Lessons from the Garden

It’s been a busy spring on the homestead.  We’ve been starting seeds, building garden boxes, turning earth, raking, and mulching.  And that’s just in the garden!  It takes a team to accomplish all that we need to do.  I love when we are all working as a family and I know that the kids will take away so much goodness from that time spent together.

It’s more than simple work ethic that kids learn when they have their hands in the soil.  They’re learning about life, God, and all that He provides.  Our Pope has called us to share the beauty of the earth and its gifts with our children.  He tells us: “Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” (Laudato Si,159)

Our food sustains us and that life source is a beautiful gift.  It is an incredible life lesson to watch a seed sprout, grow, and bear fruit.  It’s a gift for our children to learn how a seed holds the miracle of the food that feeds us.  In God’s design, everything that the seeds needs to grow and bear fruit is held right there within it.

Early this spring, while it was still cold outside, we scooped soil into peat pots and gently planted tiny seeds.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and so many more.  We have a huge set of south-facing, sunny windows, so we set our little pots there in the sunshine.  As the seeds sprouted and little seedlings started to grow, the weather started to turn warmer and the days became longer.  We were thrilled when it was finally warm enough to prepare the garden for our little seedlings!

We have a large garden, which takes many hands for prepare and maintain.  The younger kids help daddy build boxes while the bigger, stronger kids help to turn the soil and haul the mulch.  A large garden certainly is not a necessity in teaching young children to work the soil and grow the seeds.  A potted tomato on the sunny back deck or a small plot of radishes (they grow like magic!) in the corner of the yard is enough!  Let the children get their hands dirty and maybe dump too many seeds into the pot!  

It’s always thrilling to sit down to a meal which includes food you grew with your own hands!  Children (and grown-ups!) love to eat the, literal, fruits of their labor.  Family dinners are important, but family dinners with food you all grew together, will never be forgotten.  

Finding God in the Nutella Jar

There’s nothing like a strong parenting moment to help you more fully understand the Fatherhood of God.

Kateri wakes up each morning demanding “a piece of bread with butter all around it”.  By which she means, lightly toasted bread with butter spread precisely on every particle of the surface.  Anything less is tantrum inducing.

Horror of horrors, we were out of butter this morning.  Could you hear the tantrum?  It was amazing.

When she calmed down enough to hear me, I offered her Nutella in place of the butter.  “NOOOOO!!!  I WANT BUTTER!”

I adore butter as much as the next gal, but guys.  Nutella.  I offered her something far superior to butter and she would have nothing of it.  She had a plan.  She dug her heals in the ground.  She was a girl who would not be moved.

How many times have we done just this?  I know I have.  I pray, I hope, I beg God for whatever it is my heart desires at that moment.  He says “No, but…” and I don’t even wait long enough to hear the rest.  I dig my heels in and become a girl who will not be moved.

His plan is ALWAYS better.  He’s our Father and wants the very best for us, even more than we do with our children.  But, like children, we throw fits when we don’t get what we want.

It’s Nutella to butter, but if it’s not what I had envisioned, I cast it aside.  I need to step back, quiet myself, and realize that prayer isn’t asking for what I want, but asking to be open to His will.  That’s a whole lot more difficult than begging for my hearts desire.  It’s not magic.  It’s prayer.

Ask for butter, but be open to the Nutella He offers.

(In the end, Kateri saw the light and enjoyed her Nutella on toast.)

Creativity on a Sunshine-less Day

Life is messy.  And overwhelming.  Day after day, filled with the same mundane tasks, repeated ad nauseum.  And where on earth is the sun??

That’s depressing.  Life is beautiful, joy-filled, and colorful, to say the least.  Despite the fact that the calendar says April, we have had cold days, filled with clouds and rain for an exhuastingly long stretch of time.  Every mom I know is feeling the strain of the long, dreary days.

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We are called to see the beauty in this vocation of motherhood, but it’s certainly never easy.  It’s hard to see the silver linings when the sun refuses to shine.

Creativity is a lifeline for mothers, sometimes.  Creating is a something we can do with a clear cut beginning, middle, and end.  Sometimes, the finished product even stays beautiful and functional.  Unlike that laundry you just washed, folded, and put away, only to find it back in the hamper.  Sometimes even un-worn and still folded.  (And always under a wet towel.  Why children, why?!?)

The other day, after  lovely (albeit cold and damp) hike, I found a tick on one of the girls.  Life can’t just be a happy day.  Nope.  The ticks have to find us.  I find ticks to be really disgusting, but I’m also terrified of Lyme.  A bug that transmits an evil disease by digging it’s head into my kids skin?  I have no words.

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But I have fabric!  I whipped up a few cute head scarves for the kids, in hopes to at least keep the ticks off of their heads.  Maybe it is futile, but at least I feel like I’m trying.  And I am exercising my creativity on this otherwise dreary day.

It’s not like the girls will be heading out into the woods today, but I think sunshine is somewhere in the forecast.  We will be out basking in it, heads cutely protected from ticks, as soon as the sun shows her face.

Go find your silver lining.  Your little bit of sunshine, even on the dreary days.  Dust off the sewing machine, pull out the mixer, unearth that sketchbook.  We all have something.  What’s yours?