howe_micheleCareful not to scorch the fragile paper, Stacy continued to iron the edges around her son’s collection of fall leaves. Each one had to be pressed between two pieces of waxed paper, trimmed, and then balanced just so on cut wire coat hangers.

Once they cooled, Stacy would assist Trevor in cutting around each leaf’s outer edge before they punched holes in the top for stringing yarn and hanging on his mobile. Stacy was warned not once, but three times that morning alone, to be sure she didn’t singe either the leaves or the paper. Remember last year? Trevor had reminded her. How can I forget? Stacy thought ruefully.

What had started out as a simple afternoon extra credit science project collecting local flora had turned into a weekend long nightmare after Stacy’s daughter had a hey-day with her brother’s meticulously labeled leaves he’d left lying on the dining room table. Even though Stacy had been outside when the incident occurred, raking leaves no less, Trevor made it a point of insinuating it was Stacy’s poor disciplinary skills that caused the entire fiasco.

After a lengthy chat with Trevor, Stacy had made it crystal clear that the core issue wasn’t her parenting abilities, rather Trevor’s cavalier attitude. That discussion aside, Stacy recalled spending the better part of Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon helping Trevor resort his collection and/or gathering replacements.

Since then, Stacy continued to be amazed how different her children were in both looks and temperament. She’d had no problem figuring out her oldest two sons, but when it came to Trevor with all his fussiness and particular ways, Stacy was thrown off balance. Frequently, his speech was laced with negativity and pessimism. If he wasn’t dragging the other kids down, Trevor’s woe-is-me countenance wore Stacy’s nerves to a fine strand.

She wasn’t quite sure how to combat his defeatism other than kindly, but firmly, reminding him of the obvious blessings he enjoyed. Still, as Stacy took care to iron Trevor’s finds with attention to detail lest she ruin one or all, Stacy suddenly realized how alike people are to so many of nature’s creations. Every one of these leaves has its own style, its own signature. Some are rounded and smooth, others, rough and brittle to the touch. Not so unlike people, Stacy admitted.

But every one offers something unique to the whole collection, just like us. Lord, Stacy prayed, help me to see the beauty you’ve created in my son and to treat him as though he were the rarest of finds…because he is.

"The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil." Matthew 12: 35

Dear Lord,

I finally get it. All this time, I’ve been missing the point with regard to my children. I believed you wanted me to take their personalities and mold them into miniature replicas of me. As if you had only created one type of person, my type. Lord, I need to ask your forgiveness. I’ve been spending countless hours trying to figure out my child’s take on life. I never seem to put my finger on where this youngster is coming from. He is so very different than me.

And now, I realize, that you simply want to me to love him as he is while setting the best example I can. Lord, in the days to come, enable me to be quiet more consistently…and learn to listen more attentively. Show me creative ways to engage my child’s heart and to lovingly bring needed encouragement as you reveal fresh ideas to me. I desire inner soul health and mental well being for my youngster, and I do not always understand the most effective ways to reach this child.

Lord, I commit my parenting to you again; I ask that you would fill me with your wisdom and vision for the future. Help me, Lord, to not become discouraged when we encounter setbacks…and we will. Bolster me for the long road ahead and give me all I require to parent in a way that honors your name with the understanding that you are watching over me, over us.


"Love God, and within the limitations He has sovereignly placed in your life at this time, do what you can." Donald S. Whitney in Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed

Copyright 2010 Michele Howe