Of Bearing Fruit and Dispersing

Why do seeds form inside of fruit? Seeds form inside of fruit for their protection, so they can be dispersed and grow safely at the right time and place.

This is pumpkin-carving season in the good ol’ USA. Bill and I have been carving pumpkins, cutting them open and pulling out that yucky, gooey, seedy muck with our children for 23 years now. But this year, my oldest little pumpkin won’t be home because God is sending her out. 

And it’s hard. But it’s also good. This is #mommylife2.0

I’ve spent the last 23 years investing into my oldest daughter’s life. I’ve prepared the soil and diligently planted countless seeds. I’m sure plenty of those scattered seeds have fallen by the way, but I’ve kept on scattering the seeds. I’ve watered and tended the little seedlings as they’ve grown, and now I’m preparing to launch my daughter into a new adventure in adulthood. 

Seeds aren’t designed to grow on top of each other. Small oaks can’t reach their full height in the shade of giant oak trees. If too many tomato seeds are planted in one little container, they’ll choke each other.

God commanded Adam and Eve, and Noah and his sons, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. (Genesis 1:28, 9:1). Likewise, God wants us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 

The people of Babel didn’t want to be dispersed, so the Lord confused their languages, causing them to disperse. (Genesis 11:1-9) I’ve learned over the years that God’s sovereign purpose will stand and it’s really better to be a joyful partner in the journey.

He wants us to bear both biological children and spiritual ones. He wants the gospel to spread out from my little town in Mississippi to the shores of Florida. He wants the gospel to go forth to the metropolises of Russia and Hungary and China and to the villages of Mexico and Kenya and India.

And that means that dispersing has to take place.

So my prayer today is that those seeds that I’ve planted and tended will grow deep roots in the fertile soil of God’s Word, and that they will bear more fruit full of more seeds that will be further dispersed – whenever and wherever they land. 

And I pray that my sunshine-sunflower girl will keep her face ever pointed to the One Perfect Sun, so that people would look where she’s looking – toward Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of her faith and the Lord and Savior of her soul.

Mark 4:8 ESV — And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Matthew 5:16 ESV — In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

John 15:4 ESV — Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Do hard things

Today I’m telling myself to do hard things.

Hard things like picking up after myself and after my kids.

Hard things like washing laundry and cooking dinner and taking the dog for a walk.

Hard things like putting my phone away and going to sleep at night.

Hard things like reading a story to my kids and praying with them at bedtime.

Hard things like striking up a conversation with a stranger or praying for my waitress.

Hard things like really listening and really caring about what I hear.

Today I’m telling myself to do hard things. What hard thing do you need to do today?

About Apologies

After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.

For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.

I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.

  • Address Everyone Involved
  • Avoid If, But, and Maybe
  • Admit Specifically
  • Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
  • Accept the Consequence
  • Alter your Behavior
  • Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time

In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.

After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”

Eve replied,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?

  • Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
    Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
  • Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
    Child: “The dumpster was full.”
  • Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
    Child: “I forgot.”
  • Me: “Who made this mess?”
    Child: “He did.”

And the list goes on and on.

Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.

How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?

Who do you usually blame when you mess up?

How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?

Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

TWIG

By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.

Who am I? – Of Relationship and Responsibility

Image result for overcomer movie who am i

Sunday morning, my pastor preached a fantastic sermon titled, “Relationship Comes with Responsibility.” You can listen to it online here:

Then, Tuesday night, I saw the new movie, “Overcomer.” The main character in the movie is a basketball coach and history teacher at his local Christian high school. Without giving too much away, he realizes that he is finding his identity in his job, rather than in his relationship with Christ.  The other main character, a teenage girl named Hannah, is amazed when she learns who she is in Christ while reading Ephesians 1-2 in the Bible. Hannah realizes that as a child of God, she is loved, redeemed and forgiven.

So … What about ME? Who am I … and how, then, should I live?

  • I am a created being, created in the image of God, on purpose, for a purpose … so I should live daily with purpose and hope.
  • I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples of Jesus … so I should intentionally study God’s Word and share the gospel with others.
  • I am a forgiven and redeemed child of God … so I should forgive others and help them to be reconciled with God, too.

But, my relationship with God is not my only role in life. God has given other relationships, roles and responsibilities as well.

  • I am a wife … so my husband should be a priority in my life.
  • I am a homemaker … so I should clean my house and cook dinner for my family.
  • I am a mother … so I should love and disciple my children with diligence.
  • I am a homeschooler … so I should faithfully teach and train my children in the way they should go.

Like many Christians, I can tend to overemphasize one area of my life and overlook another one.

Yes, indeed, my identity is found in Christ.

  • Who am I? I am a forgiven child of God.
  • Who am I? I am His workmanship, created on purpose for a purpose.
  • Who am I? I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples.

But, I am also a wife, homemaker, mother and homeschooler to the glory of God. These titles, too, have value and worth.

May everything I do be done to the praise of God who created me, saved me, and redeemed me … and gave me a home and a husband and children.

