This is my sixth year attempting to grow tomatoes. In vain, I have planted my Italian dreams in various conditions, never succeeding in serving up a homegrown tomato sauce. Certainly, I thought, this summer I would prevail! Alas, my hopes have been dashed against the rocks of disappointment once again as my plants are displaying sagging branches holding little green tomatoes; not the mouth watering, big reds for which I am longing.
However, all hope is not lost! As the Lord would have it, I chanced upon a man ranting about his own barren tomato plants. He was explaining how his plants were beautifully unproductive too.
This man opened my eyes to THE SUCKER VINE.
Sucker vines grow in the crotch of a plant between a branch and the main stem. These little villains draw nutrients away from the actual producing branch all the while falsely boasting potential bounty.
With this new knowledge, I grabbed the scissors and headed to the greenhouse to see if this could be the answer to my tomato quandary. When I bent down in front of the first plant I found it to be burdened with numerous sucker vines. Indeed, this was the case with every plant.
While combing through my plants it dawned on me, THESE PLANTS RESEMBLE MY LIFE!
This is where my husband’s personality has been an invaluable asset in our marriage. If left to my own devices, our whiteboard calendar would be lit up like a Christmas tree with color coded activities. My husband, who is my personal antithesis, prefers to have quiet, unscheduled evenings and weekends at home as a family. I go in waves of submission to this event-free lifestyle. Initially, I see the value in his wisdom and curl up on the couch contentedly knitting while the children play. Approximately three days later, I am sneaking hits off the crack pipe of activity when he is away at work.
Following a few weeks of free reign on our daytime agenda, my handiwork becomes evident in our children. They become tuckered out little kids with unpredictable behavior. In turn, I become the bargaining mom pleading with them to cheerfully engage in each activity despite their missed naps, the shoddy food like substances I am throwing at them from the front seat and the irregular routine to which I am submitting them.
Ever the slow learner, it takes me a few temper tantrums (both mine and theirs) to realize I have planted sucker vines. Humbly, I acquiesce that scribbling widely with my dry erase markers has been drawing key nutrients away from the true vine that is my family-AGAIN.
It seems to me a relentless job to persistently hack off the sucker vines in our calendar. And my kids are young! Recently, I was logging the activities and school schedule I keep for our kids to a veteran homeschooling mom. She lovingly replied in her sweet southern accent, “Honey, Back Up Off Your Sweet Babies!” I should listen to her, really I should.
One of my favorite verses that I often spout is 2 Corinthians 11:3 which breathes:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the SIMPLICITY AND PURITY of devotion to Christ.”
Time management is one of the easiest avenues in which I allow the enemy to lead me astray. Logically, I feel and know that less is more…less activity, less agenda, less expectations always gives way to a calmness, a rhythm, deeper relationships in our home, and ironically, a contentedness that is lacking in full days.
This lesson is keenly applicable today as I am beginning to color up a blank school calendar. What IS important? What movements in our days will be beneficial not to just one member of the family, but the whole unit? What activities will prove to be sucker vines drawing us away from our relationships with our Father God, our marriage, and deepening the connection with each of our little squirts?
If the end goal of each day is to know Jesus and to make Him known-Jesus, please show me which markers need to be thrown into the kids bin never to be used again on the calendar.
May our 2014-2015 calendar not be marked by frazzled mom speeches given to frustrated, exhausted kids. Rather, let it be remembered for its SIMPLICITY lending to a sweet rhythm that keeps us in tune with our Father in Heaven and one another simultaneously.
If this be your heart as well, I would love to pray for you, that as you and I plan our ways, that God would indeed direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Portions of this article were previously published in Simply Family Magazine.