Once we left the busy streets of town behind and settled on a rural residence, we began our quest for trees. Though the main portion of our yard lacked leafy beauty, the kids called the timber that edged our property the woods. Now that old grove of trees serves not only as a constant scene of childhood adventure, but also as a visible reminder of the potential buried in each tiny tree that we plant in our yard's middle. Right now, our young trees do little more than create an obstacle course for the lawn mower, but we continue to plant with vision.
As we dream, I am reminded that parenting is much like planting trees. . . From the time our children are tucked as tiny seeds within our wombs, we pray lofty prayers and dream big dreams. We plant them in the rich soil of our homes and hope that their roots grow deep. We do our best to anchor them from the storms. We water their souls with grace and truth. We teach them that God has a unique plan for each tree in His Kingdom and remind them that every tree is precious to Him.
As our saplings grow, we study the limbs of their lives for signs of fruit. Sometimes we spot a bud or two: Thank you for sharing your favorite tractor with your sister, that was kind; I'm proud of the way you waited your turn to talk- that took self-control. Yet at other times, it seems the harvest will never come: Why did you hit your sister? Don't talk to me that way, that's not respectful! I don't care what your friends said, lying is never okay. We wonder if our trees are growing at all; we worry that our toil is in vain.
The morning after we planted apple trees, Joshua woke early. Still in his pajamas, he slipped on his crocs, grabbed a bucket, and raced to the spot where the new trees stood. I watched from the window as he stared at the little trees. He touched their skinny limbs, circled their pencil-thin trunks and then trudged slowly back to the house.
"What's wrong, buddy?" I asked as he shuffled in, head hung low.
"I wanted to pick apples. . . but the trees didn't grow any!"
The conversation that followed involved words like patience, seasons, God's hand, and waiting: Difficult concepts for a three-year-old; difficult, too, for a thirty-three-plus-four-year-old.
I will continue to teach my children about trees. I will teach them that deep roots are more important than grand size or stature. I will teach them that growing doesn't happen overnight and thriving doesn't happen without God. I will assure them that one day when they come home to visit their mom and dad and the strangely empty nest, they will glance out the window and see a yard-filled with towering trees stretching toward Heaven.
Certainly, while I teach my children, I will remind myself that the same principles also hold true for parenting. In fact, I'm heading out right now to check on that little tree in the tall grass. And I'm dreaming of a day when Joshua's little boy will race across the yard and pluck a juicy red apple for his favorite grandma . Because Faith proclaims that our little trees will one day bear much fruit.
Today's Treasure: The roots of the righteous give life, and more life. -Proverbs 12:12,b