Of Big and Little Acts of Service

As I shared in yesterday’s post, love compels service … which leads me to a new trail of thoughts.

I wonder, is my dad only interested in the big things that I can do for him? Are the doctors with a dozen years of education who correctly prescribe just the right medication more valuable than the nurse who correctly draws his blood?

Incredibly, just now, while I’m writing this and waiting to board a plane back home, with my dad still in his hospital bed, the flight attendant announced that our plane is having some mechanical issues.

I realize how critically important a good pilot is, but realistically is a good plane mechanic any less essential?

I know that answering my dad’s questions about faith and asking God to hear my cries for mercy truly are valuable acts of service, but do I believe that sitting in silence, holding his hand while he sleeps, is valuable in God’s eyes?

Surely reading Psalm 23 aloud and talking about the hope of Heaven with Jesus is of immense value, but how about cutting up my dad’s food into manageable bites?
Sometimes as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama, it can feel like the daily chores, loading the dishwasher and washing the laundry and cooking the dinner is worthless … and yet I hope that I can do my work as unto the Lord, pointing my children’s eyes to the blessings of dishes and laundry and food … and of work.
Sometimes as a Christian speaker and writer, it can feel like reaching one hurting soul isn’t as important as speaking to the multitudes.
So today, let’s remind ourselves that God values our little acts of love and service, as well as our big ones. He sees us. He cares. And He is able to multiply our fish and loaves and mites and talents as we offer them up to Him.

TWIG

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Is your Life Self-centered, Child-centered, Husband-centered, or God-centered???

This past week, I have been studying Matthew 23 along with the other ladies in my Community Bible Study group. In this passage, Jesus pronounces upon the religious leaders of His day (the scribes and Pharisees) a series of seven woes. Six times Jesus calls these self-righteous men, “hypocrites.” Rather than leading the Israelites to pursue God with pure hearts, these religious leaders had hearts full of greed and self-indulgence, performing law-keeping deeds in order to be seen by others. Ultimately, their lives were SELF-centered, despite any external appearance of GOD-centeredness.

This Tuesday, I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Family Life Today.” In this episode, Dennis Rainey was sharing some words of wisdom with the new “Family Life Today” hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson. Mr. Rainey was explaining how easily most moms can be drawn into a CHILD-centered life, where their “family solar system revolve[s] around the kids.” Such truth in just 7 words.

My mind immediately began drawing a picture of a solar system with my children taking the place of the sun, and my husband and me revolving around them like Earth and Mars.

Mr. Rainey and his wife, Barbara, then shared about the importance of keeping the marriage relationship strong, so that the marriage is prepared to outlast the children. If our world is revolving around our kids, what’s going to happen when they grow up and move out?!

I’m afraid that in an effort to not be child-centered, some marriages, then become husband-centered, where the whole family revolves around making dad happy. Rather than the wife pleasing her husband as an outflow of her allegiance to God, pleasing her husband becomes the very center and focus of her life. This, too, is a messed-up solar system.

In my mind I had a new vision of a solar system. This solar system had my husband and I spinning together, arm-in-arm, while God remained the ever-present enormous shining sun whose gravity held us both. In this solar system, both of our lives revolved around Him, not our kids, and not each other.

Like the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” I began asking myself, “Kim, what is the chief end of your life? What does your life revolve around? What is that gravitational force that holds your life in order? Who is in the center of your life’s solar system?”

Is my primary goal to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”?

Yes. Yes, it is.

TWIG

Boredom Busters – part 2

Lest you think that I only assign my children chores when things are a little slow over the summer, let me share a few of my other ideas.

I am incredibly thankful for the blessing it is to home school, but I do look forward to a summer break!  Our goal is to work on schoolwork from August 1 – May 1, but this doesn’t always work exactly.

When the majority of our schoolwork finishes up, I sit down with the kids to help each of them write up a list of about 10 summer goals.  (I admit this is the first summer in many years that my adult children have not done this with me!)

These goals include family activities (like going swimming or to a movie), as well as getting together with friends and projects (like cleaning out a closet or painting a picture).   Each week I try to make time to accomplish at least one of each of the kids’ goals for the summer.

During the school year, I keep my own list of goals for the summer dated in May on my Google calendar.  Then, when summer comes I can start working on them.  These goals range from house upkeep and cleaning projects to writing projects to field trips to homeschooling prep to lots of catching up with friends that I’m unable to do during the school year.

In the summer, we continue our daily Bible study as well as math and book reading, plus plenty of outdoor play.  But the kids are still frequently at a loss for what to do when I’m busy on one of my many projects.

So, this year, I’m trying a terrific idea a friend posted on Facebook.  The kids and I each wrote several activities on popsicle sticks and marked them with a time (like 30 minutes or 60 minutes or 2 hours) .  That way when we had a little time or a lot of time, we could pick one out.  This has worked well so far!  Thank you, Suzanne!

What do you do in the summer???

TWIG