Planting Seeds with Anne Wilson
Trusting God to Bring About the Harvest
Anne Wilson, a contemporary Christian music artist, said, “Everything I’ve been taught as a little girl is really true.”
In a recent interview with Family Life Radio, Anne shared how her parents planted seeds of faith in her life from a young age. They raised her in a Christian home and instilled Christian values in her. But, it wasn’t until seventh grade that Anne had a personal encounter with Jesus that changed her life forever. Looking back, she realized “God had used all of those church services and Sunday Sermons to kind of build me this deep foundation of knowledge and His Word and who He is.”
Planting seeds of faith in the lives of others is an important part of your faith journey. You are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help others grow in their knowledge of Him. But what happens when those seeds don’t seem to take root? When it feels like your efforts are in vain and you’re not seeing the results you hoped for?
Let Anne’s story encourage you that even if you don’t see the results of your efforts immediately, God can still use them in ways that you may not even realize. In Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, where a farmer goes out to sow seed. Some of the seeds fall on rocky ground or among thorns and are unable to grow, but some fall on good soil and produce a crop. Jesus shared this story to emphasize not everyone may initially receive the message of the Gospel, but it’s important to keep planting seeds of faith, trusting that God will bring about the harvest in His own time.
Maybe you’re a parent who’s struggling to instill Christian values in your children. You take them to church, you pray with them and you try to live out your faith in front of them, but it feels like they’re just not getting it. Don’t give up hope! In Galatians 6:9, we are reminded, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (ESV). Keep sowing those seeds of faith and trust that God will bring about a harvest in His own time.
Anne’s song ” Sunday Sermons” encourages people to keep planting seeds of faith in the lives of others, even if they don’t seem to be listening or accepting. The song is a reminder that sometimes it takes time for the seeds you plant to grow and that you may not see the results of your efforts for many years.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, the Apostle Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (ESV). Your job is to plant and water the seeds of faith, but it’s ultimately up to God to bring about the growth. Anne said, “You’re actually planting seeds in their walk. And I believe that they’re going to come back to that some day and find Jesus in their own way.”
But what about our own faith journey? Have you ever felt like you’re not growing spiritually? Maybe you’ve been going to church for years, but you don’t feel like you’re learning anything new. It’s important to remember that spiritual growth is a process and that it takes time. In 2 Peter 3:18, we are encouraged to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (ESV). This growth comes through reading and studying God’s Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers.
Anne said, “It’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus.” Going to church and listening to sermons can help build our knowledge of God, but it’s not enough. We need to take the time to get to know Him on a personal level. In John 14:6, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (ESV). He is the only way to have a personal relationship with God. You must believe in Him and accept Him as your Savior.
Anne had gone to church her whole life, but it wasn’t until seventh grade that she had a personal encounter with Jesus. She realized that all those years of going to church had helped build a foundation of knowledge in her, but it wasn’t until she had a personal relationship with Jesus that everything came together. We can’t rely solely on our knowledge of God to have a true relationship with Him. We must also spend time with Him, praying and listening to His voice.
So, what can we do to continue planting seeds of faith in our own lives and in the lives of others? We can stay committed to attending church, reading and studying God’s word and spending time in prayer. We can also look for opportunities to share the Gospel with others and to serve those in need. In doing so, we not only plant seeds of faith in the lives of others, but we also deepen our own faith and grow closer to God.
As you choose to plant seeds of faith in your life and into the lives of others, you become a light to others and help them grow in their faith as well. As it says in Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (ESV).
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Encouragement for Fellow Moms
by Sarah Nichols
As a little girl, I loved to play with dolls and pretend I was a mom. I would change their diapers, take them to the pool with me swimming, feed them and put them down for naps. I couldn’t wait to become a mom one day. It was truly all I wanted to be when I grew up.
Thirty-something years later, my dreams have come true … well … kind of. Motherhood and marriage aren’t nearly what I romanticized them to be. In many ways, it is much more rewarding than I could have expected, but other times, if I’m being honest, it’s far from it. When spending time at the pool, I realize I would much rather be in the sun with a good book than in the water swimming and spending time in the pool with the kids.
We grow up dreaming about what our lives will look like, yet sometimes it can feel as if the walls are closing in on us. The enchantment we envisioned begins to feel more like enchainment.
I’ve experienced this struggle firsthand, though it has looked different depending on the season of motherhood and life I am in.
