Growing up I did not always see my grandparents on my Dad’s side during the holidays. Grandmother and Papa Hill always made sure packages were wrapped and mailed to us in time to be under the tree for Christmas Eve. Most years we got our Christmas pajamas from them.
Yet, there was this one Christmas where my grandmother decided she would send me a night-gown instead of pajamas. After going out for a Christmas Eve services, dinner and visiting with friends, my brother and I rushed home anticipating opening that first gift on Christmas Eve. Of course, Dad had to draw out the anticipation by acting like he could not find the packages and then magically making them appear.
As soon as these packages landed in our laps the paper was off in the blink of an eye and the box lids flew opened. Instead of pulling out the fuzzy footie pajamas like I had always gotten, I began to pull out this night-gown. As I began to pull the gown out of the box the more material would come out. As the night-gown began to unfold and unfold, the entire room become quiet. I know the looks on the faces of my family had to be inquisitive. If you have every seen the movie, Christmas Story, I am sure my family’s faces looked about how the faces looked when the bunny rabbit pj’s were opened and the leg lamp came out of the box.
In my package that had been wrapped and shipped with love and care came out a nightgown with the size in the tag that said; “one size fits all.” As I began to unfold and unfold this nightgown, we realized that the entire family could get into this gown. (You see, I am a petite size gal. When God was giving out height, I overslept and missed getting in that line that day.) The more the gown unfolded the more everyone was scrambling for words. Suddenly out of my dad’s mouth came; “well, Peanut, looks like you have a new tent for camping.” At that moment the entire family was laughing until we were crying. Today, all I have to say is “one size fits all” and laughter will burst out in my family. I had received a gift that I was not going to be able to use.
After opening Santa and eating Christmas breakfast the next morning, Dad kept with tradition and called Papa and Grandmother Hill to wish them a Merry Christmas. My brother and I would also get on the phone to tell our grandparents thank-you for their love, thoughtfulness and the presents. This is one year I had to show gratitude for my gift while all the while my brother was in the background making a fort with the kitchen chairs and this ” one size fits all gown.”
I share this story because it is becoming the gift giving season. People work hard and shop hard to find that perfect gift to give their loved ones. These gifts are given or should be given out of the abundance of love from the heart. The gifts also show that the person cares enough to think about the receiver.
Yesterday, in my post, Extravagant Giving I shared how we need to be extravagant in our giving by giving others God’s grace. I also shared how God gave to us extravagantly so that we can have eternal life. We give to others out of the abundance of our hearts.
There are times when someone has received a gift and I have heard comments being made to the giver like the following:
“What were you thinking? I don’t need this!”
“I can’t believe you spent (insert $ amount) on this.”
“I don’t like the color.”
“This is NOT what I wanted!”
I am sure in my lifetime of forty-nine years I have made an off comment like these at some point and time. However, as I have gotten older and hopefully a little more mature I have come to realize these comments are not needed and should be said. Just as the giver has given out of the abundance of their hearts, we should receive out of the abundance of our hearts. When we are negative about a gift that has been given we are stealing the joy of the giver even if they are not present when the comment is made. Instead, we should be grateful that the person took time out of their schedule to do something for us. We also should be thankful that they took time out to think of us.
The gift is a material thing but it is also language of “I love you” and “I was thinking of you today.” Thus, our response should be that of gratitude. In other words, be an extravagant receiver. Now, what you do with the gift after the person leaves is up to you. Hold on to the gift in case you should some time need it. If the opportunity presents itself where someone else can actually use the gift, give it to them. The gift is now yours and up to you to do what you want with the gift.
As I said earlier, God gave to us extravagantly because he loves us so much and wants us with him for eternity. God gave us his Son and it is up to us to accept his Son into our hearts. We need to be an extravagant receiver of God’s gift. It is up to us as individuals of what to do with his gift. It is my hopes that we share his gift with others. We pass it on to someone else who needs Jesus in their lives.
