Maybe there’s a silver lining in the ‘Rona. One of our kids has needed some extra focus on character building, and too much activity – even really good activity, can hinder that development of fruit. Our kids need focused discipleship as they grow, and we have to take the time to do that proactively. Today I’m sharing a little bit of what that looks like in the St. John house.
Podcast transcription is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Joshua 9:14
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Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Heidi St. John podcast. I’m so glad you guys are here. Today is episode 963. This is Wednesday, July 22nd. And we’re going to give you a little bit of a shot in the arm today from the word of God. Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Thanks for tuning in today. I mentioned last week that I was going to be speaking for the Reimagine Education Conference coming up. And you guys, I want you to check this out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay. We’re going to talk about that a little bit today, this feeling of overwhelm. A lot of us are feeling overwhelmed these days, and this conference is in person for a limited audience, thank you, Rona, as well as an online audience, and it is happening July 27th through August 1st. We are going to cover time management, organization, marriage enrichment, and the commonly asked questions these days, which is—Can I homeschool to name a few? So by the way, the answer is, yes, you guys know that you can homeschool. So you can find the link to register at heidistjohn.com/events, and tickets are only $10.
Also, guess what, you guys? You can leave me a voicemail. I’m not even kidding. If you do, I might even play it on the air. So be sure and tell me if that’s not okay when you call. Look in the description of the podcast and you’ll find a link. That’s different than the show notes, it’s actually a link that’s available when you read the description of the podcast. I love to get your voicemails, give it a try.
So I was reading in the book of Luke the other day and thinking about what we’re seeing in the culture. And Jesus had a lot to say about how we can discern right from wrong. Luke 6:44 says, “A tree is identified by its fruit.” So good tree, good fruit. Years ago when I was homeschooling six children at one time, I remember feeling very frustrated with a particular child. Said child is all grown up now, so we survived, not to spoil the ending. But as parents, I think we’re always hoping to see the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our children, right? That’s the whole goal, isn’t it? To see our children begin to bear good fruit.
And at any given time in the parenting process, good parents can be found pruning the tree that is the heart of their child. I know that a lot of times the pruning of the tree can get pushed to the sidelines, because we’re busy, because we got things to do, because we got to figure out the meals and get the laundry done, because we got to go to work, all those things. But I’m here to tell you right now, nothing is more important than keeping your eyes and your heart attuned to the heart of your child.
Right now our family is on the road. I decided, my husband and I did, during my last trip that I just could not. I just cannot get on another airplane right now. And so we decided, A: it was cost prohibitive. But part of the reason that we do the thing that we do and take our three youngest children, so we really only have three children left at home. And part of the reason why we do it this way is because we want to keep our children close to us. I remember having six children that I was homeschooling all at one time. And during that season in my life, that would mean to me, I would have had six children, ages 15 and under.
I’m telling you what you guys, a whole lot of pruning was happening, not just in their life, but also in mine. Raising children will do that, won’t it? You see, for months, my husband and I had been focusing on character issues with one of our children, and the root of the problem we identified was a lack of self-control. So we talked about self-control. We read stories about self-control. We memorized the Fruits of the Spirit. Nothing seemed to be working. Have you guys ever been there, where you’ve just worked and worked and worked to try to get something done and nothing’s working? You’re pruning this child. You’re watering. You’re loving. I call it deadheading. It just has kind of a bad connotation.
But actually during the Rona, I have taken to gardening a little bit and taking care of some hanging plants that are off of my back patio. Every night I go out there and I water them and I deadhead them. One time I came home and I’m telling you what, you guys, this beautiful hanging plant that I’ve been taking such good care of, it looked like it just died. Like in the middle of the day, I was like, what’s going on? This happened to me not once, but three times. Okay. I have kind of a black thumb. I know some of you have green thumbs. I’m really not.
And so twice I went back to this nursery and this is what happened. The first time I bought a plant, a big, beautiful plant. They call it a Million Bell. I took it back to the nursery and I was like, what’s wrong with my plant? Like, no matter what I was doing, it wasn’t thriving. And she said, “Your plant’s not dying. You killed it.” I was like, what? You know? She said, “You over-watered it.” So have you ever done that with your kids? Have you ever over-watered them? When you over-water your kids and you saturate them with too much correction and not enough encouragement, what happens? They die at the root.
You can discourage them. You can make them feel discouraged and depressed and anxious. You have to have that inside of you when you talk to them that you are not wanting to over-saturate them, right? When I oversaturated my flowers, I thought I was doing a good thing. I was a still deadheading. I was still fertilizing, but I’d given them too much water. And ultimately, what happened was that my beautiful plant died. Now, the owner of this nursery had seen me several times and she was like, “I’ll tell you what, Heidi, I’ll take this one off your hand, AKA, I’ll throw it away and I’ll let you get another one for half off.” She’s really sweet that way.
