June 11, 2014

Good Soil

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” [Mark 4:3-8]

My grandma has a thirst for beauty and a real gift for creating it in any space. She is one of the most creative people I've ever had in my life. Wherever she goes, she's using her hands to make the world a more beautiful place. I've been thinking about her a lot lately. Whenever I think of her house, I picture it simply lush with trailing green plants, large ferns, and towers of African violets. Even in the middle of a cold Indiana winter, her home felt warm and alive. She and my grandpa recently moved into a new condo, and her letters (yes, letters! She is the most precious grandma one could ever wish for) describe their patio garden and the new plants she's putting in. It's inspired me to try my best to turn my brown thumb into a slightly greener one. I've been looking up information online and trying my best to check my plants' soil on a regular basis. This has been filled with a lot of trial and error, and I've lost a plant or two, but the other day I was rewarded by my first African violet bloom in a year!

This is what good soil and tending can do for plants. And it's what they can do for the human heart.

Providing good soil for my children is the best work I can do in their lives, and it is the part of parenting that I take most seriously. Over the last few years, I've been asked by a lot of moms what we do in our house to provide a good soil for the Gospel to take root, and I have three suggestions below, based on what's worked well for our family. I am always interested in how other families are teaching the Gospel at home, so please leave your sweet practices in the comments! Some of these things may seem obvious, some may seem like something you'd like to try, and others may not fit your family at all! The important thing is to cheer each other on as we share Good News with our sweet babies.

+ I'm in the Word. This has looked different at different seasons and I expect it to keep changing and that's fine. Grace, not legalism, right? I get a daily email from She Reads Truth that contains a Bible passage and a devotional. These are really manageable, yet meaty, for a mom of two who has lost a significant amount of brain power in the last three years. I want the Word of God to be written on my kids' hearts, so I absolutely need it to be written on mine. I want wisdom from the Bible to flow as naturally out of my mouth as a little ditty from Daniel Tiger. And it really works. Cruz was feeling nervous about a slide at the playground and I got to tell him, "remember when the disciples felt nervous about the Big Storm?" Be in the Word.

+ Our kids listen to exclusively Christian music (also, a tremendous amount of the Frozen soundtrack, so let me keep it real). I love pop music and hip hop music and we used to listen to that, so please don't think this about me being on any kind of high horse about morality in music. However, one morning I drove Cruz to daycare at 7:50am and our local hip hop station was playing some song that blasted out "sprayin' honeys with champaaaagne." Too early! I thought, and just like that, I was done. Cruz and London love music, so the music they listen to might as well have some redeeming qualities. When Cruz is supposed to be napping, he's often jumping around his room belting out "Come Thou Fount" or "Silent Night" instead. I feel great that those words are written on his heart. I love that I can ask him, "what do you think this song is about?" and we can talk about why there are so many songs about God as a foundation (I mean, really, there are a lot).

+ We pray with our kids and in front of our kids. Pre-dinner and pre-bedtime prayers are so sweet to do with our kids, but I want my children to see how rich and real prayer life can be. Tovi and I often set aside time while we're driving (and the kids are essentially our captive "audience") to praise God and pray for each other, our family, our church... anything that's on our hearts. I hope that this practice demonstrates our dependence on God, thanksgiving for the things He's provided, thanksgiving for salvation, and the truth that we can bring anything to Him in prayer.

If you're looking for more ways to help your children develop an awesome faith life, here are some additional suggestions. And leave your's in the comments below! I would love to keep updating this list with your ideas!
+ The Jesus Storybook Bible 
+ The Power of a Praying Parent 
+ Homelife Magazine 
+ Hello, Darling
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