Archive | June 2012

Fatherhood, Family and Faith

We celebrated Father’s Day yesterday.  Bob is preaching a funeral today and will be gone all day and most of the evening, so Robbie and I gave him his gifts then.  We laughed at Robbie’s “gift-giving.”  He looks forward to signing the card himself—with Mommy’s help, of course.  He has finally learned to hold the pen himself, and after we carefully sign his name and write the other words, (Thanks to my cousin betty Brown for the photo!)Mom turns him loose with the pen and he scribbles a “picture” on the envelope with much determination and gusto!  When it came time to give Daddy his gifts, I put them in his lap and said, “Would you like to give Daddy his gifts, Robbie?”  Of course, then he thought those colorful gift bags were for him, and he began pulling tissue paper out and peering inside the bags to see what treasures lay within!  He was delighted with each gift he pulled out—patriotic t-shirts, a polo shirt, bags of chocolates and even a book!  Just what he always wanted!  Of course, then Daddy made it even more fun by doing a little tug-of-war to get his Father’s Day gifts away from Robbie!

I love honoring Bob for the wonderful father he is.  There cannot be a better dad than he!  Who else do you know that would gladly change diapers for 41 years???  He is Robbie’s best buddy, and selflessly and lovingly gives of himself every day for him—and all our children and grandchildren.  He has been a godly example, as well, all these years and faithfully led his family in our walk with God.  His life is an inspiration and blessing to us all.

Of course I cannot think about Father’s Day without remembering my own father who went to be with the Lord nine years ago this week.  I was shopping for Father’s Day cards this week when a large section of cards labeled “To Dad from Your Daughter” caught my eye—and made me catch my breath.  I watched as a pair of sisters browsed those cards and listened to their laughter and chatter, and for a few moments it hurt all over again—that I could not give my dad a Father’s Day card.  I miss him and his unique laugh (HA!), the way he enjoyed his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the way he took care of my mother.  I miss him quoting Romans 8:28 whenever problems came up, and singing “Victory in Jesus” and “Mansion over a Hilltop.”  I am thankful, though, that he is safely in Heaven, enjoying its glories and being with his Savior and the loved ones who had gone before him.

I will be at our family reunion next weekend on the anniversary of his passing.  It is always wonderful to gather at this biannual event with aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, nieces and nephews for three or four days of fun, laughter and reminiscing.  Being together like that helps us mark off the anniversary of Dad’s home-going more easily.  It causes me, as well, to reflect on and be thankful for the spiritual heritage I share with most of my extended family through those who have gone before us who knew Christ and faithfully led each generation to know and love him as well.  I reflect also on the legacy we are leaving behind us, praying that our future generations will follow us as we have followed Him.  What a responsibility before God to pass on to our children and grandchildren and their children our testimony in word and deed, and a godly example for them to follow!  Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.”  The inheritance we leave may not be much in material wealth, but we pray it will be a legacy of great spiritual and eternal value that will influence each future generation for Him.

It is the Christian parent’s responsibility, whether we are fathers or mothers, to obey God when He says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) and “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)   Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 also tells us, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” We cannot choose Christ for our children and grandchildren—each person must make that decision for himself—but if we are faithful in teaching and nurturing them for the Lord, we will most likely have the joy of seeing them accept His salvation for themselves.  Psalm 103:17 says, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”

The reunion that is to come in Heaven someday—what joy when we are reunited with those who have gone before us and those who follow in our footsteps!  I am eager to see my dad again, but I will be thrilled to see my great-great-great-great-grandchildren, as well!  Thanks be to God Who makes it all possible through His Son Jesus Christ!

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NOTE: There will be no Sundays with Cindy next week as I will be at the Ward Family Reunion!

“I Love You to Confetti and Be Gone!”

HUH???  Five-year-old Matthew wrapped his arms around his mommy’s legs and gazed up at her with stars in his eyes.  “I love you, Mommy, to confetti and be gone!”

Laurie was confused for a moment until she finally figured out that Matthew was quoting one of his heroes.  Well, almost.  Buzz Lightyear would have put it this way, “I love you to infinity and beyond!”

Awwwww!  “I love you, too, Buddy!”  She bent down to hug the little angel.

The absolute sweetness of the moment makes me smile.  Matthew’s vocabulary makes me laugh out loud!

Mandy delighted me when she heard Grandma say “Hallelujah!” and she mimicked it as clear as a bell and in the exact sing-song tones, although she didn’t have a clue as to what she was saying or why.  She continued to say Hallelujah over the next couple weeks whenever she heard someone else say that word.  She is a little mimic and from the time she was only a few months old has been amazing us with the things that come out of her mouth when you least expect it.

Little ones certainly entertain and amuse us with their chatter, but there are times when we surprise ourselves and have to laugh with what comes out of our own mouths!  We’ve all tripped over a phrase or had our tongues get tangled.  I find myself with more and more senior moments like that, and “brain burps” when the word I intend to say doesn’t quite come out right or, like Mrs. Malaprop, I confuse it with a similar sounding word.   I would share some examples with you, but unfortunately I am having a senior moment right now and can’t remember any!   We just have to laugh at ourselves when that happens, and pray it is not Alzheimer’s!

Sometimes saying the wrong thing is simply due to misunderstanding in the first place.  I was probably in my forties before I finally heard and understood the words in the song Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music.  When it comes to the line for the musical note “ti,” the correct words are, “Tea, I drink with jam and bread.”  For years I’d been singing “Tea, a drink which I’m in breath.”  HUH???