Not only did God give us his Son but he gives us a gift everyday. As the old cliché says, every day is a present and it is up to us as to what we do with it”. It is up to us to make the most of every day God wakes us up. Each day God has blessings for us. It is up to us to be aware of his presence at all times to receive these blessings. When we receive these blessings it is important to acknowledge them and say thank you just as I acknowledged to my grandparents that I received their gift and said thank you.
This year as you receive Christmas cards and gifts be sure to be an extravagant receiver. Tell the giver thank you. Remember, the person took time out to think of you. They are giving out of the abundance of their heart. May our response to the gifts we receive and especially to the gift God gave us be the following:
“Thank you for thinking of me.”
“You are such a generous giver.”
” I didn’t realized I needed this blessing today but YOU did.”
I love the reminder we are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 about having a grateful heart;
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will
for you in Jesus Christ.
It is when we are an extravagant receiver that we will see the giver in a whole new perspective. We begin to see and experience joy in all things and we will become more open to see beyond the material gift and see the abundance of love the person has in their heart. May our receiving be a blessing to others this year as their giving is a blessing to us.
Until next time, give thanks for ALL things!
- Extravagant Giving (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- The Christmas Present Pile-Up: How Much Do You Buy? (motherhoodismagic.com)
- The gift of giving (fechaplaincy.wordpress.com)
It was a week ago this afternoon when I was sitting at this very computer checking updates on Facebook when I saw the words; “Rest in Peace, Sgt. Michael Cable.” Looking over at the chat box I saw that my son was on-line. I shot a message to him asking what he knew about Michael’s passing. Drew’s response was; ???? meaning he was shocked as I was seeing the news.
Sgt. Michel Cable was Michael Cable to our family before he ever signed up for the army. He was a running brother of our son, Drew on the cross-country and track team in high school. These teams weren’t just teams. This team had a special bond. They were/are a brotherhood who had each other’s back not only in the woods on a cross-country trail but in every aspect of life. When they weren’t training, they were playing, laughing and being teenage boys. These guys even prayed and worshiped together.
It was just two years ago when Drew lost his best buddy serving in the Navy. Josh was another fellow brother on the high school cross-country team and he was Drew’s brother. Josh was an adopted son of ours. When Drew wasn’t at Josh’s home Josh was with us including trips to the lake and Florida vacations. It seemed we were just beginning to really grasp the reality of losing Josh. Then, post after post brought back that memory, that sting and reality of life being precious was on the fore front of everyone’s mind.
A loss for words. Numbness. Sadness. Heartache. Are the words that describe the last week. At least for me, that is what describes what the last week has been. A family has lost a brother, a son, an uncle and a friend. It was in this moment that I asked God to walk with Michael’s family through the days ahead, and to give me the right words to say. As I prayed this prayer, I was reminded of the song by Mercy Me, Word of God Speak.
Tomorrow, I will stand with some of Michael’s former teammates from cross-country, track and the running community to salute him as he arrives home. As we salute and welcome Michael home, I know that Michael is already in his eternal home. I know his running brother, Josh was there at that final finish line to welcome him on over. As Michael crossed that finish line, I know without a doubt that Josh and he not only gave each other a high-five as they did when they won State for the second year in a row but they hugged one another because they have experienced the ultimate victory.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Please keep the family of Sgt. Michael Cable in your prayers.
- Afghan teenager fatally stabs US soldier (foxnews.com)
- Cable by Drew Hawkins ….http://drewhawkins.tumblr.com/post/46848386742/cable
- One By One Making A Difference by April Hawkins….http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/one-by-one-making-a-difference/
When you read my post The Table Is Set, I placed a picture of our family dining room table. This table also holds very fond memories of my Mom’s mom. Her name was Reba but us grandkids called her Rea. This table belonged to Rea and when she passed, I acquired not only the table but a table full of memories. This dinning room suit was how my Papa Jack proposed to Rea. After courting Rea for a while, he called her one day and said look at the dinning suit in the front window of the furniture store on your way home from work. Then, he instructed her to let him know if she liked the set. Apparently, she liked the set and it raised a family, grandchildren and now one of her great-grandchildren and possibly in the future a great great-grandchild with many a meal.
