When I heard Fats Domino died, I was immediately reminded that our daughter Erica and a group of college peers had worked on repairing his house after Hurricane Katrina. Their photo appeared in newspapers around the country, and thanks to the Associated Press, I was able to find it quickly online.
The special opportunity my daughter had to interact with someone famous or appear in the newspaper, pales in comparison to the leadership role Erica played at the University of Richmond. She co-founded a spring break service program that continues to this day under the name of SEEDS.
I can’t think of a more fitting analogy to draw than “planting seeds” in our quest to raise good and godly children. Here’s one way I envisioned that after reading the Parable of the Sower in November 1990 when Erica was only four years old.
As a parent, I have such fertile ground upon which to sow God’s word! In the hearts of my children! Even though it’s easier to toss the seed into the earth, it’s by this method seeds are wasted and fail to fall in the proper place. Taking the hoe to form little furrows, bending over and carefully placing each seed into its resting place; covering the seeds one by one…that takes more time and more effort; but it’s the sure way to gain a yield at harvest time.
I wrote this with four children in the house, aged six and under. My days were long and I was perpetually exhausted. Yet God’s truth offered me consistent inspiration and hope that I could – according to my journal – raise a crop of saints for God.
All Christian parents have this lofty goal, but it’s hard for us to connect the drudgery of daily life with the beauty we hope to see one day: grown children serving their neighbors.
The fact is, many moms feel daily like they’re living in a Hurricane zone, surrounded by chaos and crying. We feel abandoned by people who shower us with gifts when babies are born, but who whisper as we struggle with child rearing. The fear of being judged and the fear of failure paralyze Christian moms. I certainly felt defeated every week, but here’s how I journaled:
For every seed of the word I sow, Satan sows at least one tare… I have to protect them, direct them, and correct them.
Direct: Point them continually to the Word and give them godly options for enjoyment. Show them being a Christian can be pleasurable. Show them the world’s pleasures are destructive. Don’t expose them to the filth that’s so enticing. Win them before Satan does. Offer good suggestions on how they spend their time and money.
Correct: Be diligent to continue training no matter old they become. Get them back on the right track. Be firm, but loving.
Protect: Watch their associations. Satan will use others to undermine my teaching.
I’m blown away as I read these words written 27 years ago, not because I wrote them, but because God was encouraging me by his Spirit. That life-giving support received at my Father’s feet each morning helped me nurture a little plant named Erica.
She certainly had no money when she was four.
Her “associations” consisted of siblings and other preschoolers at church.
She and I butt heads all the time, by the way; well into her teen years. But the prophetic words in my journal were God’s powerful touch, equipping me with the determination and long-term view required for Christian parenting.
Now, I’m enjoying Erica as a friend and sister in Christ.
Last week, I told a group of parents that they’re not raising flowers, they’re raising trees. The truth is that it may take two decades or more to see any substantial or lasting fruit of parenting.
But the fruit does come. Not long ago, I overheard Erica as she eagerly showed her husband Will how to use the study Bible she received from Joe and me when she graduated from high school. Together, she and Will are business owners who offer a spirit of service to patrons and friends. Their daily lives are truly punctuated with “my pleasure.”
As they raise their son Luke under the influence of the Gospel, I feel God’s promise to those who sow in tears: we reap in joy, Moms. We really do.
Those who cry as they plant crops will sing at harvesttime. Those who cry as they carry out the seeds will return singing and carrying bundles of grain.
Psalm 126. 5,6