Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple Trees

I've heard the saying 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree' all my life. As a parent I am beginning to really understand the weight of that statement.

I want to start this by thanking both Mark's and my apple trees, each of them moved a good deal from the weaknesses and frailties of their own trees. No parent is without sin, no parent is without mistake or failure, it is the duty of the children to move away from the mistakes of the parents, ours did marvelously, and left us with both less room to move and much more shelter under their branches.

There is another quote about apple trees that I just love, I've heard a few variations on it, this one is the one I came across tonight "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." Martin Luther. As I think about my role as a parent I think more and more about this quote and that this is my job, indeed a better word for it is my vocation, but sadly that word is less understood these days.

Around me the world seems to be falling apart, politics are horrid, freedoms are being wasted, false security is being sought after, people seem more interested in self than others and all manner of things worldly seem to be spiraling downhill, just as they have since the fall of man. No matter what it is my job to plant this apple tree, to make sure that as a parent I am giving my child the best that I can. I don't mean money, surely there is a place for that, but in the end a child is better off to have been truly loved in poverty than ignored or worshiped in riches. As a parent intent on homeschooling my son, it is easy to be caught up in the worries of academics, will I provide enough that he can have a chance at a good college, job, etc., am I doing it the right way, could I be doing it better.

Sometimes I find that it is so easy to be wrapped up in those things that I forget the one thing that my son truly needs each and every day, the one thing that only his dad and I can give him and that is a real living picture of what it means to love and to be loved. This extends to every part of life, because John is homeschooled he sees us all the time, through each and every thing. He has watched us through joy and sorrow, he has seen us be scared to death that we were losing him and thrilled to pieces that he was doing well, he has seen us excited because we found out I was pregnant and mourning the loss of yet another baby we will not hold here, he has seen us struggle financially and rejoice over an unexpected gift, he has seen our life inside and out, good and bad, with nothing but the most intimate things hidden from him.

As I think through the things that I want our beloved son to learn, I remember my dad saying (as all dad's have I'm sure) 'do what I say and not what I do' and I can remember doing (in this case driving) exactly as I had seen him do (to the best of my teenage abilities) and not like he had told me too. From this I know that no matter what I tell John it is my actions that are his greatest teachers, and so when I am tempted to give into sorrow, to lash out in anger, to give up on projects that become difficult, to shirk my duties to go have fun first, or to never have fun because I feel like I always have more work to do, that it is what he watches me do that will teach him the things that will make or break life. For a child can always learn a little more math, science or English, but at some point they seemed closed off to lessons about mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, persistence, respect of self and others, honesty, love and faithfulness. As John grows and we progress through school hopefully he will reach his full potential in all the realms of academia, he is one smart little boy, but if he grows into a man who has all those important qualities, mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, persistence, respect of self and others, honesty, love and faithfulness then Mark and I will have done our job, fulfilled our vocations as parents. Certainly not through our own strength because we too are sinful broken human beings, but through Christ who is in us and Who through us plants that apple tree fresh and new each morning.

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