"Noni, what was your fahvrot paht of the festibol?" Spencer, Abby and I were walking down the hallway at church yesterday morning. He already has the confident stride of his dad; just with shorter legs.
He was monitoring Abby's progress; pushing open doors; casually conversing like any forty-year-old would have. How did you like the fall festival we all worked so diligently to provide for our community yesterday? What was your favorite part? Did you meet anyone new? Me? Oh, I loved the bounce house myself!
These kids absolutely amaze me. And their parents amaze me even more! When did they all become so intuitive; so smart; so kind; so..... Oh, wait a minute. Someone just experienced a full-blown toddler melt down; reality remains. But they still amaze me!
I was remembering the conversation with Spencer this morning and a huge smile came on my face. What a sweet way to begin my work! And joy was needed for the tasks I had mapped out.
First on the list was to work on a vine that's gotten out of control. We have a lovely passion flower growing on our new trellis that I wrote about several weeks ago. (Yes, things are still growing in central FL. In fact, while the rest of the country is enjoying cold snaps and sipping hot chocolate, we're sweltering with temperatures well into the 90's.)
Frank started training the vine as soon as he planted it. Carefully weaving new growth in and out on the cross bars of the trellis. Lack of rain and lack of time to water it had slowed the growth. I only noticed last night that several shoots were waving about in an unruly manner. Note to self: take care of that first thing in the morning.
The passion vine produces a lovely flower with various petals that have been used since the 1500's to illustrate the crucifixion of Christ. In some regions, it grows as a wild vine.
It was my mom who first introduced me to the fragrant beauty. The one she carefully cultivated in her flower box nearest the front door was greatly prized. It brought her joy just in its existence.
As I worked with our vine on the trellis, I quickly realized how ingeniously it's designed for wandering. Tendrils shoot out reaching for a new location. Equipped with a slightly sticky residue, they tap a new spot and immediately begin forming a tight coil.
This works great until we miss a few days of training and allow them to grow any way they want.
Some of the tendrils had to be broken off. One large portion of the vine had even been "captured" by a downward tendril and was actually growing back toward the ground! The more I tugged, snapped and re-positioned the vine, the more I realized this work needs to be done almost daily!
It would have been much easier if I hadn't waited so long.
And in that moment, I thought again of my precious Spencer, Abby, Noah. Those babies are in a critical training stage of life. Just like the passion flower, they bring great joy just by being here. But training is still vital.
Children are ingeniously designed for growth and exploration. It's in their DNA! They reach out testing first one experience then another. And just like the tendrils on my vine, things often "stick" to our children before we realize it.
One of my favorite stories is about the frazzled mom who had hustled around all day preparing her home and a meal for several dinner guests. When everyone (including the guests) had finally been seated around the table, the mom invited her five year old to say grace.
"I'm not sure what to say," the little boy responded with wide eyes.
"Just say what you've heard mom pray, Sweetheart." Mom patted her darling and everyone bowed their heads.
They all smiled as the angelic voice began softly at first but finished strong, "Dear Lord............ WHY DID I INVITE ALL THESE PEOPLE TO DINNER?!"
Don't be fooled; the little ones around you hear and see everything!
Changes come to them so quickly that the easiest way
to direct their growth is to work with them daily. How easily a life
can be turned in the wrong direction if we aren't keeping a diligent eye
open! How easily children get coiled into relationships or behaviors
that never would have had a chance if only someone had caught it early! They need daily direction.
My vine will quickly change into a wandering weed without proper training and intervention. But given careful and intentional cultivation, it will produce fragrant blooms that we'll enjoy for years to come.
May that be so of our children and yours as well!