Weeds

Chores at Nana's

Chores at Nana’s

“Are you looking forward to summer?” a friend asked our middle daughter. She was 11 years old.

“No, my Dad makes me weed the garden,” she replied.

So, NOTHING about summer was appealing to this child. All she thought about was the fact that she would have to weed the garden.

Now I must put this in perspective. We did have a garden and we did expect each of our children to weed a part of it. But that was their chore BEFORE we went swimming at the community pool. It went like this:
Chores first
Swimming next
Baseball and softball in the evenings

My friend Elaine and I often snapped beans while watching our children swim and then we would can the beans when it was cool in the evening – after the ball games.

You can see that we did not violate child labor laws by making our children weed for long hours each day. Yet we felt it was important to involve our children in the chores of everyday life.

Proverbs tells us that “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.” We took that seriously.

I was weeding a flower bed on Saturday and found that in a matter of a few days, small vines had grown copiously and were starting to choke the tops of all the flocks that were getting ready to bloom. I had weeded there a week or so ago and thought that things were under control.

Now the WEEDS were in control!

I thought about how like sin weeds are. They start out little and before you know it, they have taken over. Sin starts to wrap around our thoughts and attitudes and soon, we can’t see the kind, thoughtful actions for the critical, negative ones. It’s insidious!

Yet just as I pulled the weeds out of my flower bed, Jesus wants to free us from sin and it’s entanglements. He wants us to be free to “bloom” and bear fruit like we were meant to. The Lord wants us to produce good fruit that remains in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Jesus uses the example of his children being like seeds that are planted in a garden.

Luke 8:13-15 (NIV)

14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Just as in a physical garden, weeds or thorns can ruin a crop. Yet if the garden is weeded and the thorns don’t grow, the results are good crops!

May we be that good soil – free from sin so that God can produce all that is good and glorifying in our children and grandchildren.

By the way – I weeded along with our children. We get the best results when we set a good example!

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My Father’s Daughter

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I have only had one person ever tell me that I look like my father.

I asked them if they had ever met my mother and they said “no.”

Ever since I can remember I have been told – “You look just like Esther!” I never have minded that, primarily because I think that my mother is an attractive person. Having three daughters has caused the comparison of appearance to be passed down. I have written this before but I think it bears repeating – someone once asked my mother – after saying how much I looked like her – whether our daughter Abigail reminded my mother of me at that age. My mother quickly replied, “Oh, no. Abigail is much prettier than Gayle ever was.”

So, I don’t look like my father, but I have inherited or acquired several of his traits.

* we both love to teach
* we both love plants and love to care for them, new blooms excite us!
* we both enjoy eating watermelon – the sweeter the better
* we enjoy biographies and reading about people’s lives
* we love to hear a good sermon
* we both enjoy gospel music sung from the heart

I am my father’s daughter. His love of teaching as a calling and a profession has had a profound influence on who I am. My father’s father and grandfather each spent some time teaching, although each held other career positions as well. My father was always proud of what he did and when I entered high school, I realized that he was respected by faculty and students alike. I am so thankful that I attended the school where my father taught because it gave me an opportunity to see him through my peers’ eyes.

I think it is important for us as parents and grandparents to share about our work with our children. Our attitudes about our jobs will be picked up by children whether we intend to share them or not. They will start to develop attitudes about work and careers by the things they see us say and do.

My favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 12 gives advice about work, among other things –

Romans 12:9-13 NLT

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

I am so thankful to be my father’s daughter. He has given me a legacy of honoring God through the work I am called to do. What a blessing!

No Answers

Caleb

“They have asked me EVERY few minutes ‘when will we go to Nana and Pop’s?’ It is driving me CRAZY. Next time, I will tell them we are going to Nana’s when we get in the car to leave.”

Our daughter was venting about how frustrating it is to have children impatiently look forward to something. Questions abound:
* Is it time yet?
* When are we going?
* How much longer ’til we leave?
And then they start repeating the questions. Endlessly.

It is hard for little ones to focus on today when they are looking forward to tomorrow.

Wait.

Did I just write “little ones”?

It is so true of ME. Someone asked me today if I was counting down the days until the end of school – I replied “No – I have too much to finish before the end.” If I start counting down – I will lose my focus on the tasks at hand.

We are so like children, aren’t we?

When one of my high school art students asks me what we are doing for our next project – I can be fairly certain that they have lost interest in what they are currently working on. The students who are fully engaged in their art work are not thinking about what they will do next – they are focused on the project at hand.

This applies to us spiritually as well. We often ask God things like –

* What will I do when my children go to school?
* What will I do when my children leave home?
* How will I ever handle…?
* What will I do when I retire?

We should be asking – “What do I do now?”

In Acts 1:6-7 the apostles are asking Jesus questions –

6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.

Notice it says – “they kept asking Jesus”. Jesus told them – “they are not for you to know.”

Why didn’t Jesus tell them what His Father had planned?

Could it be that the disciples would focus on the future instead of the present if they knew what was going to happen? Jesus wanted them to be faithful to their current ministry. I know I probably would have done the same. I might even think I could “fix” the future – you know, make it better.

God does not reveal everything to us. He has His reasons. Just as parents know when to withhold information, God knows what we can handle – and when we can handle it.

In the meantime, we must learn to walk by faith.

“No answer” does not mean that God isn’t present in our current situation or in control.

God may not answer so that we walk by faith, not by sight.

Inside Out

Adahlyn in barn

You can often tell early, even from their toddler days, if a child is going to care about what they wear, or if clothes are just an afterthought.

Our son often put his clothes on backwards and only cared about what he put on if it had a logo or name of a sports team he favored. He is still pretty much that way, although I haven’t noticed that his clothes are ever on backwards. What he wears is still not a priority.

Our middle daughter cared about the color and style of her clothing as soon as she was able to see -in other words – right from birth. She would remove any clothing that did not meet her approval, which often delayed our departure for the library, church, pretty much anywhere we went. She would cry if her tights were wrinkled and if her socks didn’t match her outfit. Now she has her own style and always looks “well put together”. I haven’t heard her cry about clothes in years.

Clothes don’t make a person, but they certainly convey information about personality and prefrences. My mother let me pick out my clothes and I developed a taste for bright colors and “interesting” fabrics at an early age. (Need I say that our third daughter does NOT want me to pick out her clothes?)

In college – as an art major – my dress was considered…well..different. But artists have always dressed “differently”, ok, oddly. To compound matters, it was the early 1970’s and young people who WEREN’T art majors dressed expressively. I made long dresses out of bedspreads from India, patched my jeans with scraps of calico prints, wore tie dye when you had to make it yourself, and wore blue suede boots. I did not look as cool as I thought I did.

The Bible tells us that what we wear on the outside is not as important as what is on the inside.

1 Peter 3:3-5 (NLT)

3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.

I think it is good to allow our children to wear what they want at times, yet let them know that there are other times they must wear certain things. Just as baseball players wear uniforms that identify them with their team, certain situations call for certain attire.

We also want our children to know that MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than the clothes they wear is the condition of their hearts – what’s inside. When conversations about clothes come up – use it as an opportunity to talk to them about the fact that what is in their hearts will show on their faces and in their words. If there is selfishness and impatience in our hearts – it will come out in our facial expressions and what we say.

Our challenge is to let God change us from the inside out.

Then it really doesn’t matter what we wear.