Words can entertain, encourage, influence, amuse, inspire, teach, praise, stimulate, comfort, reassure, strengthen, motivate, enlighten, and nurture.  They can be sweet, loving, kind, forgiving, patient, wise, honest, true and righteous.  On the other hand, words can also discourage, tear down, hurt, scare, deceive, blame, bully, gossip, nag, curse and boast.   They can be hateful, bitter, false, flattering and angry.

The Bible has much to say about what comes out of our mouths.  Our words affect others and they reflect our relationship with the Lord.  He tells us how to guard our mouths and keep our lips from sin.  Here are just a few of the references to the words we choose to use:

Our words ought to be:

Peaceful — Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Pleasant — Proverbs 16:24
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. 

Truthful and Kind — Psalm 15:1-3

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.  He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

Righteous — Psalm 34:13
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Restrained — Proverbs 10:19
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Wise and Just– Psalm 37:30
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

Controlled — Proverbs 21:23
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Wise and Kind — Proverbs 31:26
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Loving — 1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Uplifting — Ephesians 5:19
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Truthful, loving, edifying, kind, forgiving — Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29, 31, 32

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ… Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another…  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers… Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. 

Gracious — Colossians 4:6
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Honest and true — 1 Peter 3:10
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.

Humble — Proverbs 27:2
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

Cautious — Psalm 141:3
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Wholesome and pure — Proverbs 4:24
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

The fool’s words are:

Gossip and rumors — Proverbs 18:8
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Thoughtless — Proverbs 29:20
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Foul, dishonest and trouble-making — Psalm 10:7
His [the wicked’s] mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

False and prideful — Psalm 12:3
The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things

Deceitful — Psalm 55:21
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.

The source of much evil — James 3:5, 6, 8

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell… But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 

 

Our words should praise the Lord and reflect His honor and glory:

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalm 35:28
And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

Psalm 145:21
My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Psalm 71:8
Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.

Psalm 89:1
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Our words may come out jumbled now and then.  We may never be great orators.  We may have trouble simply expressing ourselves from time to time, but when the words we say are a blessing to others and bring glory to God they are the right words.

Nestled in Love

Bob came home from Alabama last night bearing gifts.  He had spent the week caring for our grandchildren Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah while their parents were in the Ukraine still working on the adoptions of Oleg and Anastasia.  The whole process has taken far longer than expected and Julie had come home to spend a week with the three in the States before she had to fly back for Oleg’s court date.  David then came home for about ten days so that he could go back to work and save up some of his leave days for the completion of Oleg’s adoption.  There was a gap in between their comings and goings when someone needed to be there for the kids, and Grandpa stepped up to the plate.  He did a mighty fine job, too, by all accounts!

Anyway, back to the gifts…  Julie had brought back Mother’s Day gifts from the Ukraine for her grandma and me, and souvenirs for Robbie and her sister Laurie’s family and sent them home with Bob.  We eagerly dug into the bags of goodies knowing that whatever was inside would be unique and different than any gifts we had ever received before.

We were right.  Grammy and I each received beautifully woven silk tablecloths –gorgeous for display but too delicate to eat on.  Robbie got a handpainted wooden Ukrainian doll with a jingle chime inside.  Laurie’s family got Ukrainian chocolates, little wooden doll ornaments and wooden doll pens.  And we each got a set of the traditional Ukrainian nesting dolls.  You know whatI’m talking about—the five or six beautifully painted wooden dolls that fit one inside the other.  (I looked for a picture that was similar to the set I got but I couldn’t even come close to the beauty and uniquely interesting family of dolls that Julie gave me, but this will give you an idea.)

I sat down this morning to look at them more closely.  They are a perfect little family—papa, mama, boy, girl and baby.  Papa is playing a bandura—a Ukrainian type of guitar that looks more like a mandolin.  Mama is holding a basket of peaches and the children are holding different pieces of fruit as well.  The workmanship on them is exquisite.  What intrigued Matthew and Mandy most today, though, was their nesting.  Over and over they took them apart and put them back together again.

They really are a perfect little family, I whimsically thought to myself as I watched the children play.  They dwell together so closely unified that they know the very hearts of one another!  Papa takes care of them all and they are safe and secure in their little family unit.  How wonderful it would be if all families were as close as these little wooden nesting dolls!

My thoughts moved on to our relationship with our Heavenly Father—how very loved we are; how safe and secure.  I remembered what Jesus said in John 10:27-30, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one.”  Picture this—we are cradled in the Father’s hand.  We are covered by the hand of Jesus.  He and the Father are One and so we are safely contained, protected from all harm for eternity.

He has loved us with an everlasting love as well (Jeremiah 31:3) and tells us in Romans 8:38, 39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The nesting dolls made me think of being so close to the heart of God, and so secure in His loving care.  I looked up the words nested and nestled in my thesaurus this morning.  Nested—cradled, incubated.  Nestled—cuddled, snuggled, settled down, sheltered, snug, close to, huddled against, curled up to.  Those words conjure up thoughts of comfort and peace, and most of all, freedom from worry.  How can I fret when I am nestled in His love?  How can I be afraid of the future and what it brings when I am cradled and covered by His hands? 

Matthew 6:25-27 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Nestled in His loving hands—it’s the safest place on earth to be!