So I take it home. And now I’m very careful. I learned that I have to lift them up before I water them. Are they heavy? Do they need more water? Maybe they just need a little water. Maybe they need fertilizer. This is what it means to parent children, right? Next plant. So I come home maybe last week or whatever it is in this plant. Now I’m being so, so careful. You know what happened? I didn’t give it enough water. And so we had a shocker of a day here where we almost hit 90 degrees. We’re having the lousiest weather right now in the Northwest. I’m not even kidding you. About once every five years, we just have a lousy summer. And wouldn’t you know, we’re having a lousy summer in the middle of the Rona.
So we have this lousy summer we’ve been getting like, 65, 70 degree weather. Well, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we get like 90 degree weather day and I had not been watering my plants enough. And when I came home from the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, that thing looked like it was dead. I was like, oh my goodness, I almost started crying. I told Jay, “I give up. I can’t keep … I can’t …” I don’t know how the Lord gave me seven children. I can’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life.
So I’m working at this plant and I put my fingers in the soil and I realized it didn’t get enough water. And you guys, our kids are the same way. If we over-water them, we suffocate them and they drown. If we underwater them, then they starve. They need that attention. They need that love. It really does require us to come in and tenderly care for them. We have to know, this child might need a little bit more water than the other one. This child might need no more watering. You’ve watered her enough today, right? And it takes discernment. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit. We need God’s help every single day when we’re working with our children. And so rather than be discouraged, we just need to say, Lord, help us to be able to meet the needs of each of our individual children as you’ve given them to us.
And so, as I look back on this particular season with this particular child, in hindsight, I think that in some ways, I was trying to understand her personality. And so there were the days that I would over-water and days I would underwater. I’m telling you, nothing seemed to be working. No fruit. I just did not see fruit on this child at all. One day when I was sitting at the kitchen table, working on a homeschool assignment, my child was presented with an opportunity to become very angry. It’s amazing how sanctifying it is to have siblings. But anyway, I digress. I decided to sit this one out and I waited to see what my children would do.
And to my utter amazement, I saw fruit. I didn’t even have to give instruction. It was amazing. I could not wait to tell my husband the good news. You see, our parenting efforts were not in vain. There was at least the promise of fruit on our little sapling and really you guys, that’s what this is all about, the promise of fruit. We teach our children to be Christlike in their character, knowing that all of our efforts, according to the Word, will bear fruit.
Now, I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that after that, there were many times when I wondered if the fruit that I saw was just a mirage. But ultimately we have seen fruit in the lives of all of our children. You see, Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said a tree would be known by its fruit. And if we want our trees to be known for bearing good fruit, we need to keep on pruning. It will be worth it, you guys. Good fruit is worth the effort. We want to teach our children that we prune them because we believe that it is what is best for them. And we want to teach our children that it matters that the people that they’re hanging out with are also bearing good fruit, right?
So, who are your child’s heroes? Who are the people that they’re listening to? What books are they reading? All of these things are like the fertilizer that is being poured into our children day after day after day. And in the culture right now, we have seen very, very clearly that our children have been influenced by a culture that is beyond the reach, it seems like, of the local church. And so the local churches have not come alongside parents. What I’m trying to say is the local churches have not come alongside parents, I don’t believe, in the way that they have been called to come alongside them. What we’ve done is we’ve created these mega churches, or these huge programs, and we’re not focusing on discipling the hearts of our children.
It has never been more important than it is right now to disciple the hearts of your children. Talk to them about what’s going on around them, and let them know that you’re willing, and able, and desiring to talk to them about even things that they might feel a little bit embarrassed to bring up to you. You know what I mean? So for our children, for example, it’s me. It’s Jay and Heidi St. John, and so there are a lot of us that look to… Well, I guess, I would probably be the same. I probably fall into this category.
So Jay and I have always tried to tell our children that there is not a subject that’s off-limits with us. We want our kids to feel like they can come and talk to us at any time, and so this is a really important opportunity for you right now, especially during the Rona. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 tells parents to diligently teach their children the ways of God. He said, “Talk about them when you sit in your house,” and it says, “and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
In other words, if we want our children to bear good fruit, we need to be discipling them deliberately, deliberately pouring God’s Word into our children. This is such an important aspect of parenting, and so I’m going to give you guys just a few reasons why this is important. First of all, God commands it. Right? In Ephesians 6: 4, we read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” You can also look at Psalm 78, which talks about how your children have been given to you like arrows in the hands of a warrior. Proverbs 22:6 and 2 Timothy 3:15. You can see that God has a plan for children, and it’s always been that parents would be the primary disciplers of their children.
