Wednesday, June 12, 2013

of weeds and hearts

It’s been a long day.

Discipline, discipline, brothers fighting, screaming fits, long time-outs… more discipline.  

And I’ve been hacking weeds out of my own heart, along with my sons’… Becoming more patient, by having my patience tested.  Becoming more loving, by having my love stretched.  Today I knew the depth of my love for my kids, felt Jesus hold me as I held my thrashing three-year-old until he finally calmed down in my arms.  

But the sin, oh, the sin!

I finally hustled everybody outside, gasping for a breath of fresh air.  I was still damp with sweat from the latest tussle, and as I stepped outside and the breeze met my face I breathed a sigh of relief.  

Standing at the top of our steps, my gaze fell on the huge, spiky weed that’s been growing, well, “like a weed” in a crack in our sidewalk, right next to my herb garden.  Every time I climb to our front door I want to hack it out; there’s just never time to reach for the hoe (arms full of baby, bags, etc.).  

Today was the day.  Time for an object lesson.

I picked up the hoe and beckoned my boys close.

“See this, right here?”  I pointed at the big, ugly, spiky weed.  “What’s this?”

“A weed,” Will said promptly.

“Is it good for you?” 


“Is it healthy?  Can you eat it?”

Ben: “NO!  It’s all spiky, and the spikes will stick in your THROAT!  Blech!”

“Right,” I said (hiding a smile).  “It’s bad for you.  It’s bad for the garden.  What should we do?”

“Get rid of it!” 

So, I picked up the hoe, and started hacking at the base of the weed.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Will flinch.  He’s my sensitive one, and I knew the lesson was going in because we’d already talked about gardens and hearts and weeds earlier this afternoon - during our long conversation about lying.
As I hacked, I kept talking.  “See?  Your sin is like this awful weed growing in your heart.  And Jesus tells me in His Word that I’m like your gardener - I’m supposed to tend your heart by teaching you to obey.  When I discipline you, I am obeying Jesus.  If we don’t get rid of those weeds in your heart now, they’ll grow bigger and bigger until they’re so big they wreck your life.”

Silence.  Two pairs of eyes stared, motionless, as I kept hacking at the root.  The awful thing was so thick the hoe kept sticking in the core of it; the sounds were pretty graphic. 
I did the best I could, until the weed was lying in tatters on the ground, and then I drew them close.  

I laid my hand on each of their hearts, one at a time.  

“I. love. you. so. much.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to get those weeds out of your hearts.”  

They hugged me back, and we all thought the lesson was over, until...

I walked over to look at our sunflower seedlings, and noticed a new crop of tender weeds flourishing after last night’s heavy rain.  I called the boys over, pointed out the healthy green sunflower plants, and then showed them all the little weeds.

“Ok guys, let’s get rid of some of these weeds... make sure you grab down near the bottom so the roots come out too," and I held up a sturdy specimen trailing root strings.

Plucking away, Will noticed how easily the roots were coming up. 

“That’s because these weeds are still tiny,” I explained, “not like that weed-monster we just tried to kill by the front steps.”  

And then I had an epiphany.  Part two of the lesson.

“You know, Will, when you listen to the Jesus Storybook Bible in the morning and then we talk about it?  That’s like plucking little weeds from your heart.  Every day, you can ask Jesus to weed your heart and show you what to get rid of, and then those little sins won’t have time to grow any bigger.”  

A little while later, I was back at my herb garden doing some more weeding, and Will came up close.  “Mommy,” he said, “wanna know what I just prayed?”

Squatting on my haunches, I turned to look up at him.  “What, honey?”

“I prayed to Jesus, and asked Him to weed my heart every day so no weeds can grow there.  And then I asked Him to grow the fruit of the Spirit in my heart, so it can be full of beautiful things!”

Music to my earsNow, if only Benjamin’s heart were that soft… 

Later on, at dinner, Ben came around and gave James and I unsolicited hugs, saying, emphatically, “I’m gonna obey!  I’m gonna obey you guys!  Jesus is in my heart!  He’s helping me!”  

