Parenting with an Eye to the Harvest

Harvest Parenting

It won’t be long now before we wake to a nip in the air. Soon enough days will be upon us again where maples blaze like Horeb’s fire, birches melt into gold, and redbuds bear their garnets and purples with royal dignity.

I’ll admit to you that I’ve already marked my calendar for apple-picking. I’ll admit that I get uncommonly giddy at the jeweled tones of root vegetables, of pumpkins popping color from every neighbor’s front step, and the perfect blue of a cloudless fall sky. But though I’m a lover of all things fall, when I examine myself closely I must also confess that I often largely miss one of the harvest season’s chief lessons.

Somehow in my world where dirt only gets under my fingernails when I’m cruising construction trucks out back with the boys, I miss the whispered truths known so intimately by those who stay attuned to the earth’s rhythms. I miss this law that is fundamental to the way God created the world–the law the farmer knows so keenly: we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7).

In a world where I can plop down my credit card and receive the fruit of the sweat of another man’s brow, it’s easy to take for granted the patience, the foresight, the diligence, and the perseverance of the one who follows life from seed to sapling, from first fruits to final harvest. My character hasn’t been shaped by the long arc of expectation and toil. And I know I’m the poorer for it.

I’ve been thinking about this law of sowing and reaping a lot lately, especially as it relates to raising children. When I look out to the horizon, to that cusp of time where my children will change oh-so-gradually and yet oh-so-quickly into adults, (the way the sunset is both gradual and yet quick) I can’t help but think about this present moment. I can see that glimpse of the kind of men I want my boys to become: passionate for God, secure in Him and in who He has made them to be, wise, bold, and true to their word. I can see that glimpse and yet be so careless as to the numbered days between now and then.

I’m used to immediate results, the waxed perfection and uniformity of the produce aisle, and the fruit devoid of the sweat it took to taste it.

But the good news is, I can come to the Lord of the Harvest knowing my ignorance, my impatience, my lack of discipline, my short-sightedness—in short, knowing all the weaknesses I bring as a parent–and pray. I pray for my children and for that eventual day where all that my husband and I have sown into their young lives bears or fails to bear fruit.

I can come asking for that which I do not have: I can ask for the patience to persevere through many fallow days. I can plead for the foresight of the one who surveys the field, who studies the curves of the land and the composition of the soil and who carefully calculates what and when and how to plant. I can petition the Lord for faithfulness and diligence in the daily care of tender saplings. And I can groan for the grace it will take to trust that He is ultimately the Lord of it all, the one who enables the plant to grow, who provides the rain, and who ordains whether or not that tree bears fruit. I can come in my weakness, expecting His grace, wisdom and mercy.

And so I come knocking on Heaven’s door these days, for the strength to be the kind of person I want them to become and to love, and live, and parent each and every day with an eye to the harvest.

 

 

For our further meditation: Matthew 9:37-38, I Corinthians 3:7, Galatians 6:7

For our personal reflection:
One of our goals as Christian parents is to raise children who walk in relationship with Christ, depending on Him, finding their joy in Him, listening to and leaning on His words. How are you doing in modeling this? Is there a joy your children see in you—a joy they know that comes from walking closely with Christ?

 

Like what you’re reading? Click the “subscribe” button to your right to get these posts delivered to your inbox. Want to read more from me? Grab a copy of my devotional for expectant mothers for yourself or as a gift (Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting). Not your cup of tea? Check out my chronicle of a most unlikely story of forgiveness: As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda

Fireworks

We’ve been on the road for almost three weeks, traversing Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. And since the laundry pile looks like Everest, I’m digging up a little piece I wrote last September when I was just thinking of getting the blog off the ground. Hope you enjoy.

fireworks

Aglow in Wonder

“Boom!” I let my fingers fall toward his face again in a pretend sprinkle of light. Baby boy erupts in cackles and giggles. He pleads, “Fireworks again, Mama! Again!” It’s been over two month since my two year-old saw his first fireworks display, and yet he still begs for this nightly bedtime reenactment.