Early in my childhood, Dad was fortunate enough to have his parish close enough to Rea and Papa Jack’s house. This enabled us to pile in the car on Sunday after worship and go to her house for Sunday lunch and visit with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Now, my grandmother was as Southern as a gal could get and that was especially true with her cooking. The Sunday meal would consist of fried chicken, green beans that had cooked all morning, potato salad, gravy, biscuits, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and the list goes on down to the sweet tea. YUM!
Though the food was so tasty, the fellowship around the table was the best part. You see, at Rea and Papa Jack’s house, there was no children’s table. Chairs were brought in from every room and everyone squeezed in and sat together. As the family grew, the more we squeezed in and phone books and/or the Sears Catalog in chairs were used for high chairs when needed. There were no bibs for the little ones because a tea towel tied around the front worked just as good if not better. Then, as the meal would progress you would hear giggles around the table as Dad would tell one of his stories.
Once the meal was complete, us kids would scatter out into the back yard where we would stand on the picnic table and perform our own concert of various repertoire. Mom and Rea would stay at the table a while and Rea would catch Mom up on the latest of family and friends. Papa would retire to his recliner and watch a ballgame and listen to it being called on the radio. Dad would find a place on the floor and take that Sunday afternoon snooze.
- With All My Heart (pastorpaulvbsblog.blogspot.com)
- Meaningful Meals – Excerpts from Tim Chester(timmybrister.com)
- The Bread of Life — A Sermon for World Communion Sunday (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas. For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table. No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner table As a teen I would roll my eyes and think; “why can’t we just use the everyday dishes?” I would think this because I knew I would be the one helping after dinner hand washing all the china and silver and putting it all away.
Over the years in my adulthood, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit. Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes green beans and apple pie. Grandmother had so lovingly prepared. Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table.
As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table, I also remember being in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.
One evening in May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night. Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further apart. As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand. While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles. Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joined Jesus at the great banquet table.
The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared. As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded that Christ is and has always been the center of our family.
How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles. Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill
“Been there done that; ain’t looking back.” “Who says you can’t go home?” are the lyrics to one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs. In this song, he sings about traveling, going out to find fame and fortune. Yet, through all of his travels and seeing the world, he knows within in his heart his true home. He encourages those to take home with them no matter where life takes you. Home is in the heart.
Remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz? She is lost in Oz and wants to desperately get back home. After many trials and paths, the good witch tells her that all she has to do is click her ruby-red slippers together and say; there is no place like home“ and she would be home. Dorothy awakes and sees that she is home among loved ones.
We have all been where these two people have been. Most young adults are ready to leave home when they become of age. They are ready to move on to their next chapter in life whether it is going to college and eventually starting a new career, or just simply moving out on their on and starting a new job. No matter the situation, they are looking for excitement, some looking for fame, and making that fortune. Yet, it sometimes doesn’t take long for the real world to humble them.
Once a humbling experience takes place, some are afraid to go home out of embarrassment. Others are afraid to go home because they know they will get that finger in the face; “I told you so.” Then, there are those where bridges were burned with home and they can’t or don’t know how they could ever go back home.
When Jim and I were raising our son, Drew, we were conscientious that we needed to keep a safe and loving environment for him. We wanted home and still want a home that no matter the reason Drew knew he could come home. In the midst of his growing up, Jim and I read a book by Gary Smalley and John Trent called, Leaving the Light On. In other words, these authors were sharing how you want to leave that porch light burning where your children always felt like they could come home. They also explained about the ways and things that could be done that could extinguish that porch light fast.
