How Our Weeds Become Offerings of Love

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His chocolate-brown eyes glitter with such an innocent joy that I can’t help but scoop him up in my arms. At four, my son still has a touch of baby in him that allows him to come running to me when hurt and lets me lie next to him until he falls asleep. But he’s a little boy in most ways and, as with most little boys, the first signs of spring are like rain after a drought to him.

After we had the mildest of winters the lizards and roly-polies are out early this year. We spend most of the day after school outside as he scours the backyard for his favorite critters.

Daily he comes to me with offerings of love found beneath the trees that tower overhead. I hear his sweet voice cry out “for you, Mommy.” He presents me with a tiny yellow flower.

It’s not really even a flower, as my husband is quick to point out. It is a weed.

I can hear him groan every time one of the kids bends down to blow the dandelion seeds into the wind. The child in me loves to see the cottony white seeds take flight on the breeze, spinning like little ballerinas, tutus twirling in the sun.

My husband sees the resulting stubborn yellow flowers sprouting up in the yard, making more yard-work for him.

But my son sees something precious—a gift for his mommy.

I see a priceless offering from a son who wants to pour out love in the only way he knows how.

I sit watching him dig in the dirt that we have told him a thousand times to leave be. But there are such good delights found in there and he doesn’t care that we have somewhere to go and that his sleeves are caked in dirty by now.

I watch and I envy him—his freedom, his ease in finding delight in simple things, his heart that gives so freely. As I watch him I think of the offerings I attempt to bring to my Father.

I work so hard to make sure they are “right.” I look around me at the other children and compare my paltry gifts to those next to me. Those sisters of mine have words that sound lovelier. So many people are reading their words, surely my gift isn’t good enough. They have more time to give, pouring out their lives for their children as stay at home moms or in ministries that reach so many people. Surely their gift is holier, more pleasing to Dad.

I work myself into a ball of nerves. If only I can work harder, I will have more to offer. If I can stay up a little later and squeeze a little more into my schedule, I can be all the things everyone expects me to be. Then Dad will be pleased with me. Then I will feel like what I do matters, will get that pat on the back I have been waiting on.

My son runs up to me with a perfect ball of fuzz in his hands. He knows how happy they make me so he is saving it just for me. As he closes his eyes, holding tight to the belief that those dancing seeds will carry his wish along with them on the wind, a mix between a laugh and a sob catches in my throat.

The simple things he brings to me make me happy not because they are lovely but because I love him. In the hands of the one I love, a weed becomes an offering.

I love the joy in his eyes when he gives. I love that moment of connection we have. Our eyes meet and I thank him for his gift. Delight in knowing that I am pleased fills his little face for a moment before he runs off again. That moment is what I live for.

I may not get a vase full of flowers often from my husband or kids to show their love for me. I don’t mind. Give me a hand-picked dandelion any day! Or even a roly-poly captured in joy and brought to me with delight.

For a four-year old boy, these are his favorite treasures, yet he gives them up for me. That’s a real offering of love— giving up what is most dear to us, giving of ourselves.

How did we grow up and make everything so complicated?

“Dance, mommy!” He calls out to me as he watches the tiny dancers lift into the sky carried on the wind. For a moment I join them, dancing with him.

For a moment this little boy with grubby hands becomes my teacher as I try to remember what it is like to freely give and trust that my Father receives what little I have to offer with love—simply because I am His.

Nicole T. Walters

Nicole T. Walters

Nicole T. Walters loves to experience and to write about this messy, noisy, beautiful world and cultures not her own. Though her family’s roots run deep in the soil of the Southern United States, Nicole and her husband and two little ones are learning to love hot milk tea instead of sweet iced tea as they make their home in South Asia. She hopes to help others create space to hear God’s voice in all the noise of life as she writes about faith from a global perspective at A Voice in the Noise (Nicoletwalters.com). She has authored essays in several books and her writing has appeared in places live CT Women, Relevant, and Ruminate. She is a regular contributor here at The Mudroom, SheLoves Magazine, and READY Publication and is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild.
Nicole T. Walters

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  • Joanne Peterson

    Nicole, this is my second round of mothering. I have grown children 26, and 21 years. God brought into our lives two children who are now 5 and 6 years old whom we adopted who have pain and baggage. When I raised my first round of kids, I was home with them, home schooled, the whole nine yards, was super involved in church and it was crazy the pressure I put on myself, and thought this was certainly for the best. This was pretty typical for the circle of friends as my first round of children were growing up, and what I expected as a stay at home mom and what the church we were attending expected from me as a stay at home mom, heard it in meetings all of the time. I thought this was exactly what I was supposed to do, and I look back, it was what I thought I ought to be doing, and doing the not good enough comparison of if I work harder I’ll be acceptable.

