Thursday, June 20, 2013


You may remember Tana Carder from her previous post, Discipline and Punishment. If you didn't read that, you really should-- it is excellent! She is happily married to Bryan Carder, and is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom to Sean, age eight, and head of Little Lambs Ministry at Northlands Church. The sixth of sixteen children, ages fifteen to forty, thirteen of whom are adopted, Tana is very familiar with adoption, needless to say! We so appreciate her gift of wisdom as a mother.

And before you get started reading, just want to let you know that registration for Hope at Home 2013 is open. We hear Father God speaking the words "WELCOME HOME" to each of us fathers and mothers. We would LOVE to welcome you September 27-28 in Atlanta!

A Song for Everything

Here’s something about me that drives my 8-year-old crazy: many, many things bring a song to my mind and then my lips, and I’ll sing a line or two. “Do you know a song for EVERYTHING?!” he will shout in despair. “Lots of things,” I’ll answer, and it’s true. I can’t remember why I walked into the room I’m in, but I can still accurately sing the Christmas musical that we sang in church choir when I was in kindergarten.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the fruit of the Spirit in regards to parenting. It makes me think of this song from The Donut Man:
Do you know the fruit of the Spirit? If you do then ‘orange’ you glad? Yes you ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy, ‘cause these fruits will never go bad! Oh, God is a good farmer, and He wants his fruits to grow. When you look inside your heart, will you be able to show that...Love takes care of others.Joy means that God makes me glad.Peace be still and quiet.Patience waits, and is not sad.Kindness and Goodness are nice to others.Faithfulness has faith and hope.Gentleness knows how to listen.Self-control knows how to say no.These are the fruit of the Spirit. Now tell me, ‘orange’ you glad? You ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy, ‘cause these fruits will never go bad. No! These fruits will never go bad.

Parenting Fruitfully

I love that song (it helps me remember the fruit), and I love the idea of parenting fruitfully.  I used to think that the fruit of the Spirit just sort of happened when you decided to follow Jesus, and to an extent it does. Galatians says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives...” 
I think we can also choose to be fruitful. One of God’s earliest commands was, “Be fruitful and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28). We’re already multiplying. We touch our childrens’ lives, and they will touch other lives and their childrens’ lives and so on. Even if you haven’t physically added to the kingdom of heaven by bearing children, I assure you, you are multiplying. I say that because I don’t think you have to conceive and give birth to be fruitful. I think the opportunities for fruitfulness are endless in our adoptive and foster families (I like to think the Donut Man would agree, since he’s an adoptive dad).

What does that mean practically? Of course we Love our kids. They bring us endless Joy. Peace may be a little short in supply, now, but we sure are learning to be Patient! I could go on, but that’s not exactly what I mean. I mean, are we seeing and identifying the fruit of the Spirit when it manifests in our children? Are we seeing, identifying, and remedying it when we don’t see fruit in ourselves?

A Taste of Fruit

Recently I got to taste some fruit from my mom and one of my many adopted sisters. They drove to Atlanta from Tennessee to help me organize the chaos that I call a kitchen--because love takes care of others. And I see now that fruit begets fruit. Because of their gift of time and labor, cooking is more of a joy, and there is more peace in my home. I see the Holy Spirit is at work here, and it is Good.          

I Have a Choice; Fruit Begets Fruit

An opportunity to be deliberately fruitful occurs when my son gets angry. I have a choice. I can get angry in response (he can be frustrating), or I can choose fruit, knowing that the Holy Spirit loves it when I ask for help and fruit, and knowing that fruit begets fruit. If I go with anger, things quickly spiral downward. He ends up in his room or in tears (or both). I end up shouting or punishing (which I hate). Our relationship misses out on being enriched, and it must be repaired (God’s grace is always sufficient when that happens). If I choose fruit, I probably need to start with Faithfulness, believing that Jesus can get us through anything. Then I need some Self-control and a calm tone of voice. I might also speak self-control to him, “I know you’re angry right now, but I need for you to use your self-control and talk to me calmly so we can work this out.” With a helping of Gentleness, I can usually identify the cause of his anger quickly. If he’s not ready to share that with me, patience is the next fruit on my plate, because I can wait for him with a good attitude. When we identify the issue, kindness and goodness are almost always the next fruits I have to serve. Often in our case, that just means a comforting hug, but it can mean an apology from me, forgiveness exchanged, etc. Once the conflict is resolved, all of that fruit leads to more fruit- peace, joy, and the growth of our love.

The same choice is available to me when there’s disobedience, impatience, selfishness, or any of the other issues that spring up like weeds in parenting. I can make (and then enforce) more rules and consequences, which might get the behavior I desire, or I can choose the fruit of the Spirit, which will turn my heart and my child’s heart to the nourishment of the Son. In my experience, choosing fruit always yields good results (more fruit for the whole family to enjoy).

Moms and dads, be encouraged. It’s never too late to choose the Holy Spirit’s fruit. God is a good farmer, and He WANTS his fruit to grow. Doesn’t that make you ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy?

Come on over to Facebook and join our community of adoptive, foster and waiting parents there. And don't forget to REGISTER NOW for Hope at Home 2013!

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