Growing Baby Trees

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A few people asked me to share my devotion from Morgan’s baby shower and I know how much it helped me to read other people’s blogs while I was preparing, so here it is. Many thanks to my husband for helping me take my scattered random stories and turn them into something coherent.

There are two things that never cease to amaze me about my boys: Their ability to get dirty with complete abandon, forgetting about how much I yelled at them yesterday and never considering how mad I might get today; and the way they love me with the same devotion. My children have allowed me to experience life in a whole new manner. Let’s just say I’ve picked up a lot more toads and read more snake books than I ever thought possible. They have also made me stronger, braver and more willing to kill black widows. What’s scary is that I am also influencing them even when I don’t realize it. This year for Christmas, Daniel’s sister gave the kids an old camera to play with. It doesn’t take great pictures anymore but it takes excellent video. One morning we were rushing around the house trying to get ready to go and Sam was wandering around the yard falling down. I got frustrated with Daniel for leaving him out there and little did I know, Noah recorded the entire incident. There is nothing like listening to yourself say, “Why didn’t you just tell me you were going in the house instead of leaving him out here in the dirt?” over and over to make you rethink the way you talk to your husband. Little children’s minds are like that camera: recording everything we say and do and playing it back when we least expect it.

As a mother, you will have the privilege and responsibility of being one of the first influences in your child’s life. Psalm 1 paints a dramatic picture of the end result of Godly and ungodly influences. Let’s begin by reading it together.

baby-tree

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

I love the imagery of the tree planted by streams of water. I thought this was appropriate because Morgan’s nursery features a tree with hand prints of different family members. The Psalm begins by telling us how not to live our lives. There is a backwards progression from walking in the counsel of the wicked to standing in the way of sinners and finally sitting in the seat of mockers. We can see the young person’s life fall apart as he becomes more and more comfortable in the way of sin.

This is in direct contrast to the life lived according to God’s will. A life rooted in God’s Word produces lasting fruits of righteousness. Parents take great delight in all their children’s milestones: sitting, standing and finally walking. As you see young Hudson grow physically you will get to witness his faith grow as well. Faith comes in baby steps. Just as we gradually learn to sit, then stand, then walk, we learn to trust God in degrees. Some of my most precious moments have been answering my children’s questions about God. Maeli asked, “Do we get hurt in heaven?” “No Maeli, we won’t get sick or hurt or cry anymore.” To which she replied,” Do doctors go to heaven, Mommy?” Shortly after Sam was born Noah asked me if there was crying in heaven. I was about to relish another teaching moment with my, “No more tears speech,” when he cut me off: “Are there babies in heaven?”
Answering questions and instructing is one way we get to influence our children for God. Another way is by reading them God’s word and providing them ways to study it.

The next verse reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” I’m sure you already find yourself thinking of the baby day and night. The expectation and excitement you feel now will soon be realized when you hold him in your arms. However, if you think he occupies your mind and your time now, just wait. I can hardly even enjoy the rare moments I get away from my children because all I do is worry about them. God wants to occupies our minds in the same way.

The word for meditate means to mutter under your breath. God wants us to have an ongoing conversation with His Son and His word. Hudson is fortunate to have parents who care about raising him in the church and in a family that loves God. By bringing him to church and Sunday School and reading him the stories of the Bible, you will teach him the important place that God’s Word holds in your lives. This is the living water for our souls, absolutely vital for life and godliness.

Your chance to nurture your son’s faith is a tremendous opportunity.You will be able to cultivate it through intentional teaching just as a gardener carefully waters and fertilizes the soil. But you will quickly learn that unless you depend on God, your resources will be depleted. As much as we try to take care of the garden, there is always an element of the miraculous needed. This is where we learn to call on the Master Gardener for the Light of the Son. Your children will challenge your prayer life like never before. While you might occasionally have long, uninterrupted prayers, most of them will be short desperate pleas like,

“Please, Lord, don’t let him wake up.when I put him down.”
“Please Lord, let him go back to sleep.”
“Dear Jesus, help me see if he really pushed a piece of red crayon up his nose and if so, help me get it out!”
“Please Lord, don’t let him love his kindergarten teacher more than me.”
“Dear Jesus, protect him from these crazy neighborhood kids.”
“Please Lord, he’s too young to be interested in girls!”
“Dear Jesus, help us all to survive his learning to drive.”
“Heavenly Father, thank you that we finally made it to graduation. I’m so proud of him.”
“Please Lord, keep him faithful to you as he goes to college.”
And all too soon – “Dear Jesus, bless this young couple as they begin their life together.”