    AS my then youngest started growing up and would have been close to leaving home for college is when I received the call would I adopt? I was stunned because I thought my plans were from the Lord, and this never even entered on my radar. What a life change if we were to do this? Fast forward five years, I am raising my boys differently this time than the first round, and they are in public which I would not have considered. I am not anywhere as involved with the church as the first round of children. I am discovering and learning slowly, it is all about me listening carefully and learning to trust He loves me no matter what because I’m His and He wants me because I am His beloved.

    I am still home, but I now am grandparent age, (and a grandparent) supposedly the wise one, and I find I don’t feel wise. I feel challenged, and still struggling with the need to do more to be acceptable until I am confronted by works when I am struggling with grace. I am the odd one out sometimes wishing I was out working, not being home full time. But, then I get a glimpse of compassion and acceptance as you talked about of the offering right where you are in your life. My six year old will tell me he loves me, which he has had difficulty doing, or I will see some compliance, or a spontaneous hug. I still get the yearning, but I am learning to ask how Jesus will use this for me and for others using the crazy mundane of the everyday. I’m sorry, I don’t want to preach. This is from a woman who is in the trenches a second time, and feels the same on many levels as you and still has so much to learn. Blessings, Joanne

    • Joanne, what a legacy of love you are leaving for your kids! This is beautiful and a beautiful picture of Gods love. May you still have time to stop and dance in the flowers! Blessings!

    • Louise

      Oh wow, Joanne, this was great to read. Keep doing what you are doing! God has chosen you form the task and he will equip you. I would like to adopt but see it further along the line. Reading you doing it after having children, has given me hope. God can choose us when we least expect it. Much love and blessings, Louise

      • Joanne Peterson

        Louise, 25% of all adoptions are people who are in their 50’s and older. No one who is adopting domestically is considered too old. So later is realistic. International adoptions are a different story. We’ve been in the adoption community for 25 years, and caring for young children grandparent age is much different when I was in my 30’s. We don’t give them back to their parents since we are the parent. 🙂
        Thank you, this is a huge stretch, but God did tell us He would give us everything we need to raise our boys, and this is a huge challenge for us. Thank you for your encouragement! xo Joanne

  • Our children become our teachers early on — and it doesn’t end when they leave the nest! I’m still learning from all my boys, and what a gift this is!

    • That is so good to hear. Sometimes I look at him and dread the day he won’t look at me the same way but I know each season has its own joys. I know being his mom will always stretch me!

  • Your words are plenty lovely, Nicole. Dang, this makes my eyes tear-up. My oldest daughter is twenty now. My youngest, sixteen. But I remember those tiny-flower days. The toddler-fist bouquets. The earnest search for something, anything, that would act as the tiniest vase ever. Such sweet offerings. Such sweet memories. And yes, that’s how God, Our Father, sees us. Exactly how He sees us. Thanks for writing this, Nicole.

    • Thank you, Laura. I try to stop and remember moments like these because j know they will be but a memory far too soon. But I know I let too many slip away. Oh, being a parent teaches us more about the character of God than anything else, doesn’t it?

  • Thank you so much for sharing this story, Nicole. I needed to be reminded of them today, to be thankful for the weeds-that-are-gifts in my own life! It especially resonated with me as a mom of a 3.5 yo boy, whom I love very much but have been struggling to have patience with lately — I get so frustrated by the things that distract him and your post was an encouragement to love all his “messages” and questions and offerings.

    • Oh I feel you! My little one has a wild spirit and these little moments where he stops to be with me are so often missed because of my frustrations. I don’t want to miss them! Blessings as you raise your little one!!

  • I really love this, Nicole! What we think are small offerings, our Father accepts with love. “For a moment this little boy with grubby hands becomes my teacher as I try to remember what it is like to freely give and trust that my Father receives what little I have to offer with love—simply because I am His.” Thank you for this reminder that all our offerings are special no matter how small they seem to us. Blessings!

    • Gayl, thank you. This moment literally happened last week as I was trying to spend time with my kids but thinking in the back of my mind of all I needed to be doing. After Aidan came up to me I just worshipped through playing in the flowers, knowing that parenting is just as much an offering as some big thing I “think” is holy. Oh how I need those reminders!

  • Louise

    Beautiful. Just beautiful;

  • Yes and yes, and how glad I am that I left this post open in a separate tab for days. To me, today, the thing that stands out is your little son’s proximity to you — how skillful children are at maintaining connection! — and how beautiful it is that, out of that connection, he knows what you love. Thank you for reminding me to cast some things high into the wind and just come and *be* this week, as close to our Father as I can get.

    • I need constant reminders to stay out of my doing. He’s outside playing now and I have so many things to do. I think I’ll go play a bit:) Thank you for reading and encouraging, you are awesome!

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