Like a Gardening Toddler by Jessie Weaver

It’s a hot afternoon in June, and Libbie and I are on the back deck. My poor basil plant is withering, the one thing in our yard I claim to care about – since it provides the crop for our Summer Bow-Ties, fresh pesto, gorgeous pizza – and it’s nearly dead. My dependence on the rain to water it is not a smart choice in the drought we’ve had.

I hand Libbie her little yellow spray bottle and ask her to water my plant. I will dump some more water on it later, of course, but her helpfulness needs an outlet that does not include stirring hot pots on the stove or trying to help her brother sit up. She gives it a good spray and then keeps on watering the friends around it: the bushes, the grass, and the weeds that grow around the weathered deck.

 

Beautiful, but a prodigious weed

She does not discriminate, joyfully doling out to each one, weed or treasured food-bearing plant, its share of needed water. And I think this – this is the faith of a child. This is what Jesus meant.

Libbie does not know to differentiate between people, plants, colors. She doesn’t know that one plant is helpful and one plant is a nuisance to the garden. She sees them like I believe Jesus sees people: each one as His favorite. Each one important to Him. Each one beloved, in need of some tender nurture. And often, I think He gives us children to learn some of these simple lessons, the truths we’ve forgotten since we, age two-and-a-half, watered our own weeds.

SNV32999 copy.jpgWhen Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after two little ones: Libbie (2) and David (6 months).

Huge Steps of Faith

 

224603_10150161133712635_603497634_6785775_5522887_n.jpgSunday was a special time for our family apart from the normal Easter festivities. Our 7-year-old, Christopher, was baptized. The pastor did a beautiful job, not only explaining to visitors why we baptize by immersion and what it symbolizes, but also in endearing each child’s story to the congregation and reading a verse  parents picked out for their child.

We asked our pastor to read Christopher’s life verse that we chose for his baby dedication: "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). We have told Christopher that this verse is important for all Christians because we always represent Christ in everything we do, but that the name Christopher literally means "Christ follower or Christ bearer." He literally represents Christ with his name!

The pastor also mentioned Christopher and the courage he showed on the day of his baptism. Christopher had been very nervous! In fact, our pastor used Christopher as an example at the invitation time, encouraging adults to come forward with courage and accept Christ. It reminded me of what Jesus did when He called a little child to stand with and be an example of faith (Matthew 18:1-5).

Children have a remarkable ability to believe, love, and trust—as well as show courage—that we as adults could learn to follow as we all grow together in faith.  It takes a lot of courage as an adult to face fears, stress, conflict, and failures. Sometimes I wish I could say time out and call a "do over" like we used to do as kids playing games. But it takes courage to face all these difficulties, to parent, to say "I’m sorry," to admit mistakes, and even to share the gospel of Christ with others. That’s a big part of why Jesus used a child as an example of great faith.

We want to partner with you in helping your kids take huge steps of faith. Let us know other ways we can partner with you to raise godly kids!

Jump by Tim Abel

When my daughter was 2 years old, she was learning to climb up and down the stairs in our house. I remember standing behind her, then beside her, helping her up and down the stairs. It was not long before she did not need my help when she was climbing up the stairs. She was a "big girl" and she could do it by herself! However, she still needed my help to start walking down the stairs because the banister started several steps down from the top landing. 

She would stand at the top of the landing and call for me to come help her to the banister. I would climb the stairs and drop to my knees about four steps from the top landing. After I was in place, she would back up, take a running start, and jump into my arms giggling. Once she was in my arms I would set her on the stairs by the beginning of the banister. She would then carefully walk down the steps without any additional help.

It is funny how helping my daughter reminded me of some very important truths that I had allowed to be crowded out by the circumstances and obstacles of life. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we can call out to our Father and He will always be there.

One afternoon I went upstairs to my office and was quickly followed by my daughter. She played in her room while I was working. After I completed my tasks, I quietly snuck downstairs. She soon realized that I had gone downstairs and cried out for me to come help her. I told her, “You are a big girl and you can do it yourself."  I quietly peeked around the corner and watched her nervously try to take that first big step.

As she peered down that first step, I wondered what she must be thinking. What an obstacle! She finally sat down and tried to crawl down to reach the banister. However, just looking down all those stairs was too much for her. She was scared. She called out for me, her father. I came around the corner and stood at the bottom of the stairs. As soon as she saw me turn the corner she started backing up to jump into my arms. My heart dropped as I realized that she was not going to wait until I was in my normal place before she jumped. I tried to race up the stairs, but it was too late! I caught her in mid-air halfway up the stairs. I was immediately upset that she had done such a crazy thing!

As I angrily carried her down the remaining steps, God stepped in and broke my heart. You see, I had been struggling with a series of obstacles in my life. I found myself overwhelmed by that first big step and then scared as I looked beyond. When my daughter was confronted with her obstacle, she called out for me, her father. When she saw me come around the corner the obstacle before her melted away as she jumped into her father’s arms.

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I learned a very important lesson that day. I can allow the obstacles in my life to become so large that they overshadow His presence. Or I can be so steadfastly focused on God’s presence that He is able to continually contend with and transform the obstacles before me.

Psalm 73:23 says our Heavenly Father is always with us. Just as my daughter knew that I would always be there for her, we can know that our Heavenly Father will always be there for us. We must continually maintain our focus upon Him, especially when we are facing life’s obstacles. We can’t do it alone; we will always need our Heavenly Father’s presence and guidance in our lives. He is always there waiting to catch us as we jump by faith into His loving arms.

Tim and his wife, Tammy, have been married for 15 years. They have three children (Hannah 9, Elijah 8, and Samuel 6). Tim has been called to the full-time pastorate. He completed his Bachelors degree in pastoral studies at Cedarville University. He is currently creating a terminal illness ministry prior to entering the full-time pastorate.

Have you ever learned spiritual lessons through the actions of your child? Share your insight with other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment.