Around this time of year we talk of spring fever. It seems we are all looking forward to winter ending so we walk around slightly chilled in shorts and flip flops as we start to see the ground thaw. Spring flowers are starting to push through. Some of you might have started seeds for the garden. We start making warm weather plans. We pull out the bright spring colors from our closets. We join the neighbors we haven’t seen since Christmas in squinting at this bright warm ball in the sky. Even at The Sparrow’s Nest the outside toys are emerging and the hammock has been hung again (don’t get me started on the funniness of watching a pregnant lady trying to get out of a hammock.) We are prepping the garden boxes built by Girl Scouts. The lilies planted by American Heritage girls are starting the peek out. Despite the effects of daylight savings time we all seem to be clearing off the patio of winter’s debris in anticipation of this new, bright positive season.
We see these same season changes in our residents. They’ve gone through a season or two of darkness, loneliness, and perhaps season after season of cold, dead winters without hope. More often than not we hear stories of how they thought they could handle all the responsibilities of parenting while being so young but still carrying all the baggage of unhealthy relationships and lifestyles. These mothers come to a point that most teenagers never do. These young mothers realize they aren’t invincible. They start to have the ability to see past today and recognize there needs to be a change, that new seeds need to be planted for real change and success to occur. We know that given time and support and resources they can handle the responsibilities of parenting. We get to see God softening the hard ground for seeds of salvation, hope, grace, and mercy to be sown. That’s when we see both the mother and her child bloom.
Matthew 13:1 begins to tell us the parable of the sower. You know the story of the farmer planting the seeds on the different types of soil.
A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
Although it’s important to look at the state of the “soil” in our lives and the lives of the residents at The Sparrow’s Nest to see how receptive we all are to God’s teaching, I think it’s much more important to focus on who is planting the seeds. I read one time that this is not the “Parable of the Soil.” This is the Parable of the Sower. At The Sparrow’s Nest we try to build a hedge of protection around our residents to allow them the time and space they need to grow in God’s word. We try to keep the weeds and choking vines at bay that might choke out the true seeds of growth from getting through. We get a front row seat to watch God sow his love upon these young women and their babies. God is doing an incredible work in the hearts of these young mothers. Just like the changing season we see God planting new life.