My hands go up in the air again above his crib, above that sweet face upturned in pure delight. “Boom!” I say with as much gusto as a tired mama can muster, letting the pretend light of my falling fingers cascade on his face again. More squeals and glee. I could do this all night–his face, his laughter: he is the dazzling display I could watch over and over again.

What father or mother does not delight in the joy of his or her child? Jesus put it this way: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11).

God loves to lavish His good gifts on us. He loves to see us light up as we see the redbud tree ablaze in autumn or a Lenten Rose blooming in defiance of winter. He loves to delight us in the crackle and smoke of a fire or the warmth and strength of a hand clasped round our own. Surely these and so many like them are God’s good gifts for us to enjoy. So much goodness He lavishes upon us. But it all dims in comparison to the very best gift He has to give—the most lavish of all His gifts–His Son. What a radiant light! To contemplate the glory of Christ, the glory of salvation; He dazzles the senses. He lifts our gaze in awe. He illuminates everything around Him.

One Fourth of July, a few years before I was married, I had a small moment of revelation. Sitting under that black canvas of sky, watching beauty splash and stream in vivid hues of cobalt, red, and violet, it suddenly dawned on me to think of the whole scene from a different perspective. On one night a year, millions of faces turn upward: the young, the old, the cynical, the hopeful, the jaded, the weary. For a brief moment, all eyes sparkle with anticipation, faces brim with childlike joy, and small gasps, oohs, and ahs punctuate the silence of held breath. The heavens must certainly have the more glorious display at that moment; the glorious display of both light and the light reflected in our changed countenances; what a sight it must be.

But what does this ephemeral, brief blip in time, whisper? What will change us—not our countenances, but our souls? Not for a moment, but for eternity?

Do you see it? The fireworks even angels bend low to see: the glory of God revealed in salvation (1 Peter 1:12).

Glory is a difficult word to understand. Though we can’t fully understand what God’s glory is, in Scripture it is often revealed to us in part through displays of light. Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with God, his face beaming with radiant light. It was so bright that the Israelites had to put a veil over Moses’ face. The glory of the Lord preceded the Israelites in the wilderness wanderings in a pillar of light. When the disciples saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, he radiated with a brightness like nothing they had ever seen before. And the apostle Paul tells us in Second Corinthians, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18).

The purity, intensity and brightness of light somehow serve as an illustration of the glory of God. And what does this glory do? It transforms everything around it. And the most stunning of all transformations is salvation. Light splashes across the blackness of a human soul, not just for a moment illuminating it, but for eternity transforming it.

I’m taken back again to my son’s face. Each night he remembers the splendor of light. And as humble as our nightly re-enactment might be, it changes his countenance. He lights up in the light.

What a simple lesson I take from him! Remember. Be delighted. Shine.

Our faces aglow are the Father’s delight.

Unwrapping God’s Surprise: Baby Boy or Baby Girl?

he or she

Well, today’s the big day. We find out (hopefully!) whether we are having a boy or a girl. And while I’d be delighted to repaint the nursery pink, I’ll rejoice equally if we find out we are having boy number three.

If you or someone you know is out there expecting a baby, pass this along to them. Because for all of us, (whether we choose to be surprised on the day of birth or find out at an ultrasound), it’s very common to have some degree of gender disappointment or perhaps anxiety. Due to our own family history, we may feel more prepared to care for a boy or a girl. Or the quiet dreams we’ve been dreaming since childhood may revolve around ballet recitals for a sweet baby girl or camping trips with a little boy cub.

As I see it, whether you bring home a bundle of pink or a bundle of blue, you can trust that God particularly chose you as the mother of this girl or this boy.

God chose this child for you before the foundations of the world. He hand-picked you to parent this little one. This baby’s gender is no surprise to him. And God knows this child particularly needs you as his or her mother. God also knows the world particularly needs this some-day man or woman.

