When someone comes to our home for the first time, often the first thing they notice is our yard. Now we have been blessed with a lovely older farm house as our home, part of it was built in 1880. Yet people comment on the yard. It is beautiful, unusually so, not that we can take much credit for that fact. Over the years, folks who lived here planted and tended trees, shrubs, and flowers. The couple who lived here right before we purchased this home were animal people and they let the plants tend to themselves. So, soon after we moved in, Phil and I began pruning, cutting back, and transplanting specimens that were too big for the spot they occupied. Phil also outlined each planted area with river rock to protect the plants from eager mowers. I planned the plantings by type and color so those needing sun would receive the necessary amount and those requiring shade would be sheltered. My father has added his knowledge of plants and their habitat to enhance the beauty and health of our garden.
I’m often asked, “How do you keep your yard looking so beautiful?” or ” When do you find time to take care of your yard?” The quick answer is that I weed every day. I don’t let the weeds take over so that it seems an overwhelming task to rid the flower beds of weeds. But, it is more than that. I enjoy working in our yard. After a day of being inside at school, taking an hour or so to pull weeds, nip off spent blooms, or transplant a volunteer plant to a more suitable location is rejuvenating for me. Since I find it fullfilling and rewarding, it is not an odious duty for me. I can look at our yard and see the fruits of my labor.
Psalm 1:1- 3 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
I see a direct correlation to caring for young children. You must tend to them each and every day. If you negect to deal with “weeds” – those deliberately defiant attitudes that lead to actions – they will multiply until they overwhelm all that is good and Godly in children. Requiring them to speak respectfully, and modeling that for them will prevent those seeds of disrespect from taking root. This is an ongoing effort. Just as I cannot pull a few weeds in April and expect the flowerbed to be weed free all summer, I cannot tell my child once to “talk nice” and think my parenting duty is fullfulled. It is an ongoing effort.
Phil and I received a wise bit of advice when we attended a parenting conference while pregnant with our first child. We were challenged to deal with discipline issues as they occur, and not wait until the child is older and the parent can “reason” with the child. “Would you rather deal with this discipline issue when your child is 5 or 15?” we were asked. Thinking about the implications of defiant behavior when a child is 15 was a great motivator to be consistent with discipline, even when I was tired and my child colored in a book yet again.
We can cultivate such a love for our children that our “weeding” of their behavior is worth the effort it takes to be consistent. We will be following God’s plan as mothers and that will bear fruit for God’s kingdom.