These days not only do we carry the weight of raising respectful kids who hopefully follow the Lord, but as we scroll through our phones, we are also constantly reminded of all the areas we lack.
We let ourselves believe the lie that most other moms have it more together.
Their kids are constantly colored-coordinated, matching, their freezers stocked, their pantries organized and their houses beautifully balanced in a decorated, minimalistic way. Oh, and the laundry … they have oversized laundry rooms and systems to keep up with this never-ending chore. However, no matter how hard I try, my kids are frantically looking for clean socks every morning as I try to get them out the door for school.
It’s easy to take these failures personally as if we have failed. The reality is we all struggle sometimes, even if it doesn’t show on our Instagram feeds and reels.
When I first became a mom, I didn’t experience the flustered new mom cliche, so many women face. My firstborn came ten weeks early, after a week alone on bedrest while my husband was away in the Air Force. Instead waking n the middle of the night by a newborn cry, I had to set an alarm clock just to wake up and pump, hoping my milk would come in, as I called the NICU night shift nurses for updates on my baby.
Many moms struggle in the beginning years. For me, the first five years of motherhood felt like a blur. Instead, I struggled as our kids began to get older and our calendar overflowed with sports and school commitments.
We all struggle differently, and these days with more connections and community happening online than in our actual lives, it’s easier to hide.
Satan would love nothing more than to make us feel like we are failing as moms, and we need to look to encourage fellow mom friends who need this reminder too.
What to look for in a mom who may be struggling:
1. She withdraws.
She begins to distance herself from those she used to spend time with. As moms, our days don’t always go as planned. Maybe the kids woke up throughout the night, or someone peed their bed, creating more laundry than was already there.
There are many reasons a mom friend may have to cancel plans or a playdate. However, if this becomes frequent, or she is no longer showing up at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), Bible study or your usual get-togethers, she may be hurting.
When we find ourselves hurting, sometimes our knee-jerk reaction is to push those who are closest away. We need someone to pull us in. You can be that person for a mom who is struggling.
2. She is experiencing significant changes in her life.
Almost any time a mom walks through a significant change, she is a candidate for some kind of struggle – whether that be moving her family, a career change, a new baby or some other kind of loss.
My husband spent 11 years in the Air Force, and we moved often. I would have considered myself a pro. However, one of our moves wrecked me. I felt so overwhelmed, more so than in any other move. I was experiencing so much change at once because our daughter started kindergarten a week after we moved. After a decade of being a stay-at-home mom, I no longer knew what my days would look like.
Change can be challenging, even if it’s good. If you have a friend walking through a significant change right now, chances are she’s struggling, whether she shows it or not.
3. She is physically showing it.
Maybe you can see it in her eyes. Perhaps it’s in her facial expressions and her body language. We can only hide our hardships and struggles for so long. If someone feels like they have been treading water for too long, they can begin to feel like they are drowning.
I’ll never forget when a dear friend came over to visit a couple of months after the move I mentioned above. When she asked me how things were going, I threw up a jumbled tumbleweed of words describing every emotion I felt, while trying to fight back the tears. She could see the struggle surfacing in my eyes.
When you know your friend well and take the time to stop and ask her how she is doing, you may see it in her response physically.
So how do you help?
If you have a mom friend you believe is struggling, here are some things you can do:
- Drop by her house, and check in on her.
- Offer to babysit and give her a break.
- Bring a meal.
- Ask her how she is doing.
- Listen well.
- Pray, for her heart and her hurt.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV).
Motherhood is beautiful and challenging. It is a gift and a tool that God uses to grow and bless us.
May we stop striving for perfection in this title we have been given and instead, let the reminders of areas we fall short in lead us to lean on Him more, inviting our mom friends to do the same.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com.
God’s Design of Motherhood
God wants to help you grieve and celebrate at the same time
We have a whole day to celebrate and recognize the powerful influence of mothers. I’m especially filled with joy that we can celebrate all of you who call yourselves “Mom.”
Happy Mother’s Day.
God’s design of motherhood is so worthy to be celebrated. Sometimes as moms it’s easy to push away the applause and the celebration because we can easily think of areas that we missed it, times when we could do better, where we could talk nicer to our kids and just get it right. But in the midst of all your highs and lows, your heavenly Father wants to celebrate you, as well as the influence and established role of His design of motherhood. It’s powerful.
