Fresh jammies speckled with printed white puppies. Red boots too clean for any kid’s preference. His soft curls swirling his head could only stay clean but so long. Like a freshly bathed dog, the desire for mud to be reintroduced to his pores was instant. Cody found the puddle, the slick brown mud, and I nodded with approval.
Sometimes our hearts long for adventures contrary to what others think best. I have been trying to avoid what “should be” and more often what “could be” for my children. Their individual needs to flourish trumping that of convenience to my schedule. For Cody, the mud between his fingers and the water splashing his face gave him overwhelming joy. His senses overloaded with the earth God has put him on. Learning, exploring, feeling, I too find great joy in the small bits of earth before me in springtime.
“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”
In her eagerness, she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”
“To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.
– The Secret Garden
I plunged my hands into the deep dark soil as I was gardening and for the first time in my life, I nearly cried with complete thankfulness for that dirt. Something about feeling the bits of earth between my fingers with the cool and the sun-warmed parts mixing and turning over is an extravagance I never want to be without. In its simplicity of gardening – dig a hole, put the plant in, cover, water, and repeat – there is also a miraculous quality that this simple act reveals: plants grow, when tended to, because that is their purpose.
Like small plants in well-tended soil, I too see the potential for greatness in my children. Sometimes “pulling the weeds” so they grow ever stronger is the hardest. Rory in the last few months has been a challenge. She hadn’t been listening well. She whines and disobeys. My ability to stay calm wavered greatly and I found myself yelling out in frustration of her disrespect. Weeks of this was causing great discomfort for the boys too, the tension was high and I could see that they felt it.
Thankfully, I heard God in my ears one night and it was clear as a bell, “Pray in her face.” Skeptically I did so the next day when she and I started our frustrated routine. It worked. Throughout the day I would nearly lose it, but then I would stop, take her face in my hands, and pray out loud my frustrations and my understanding of hers. Our dark cloud routine of bickering at each other soon gave way to our attention to God. Ryder was quick to remind me to pray when he saw me being pushed to the edge.
Then one day after dinner Ryder asked that we read his Beginner’s Story Bible. 40 minutes later I look up from reading and I see Rory captivated. She looks at me and says, “I need this Jesus.” Ryder and I look at each other. We took Rory’s hands in ours and we prayed with her. The weeds of frustration, of whining and yelling, were plucked and growth had come.
Do we still have rough days? Yes, nearly every day still has a level of difficulty. But Rory and I both have calmed because we both decided to root ourselves farther into what God would have for us and not what we thought best.
“At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple, every tint and hue of crimson. In its happy days flowers had been tucked away into every inch and hole and corner.”
– The Secret Garden