No matter the situation that arises with Drew, Jim and I, we need to continue to keep that safe and loving environment for Drew and now for his wife, Megan. We want our home to be a place where they know they can come to celebrate achievements, where they can vent frustrations, and if they need to cry, there are shoulders and arms for them fall into and simply be held and loved.
We all know the story of the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:13. Remember, this man had two sons. One of the sons wanted his inheritance right then and there. He declared he was ready to go out into the world to make his fortune and to claim his fame. Yet, as time went by, he found himself broke and hard on his luck. I love what verse 17 says; “But when he came to himself, he said; ‘many of my father’s hired servants have enough bread and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’ “The scripture goes on to tell us how he plans to approach his father and ask for forgiveness. He planned to work for his father as a servant. Yet, when his father saw him coming, he flew his arms opened wide and welcomed him home. The father instructed to have the finest robe placed around his son, a ring placed on his finger and the fatted calf to be killed. In other words, the father planned a big welcome home party for him. Don’t you just love what verse 31 to the end says? “And, he said to him, ‘Son you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and now is found.’ ”
Are you like the songwriter and know that no matter how far you go and no matter what you do you can always go home? No matter where you go, do you take home in your heart? And, do you realize just as the songwriter says that what has been done is in the past? No matter what, he keeps his eyes on home?
Or, maybe you are like Dorothy. Walking around lost and trying to find your way back home. You so wish you could click your heals together and just be home. You long to be wrapped up in that favorite quilt that you would wrap up in as a kid. Or, you yearn for the smells of that favorite meal your mom would make for you.
You may be like the lost son. You declared your freedom and left home. Maybe you left home on very shaky ground and bad terms with your family. There could have been words spoken that are now regretted. You are sitting in despair trying to figure out how you could go home and what you would do when you got there. There is the fear of the finger in the face; ” I told you so.”
Are you a parent whose child/children have left the nest. Maybe they have left with your blessings and they know they can come home anytime. Or, could your child/children be wondering around lost. They don’t know where they are and you certainly don’t know where they are at this moment. Did the light on the porch get extinguish out of anger and words that were spoken?
The reality of our world today is that there are people in all of these situations. They are longing for home. Home in the physical sense and home in the spiritual and emotional sense. These people long for the favorite blanket wrapped around them, the smells of home and the warmth of a loving embrace. Yet, they feel as there is no hope just as the lost son had felt in his heart.
Hear the lyrics that I opened with one more time; “been there done that; I ain’t looking back. “Who says you can’t go home?” I love those lyrics. The reason I love these lyrics is because there is a home we all can go to and go back to if we ever leave/stray. The home is our home with the Father. We can stray, do unimaginable things, deny Him and his home. Yet, He stands there and waits for our return. In our returning to Him, God opens His arms wide and says; “Welcome Home!” All we have to do is tell Him that we want to be home again. We must allow God back into our hearts and ask for His loving grace and forgiveness. Then, as we return home to the arms of the Father, we must know we don’t need to look back on where we have been or what we have done. But, we move forward with lessons learned and allow Jesus Christ to walk beside us on our journey ahead.
Just like the song, we can also carry home in our hearts. When we come home to Christ, home is in our hearts no matter where we go and no matter what we do. Then, there will be a day when we will physically be greeted by Christ and the Father. They will be standing there with arms opened wide ready to great us into our eternal home. The finest of finest robes will be placed among us. WOW!
My challenge for today is that if you feel as though you have failed and failed the Father, know that there is no failing in the Father’s eyes. He will use your experiences to mold you more into His likeness. Just simply get on your knees and bow to the Father asking for forgiveness and be ready to be home again. After all, “Who says you can’t go home?”
I’m April sharing God’s message and reminding you that God is leaving the light on for you.
