I live in the mountains. While mountains are beautiful and awe-inspiring; they are not known for their marvelous soil.  Gardening in the mountains can be a chore. The warmer seasons are short and the soil is shockingly pitiful.  Sticky clay and buckets of rocks are obstacles. Nevertheless, I’m a sucker for Fall. Fall’s sunny days combined with the crisp bite in the air send me over the edge. I buy fruit trees, plant tulips, daffodils, and every variety of garlic I can find. My family stands on the deck watching me and prays for my sanity.  And in case you think they are mistaken, I also head to town, back seats of my mini-van removed, to hold as many bags of leaves people will let me have. Yes, I go door to door asking for them. Yes, people look at me strange. And yes, my kids hide; but it’s all in the name of hope. Hope that the work done in preparation will bear fruit, hope that what is done in secret (underground during the winter), will pay off. Fall is my favorite season. We plant hope in Fall.

Today my seven year old helped. We pulled weeds, mulched soil, and finally tenderly planted at least 50 bulbs. My spirit soared! The kid, of course, asked me, “Just what are we doing?” I said, “We’re going underground!” These lovelies won’t see the light again until spring. Instead they will do all of their growing underground, the most important work they do will happen where we can’t see.

Isn’t it similar with our children? We work the soil, we plant the seed, and we hope. (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 4:18) With dirt on my hands, and Fall on my mind, I think about the soul soil of my children; it’s about going underground.  I reevaluate our “family rule.” (Check out my blog post entitled, “Growing Instructions.”) Several years ago we posted a “Vow of Service,” for our family. (I swiped it from Richard Foster’s book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life. Easily, this book has influenced my life more than any other besides the Bible.) Serving is the underground, root growing, soul feeding work in families.

How do we as parents serve our children?

We serve them by providing purposeful leadership.
We serve them through compassionate discipline.
We serve them by giving them a growing self-government. We train our children for increased independence.
We serve them by being available and vulnerable.
We serve them by respecting them.
We serve them by introducing them to the spiritual life.

How do children serve their parents?

Children serve their parents by being obedient.
Children serve their parents by respecting them.
Children serve their parents by meekly refusing to do what is clearly destructive.
Children serve their parents by caring their needs when the dependency roles are reversed.

So here’s to planting service, and tulips for Spring!

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