Embracing the Tomato

Foreword: I haven’t had time to write anything brand new, but some of the revelations God has given me over the years bear repeating. When I wrote this I can distinctly remember being worried about the kind of people my children would be and being extremely purposeful (in my blind, naïve way) to make sure they were given every advantage I could give them. What I have learned over these years is that the biggest advantage I can give my children is me: my time, my focus, my guidance, my love…and none of that was or ever will be possible without my abiding in Jesus. I lack in so many ways. We all do, but He makes up for what we don’t have. In fact, just like the Bible says, His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I forget that all too often. Thank you to God, and to coffee (which I rarely drink but may reconsider becoming addicted to), for allowing me the presence of mind to stop focusing on what I don’t have and allowing what I’ve been given to be added to by my Creator until my life is full and overflowing. Just like He promised. 

July 2013: As I sit here in my back yard I am surrounded by my sweet little garden. This year I planted peppers of all types, slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes have me the most amazed, though. I thought since they are small in size, their plant would be also, so I put them in a large container with the tiny hot peppers. For a while they were contained and grew as I commanded them to. Then one day after a torrential downpour followed by a ridiculous heat wave, I walked outside to find my baby tomatoes taller than I am and about 3 times as wide. It was like a monster bush – unruly and wild. And it hit me. This cherry tomato plant is a lot like children.

When babies come home they are confusing little screaming tyrants, but then when we figure them out they get a little easier each day and we kind of get the swing of things. At least that’s how I felt. I mean, by the time Aubrey came around, I had learned parenting up through age 6. After she came there was a time of developmental peace, if you will. They were all little kids and they liked little kid stuff. Then BAM, Addison became a teenager. It didn’t happen overnight, but that’s what it feels like. One day I walked downstairs and she had transformed into this young adult, barking orders and rolling her eyes at every word I spoke.

Ayden is right behind her, 2 months away from becoming a teenager. I can remember when he was a tiny little baseball player with tiny little baseball shoes and an itty bitty little baseball glove. He is now almost my height and wears a size 11 men’s cleat. There’s nothing tiny about this person. Where is the boy who used to play with matchbox cars and decapitate Barbies? 16 months after Ayden turns 13, so will Avery. This child used to hide in his dresser, he was so small. He was like a koala, always so portable and cuddly. Now he prefers the solitude of his bedroom so he can listen to music and sharpen his impressive collection of knives. 

I only have one cherry tomato plant left, if you will, and she is quickly approaching the “mom is not the coolest person in the world” part of life. I’ll cherish these next few years of baby dolls and playing school. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little saddened by how fast they are growing. What parent isn’t? It does go by so quickly, just like everyone said it would. But God showed me something that changed my perspective from sadness to excitement.

For months I have been coaxing my plants to grow. I talk to them, water them, and weed their garden, but why? Because I know the end result of that care will be a harvest. I will stuff those peppers, and slice those tomatoes. They will nourish us. (Well, everyone but Avery.) Their purpose cannot be fulfilled until they are ripe. So it is with my babies. Soon enough they will be plucked from my vine and given to the world. Until then, it is my job to see that they are taken care of and prepared for their future. When I look at it like that, the maturing of my children isn’t depressing, it’s a cause for rejoicing! 

As parents, we aren’t capable of being thefarmer, but if we are willing, we can be His tools in the cultivation of the lives of our children. Through Him, we can weed out of their lives what does not belong and give them the things they will need to be spiritually healthy. Someone told me that cherry tomatoes reseed themselves easily. May it also be that way with the godliness we instill in our children – that their legacy will create an environment for God’s will in their children, and their children’s children. 

And all of that from a tiny tomato. 

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