|We love Frog and Toad|
It’s fair to say that there is a wide range of children’s books available these days, probably more than when I was growing up. But not all books are created equal, and in terms of quality there’s a pretty wide range. Like many parents I’ve found myself reading some pretty marginal kids books – titles that are frankly a bit rubbish.
"I read a lot of children's books these days..."
Not every story seems to have a clear beginning, middle or even end! Plenty of titles seemed to have been cobbled together to complement TV series or some kind of product. We have a word for books like this – twaddle – and it’s a constant battle to rid our house of twaddle, especially when the kids have picked armfuls of twaddly titles from the library!
There are plenty of great books out there though, from older classics to more modern favourites. And just because a book is very simple doesn't mean that it’s childish – some of the most powerful stories are the simplest. There are times I've been really moved by the emotions stirred in even the simplest of tales as I read to my kids.
A current favourite in our household, which are most definitely not twaddle, are the Frog and Toad stories written by Arnold Lobel in the 1970s. We've got a big hardback edition that’s ideal for reading together on the sofa.
"Toad cannot believe that his seeds don't sprout immediately..."
|Our seed storage box|
So when I picked up our Frog and Toad book over the weekend it felt like a good idea to read a story about a garden.
In the story Toad admires Frog’s garden. Frog declares that it’s hard work but worth it, and shows Toad how to plant seeds in his own garden. Toad cannot believe that his seeds don't sprout immediately (even through he’s only just planted them), and he watches all day for them to come up. At night he’s concerned they might be too scared to grow, so he sits up with candles and reads them stories. The next day he sings songs to them!
Unsurprisingly none of this has any effect and after trying to stay up for days encouraging his seeds to grow he finally falls asleep, only to be woken the next day by Frog to point out that the seeds are finally sprouting. Toad agrees that gardening really is hard work, although I suspect Frog’s idea of hard work is somewhat different to Toad’s!
"..it’s all very well to laugh at Toad... but how often do we try and force outcomes in our own lives?"
The thing is, it’s all very well to laugh at Toad wearing himself out trying to get his seeds to grow, but how often do we try and force outcomes in our own lives? How often are we singing over our seeds, rather than letting them grow at their own pace? I'm definitely guilty at times of not trusting the process, not letting my ‘seeds’ grow naturally – we can all try too hard to make outcomes happen. Basically we’re often impatient, like Toad!
I recently read Rob Bell’s book How to Be Here – not a kids book and not twaddle. It’s an encouragement to live a great life, to try things and take positive risks. In many ways it’s about being brave enough to plant lots of seeds in your life – seeds which will help you grow into the person you’re made to be. One section which really spoke to me, and which both Toad and I could learn from, is learning to surrender outcomes. Essentially this boils down to doing what you can, creating what you feel called to create – and then letting go – surrendering it. Not forcing an outcome.
This is not easy. Especially when we've invested time and energy, heart and soul into a project or a person! For me I've planted seeds to do with blogging, podcasting, writing, songwriting and making, to name but a few. I've definitely been guilty of trying to force outcomes – singing over my seeds – rather than let nature take its course.
We’re not defined by how quickly our seeds grow, what’s important is that we bear the right fruit in our lives, whatever that looks like. We can’t compare our seeds to someone else’s because theirs will grow differently.
There’s a Bible verse that encourages me when it comes to surrendering outcomes. It’s from the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes and it says “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”
"We’re not defined by how quickly our seeds grow, what’s important is that we bear the right fruit in our lives"
So don’t stop planting your seeds, whatever shape they take – by all means prepare the soil and water them too. But then let’s let them grow at their own pace, and stop singing over them like Toad. Otherwise we’ll just end up wearing ourselves out.
Thanks for taking the time to read Singing To Your Seeds. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here).
Don't forget my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams is now available to download from Amazon, along with my previous book Life Space: Give Your Dreams Room To Grow.
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