every moment of the day, while correcting a behavior, changing diapers, fixing meals, teaching division, diagramming sentences or reading a book out loud to the children. We have to pray continually. And, then, we need to read and meditate on God's Word. We should be reading it so much that those words of life and wisdom are fresh on our hearts.

We plant the seeds by living out our faith in front of our children. When we fail, we need to confess that before God and share with our kids how loving and patient God is with all of us when we take our eyes off of Him. We plant seeds when we read the Bible. This should be the most important subject in our curriculum. It should be the first thing we reach for before any other book. In our home, we begin each day with a Psalm and another chapter of the Bible. The kids watch "Picture Proverbs" on DVD which gives them a Proverb each day. Daddy reads the Bible at dinner time and the children that read, spend time in their own Bibles during our afternoon quiet time. I still feel as if we're only scratching the surface when it comes to Bible reading, but it's a start. We're planting seeds when we pray with our children, worship with them and answer questions about God and why our hope is in Him.

We water those seeds by continuing that training each day, persevering when times get tough and remembering the important instruction, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary"(Galatians 6:9).

We "hoe between the rows and weed" when we lovingly correct a child, when we say "no" to something that may seem harmless to them, when we take away a privilege or give a painful consequence because of disobedience.

A long time ago, I had a unique opportunity to plant a garden in someone's life. There was a little girl whom I babysat during my summer days. I was a little girl myself, but even at a young age, God placed a desire in my heart to sow seeds of truth into that little girl. We took walks together and enjoyed picnics at a nearby creek. We sat on her porch, singing praise songs, reading the Bible and praying together. I had no idea at the time what those seeds would do later on. I just knew I had to plant them. Today, that little girl is a grown married woman who loves the Lord. It didn't end with her. Her parents love the Lord, too.

It's important to point out, however, that whatever seeds I planted in that precious girl so long ago or what I'm planting now in the hearts of my children will only grow and flourish because of the grace of God. It is God that draws these little ones to Him. It is God that causes the growth. And, it is God that changes lives. "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth"(I Corinthians 3:7). We are to be obedient and train our children in the fear of the Lord. We need to pray for them unceasingly. We have to live a life of faith, so that we can be good examples to them. But, if we try to do all of this without Him, we not only will fall flat on our faces, but the focus will be on us and not on Him.

Just like I desire to faithfully work in that vegetable garden, I'm going to be faithful to the calling of pointing these precious souls to the Savior, knowing full well, that it is God who is ultimately faithful. He will cause the growth in each of my children and will guide them through this life. What a bountiful harvest that will be!

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