Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest post: Tending the Garden

Here is my guest post that was posted on The Confident Mom blog last week.  I encourage you to linger around on Susan's site.  She has some great goodies for sale & for free.

Tending the Garden

Many years ago we lived in the country on 20 acres.  My husband grew up in the country, farming with his dad. My dad is a preacher and I grew up in the city, but always thought the country life sounded amazing.  So I was thrilled when we had the chance to buy land and build a house in the country. I soon found out that it was very different from the city.  But, I still loved raising my kids out in the country in the wide open spaces & I tolerated the “critters”.  We all miss it very much.
One year, I wanted to plant a garden, because that is what you do when you live in the country.  I had never raised a garden before, but since my husband was a farmer I knew he could teach me how.  We tilled up the dirt, planted our seeds and waited to see what would come up.  Much to my amazement plants began to grow. It was wonderful.  I couldn’t wait until it was time to harvest our veggies.
Within a month or so we had a garden full of plants that would soon become vegetables for our table.  I was so excited!  But soon my excitement turned to horror as the grasshoppers moved into my garden and began to eat all the plants.  We could not keep them out.  The only plant they didn’t eat was the okra and my husband and I were the only ones who liked okra.
We tried again the next year, but didn’t have much more success.  If the seed actually sprouted the grasshoppers got it.  I was so frustrated.  Looking over my pitiful little garden I wondered if I would ever learn how to grow a garden that would produce something besides a mob of grasshoppers.
Have you ever looked at your children in the same way?  

What am I doing wrong?
Will I ever get this mom thing down?
Will my kids ever learn to obey?

I love the verse, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have days when I really question that verse.  I mean really…motherhood is harmful!  You will get your feelings hurt.  You get your toes stomped on.  You get vomited, pooped and sneezed on.
My kids have disappointed me.
 They have embarrassed me. 
They make me angry.
 They make me cry.
 They make me proud.

Our third child gave me great cause to worry.  I wondered if he would ever listen to us or would make good choices.  The older he got it seemed that the worse his decisions became.  I spent many a nights praying over him and for him.  He and I really struggled when he was young.  He made me feel like a failure as a mom.
Thankfully, when he was about 12, the Lord showed me Jeremiah 29:11-13 in the context of my relationship with my son.
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

 The Lord reminded me that he does have a plan for my son and a plan for me.  It is an excellent plan.  The Lord wants me to seek him and let him take care of my son.  I learned that through seeking the Lord, He guided me in how to handle my son.  There were so many days when I still wondered if my son would have a life outside of a jail cell.  As he entered into his teen years it seemed as though it became worse and I was so tempted to take back the reigns and do things my way.
Today he is 17, only a few months away from 18.  I still have my moments when I wonder about him, but there is one thing that I know for sure.  He loves the Lord.  He may not always follow him as closely as I think he should, but he has a growing, changing relationship with the Lord.  He recently got his first job as an assistant swim instructor and at the end of his first month he was given 3 awards by his boss for outstanding work ethic, integrity and ability to diffuse a volatile situation with a parent. I was so proud of him!
I can look back over the years now and see where the Lord clearly guided me in how I spoke to my son, how I touched him and how I prayed for him.  I mentioned earlier that my son made me feel like a failure as a parent.  Actually, my son has shown me the importance of seeking the Lord in how to be a parent.  He has shown me that I can’t do any of this on my own.
 I gave up on the vegetable garden, but I am still working on my other garden…my children.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me the opportunity to care for these little sprouts. He guides me when weeding needs to be done and allows me to see the fruit that is produced in my children.  By his grace and mercy, someday I will have a bumper crop of children whose heart desire is to love the Lord and share his love with others.
Tend to your garden carefully, recognizing who the real gardener is. Seek him in all you do and watch His fruit be produced in your little sprouts.