Like I said a few minutes ago, church programs I think, which used to be helpful and beneficial, have suddenly taken the… not suddenly, have slowly taken the place of parenting. If your children spend four hours at church each week, it’s going to pale in comparison to the amount of time that they’re going to spend with you, and so disciple your children. If you want to see good fruit in your children, disciple your children. Psalm 1:1-3 says that those who delight in the law of God and meditated on it will be blessed. But in order for your children to know the truth of scripture and to follow its teachings, they need instruction. They need you to be actively engaged in instructing them in righteousness and correcting them. All right?
Spurgeon said, “Let no Christian parent fall into the delusion that Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties.” Wow. “The first and most natural condition of things,” he said, “is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This is another silver lining of the Rona. I’m hoping. I’m asking the Lord. Father, draw the hearts of parents back to your children.
Listen, if you guys don’t disciple your children, the world is going to do it for you. Every day, your kids are being exposed to messages from the culture about how they should look, how they should act, what’s important. We’re watching a generation of children now who have not been discipled by their parents. When you became a follower of Jesus, God’s Word said you were transformed into a new creation. So that means that the gospel affects everything that you say and do, and it should affect your parenting.
One day, your children are going to stand before the throne of the God of the universe, and they’re going to give an account for their lives. Let Christ compel you to be the parent that you were designed and called to be. Train your children in the ways of the Lord, in the ways of the Lord. We have removed God from school, but do you know how we did that, you guys? We did it because we removed Him from the home first. We decided, “Well, it’s not that important. Go ahead. Take him out of the school.” All right?
The next thing I want to encourage you is to nurture your own walk with the Lord. This was why we founded MomStrong International. This is the heartbeat behind it. It’s why we do everything we do is to encourage you to have an understanding, a solid foundation of God’s Word so that when difficult times come, you can know that you have a shore foundation, an anchor for your soul. This is where we put our hopes. Some might trust in horses. Some my trust in chariots. Some might trust in governments. Some might trust in a vaccine. Some might trust in homeschooling. We don’t. We trust in the name of the Lord, and so run to the Lord and know His Word.
If you guys have not joined me yet at MomStrong International, you’ve not become a member there, I want to encourage you to do that. We have a Scripture writing challenge there. It is only $2 a month, and that Scripture writing challenge is written each month by a staff of about six people that work very hard to bring it to you, and it’s a wonderful way. There’s a Spanish translation for that. There’s manuscript writing. There’s a handwriting, a Scripture handwriting copy work for your children. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity for you to get into God’s Word. Nurture your soul, and nurture your child’s soul at the same time. You guys, intentionally instruct your children in the ways of the Lord. As you do that, you’re going to find that your soul is refreshed. This is good for me as well. We are called to be lovers of God’s word and not just hearers, but also doers.
The last thing I want to just remind you today is that your children have been given to you as a gift from the Lord. The Bible says, “Children are a gift from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children that are born to us when we’re young.” I love this imagery. The Bible says our children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior, in the hands of their warrior parents. You see, God has given us this mighty weapon in children, and we can raise them and shoot them out at the forces of darkness, and press them back as the kingdom of God advances. I’m telling you what right now. There’s never been a more important time for you to strive for godliness and holiness in your family by intentionally discipling your children. By doing this, our communities, our churches,, are going to make a difference in the culture around us. They really are.
I want to say thank you guys for listening to the podcast. We so appreciate your prayers as our family is on the road for the next couple of weeks. We’re going to be bringing this podcast to you from Airbnbs across the country, so pray for us as we continue. It’s a brutal schedule. We’re also stopping. We’re doing little popup shops and meet-and-greets across the country. We would love to meet you. If you’ve been encouraged by what we’ve been doing here, come out and say hello. We would certainly love to pray with you, and just meet you, and hear what God is doing in your life. I cannot wait to see what stories are going to unfold as we travel across this great nation of ours and we continue to pray.
I’m going to remind you again, in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14, to be in prayer for our nation, to be in prayer for our president, to be in prayer for those who are making decisions for our families. We can be an active participant in what God is doing simply by coming to Him in prayer. God is on his throne, you guys. He loves you, and he is listening. I’m excited to see what God does, right? I believe that tough times are ahead for this country. I really do, but I know that God said Ge’s never going to leave us and He’s never going to forsake us. We can trust Him in every aspect of our lives.
Thanks for listening, you guys. As usual, we appreciate it very much when you leave reviews for the podcast. If you’d like to send financial support to us, you can do that by clicking on a link in the show notes today, or you can write to us at Heidi St. John care of Firmly Planted Family 11100 Northeast 34th Circle, Vancouver, Washington 98682. Stay faithful everybody, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.