Saturday, March 31, 2018

You Can't Plant Peas and Grow Watermelons

Dear Friends,

It’s a funny thing. We want certain results in this world, but we too often fail to make proper preparation.

A farm girl, I learned to garden. Fortunately, I had two brothers, so my sisters and I rarely worked in the fields. But gardening required the attention of womenfolk.

First you plowed the ground. Well, that was done by the men. Our old John Deere chugged back and forth as the plow blade peeled back rows of soil. Then we raked lumpy furrows smooth in preparation for planting.

Next we dug holes to plant potatoes and dragged hoe prongs to create shallow ditches to sow rows of teeny tiny lettuce and carrot seeds. Tomatoes. Onions. Beans. Peas. Eggplant. We planted them all. Then we watered and waited. If insects attacked, we sprinkled leaves with lime to ward off invaders.

As plants grew, we weeded and hoed to allow water to seep down and seedlings to pop up. This went on until plants matured and grew big enough to produce. Lettuce was first to be harvested, then spring onions. One by one, vegetables were picked and eaten, jarred or frozen. We enjoyed them year-round, thanks to my mother’s hard work.

Well, so it is with raising a family. If we want children to grow into honest, spiritual, faithful, hard-working adults, we must make necessary preparations.

First of all, we birth them and nourish them with milk, then soft foods and finally they sprout teeth for chewing. We appropriately train them to brush those teeth and eat those veggies so their bodies grow straight and strong. When the bugs of sickness invade, we take them to doctors for medicine.

We water them every time we demonstrate honesty when given too much change. We give to Caesar (the IRS) what is due so they learn to be responsible citizens. We take them to Sunday school and church; we don’t send them.

Some parents want their children to develop their own spirituality, and of course they will. But that’s like throwing seeds out the window and expecting a harvest. If a parent expects to raise godly children who share their spiritual values, it requires weeding out bad influences—“No, you can’t see R-rated movies”--and fertilizing their growth with good influences—round table discussions about God and country, faith and family, neighbors and classmates.

Raising godly children requires attention to their growth—mental, social, emotional and spiritual. It requires those uncomfortable moments of discipline. It requires demanding respect and commanding behavior. The children will not always be happy, but they will grow to a healthier maturity for it.

Now I do understand that just as a drought or a storm can devastate a garden, other factors over which we have no control can have a major impact on our hard work as parents and grandparents. But I simply want to encourage you to put the time and effort into child rearing—or whatever other endeavor you undertake—to the best of your ability. Then leave the results in God’s hands.

If you want to eat peas, plant peas. If you want to eat watermelons, plant watermelon seeds. If you want children to turn into responsible adults, plant seeds of faith and integrity. Children must be carefully taught. It requires time and patience, love and discipline. But like a fruitful harvest, the end product will bless your soul.

“First plant your fields; then build your barn.” Proverbs 24:27 (The Message)

Here's a link I just came across that reinforces my post:

Have a blessed Easter as you ponder spring planting.


Upcoming Engagements for Friends of the Heart:

April 14, 9:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. - Faithlift Women's Conference, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, "What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.
April 21, 9 a.m. - Ladies Brunch, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Mechanicsburg, "If Our Closets Could Talk."
April 27-29 - Women's Retreat, Best Western Lewisburg, Richfield Life Ministries Church Conference, ""If Our Closets Could Talk."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

This is the true story of an unlikely friendship that developed between an illiterate homeless black man and a wealthy art dealer and his wife when their paths crossed at the Union Gospel Mission, Fort Worth, Texas. It’s a saga of forgiveness, mercy and grace that changed their lives forever. Hard to describe without telling the story, and I don’t want to spoil it for you. But this is one of the most inspirational books you’ll ever read.

Ron and Debbie Hall and Denver Moore lived in different worlds. And Moore was more than a little leery of the Halls’ motives in serving at the mission. Moore had been beaten down in life from the time he tried to help a white woman fix a flat tire and three teenagers came along, roped him and dragged him behind their horses. But the Halls proved their friendship, and three lives were forever changed. Yours will be too.

The back of the book offers thought-provoking questions for reflection along with “A Conversation with the Authors.”

Chapters are written in the voices of either Ron Hall or Denver Moore, and only the first two chapters are titled with their names. From then on, you have to figure it out from their voice, which is not hard, since Moore speaks in a typical southern dialect. While Hall is the educated one, Moore offers down-to-earth homespun advice—both practical and spiritual—that can’t be beat.

A great choice for book discussion groups. This is a book every Christian needs to read—and apply.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: Judah's Wife

The Maccabees lived in the silent years between the Old and New Testaments. Not much is known about them except for commentary in the Apocrapha, which is not part of the canon of Scripture. They were faithful Jews who tried to protect the tenets of their faith in the years leading up to the birth of Christ.

Angela Hunt has done a masterful job of making this time in history come alive. She bases her story on real people—the family of the Maccabees. But she adds supporting figures to develop the struggles these people surely faced. I loved learning more about this important time in history and its impact on a dedicated community of faith.

The back of the book, published by Bethany House in 2018, includes an Epilogue, which explains the true ending of the story. In her Author’s Notes, Angela Hunt explains her approach to writing the novel. There is also a set of Discussion Questions for those leading book clubs.

I appreciated this novel because I knew about the Maccabees but knew little about their day-to-day activities and the thoughts behind their actions. Hunt also does a good job of subtly bringing in the issue of abuse and its surprising long-term impact on families. A good read. And more good news is, this is part of a series.