Â on the radio program a couple weeks ago—
July 5th, 2010
Â A few days ago, we were having one of those mornings around here…you know, the kind where you contemplate how much money it would cost you to ship yourself to Bermuda for a while (or permanently). Everything that could go wrong, not only went wrong, but did it with a splash. People, house, laundry, all of it….
I am not sure how many of you are aware that we homeschool our 10 year old, or even more so, how many of you are aware that this year we switched to a year-round schedule. So while many of Anna’s pals are either hooping it up at the local swimming hole (or in daycare) we are diligently working on getting her through the 4th grade and moving on.
It has been a delicate balance, homeschooling. I have had to consider many times her emotional needs over her educational needs.Â Until this year, Anna was an only child. Unlike many homeschool families where the children have many siblings to play with, Anna had herself, and me. So socialization and play dates have been a big part of our scheduling. It is easy for my only child to get lonely, especially when her friends are out playing and she is inside doing school, or in the winter months when she is isolated from kids due to getting sick so easily.
But this year for some reason (my mother says it is her age), I have seen more of an attitude from Anna than I have noticed before…at least since she was a terror on wheels at two. And the morning we are discussing was the worst I had seen in a long time. Everything was an argument, she was rude, sassy, disrespectful, and shockingly unashamed of her behavior. It honestly seemed like nothing I did to work with her was working. Those of you who home school have had days like those, dread them, and can completely understand. You want to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry, or lose it completely, neither of which is constructive. I was baffled and had no idea what to do next.
I have been reading, again, the book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp. It is a beautifully written book about shepherding your child, and teaching them to look beyond their behavior to the sin that lies underneath, showing them how to deal with the core issues, not just how they are acting. In other words,Â cleaning out theÂ inside of the cup,Â not justÂ the outside (see Mt. 23:25)Â . It has inspired me many times over the last 10 years, and each time I read it, she is a little older, and it hits me in a new way. I highly recommend it to anyone desiring to raise their children to love the Lord, and be godly from the inside out.
It was pouring outside, but I handed Anna her garden hat, tied mine on, and opened the door in invitation. (If you could have seen the look on my daughter’s face–I think she thought I was going to take her outside and bury her or something! 🙂 Anyhow, we walked down the garden at the bottom of the hill and I took her into my pumpkin patch, which has been sadly neglected because of the constant rain and twin-raising. It looked miserable, weedy, wet, and not something we would be getting lovely pumpkins out of in a couple months.
Anna shivered in the rain, and then looked at me. “Why are we out here Mom?”
I pointed at the patch and asked her what she saw.
“Big plants. Mud. Weeds. ” (if you can imagine this said in the snotty tone that annoyed kids get, you have it right).
“Okay,” I said. “You see those weeds?” She nodded.
“Is it good for those to be in there with my pumpkin plants?” She silently shook her head no.
“What kind of weeds are those?”
And that was when she surprised me. “Those are thistles. And before you ask me what they do, I know. They send their roots deep into the roots of the other plants around them and they strangle them.”
Now you need to understand something. I had felt the Lord prompt me to go outside, I knew there was a lesson in the pumpkin patch, but until she said those words, I was struggling to put into words what I was thinking. Anna’s response made it crystal clear, and I sighed.
“Anna,” I said, “I want you to think about this pumpkin patch like a person’s heart, ok? Your heart, my heart, Daddy’s heart, even the twins’ hearts. God loved and loves us so much that He tenderly cares for us, planting good and healthy seed into our hearts..seeds of love and kindness, compassion, gentleness, godliness, and a desire to seek him. But our sinful attitude, selfishness, pride, anger, whatever, can grow into big strong weeds. And what do you think that it does to those plants?”.
I looked at my daughter, and saw tears running down her face…not raindrops.
“They kill the good plants Mom.” she choked out, then threw her arms around me and cried. Together we reached down and pulled out one of the larger weeds from the base, and to my surprise, with the thistle came up a pumpkin plant.
I couldn’t have said anything that would have had the impact that little lesson in the garden had. Seeing the plants choked with weeds, seeing the little pumpkin plant come up entangled with the roots of the big thistle….God had a lesson for both of us in the garden.
Annalise walked away that day with a renewed sense of understanding, that she (and all of us) need to deal with those weeds that grow so quickly to overtake the good things in our lives. Selifshness, anger, hatred, bitterness, pride…they all become monsters if we dont deal with them immediately and ruthlessly. The worst thought is that if we dont deal with them, they will kill and steal life from the things that are good–our families, our ministries, and our walk with the Lord. How horrible to think we let them get so bad that they would completely destroy something so dear to us as any of those precious gifts, right?
The deeper lesson He had for me that morning was simple–as parents, we are not alone. I dont know if you are like me, but I feel sometimes I have very little to go on in raising my children after coming from a home that went through a very messy and painful divorce when I was 13. Our culture does little to teach us anything of value in this area, and while I am thankful my mother is such a huge help, and now loves the Lord with all her heart, I still need a path laid out for me that I can follow. I want to raise my kids to love God, to be good and righteous people that love others, and are good workers. I want them to be passionate about what is right, and to stand up for what they believe in, respectfully. I want them to be confident to face the world, and step into it as fully functional adults who are always learning, always aware of what God is doing in their lives and in the lives of others around them.
I cant do all that on my own, and Kurt and I can not accomplish that even as a team without the leading of God. But it looks like we don’t have to, because if I am willing to just listen and lead, He is right there in front of me, showing me what to do.
I am happy to report that day is over, and I have seen a huge change in my daughter since then. I am thankful my child has a tender heart, and that God is stirring in it the beginnings of a sensitive and thoughtful nature. On a funny note, she has been seen a couple times around the yard pulling up weeds out of many places–the flowers around our house, the dog kennel, the propane tank. It makes me laugh, and yet, it makes me thankful as well. The Lord imprinted that lesson deep on her heart, and all I had to do was not weed for a while. I think that is a good trade off… 🙂
What is He teaching you today?
Many Blessings to you and yours,