At the scent of water

Sally - weed florida

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Disclaimer: Though I have nearly 23 years of experience raising plants and children, I am neither an expert on child rearing, nor a botanist. It is my job to plant, water and nurture but ultimately I put my trust in God because only He gives increase!

1 Corinthians 3:77 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

With as many plants as I’ve tried to grow over the years – experiencing great success and frustrating disappointment – I cannot help but ponder the similarities between my efforts with my plants and my efforts with my children.

Having watched my mother grow and tend dozens of plants and flowers in and around my childhood home, I still knew very little about gardening until I began my own efforts in botany. I started with a plant or two and killed them both within months. As the years progressed and I became more interested in gardening, I tried many different kinds of plants and painstakingly set them up in certain areas so they had what they needed to grow. With a bit of research and experience, I learned that they all needed different light, moisture, and temperature. I began to understand that they wouldn’t all bloom the same way or grow to the same height. I learned to appreciate different things about each plant.

Job 8:1111 “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water?

I am ashamed to say that it took me much longer to recognize this about my children. While I knew they needed nurturing and love, I tried far too often to approach my parenting as a one-size-fits-all journey. (You can read about appreciating our children as individuals here: Everyone else is already taken)

As I tried to grow more varieties of plants, I noticed that nearly identical plants could be planted in the same area, receive the same sun, shade and water and still grow at different rates. One may flourish and the blooms may bring great joy continually, one may constantly wither or suffer blight, one may even appear to die. Still, when the roots are deep, with time, there is always the hope of growth!

Job 14:7–97 “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. 8 Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, 9 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.

With plants and children I have found some simple truths:

  • Some plants thrive in the sun, some thrive in the shade. Some children thrive in the center of attention, some prefer the sidelines.
  • Some plants grow best with other plants nearby, some need more space for their roots. Some children thrive with constant interaction and contact, some prefer more space.
  • Some seem to grow with very little effort, some struggle under all the right circumstances. Some children are self-motivated and highly driven, some are slow-to-be-motivated, and some seem unmotivated and need high levels of encouragement and guidance.
  • All plants require sun and water. All children require love and understanding.

My orchids are lovely, but they won’t do a thing when I need a remedy for my burns—that’s when I reach for my aloe. It may not bloom like an orchid, but it will certainly soothe my burns. God blessed us with an earth that yields an incredible variety of plants with different purposes. The souls He created in His image are also vastly different. Our children are individuals with different temperaments, different desires and different destinies; their uniqueness causes them to wither or flourish under different circumstances. The number of variables can be overwhelming. When overwhelmed with day to day challenges in parenting, try to understand that this isn’t a sprint, but a marathon! While I’m not a fan of labeling humans in general, I do think that we can learn a great deal by understanding the different personality types and different love languages of individuals. Whether you use a book or figure it out yourself, get to know your children! Learn what makes them tick!

Our children come to us as perfect little souls and we must do our best to nurture and guide them. We must understand that not all will have the same talents, strengths or weaknesses. Some will struggle far more than others. Some will be a constant beacon of light. Some will bloom early. Some will suck up every ounce of water given and still appear dry. Some may cause great heartache before they bloom. We must love them as God loves them and see their potential for good. Never lose hope. Never give up. Never throw in the towel. Remember that tree in the book of Job? At the scent of water, it will grow. Cling to hope. Trust in God for the increase!

Psalm 1:2–32 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

When the nettle is young, the leaves make excellent greens; when it grows old it has filaments and fibers like hemp and flax. Cloth made from the nettle is as good as that made from hemp. Chopped up, the nettle is good for poultry; pounded, it is good for horned cattle. The seed of the nettle mixed with the fodder of animals gives a luster to their skin; the root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow dye. It makes, however, excellent hay, as it can be cut twice in a season. And what does the nettle need? Very little soil, no care, no culture; except that the seeds fall as fast as they ripen, and it is difficult to gather them; that is all. If we would take a little pains, the nettle would be useful; we neglect it, and it becomes harmful. Then we kill it. How much men are like the nettle! My friends, remember this, that there are no weeds, and no worthless men, there are only bad farmers. ~Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)

Matthew 13:18–2318 Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

A note about the photo: Julia (one of our daughters) took this picture at my parents’ home in Florida. She has dozens of pictures of my mom’s amazing plants, trees and flowers. This little weed was the perfect find to go along with Emerson’s quote. The Bidens alba (commonly called shepherd’s needles) is a weed that has been found to be edible and to have medicinal qualities.

Category: Musings
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