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Personalizing Parenthood - Encouragement for Today - August 12, 2020

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Jessica SmarttAugust 12, 2020

Personalizing Parenthood

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

I have yet to manage a successful garden. Honestly, it seems overwhelming to keep 36 little plants alive, when it takes so much energy to keep my own three children alive. But I’m slowly beginning to understand botany.

There have been more than a few little green things in adorable pots beckoning me, saying, “Take us home! You won’t kill us. We’re easy.” Given my track record with gardening, the odds were stacked against these poor guys.

But then … there was The Plant That Changed Everything.

My mother-in-law gave me a clipping of her Swedish ivy vine, claiming it was “trouble free.” Originally, this plant’s great-grandmother lived in the White House with President John F. Kennedy! The plant did well for a good long while, and then ... the telltale signs began. I was killing another one!

This loss was not going to be OK. I was tired of walking past my sad, unhealthy plants, feeling like a Bad Plant Mother. Mishandling houseplants under my watch was going to end. I did what any modern, self-respecting woman would do. I Googled.

I’d been going through the motions with my houseplants, doing things I thought plants needed. But plants are persnickety. You actually have to pay attention to them individually, looking at leaves and soil, noticing what each one needs, watching how they respond to their environment.

During this research, I learned what many of you probably already knew: Overwatering is the leading cause of death of houseplants. I learned to identify the signs of overwatering but also the signs of insufficient watering — and how to tell if the plant doesn’t have enough drainage.

And then I started watching my plants.

I realized I’d been mindlessly dumping water. In fact, one plant was sitting in an inch of water! Two other plants weren’t getting nearly enough sun. Another’s roots were exposed, one needed a different pot, and so on. Every plant needed different kinds of care!

In just a few days, I began to see the incredibly satisfying fruits of my labors. Instead of sorry, limp plants, I saw happy little plants with bright green foliage.

The parallel was not lost on me.

If a simple houseplant flourishes with individualized care and attention, how much more do our children? 

In order to grow healthy kids, they need essential ingredients: the water, light and fertilizers of childhood. But children, like plants, are particular. They need watching. We can’t assume that what worked for one will work for the next. And most importantly, we can’t just bring them home and go on with our business.

I had to toss one of my houseplant casualties in the trash recently. We’ll move on. But children, on the other hand, matter immensely. These infinitely complex human beings are gifted to us to steward and nurture. The stakes are extremely high, and our calling to care for them is one of the greatest we’ll ever receive in this life.

Today’s key verse, Galatians 6:9, reminds us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” So let’s remember two things:

1. It’s an honor to care for children — a deep and God-given calling with eternal ramifications. 
Let’s give child-raising the appropriate honor and virtue it deserves, especially in a culture that can make us feel as if there are a million other things that are more important. But if you made it this far, I believe you get it. Way to go, you!

2. Let’s watch our children, and be willing to change things up.
I’ve tried to hold my theories and practices loosely. And regularly evaluate each child, to see what they need for the next season. The goal isn’t a philosophy. It’s being able to watch our plants and children and see them flourish because we’ve paid attention to their individual needs.

Thankfully, so much of parenting can be learned. I was bad at plants, and now I’m not-so-bad. We can learn, grow and become good caretakers of the plants and the children who live in our houses. It just takes some effort and bravery to get our hands dirty.

Lord, thank You for the good work of parenting, because Your children matter. Guide us with the strength to do it well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)

Looking for grace and confidence to meet your parenting challenges? Jessica Smartt’s latest book, Let Them Be Kids: Adventure, Boredom, Innocence, and Other Gifts Children Need, offers well-researched, tested methods, woven together with personal stories and witty humor. Jessica delivers wisdom on tough topics like family time vs. outside activities, using technology, friendships, sexual purity and showing grace. Part story, part guidebook, Let Them Be Kids helps moms feel confident and equipped to provide their kids with a healthy, Christ-centered childhood.

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Find Jessica on Facebook for fun family stories on parenting for real life.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt. To celebrate this book, Jessica’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners, then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, August 17, 2020.}

As you think about influencing the next generation, how does knowing we have a personal God who cares for us individually impact the way you view parenting and mentoring?

© 2020 by Jessica Smartt. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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