My mom went on to be with Jesus November 1, 2021. And Mother’s Day weekend is one that I was not looking forward to because I knew what those waves of grief would carry to the shore.
On Mother’s Day 2021, my mother stood on the platform with me in celebration of Mother’s Day. I was pregnant with my fifth child, Gianna, and it was just four months before my mom unexpectedly went into the hospital. Little did we know then that it would be the last Mother’s Day with our mom here on earth. We can still celebrate and honor my mom, even as she’s in heaven. But those of you who have lost people, you know it’s definitely not the same.
Because of all the COVID restrictions while she was in the hospital, we weren’t able to visit her right away. Finally, when we were able to go in and see her, she immediately had to go on a ventilator, and she was unresponsive due to the paralytics. The longer she was nonresponsive in the hospital, the more days went by that I wasn’t able to experience her being fully alive and engaged in my life. Her absence made me realize more and more how powerful her daily presence truly was in my life and my kids’ lives.
One night after coming home from the hospital, I went upstairs to sit in my son’s room in his rocking chair. I started to cry, thinking about the reality of my life at that moment.
A Heavenly Influence on Earth
I sat there just thinking about the influence my mom had on me, how I missed her daily presence and the empty spaces that now existed. Instead of generalizing the empty space of what I was missing, I began to write down specific ways that my mom, Terri McAuliff filled up my life, naming the empty space that I was feeling.
I also was so overwhelmed, thinking about the powerful role of a mother and God’s desire for that role to be represented here on earth.
It’s a calling for all of His daughters, whether it’s with our own children or spiritual children.
It’s His purpose for us to show up in our world and represent His character through His tenderness, His ability to provide a safe space for His nurturing Spirit, His attentiveness, His delight in the details, His spoken truth and love and His compassion and protectiveness. All these things show up when we say “Yes” to be a godly mother to those around us. It’s not limited to whether we have our own kids or not.
On previous Mother’s Day weekends, when my mom was here, and I had the opportunity to celebrate and encourage all the moms, I have been so sensitive, and at times, so overwhelmed with the pain and the grief that this day can bring for people. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive to the emotions in the room, but not at the expense of downplaying the celebration and honor due (Romans 13:7). It’s more so just a posture of my heart of genuinely not wanting to stir up any more grief or pain this day may represent as I thought about people who:
- Did not grow up with a mother.
- Didn’t have a godly mother.
- Long to be a mom of your own kids.
- Have experienced a miscarriage, like I have.
- Or carry the personal shame of where we’ve missed it as moms.
When grief and pain are present, it can make us want to hold back from celebrating what we have, because of what others don’t have or because of what we don’t have. When we hold back our celebration because of our pain and our grief, we also hold back honor when honor is due.
So, in the painful moment of thinking about the space that my mom occupied and her influence, I decided in that rocking chair while my mom was in the hospital, that no matter what happened to my mom, I would never allow grief to overshadow or downplay the celebration and honor of motherhood! Even though I miss my mom greatly, that doesn’t mean I need to tone down the celebration and the honor of being a mom to my own five kids.
You and I serve a big enough God that we can fully celebrate without diminishing or denying our pain or grief. God can help us do both! Just because this day reminds me and perhaps you too, loss, it doesn’t make it any less of a day to celebrate. I think it is a part of God’s process of making beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
My five kids (all under the age of 8 at the time of this story) are so funny. They make me laugh – when I’m not annoyed by what they’re doing. It’s hilarious. I was watching my 10-month-old, Gianna crack up at my four-year-old, Beniah. He came into the room with his boxing gloves. I guess he just came out of the shower because he was naked. And he was doing his thing with his little punching bag that he got for his birthday. Gianna was laughing – her little 10-month-old self thought it was so funny.
I have so many moments I miss sharing with my mom. One of the things I miss the most is the shared joy from the experiences with my kids. I have moments with my kids that I actually enjoy more knowing my mom would enjoy them as well. Of course, I can share these moments with my dad, my husband, Paul and my great friends and spiritual moms. But nothing compares to sharing it with your own mom. My mom would think it was so funny.
An Invitation from Heaven
I asked myself, What is the emotion I want to share with my mom right now? It’s not just the memory but the bond that connects you with people, just being able to share the exact same emotion at the same time. I realized that emotion was joy – I just would love to share this joy with my mom.
