Have you ever grown your own vegetables? It sounds like a great idea at first. But trying to get vegetable plants to grow and survive in a backyard garden to the point of actually producing edible fruit is easier said than done.
As we head into fall, many of us will make our annual trek to the local pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Some are small orange spheres ideal for the kitchen table. Others are well-suited for jack-o-lanterns, either tall, squatty, or adorned with gnarly branches. And some are absolutely gargantuan weighing several hundred pounds. Imagine the pumpkin seeds that come from that monster!
Whether or not we have a green thumb for growing veggies and pumpkins, many of us are called to be gardeners. Our children (and our friends) are the pumpkins in our pumpkin patch of real life.
What are 4 ways to nurture our pumpkin patch kids?
1. Water––We pour life-giving love, time and attention into our children and friends. We keep the soil of their hearts moist with the living water of God’s Word and truth. We help them feel secure knowing they are dearly loved, accepted, and cared for, and always will be.
2. Fertilize––We provide additional nourishment of encouragement, direction, and discipline. We help them grow by opening their horizons to new interests. We foster character building by helping them learn that life is not about winning, it’s about loving. We pray for and with them.
3. Prune––We guide them in pursuing areas where they excel. We stay engaged in their life and activities, and help them make the hard decisions of what they should and shouldn’t do. This may include clipping off some dead or wilting branches so that healthy branches can fully bloom.
4. Protect––We keep them safe by putting up fences. The boundaries we set are not only for them, but for others looking in as well. Rabbits and squirrels try to sneak in and take small bites here and there which can injure or scar our little pumpkins. Left unchecked, foxes and raccoons will roam the pumpkin patch and inflict huge gashes which may severely wound our pumpkins. And robbers are on the prowl to climb the fence and steal what they can. We stay watchful to guard against these intruders.
Nurturing and tending our pumpkin patch of real life is a huge responsibility. But the rewards are endless. What a blessing to watch our pumpkin patch kids grow, bloom, and develop into beautiful, mature adults. All leading up to that day when we proudly release them into the marketplace of their real life. And they begin to produce fruit of their own.
Who knows. Maybe a few of their seeds will make it back into our pumpkin patch for another season.
“Train a child in the way [she] should go, and when [she] is old [she] will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
May I pray?
God, sometimes the responsibility of raising children and encouraging friends can be overwhelming. We feel ill-equipped and unsure of what to do or how. Help us, Lord, to take a step back and start looking for small ways that we can have big impact. Above all, may we shower love and acceptance on those in our care, and praise You for the time we have to pour into their life and help them grow. May the fruit of their lives, and ours, be for Your glory. Amen.
Q4U: What is one way you can pour into the life of someone else today?