“I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26
“A friend loves at ALL times.” Proverbs 17:17
If you read my page Who’s April?, you will see that I grew up in a Methodist Minister’s home. During those years of my dad’s ministry, we usually moved every four to five years. Living in this atmosphere gave me opportunity to meet many wonderful people and develop many wonderful friendships. Friendships that have left lasting footprints on my heart.Growing up in a minister’s home meant not only meeting people but it also meant having to say good-bye to dear friendships as we would move from one appointment to another. Over the years, I kept in touch as much as I could with some but as we all know, time, distance and life transitions seemed to make it harder and harder to see and/or keep up with these friendships. Because of these transitions and good-byes, I had always told my parents that when I grew up that I would marry, move into a house that had a front yard and a back yard and would never leave it. In my book moving had become the pits.
Fast forward to 1985. Jim and I were married. We will have been married for twenty-seven years this November. In that twenty-seven years, we moved eight times! Yet, we have lived in our current home sixteen years. It is the longest I have lived in one place my entire life. You see, I prayed to have a home where I would not have to move. I got what I prayed for after many years of moving from place to place.
I grew up in Georgia. I live in Kentucky. There are four hundred miles of roads, road construction and Parkway between my house and my parents’ current home. Thus, meaning that when we go home to Georgia there is usually just enough time to visit immediate family before having to head back to Kentucky where our lives are lived these days. When people hear about this, they ask me if I ever get homesick. My response is I have lived in Kentucky for twenty-two years. I was raised to bloom where I was planted. But, I do get homesick.
Over the years, I have shared with Jim my upbringing as a PK’s (preacher’s kid) , and the people who came and went in my life. There have been a few times where he has met some of the people I share about. Then, there are those he has never met and I so wanted him to meet because it is these friendships that make up the person I am today. I have prayed that I would sometime get to see some of these friends once again.
Once again, I am getting what I prayed for. In the last couple of years, I have made contact with friends from every appointment my dad served during his forty-seven years of ministry. This re-connecting of friends has been made possible with Facebook. Early Spring, I received a message from a friend from the community where I lived from fifth grade thru eighth grade. His message was that they were planning a thirty year class reunion and even though I did not get to graduate with them, they wanted me to come and attend this reunion. At first, I declined in going not seeing how I could work it out in my schedule. But, as Jim and I talked, Jim said; ‘let’s look at this calendar of things to do. I think I can take a couple of days off and make a long weekend for you to attend this reunion.” Along with Jim stating we needed to clear our calendar to attend this event, my mom found out about the reunion and said; “you ought to go. They were a big part of your growing up.” Fortunately, it has all worked out and I am looking forward to seeing friends that I call family. People who I have not seen in thirty-four years this coming October.
As I looked more toward this event, I realized that it may be possible to meet up for lunch with a high school friend whom I graduated with in 1982. I also realized that my college roommate now lives in the area where I will be attending the reunion. I began to send messages to these two sweet dear friends about meeting up while I was in the area. So, I messaged the high school friend first about lunch on Saturday and she messaged right back with these message; “You do know that Heritage High School Class of ’82 is having their reunion that weekend, too.” My jaw just dropped! I could not believe this was happening! Yet, my heart sank as well. I knew at that very moment I could not be at two places at once. But, if I could clone myself and be at both I would.
The need or the want to be in two places at once is something we have all experienced. This is not the first time in my life I have experienced it but when it happens it does pull on the heart-strings. With all the technology, social media and such man has yet to devise a way for us to physically be in two places at one time. Sometimes, this leaves the heart torn and the feeling of being pulled. Yet, when I found out about the other reunion and knowing I had made my plans, I was disappointed but at the same time I felt blessed.
For me, it was a blessing because God has opened doors for me to renew friendships from each appointment my dad served in his forty-seven years of ministry. I have been able to renew friendships that are very special in my heart. A lot of these friends are more than friends for me. They were family for me and my family when we lived in their communities.
