The trees on campus have been brilliant this fall. We’re witnessing changing seasons, but also changing lives. After a few busy months this summer, we have almost a full house with 55 students.
We hosted guys and girls family retreat in October—it was an awesome time of growth. Always a few bumps and hard times, but a general sense of commonality in struggle and in hope. A few parents words: “It’s always good to share with others on a similar journey, to encourage and pray for each other.” “You don’t feel so alone in your own journey.” “Comforting to be with people who understand and love our son so much.” The sharing time on Sunday after chapel was powerful for many families. Speaking about that time, a few said: “Gave us hope.” “Beautiful.” “Valuable…I am going to invest in Kleenex.”
The leadership has been doing a Bible study with the guy and girl Littles weekly this fall. Jim Subers (CEO) has been taking the guys through the “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldridge. It’s an optional gathering, but with the promise of grilled meat if you show up. A few guys were skeptical at first, but as the weeks progressed nearly everyone showed up. Rujon Morrison (Shelterwood Director) has been taking the girls through a study of “Women of Faith and Passion.” A few weeks ago a former super model told her story. The girls were captivated. There is nothing like the power of a real woman who understands struggle explaining how she found her security in Christ.
Mid-October our whole campus was out in Kansas City for two days of serving. We helped a variety of non-profits including a women’s shelter, a ministry serving pregnant teens, an inner city food pantry and soup kitchen, and a thrift store. The students did great and the days went by without any hiccups…expect, of course, the usual things that happen when you take a bunch of teenagers into a thrift store to sort random goods. Three guys ended up in adult diapers, a funny situation compounded by the fact that the person who gave them the idea was a counselor.
We’ve made it to March! I love the weather this time of year. Though winter can be stubborn, the first signs of Spring emerge, as they do every year about this time in the Ozarks. Some plants begin to show signs of blooming while others are still dormant, waiting for warmer days to emerge. Plants are a lot like teenagers. They grow and bloom in their own time, at their own pace. All the pushing on our parts as parents won’t change their pace of growth. Every plant and every child is different.
When I was a new parent, Darnell White handed me this article one day. It’s an excerpt from a book written nearly 60 years ago by R.W. White titled “Lives of progress:”
“Raising plants is one of mankind’s most successful activities. Perhaps success comes from the fact that the husbandman does not try to thrust impossible patterns on his plants. He respects their peculiarities, tries to provide suitable conditions, protects them from more serious kinds of injury, but he lets the plants do the growing. He does not try to poke at the seed in order to make it sprout more quickly, nor does he seize the shoot when it breaks ground and try to pull open the first leaves by hand. Neither does he trim the leaves of different kinds of plants in order to have them all look alike. The attitude of the husbandman is appropriate in dealing with children. It is the children who must do the growing – and only through the push of their own budding interest.”
As parents, there is such freedom in the letting go and letting our kids grow at their pace and in their timing. Perhaps you’re a frustrated planter these days. No doubt, growing kids is a tough job. We just have to remember that we’re there to protect, respect and provide for our precious plants, not force them to grow at the pace we desire. Let God do the growing and relax in God’s timing. We can trust that even when the budding seems a bit late, that in the difficulty, a plant is emerging that’s better able to withstand life’s storms. God, after all, is the Master Gardener. If I correctly focus on my own growth, a beautiful garden will emerge.