When you have done all you can do to cultivate the soil and asked God for blessing, it’s time to trust God for his future.

The Psalmist says that the person who delights in the Lord will be like “a tree planted by streams of water.” We will be healthy and grow strong in the Lord, yielding fruit to nurture others in the faith. When we spend time in God’s Word and with God’s people, the next natural step is to reach out to the lost and teach young believers. We become trees that bear fruit to nourish others. God’s love in us produces love for others.
It also says, “Whatever he does prospers.” I caution you not to take this as an open-ended promise that Hudson will never experience pain or difficulty if he follows the LORD, but rather a general principle that the things we do for the LORD have eternal significance.

But not so the wicked! “They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” They have failed to put down roots and are worthless plants blowing around like tumbleweeds. There is nothing to show for their time on earth. They will not even be allowed in “the assembly of the righteous.” It may seem harsh that the wicked are not even allowed in the assembly, but this verse is also a comfort if seen in light of the next one. Why does the LORD not allow the wicked in the assembly? Because he “watches over the way of the righteous.” Because he loves and cares about his people, He is preparing a place where there is no more sickness, no more tears and no more pain. Just as every good gardener must rid their garden of weeds, so careful parents must seek to protect their children from negative influences while they are still young and vulnerable. We do our best to pull out all the weeds while the plants are new and fragile in hopes that they will soon grow strong enough to withstand them. We hope and pray that our children learn to avoid evil and we do our best to guide them in the ways of the LORD at a young age. But we know they also have to make their own choices. One of the most difficult things to do as a mother is to let your children learn from their own mistakes. It is hard to tell your son “Don’t run in the house,” every five minutes. It is a lot harder to see your son break his nose from running into his own bunk bed while flying around the house with a plastic bag parachute. But he will remember that a lot longer!

All the hard work of teaching, instructing, and protecting from harm would be overpowering if not for the immeasurable love you will also feel for your son. And yet it is only a small fraction of the love God feels for us. God loves us with a never stopping, never giving-up, always and forever love, stronger than even the love you already feel for Baby Hudson.

A blog I was reading put it this way: “I know this might seem silly, but until I became a mother I’m not sure I fully grasped what unconditional love truly was. I’ve known my whole life that God sent his ONLY son to die in my place. But until I became a mother I’m not sure I could fathom just how painful that sacrificial act would have been. I would do anything to save her, to protect her. I would gladly lay my life down for my daughter, but would I offer her up to save someone else? I think not. Becoming a mother has not only taught me that my heart was capable of so much more love than I ever thought possible, but it also gave me a little, tiny glimpse into just how much my Heavenly Father loves me.”

It is the love of God that both compels us and empowers us to love our own children when our sinful nature makes it too much to bear. All of our efforts to raise them to act Godly would be in vain if we didn’t teach them how much we love them and why we want to please God in the first place.

As mothers, we have many fears and insecurities about our own inadequacies and the unexpected future. But Hudson is not going to worry about this. He is going to take it for granted that you are the mother God gave him and you have everything he needs whenever he wants it, no matter what time of day or night. It’s comforting and overwhelming at the same time.
Fortunately for us, we know that even when we feel like we don’t have anything it takes, God does and He will provide. He gives us guidelines in His Word for raising Godly kids and He even gives us the Holy Spirit to help. We are to cultivate the soil of our children’s hearts through teaching the Word and prayer, weeding out ungodly influences, and most importantly, to love them with the love God has first shown us.

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