There must be a run on Tabebuia trees at your local nursery this month. Surely you know the species of which I write – those eye-catching, bright yellow bloomers that seemed to be everywhere this spring. With their proliferation, Lakeland seems to have become the Tabebuia capital of the world! Even I couldn’t wait to get to my favorite nursery so I could plant one in my yard, in hopes the fluorescence will be a part of my landscape by next February. I’m most certain this new addition will quickly become the showiest feature in our cul-de-sac.
Before planting, I took time to survey my property so I would be sure to place this “yellow highlighter of a tree” in a complementary location to my other faithful shrubs. In so doing, it gave me the opportunity to consider the great variety of plant life in my yard, and to appreciate their vast differences as a part of God’s creation.
It wasn’t long, of course, before the analogies to life at Lakeland Christian School were filling my mind. God has provided an amazing variety of His image-bearers among the student body, of which we have the high privilege of nurturing along life’s growing season.
The garden we tend includes…
- The dazzling show-offs – These are the aforementioned Tabebuias of the campus. We see flashes of colorful brilliance that add spice to our campus life. They may not bloom year-round, but when they do, you can’t miss it (and everyone talks about it!).
- The woody ornamentals (namely, the Azalea) – While the Tabebuia is the Richard Sherman of the horticulture world, the azalea has to be the Peyton Manning of plants. They are an integral part of most landscapes, working hard in the “off season” to do their thing when it’s time to bloom. They stay out of the limelight, yet perform brilliantly year after year, like clockwork. Our school is certainly blessed with those students who quietly but very effectively and significantly contribute to LCS through their amazing gift package.
- Cold-Hardy, Maintenance-Free Plants – Having replaced a number of plants through the years following a freeze, I have transformed my landscape into a habitat of foliage that can withstand the cold. In other words, I’m tired of covering up plants! At LCS, these are the students who seem to cruise through (mostly under the radar) and do well – regardless of the elements. For instance, parents usually don’t even have to ask them about homework, because they know it will be done well and on-time.
- High-Maintenance Flowers – On the other end of the spectrum, we have those plants that require attention several days a week. They need constant TLC – spraying, pruning, deadheading, extra water, etc. Roses immediately come to mind -- beautiful, yet time-consuming. And with plenty of drama. Yes, the LCS landscape is blessed with this variety, as well.
- Ground Covers – I tend to fill in the shady areas (no student analogy intended!) and open spots with a fast-growing ground cover. They make an appearance throughout the landscape and serve a great and helpful purpose. Makes me think of the well-rounded students who have involvement across campus – maybe in sports, perhaps through fine arts, or other co-curriculars…you know these busy, popular kids.
- Fast Growers That Always Seem To Need Pruning! – There are multiple species in my yard that need trimming on a regular basis, and sometimes weekly. With each snip, I realize they will come back healthier, more productive, and better than ever. Without a doubt, this principle applies to the Godly “pruning” we provide out of love for students who seek or just need extra counsel and re-direction. What a privilege to partner with families in the rearing of their treasured ones!
Just as there are many other types of plant life, LCS is filled with all manner of a similar student life – those with deep roots, yet some with a more shallow foundation…early bloomers and late bloomers…those that stand tall and stately and those God created to stay down and cling to its neighbor…
And, of course, there are the Window Boxes – the students who live life on the edge. Yes, you’re hard to miss and we all know who you are!
Isn’t it wonderful that, in God’s perfect design, they all serve a purpose…these plants and these students. Why, even the not-so-attractive little tree, just across my neighbor’s property line, the one with extra-long and ultra-sharp thorns, seems to serve a divine purpose. Somehow, birds navigate this thorny obstacle course and really love this tree. Because they frequently perch there, I regularly benefit from their pleasant song.
Whether plant or human, neither is immune from the effects of the Fall. And I’m not speaking of the season before Winter. As a gardener, I know my landscape requires basic nutrition -- sunlight, water and fertilizer – regardless of the plant’s hardiness. And, of course, weeds are always lurking and must be pulled. When I invest time and money in my garden, the benefits are immense…and satisfying.
So it is with Christian schooling at LCS! Strong academics, athletic opportunities galore and tremendous fine arts experiences are all encompassed with a Biblical worldview that permeates every facet of school life. Children and young people are being fed with life-giving and life-changing nutrition for the soul, while always being pointed to the Light. It’s an investment with an eternal value.
There is a saying that the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow. How true this rings at LCS, where students are not merely numbers, and are not left to their own devices, but are cared for as lives created in the image of the Living God – lives that our faculty, staff and coaches get to nurture, shepherd and grow, with a full dependency on the continual work of the Holy Spirit in the garden of the heart.
Mr. Steve Wilson is the Director of Advancement at Lakeland Christian School. To reach Steve, you may email him at Swilson@lcsonline.org.
Photo by jemasmith - http://es.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3926047146