My heart smiles because in this chain of recent events regarding the reunions and the re-connecting with friends via Facebook, I see how God has showered me with blessings in my lifetime. I can see not only the blessings of ALL the friendships that have come and gone but I also see how He has blessed me and watched over me in every step I have taken and in every day I have lived. God has been in ALL places ALL of the time.
No, there will never be a way for me or for you to be in two places at one time. However, you and I can walk confident knowing that there is a person who can be in two places at once. This person is our wonderful Creator, God.
My challenge for you today is that when you feel torn and the need to be in two places at once, to step back and look at the big picture. Think about the commitment have you already committed to and stick to that commitment. Then, look at the whole picture as a blessing and God shinning an extra smile on you. The other commitment you may have to turn away may be the very thing you needed to see to understand how God has sent you showers of blessings.
It was three years ago when Drew had graduated from college and had been invited to attend the wedding of one of his college friends. As he made plans for this special weekend, he told his dad and me that he would need a date for this occasion and he had a “friend” he would like to ask come stay the weekend. Yet, when Jim and I heard about this “friend” our ears definitely perked up. Of course, Drew continued to emphasize that she was only a “friend.”
The weekend came and this “friend”, Megan, arrived at our door. However, when she arrived, I was out still doing some errands but soon after my arrival home, Drew introduced me to his new friend, Megan. The moment I met Megan I knew that there was something special about her. As the weekend progressed with activities, I noticed the way Megan looked at Drew whenever he would talk or do other things that this gal was more than a “friend.” She was something special.
During this weekend, Jim had to be on duty at the hospital so he did not get the chance to interact or get to know Megan as I had the opportunity to do. At the end of the weekend, Megan loaded her car to head back home to Ft. Mitchell. Drew began his job search that eventually landed him in Chicago. In the midst of this process, Jim asked me if I thought this friendship was more than friendship. I gave Jim my assessment and said, “I do think she is the one and she is definitely a pearl of a girl.
Over time, as Jim and I got to know Megan, we learned that she loves pearls. This made her even more of a girl after my heart. Sweet, simple and a girl who knows that pearls can go with anything! Loved it! And, still love it!
Then, as Jim and I were on vacation a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon these name cards with the meaning of names. Of course we had to see if there was a Megan and a Drew. We did not find Megan but we found a Meg. On this card it said that Meg meant pearl. Then as I prepared to write this post, I looked up the name Megan. Megan in its Greek origin means pearl. And, Megan in its Welch origin means “little pearl.”
Jim and I smiled when we read this meaning of Megan. It was on August 6, 2011, that our family added a pearl to our family strand. Ever since the first day of meeting Megan, Jim and I have been blessed with the sweetness of Megan’s smile and spirit. Yet, most importantly, Drew has been blessed to have such a compassionate, sweet, and loving partner to walk by his side throughout life.
Yes, a few years ago Drew told Jim and I about this “friend.” I understand after his first date with this “friend” that when it was time to say good-night, Drew said to Megan; ” see you later Pal!” Yet, this friend is so much more to Drew and to our family. This “friend” by the name of Megan has become a pearl in our hearts and our new family member.
Furthermore, as I looked up the meaning of Megan, I looked up the scripture that goes with her name. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Isaiah 2:5 Megan is not only a pearl added to our family strand but she definitely exemplifies this scripture. She is a lady that walks and lives in the example of her God. What else could a mom and dad ask for?
The other day I came across a sign that said; “Train up a child in the way he should go, and “make sure you are going that way, too.” Of course the earlier part of this statement comes from Proverbs 6:22 and the last part of this statement hits the nail on the head with us parents. As parents, we are commissioned to care, love and nurture our children.
Parenting these days is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, Jim and I have noticed how the world has changed drastically since our son, Drew graduated high school and, for the most part, college. There are so many influences out there both good and bad. Of course, we want our children to be exposed to the good influences and shielded from the bad ones.
How do we raise our children in such a way? First, we must pray with our children and for our children. As Drew was approaching his middle school years, a dear friend in my Sunday School class at the time encouraged me along with others to pray Psalm 91 daily for our children. This is a Psalm for protection.
