My post yesterday got me to thinking about the pumpkin patch. Despite our struggles over actually choosing a pumpkin, heading to the pumpkin patch is one of my absolute favorite activities to do with my kids. We've been to the pumpkin patch on beautiful fall days, and we've been to the pumpkin patch when it is snowing. No mater when we go, we always have a great time sharing time together as a family.
My city-slicker kids love climbing in the wagon hooked to the back of the tractor and trekking out to the field where the pumpkins are grown. It gives them a glimpse of how our food is grown and what life on a farm entails. We pet the cows and play in the hay bale maze.
As I was writing yesterday's post, I was struck by just how much we can teach our kids while we're in the pumpkin patch. Pick one or two of these for this year's trip to the patch, and save a few of them for next year.
- If your kids live in the city like mine do, this may be their only exposure to a plant that grows on a vine. Use the experience to illustrate John 15:5, which says "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Show your kids how each pumpkin is connected to the vine by a stem or a "branch." Without the vine, the pumpkin will die. The vine brings important nutrients by way of the branch to the pumpkin. Jesus said that He is the vine. He provides everything that we need. We are the branches that bear the fruit. Our fruit is the fruit of the spirit and the people that we share Jesus with. Without Jesus we can't do any of those things. Jesus is our strength and our provider. Just like the pumpkin relies on the vine, we rely on Jesus.
- If your pumpkin patch has a maze of any kind, walk through it with your children. When you get lost, ask them what would be the easiest way to find your way to the exit. You could go back to the beginning, but then you would be in the same place you started. You could keep wandering around aimlessly trying to get out or you could ask someone who has been in the maze before to show you the way out. Explain that the maze is like our lives sometimes. Sometimes we don't know which way to go, what decision to make. But, God knows where we are, and He knows which way we should turn. Just like you can ask someone to show you the exit of the maze, you can ask God to show you what decisions you should make.
- Show your kids the different types of pumpkins. There are carving pumpkins, pie pumpkins and decorative pumpkins. Some pumpkins are white and some are orange. Just like people, God made different pumpkins to serve different purposes. The white pumpkin isn't prettier or better than the orange pumpkin, and a pie pumpkin isn't better than the carving pumpkin. They are simply different, with a different purpose to fill. God has a purpose for your child as well, one that only they can fill. If they try to be a pie pumpkin when they are supposed to be a carving pumpkin, everyone will be miserable.
- Show your kids some pumpkin seeds. Show them how little the seed is in comparison with the fruit it becomes. Tell your kids that God's word is like the pumpkin seed. We can share a little bit of it with our friends. We, along with other people, can water that seed with love, prayer and some more of God's word. Sometimes that seed will turn into fruit and that person will become a Christ-follower. If we do what Psalm 119:11 tells us to and hide God's word in our heart, then, like a pumpkin, we have "seeds" inside of us that we can share with others. When those people that we share with become Christ-followers, they can share their "seeds." Before you know it, we have a whole pumpkin patch full of Christ-followers -- all from one little seed.
I recommend that you not try to share all of these on one pumpkin patch trip. Let your focus be on having fun and enjoying the day with your kids. Just take a few minutes to share a bit of God's truth with your kids during an everyday moment in your life. Ten years from now, you might be surprised to find out that your kids have never forgotten the lesson you taught them in the pumpkin patch.