“Aw, Ben, that’s so great!”  We hugged him back.  “But Ben, you’ve been saying those things for a while now, but there isn’t any change when we ask you to do something you don’t feel like doing… You need to ask Jesus to help you obey even when you don’t want to.”

“Ok, I will!” Big smile.  Kisses.  He is so affectionate.  Rambunctious.  Enthusiastic.  Lovable.   Sincere and emphatic in everything he says, but changeable, oh, so changeable!  One minute he’s hugging and kissing me, and the next minute he’s flailing and screaming in my face.  

Please, Lord, work deep into his heart-soil these seeds of discipline and wisdom we’re faithfully sowing every day, so that soon, we start to see fruit...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

a quiet heart is a humble heart {how to keep a quiet heart: Part 2}

Lately, I’ve been exploring how to keep a quiet heart.  

I’ve been trying to protect pockets of quiet in my day.  Early mornings.  Naptime.  An hour in the evening.  Strategically trying to use those pockets of quiet to connect with Jesus, instead of scrambling to get one more post online or finish downloading the latest episode of Survivor.  

I’ve been practicing awareness of the presence of Jesus, trying to stay mindful of the fact that He really is with me every moment.  I’ve been trying to weigh down the moment with being all here, instead of letting my mind flee ahead into my to-do lists or stacked-up agendas.

It’s really hard.  It takes a discipline I don’t have yet to consistently choose Jesus and quietness over scramble and flurry.  A lot of days, I don’t succeed.  (And I’m noticing those are the days I feel scattered, frustrated and discouraged by bedtime.)

This afternoon, I’m teetering on the edge of resentment that my precocious five-year-old couldn’t doze just a little longer so I could have some uninterrupted writing time.  He woke up at the slightest rustle of noise, right as I was lighting a candle and sinking down into my writing chair, to come and ask me the inevitable, pleading question: “Will you play with me?” 

I had just sat down to write this post.  I wanted to explore this quote I found a while ago by Andrew Murray:

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart.  It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.  It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised.  It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a sea of deep calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” 

-Andrew Murray, Humility

Humility means to expect nothing.

When I start expecting things to go my way, my quietness of heart is ruffled.  Inevitably, my demands aren’t met.  My expectations are shattered.  It’s actually unrealistic and selfish to demand that I have my cake and eat it too: that I should get to rest on my bed for half an hour, and then have some uninterrupted time to write as well.  

Murray defines “humility” as “perfect quietness of heart.”  Does that mean that perfect quietness of heart requires humility?  

Could I reverse that definition to discover a humble heart is one of the roads to a quiet heart?

It’s Sunday, which means Daddy is home and theoretically available.  Feeling slightly guilty (for sending my interruption on to my husband), and also slightly justified (since Daddy wants to spend more time with the boys on the weekends anyway), I send Will out to the veranda where Daddy is relaxing,...

A little uneasy, but doggedly determined to hang on to my expectations for the afternoon, I make myself a cup of tea and sit back down at the computer to keep writing.  I pick up this little book of Andrew Murray’s again, its pages chock-full of sentences that cut straight past all my fluffed-up reasons and excuses.  Like this one, which my eyes fall on:

“Pride must die in you, 
or nothing of heaven can live in you.”   

Andrew Murray, Humility


I can hear Will resignedly playing with Ruby out on the veranda.  My hubby is goodnaturedly downloading another game for Will’s Leappad, and Will has momentarily let go of his desire to play with me...  

Suddenly, it hits me.  It’s my lossI lose, by not accepting his invitation to play.  I lose time with him that I can never get back again.  These words I’m so committed to writing down can be written another day, and if they’re no longer in my mind maybe they weren’t worth writing anyway.  

Regardless, writing down words cannot be more important than time with my son.

It’s my arrogance that thinks my agenda for the afternoon is more important, more valuable, more worthwhile than God’s agenda for me: which includes time with my son.

Without another word, I quietly click Save and close my computer.  I make my husband a cup of tea like mine and carry both mugs out to the veranda with a tin of snacks and a pack of UNO cards.  I sit down on the floor with Will and Ruby, and I spread out the UNO cards.  

Will’s face lights up.

My heart’s a little humbler.  And a little quieter.  It feels good.