Second, as parents we must be willing to do what we expect our children to do. For example, Jim was listening to Dr. James Dobson. As he listened he heard Dr. Dobson give this advice. “If we expect our children to clean their rooms, then we need to make sure our rooms are just as clean.” In other words, our expectations, words and actions better match what we are telling and expecting from our children. To me, children are probably the first to pick up on hypocrisy and they are watching and taking notes more than we can ever realize.
Third, we need to encourage our children to read the scriptures and teach them how to experience and hear God’s voice within the scriptures and in their daily walk. When our son, Drew turned 13, Jim’s gift to Drew was to open the bible to the book of Proverbs and told Drew that this is the best advice he could give him as a dad. Apparently, Drew did as he was advised from his dad because now when I am tempted to color or highlight my hair Drew quotes Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”
Fourth, we must realize that our children are given to us for a short period of time. Yes, as parents,we wish we could slow down time and keep them for a little longer. We must realize, though, that God placed them into our hands for a short period of time and then the time comes for us to place them back into the hands of God.
This last lesson was not an easy one for me being a mom of an only child. I will never forget Drew coming home and telling me he wanted to move to Chicago after he graduated college. Of course, the selfish part of me wanted him to move back to the small town he grew up in and live just a few minutes down the street. But deep within my soul, I knew that my role was about to change significantly as a parent and now it was time for Drew to follow God’s voice. Drew knew that God had a plan for him in Chicago and he had to go. He lived in Chicago for almost two years and then God opened other doors of opportunities for him in Atlanta where he and his wife currently reside.
As hard as it was to let go and let Drew leave, I knew that I would not be leading by example if I hung on to the apron strings and tried to persuade Drew to stay close to home. After all, my husband and I have always lived away from family and I grew up living away from family. I knew the drill and all that would be involved in Drew’s living away from home. As Drew packed to leave the nest, I prayed that I had shown him how to survive when family was not around. Along with learning how to bloom where he was planted, he needed to know that the people you surround yourself with away from home soon become your family.
At this moment as I write this post, there is someone’s child announcing to their family that they will be venturing out to new places and opportunities. I know that selfishness wants to kick in and convince that child how they need to stay close to home. But it is so important that the child be supported and respected in their decision. If it is in their decision to venture out, they need to be influenced by the leadership that raised them, following their God who created them in His image.
Yes, there are days when I wish we lived in more simple times. It would sure be simple to have family just a minute down the road and I didn’t have to plan months and/ or a year in advance to see them again. But, our world is rapidly changing and opportunities for our children seem to be taking them to places that we would have never have dreamed about going to when we were their age.
Looking back in our Christian heritage, I recall a group of twelve men who were asked to drop everything to follow their Master. Yes, they had families that they left to follow the call of God. These twelve men saw first hand of what it meant to lead and to follow. I am sure that they missed their families at times and wished they could run down the street to check in with them. Though they missed their families, they experienced miracles, blessings and God up close and personal. What an opportunity they had been given! As parents, I would like to think that we would want the same for our children. By letting go and placing them into God’s hands, we are allowing God to give them opportunities, life lessons, and a chance to experience their Master up close and personal.
My last piece of advice from one parent to another is to continue to pray for them. I encourage you to pray Psalm 91 over them daily. Again, my son, Drew is twenty-five and married but there is not a day that I don’t pray Psalm 91 not only for him but for his sweet wife, Megan, too. It is in praying this daily over them that gives me strength to keep placing them and trusting them in the Master’s hand as they follow Him.
“Are you leading your children to follow their Master?” and Are you going the same direction you are telling your children to go? Take this thought with you; “our actions and reactions will make or break our relationship with our children in the years to come.” How about it? Lead to follow?
** I highly recommend the book, Leaving the Light On by John Trent Ph. D and Gary Smalley.