The Bible also teaches us that both sexes are made in the image of God. Some of the ways in which men and women reflect the image of God are the same, and some of those ways are different, but taken together they give us a fuller picture of the God whom we worship and enjoy. This child will be a particular glimpse of the glory of God, and God is giving the world in which we live that particular glimpse of his glory for a purpose.

Who am I to doubt a God who sees the end from the beginning? Who am I to lament his wise choice?

God’s wisdom is perfect. And we wait expectantly to see how he in his wisdom has chosen to bless this family.

Little one, we rejoice in you… pink or blue.

 

 

Want to take a guess? Leave your comment below. I’ll update you after we tell the fam.

And if you like what you’re reading, consider getting a copy of my devotional, Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting for yourself or as a gift for an expectant mom you know. 

Just Another Day Dragon-slaying: Raising Braveheart

dragon-slaying“Mama, I’m scared,” intones my three-year old in a half-whine, half-cry as he clings to my legs.

“There’s a dragon in the playroom.”

“A dragon?” I ask incredulously.

“Uh-huh,” he moans.

I bend down to look at those pale blue eyes. I see his pretend fear, only it looks real to me. And so I whisper and hope it goes down deep to his soul, “You don’t have to be afraid.”

And then I ask with a breathless urgency, “Where’s your sword? Let’s go get him!” Together, we hunt for his plastic sabre and then call out like the brave heroes we’re pretending to be: “‘Watch out, dragon! Here we come!’”

This mama is no natural Braveheart. But years of trusting God have taught me that our posture in the world needs to be that of the overcomer. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” it says in Romans 8:31. “In this world, you will have trouble,” says Jesus, “but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And who could forget those famous rousing words to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)?

How I wish I could tattoo this on his heart! If I could speak anything deep into the core of my little boy as he grows to be a man, it would be this. If God is with you, you need not fear. It’s not that scary things won’t happen. It’s not that you will be immune from hardship or pain. But if God is your friend, you will never face anything alone. If God is with you, you can count on the fact that no matter what evil you encounter, He has already had the ultimate victory. Evil can only go so far and no further. Its days are numbered. I’ve read the end of the story and good wins out.

Oh, how I want him to know that deep down in his bones. Because I want him to enter the world bravely, not as one who must cower back in fear, but one who goes with confidence. I want him to enter the world not as one who goes with the foolish arrogance of impermeability, but as one who goes with courage even in his frailty because he does not walk alone.

When I was younger, I remember being so desperately afraid of the dark. One night when something had roused me from my bed in pure fear, my mom taught me this verse. Yes, she taught it to me in the middle of the night—in the middle of my fear: “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). To this day, when I’m afraid—I mean really afraid, like when I came home to a burglarized house or when we pulled up to a throng of hysterical people blocking our road home from the edge of Congo—when I’m afraid, I still whisper, “Greater is he that is within me, than he that is in the world.”

The dragon in our house keeps re-appearing. Sometimes he’s a dinosaur. Sometimes he’s a bad guy. Sometimes he’s an alligator. I know he will appear in all kinds of forms to my son as he ages. For now, we keep rehearsing, “Don’t be afraid, my son, I’m with you. We stand together.”

Maybe, if we rehearse this often enough, we’ll both learn to play our parts with boldness. Maybe, if we keep practicing standing up to the dragons, we will learn to carry ourselves like the overcomers we are.

No, in our house, dragons will not have the last say. In our house, dragons are the ones who must flee.

Maybe all of us could use a little rehearsing.

 
Like what you’re reading? Consider subscribing to get these posts to your inbox and also check out my book for expectant moms: Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting, a perfect gift for any expecting mom you know. You can read an excerpt of the book here. And find out what writers like Ann Voskamp are saying about the book. Or if you’d like to read similar posts to this, check out “The Interrupted Life,” “Embrace Your Season” and “Not Enough“. Thanks for reading and sharing with your friends.

WaitingWonder

Buy the Book


×