Parting Thoughts from Heidi Bratton

Editor's note: Today, we say goodbye to our friend and contributor Heidi Bratton. Heidi, I have grown so much personally and professionally as a result of having known you. I wish you and your family all the best as you move forward with life's many adventures. Thank you for having shared your gifts with our family. LMH

I love the color and beauty that flower gardens bring to our yard, but man, what a pain it is to keep the weeds at bay.  Even after pulling up every stem and leaf of every visible weed surrounding our spring daffodils, tulips, and peonies, in no time at all the very same weeds were popping up again, trying to crowd out our summer daisies, day lilies, and roses!

The “secret” of the reappearing power of some weeds is that their visible shoot system is only a part of their being.  Some weeds have an entire, interwoven root system which, completely unseen, can cover a garden end to end like a lacy sheet under a blanket of dirt.  It is this type of fibrous root system that allows a weed to wait until I have put my gardening gloves away and with the next rainfall to quickly sprout new stems and leaves.

Of course weeds are not the only plants that have lacy, resilient root systems.  Violets and snapdragons also have these robust root systems, and so in place of weeds, I like to substitute these flowers as illustrations of what I believe to be one of the most hopeful parenting verses in the Bible, Proverbs 22:6.  This verse says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Looking back over the past years of contributing to I can see that the promise of Proverbs 22:6 is a nearly perfect summary of what I have wanted to communicate to readers with each article.  During childhood and young adolescence every child is growing visibly and invisibly, just as violets and snapdragons are developing both flowering shoot and fibrous root systems.  It is in this brief and temporary season of their lives that we parents are able to mindfully help our children develop a morally integrated root system in the Catholic faith.  Although mostly unseen, it is this root system, even more than the visible shoot system, which will help keep our children’s faith alive in the years and events to come.  Foremost in the ways of helping our children develop this stabilizing root system is continuing to develop our own root systems by deepening our personal relationships with Jesus Christ.  To put it another way; as water is to the life of a plant, so is loving God yourself to your ability to raise a faith-filled Catholic child.

This month, as I surrender to God’s call to take a sabbatical from writing, I want to take a minute to publically thank Lisa Hendey for the opportunity to share in the encouraging mission of this website, for her personal friendship, and for endorsing and promoting my books!  Lisa, you are precious to me. Thank you.

I also want to thank you, dear readers, for considering my down-to-earth input in raising your families to the glory of God.  All of my articles will remain in the archives, and don’t forget that a year’s worth of similar articles, plus reflection questions for each article are available in my newest book, Homegrown Faith, Nurturing Your Catholic Family (Servant Books).  If you like what you’ve read from me on, I hope that you will not only purchase a copy of this devotional book for yourself, but also encourage a friend by giving her one, too!

A parting thought on Catholic parenting is that we only get to help write the first few chapters of our children’s lives; God gets to be the author of their whole story, as well as ours.  But the beginning is super important to any narrative, so let us be diligent in what we have begun!  Let us count it as our privilege to introduce Jesus as the main character in our children’s stories, to let hospitality, generosity, love, faith, and all the other Christian virtues be the main motifs, to create a setting that involves both a home that is brimming over with spousal and familial love, laughter, hugs, heartfelt prayer, and warm cookies, and a church where all people of good will can experience unmerited grace, mercy, and peace through the Sacraments, beauty, and fellowship.  Let us determine in advance that no matter what rising action comes our way, we will resolve conflict with compassion and overcome injury with forgiveness as did our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen?  Amen!  May God pour his richest blessings on you and your family, now and always.

Copyright 2012 Heidi Bratton