Then, I felt this invitation from heaven. God does not force His way in, but He absolutely is knocking at the door of our hearts. And I felt this impression from heaven that said, “Can I try?”
It wasn’t an audible voice. Jesus didn’t show up in the room, but it was like when I’m cooking in the kitchen and my kids want to be a part of it. And they say, “Can I try that too?”
That’s what the message from heaven felt like to me. Like, “Can I try the joy that you want to share with your mom in this moment? Can I try, as your heavenly Father?”
It means so much to me because it wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t like He was saying “Shouldn’t I be enough?” No, it was a sweet invitation. When God comes into the emptiness of our hearts, He brings His full self in. He is so graceful, sweet and tender. When I bring my full self into a room, my passion can be misinterpreted as anger or frustration.
I began to say, “Yes, God, I want that. What would that look like?”
He is so capable of sharing that emotion with me. Why? Because He is joy; He created joy. Not only did He create joy, but He also created the very beings that I was enjoying. The reality is He was actually able to share the joy of the moment even more with me than my mom ever did or ever will.
Sharing Emotions with God
And God loves to share the other emotions that you would call negative with us too. How can we call an emotion negative when it was emotion that God created? Because He is just as much in sadness as He is joy. He is just as much in grief as He is in celebration. He is just as much in anger as He is gratitude. Why? Because He created our emotions. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle those negative emotions. So, we run away from them, or we deny them.
I serve a big enough God, who meets me in my emotion.
This is a permission slip from your heavenly Father that says, “I am big enough so that whatever emotions come with your daily life, let me meet you in all of it because I can! I can in the aftermath of grief and disappointment and loss and betrayal and rejection.”
It can feel like a crater that’s so deep you can’t even see the bottom. If you open the door to the knocking of your heart from your heavenly Father, He will absolutely fill the gaps and overflow your cups.
It doesn’t make me miss my mom any less. It doesn’t make me more glad that she’s in heaven. I would love for her to be here right now. But God proves to me – over and over again – that until heaven, we do not have to keep living with empty glasses. The Holy Spirit is on this earth to bring comfort, to bring joy, to bring peace, to bring life and to help you move from anger to joy. There’s a part of celebration that really does bring beauty from ashes.
As a dynamic speaker, Ashley Daugherty has a passion for people to know Jesus and have a life-changing encounter with Him. Ashley and her husband, Paul, lead a thriving community of believers at Victory Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a mission to connect people to God and each other, equip them to fulfill their God-given purpose, and empower the church to reach out locally and globally with God’s love. In addition to her ministry work, Ashley is a devoted wife and mother of five. victory.com
Balancing Boundaries in Parenting
A transparent conversation with Meredith Andrews about children and screen time
Singer, song writer and worship leader, Meredith Andrews has three children. She and her husband have two sons, Maverick and Remington, and a daughter named Francis – a common family name on both sides.
Although they are all her children, Meredith thinks it’s crazy how they all have such different personalities. She teased that they should have named Maverick “Compliance” since he’s such a nonconformist. She explained that Maverick is the boy version of herself. He looks like her and acts like her. But “Rem,” her second son, is more reserved like her husband, and he’s also the comedian. If she wants to know how he’s doing though, she has to get him alone and question him to pull it out of him.
Her daughter, who they call Frankie, is the free-spirited youngest. Her name means “free one,” which is fitting.
Meredith’s kids are into video games, and although she has never done it, there are times when she’d like to throw the Xbox out the window.
She and her husband had to set boundaries in order to balance things out and “not be ruled by screens and devices” as Meredith put it. Most of the time, they reserve Saturdays for Xbox time. Every now and then, if her children have done something extra, like tennis or piano practice, they will allow additional Xbox time as an incentive.
Meredith remembered playing Nintendo and Mario with her friends, but it wasn’t the thing she lived for, but for today’s kids it’s different. She has regular conversations with her children about how they spend their time. She has noticed that her children are “not their best selves when they’ve had lots of screen time.” Without it, they become bored since they’re so used to being entertained.
In order to encourage her children to think of something else to do, she’ll suggest, “Even if it’s just to lie in the grass and stare at the sky. You might invent something while you’re there.”
Trusting God for guidance through the real parenting challenges common to many families today, Meredith finds joy along the way in her “hilarious and amazing children.”
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