Before I begin, a confession.
I am one of the worst gardeners known to mankind. The reason for this has eluded me for years, but the results speak for themselves. A baby redwood tree I received with the movie WALL*E lasted all of eight months before shriveling up. An herb garden created in the backyard disappeared into thin air one morning and never came back. Even bamboo–one of the most forgiving and hardy plants–hasn’t survived under my care.
Maybe I should’ve taken some pointers from my parents, who unknowingly fostered a disdain for pears that continues to this day. You see, there was a single pear tree that lived in our backyard that provided some shade on warm summer afternoons. But it also was a pear-producing machine, providing buckets and buckets of ripe pears, good for eating or turning into countless jars of pear preserves. On many occasions, there was so much fruit on the tree that its branches sagged under their weight. To say it was fruitful would be a gross understatement.
Each person on earth can be likened to a tree that provides various fruits to those individuals he or she comes into contact with. How can we consistently provide good fruit and raise our children to do the same?
Dana Orr and Ellen Abramo have provided a good first step for upcoming generations with their debut children’s book Fruitful Friends: Filled with the Spirit. Coming out of a desire to make the Fruits of the Spirit (consisting of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control from Galatians 5:22-23 in the Bible) accessible for kids, the book creatively shares how children can make them part of their lives.
Orr’s contribution to the book is the story itself, told in rhyme and with concrete definitions of each fruit that parents and children alike can relate to. Abramo’s colorful yet whimsical illustrations enliven the book and provide opportunities for kids to ask questions (she also sings a theme song on their website). When put together, the two parts become a cohesive whole.
In today’s fast-paced society, it’s a breath of fresh air to see people eschew the status quo and do the right thing–regardless of what it might cost them. The earlier quality character traits–such as the ones Orr and Abramo share–are taught, the more likely kids will put them into practice later in life. As adults, it’s our responsibility to not only exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit in our words and deeds, but to compliment those who are actively making them a part of their lives. Fruitful Friends: Filled With the Spirit opens the door to a world where love, self-control, peace, and faithfulness walk hand in hand.
Once kids get a taste of these fruits, they’ll be clamoring for more.