Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.
~John W. Whitehead,
In just a few days my husband and I will mark not only our oldest son's birth but our 34th anniversary as parents.
We will have parented 5 children for a total of 34 years-on his birthday.
Boy have things changed since those days!!! Mostly hair!!!!!!
Really, we have changed so much - seems we've raised five seperate families actually.
Most of the kids are 5 years apart so they span in ages from 16-34.
That means we raised kids in the 70's-80's -90's the new millenium and forward!!!!
Right through Dr. Spock-Phil Donohue- television without remotes-smurfs -backward masking -
destruction of the Berlin Wall- -9-1-1, dial phones, princess phones, bag phones, cordless phones and now cell phones!!!!
I think you get the idea.
The world has changed so much in such a short time- is it any wonder that WE have changed a lot too?
Some things have not changed- and this letter reminded me of that. It's one of those timeless moments as a parent that defines why we do what we do.
With my husbands permission- I'm leaving it exactly as he wrote it to them- over 15 years ago!!!
Neither of us could even remember whether or not it was ever delivered to them.
Enough from me- now hear the heart of a father who loves his children ~
I suppose I owe you this and I guess it's about time. Having children over such a long period of years leaves some of you ignorant about one end or the other of those years.It's been over 25 years since my first child was born and I guess you could say I have over 25 years of experience now. The same is true of my walk with Christ,knowledge,wisdom and marriage, etc....
To my older children I may have seemed to be vigilant,faithful and strong,strict, maybe fun, smart and surely young. I know from things I've heard you say ,you thought I was stronger,faster,smarter and godlier than most anyone you knew. You knew me as some sort of preacher. And you knew other people who thought the same of me.
My younger children?....They've seen me unable to preach, seemingly defeated,older and much slower, no apparent energy...you get the picture.
Have you seen the attacks in the presedential campaign? People are using the arrogance and foolishness of youth to define men of age , experience and perhaps wisdom.I don't know much about either candidate but I know that a portrait of them as youths is not a true portrait of them as old men. A photo of me when I was 20 compared to a picture of me now is sufficient evidence that men change with age physically. Youth would like to think that wisdom and knowledge follow the physical image ...and yes it does fade away...just not as fast as the physical.
Let me explain....
When I was your age I was stronger than a great many of my peers. I deemed myself smarter,wiser and godlier too. Because I was so smart and wise I could see things clearly that men twice, nay, thrice my age blundered over. Because I was so energetic,I could express my arrogant knowledge for hours, hardly taking a breath.(Not really- I had to breathe heavily because of my excitement at being so powerful)
Because I was strong, I was proud.
You perhaps still get a glimpse of that pride when I reminence of younger days(thats foolish vanity)
You have heard my warnings about so called health club memberships. You young people are probably not proud and vain as I was but because I was and am, I warn you.( I never worked out in a gymexcept for about a week in college and up to about 5 years ago I could have whipped any of you any way you wanted it)
Vanity and vexation of the spirit- you see? How do I advance the gospel by flattering my flesh?
Did I say I liked to spew my arrogant knowledge?
This too is vanity.
I am ashamed of the way I belittled people with my wonderful knowledge of the bible, all the while showing a lack of wisdom that comes from above.(a bruised reed he did not break, he didnt put out a smoldering flax)
Lest you use these things as fodder for your excuses as to why you are the way you are, let me take that away.Because I love God and his ways and desire to follow his teaching, I committed myself ,when you were very young, to giving you all I could in the way of godly upbringing.
True, it was done when I was about your age, in arrogance and ignorrance and with stumbling, but it was all I knew to do at the time.
Now, if you use the sacrafice of my life as an excuse for mistakes you have made, or troubles you experience, you are weak and need to look inward.
Seek the true liberator.
There- I took your excuse, now I give it back! Your upbringing is an excuse for what you are.
What are you that you were not guided to be?
What do you have that was not given?
Does God not still control?
You are who you are because your momma and I, because of Frank,Liz, Maplewood,...because of Gary,Steve,Barry,Tim, Jerry J, Larry R., Brandy,Penny aunt Marilyn,pastor Larry,Jennifer,Jonathan,Micah,Vineyard,Ms Queenie,Randall,Billy...because of USA,because of Louisiana,Sulphur,Moss Lake Providence,the cabin,the big house,the little house the hopes and dreams.
You are who you are because God made it so!
But what is it you will glory in? Where is it you will boast,in whom will you put your trust?
It is Jesus.
It is in Him that we live and move and have our existence.
Praise God we are all saved in spite of ourselves by the free gift of the love of God in Jesus Christ.
"Flee youthful lust,but follow after righteousness,charity,peace with them who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." You know,when you get angry at something I am trying to tell you ,it's probably at my inability to convey eternal ,spiritual things through this carnal body,but you can bet that I'm telling you because I love you you and not because I want to prove how bad you are.
You can bet that I know more about it than you and you can bet that I know more because I've wallowed in it for much too long and I dont want you to waste your time bowing to that devil.
Praise God for deliverance,for mercy.
Oh children, raise your hands to Him now in praise for He is excellent!He cleanses us and makes us righteous. in His son.
Praise your maker- He is ever around you.
To my younger children, God has given me to you at this time...older,slower,weaker, maybe wiser and more knowledgeable, but having experience behind me,feeling ignorant and short on wisdom.Some of that attributed to my seeming inability to carry anything to fruition. Some because of the weariness of battles that you may never see or understand(for that matter I may never understand)
You have only heard that I was strong,that I was a carpenter,a mechanic. That I preached ,some say with the spirit,some say being devisive. They are probably both right.
Youth is sometimes cruel- it doesnt let you know how foolish and ignorant you are.
Old age may be crueler...it does.
Nevertheless, it has brought me to where I am now(oops forgot I was talking to the younger ones) I mean...It got me here!
I almost fear for your teen years. They wear hard on me. I dont know if having you all close together would have been better. I would all be over faster, but it might be like an atom bomb! :)
As it is, I will have raised teenagers for about 25 years. Thats a long arduous task for anyone. Add in Bi-polar illness,age,stupidity,wore-out-ness etc, and you see where I might be a little apprehensive. You cant imagine the almost unbearable pain when one of your sweet children suddenly deem you his/her enemy. Though youve given your life for him/her for 16 yrs you are now trying destroy him/her.
It's as if I've fed you for all these years secretly scheming to slaughter you when you were fat enough. Now you realize the conspiracy and can think of nothing but escape.(Be easy on me young ones- I'm not as strong as I used to be)
It reminds me of how my Saviour must feel when I deny Him.
Lord, forgive me.
How long will I continue to pierce your side?Lord, I love you so much...or do I just SAY so?
Children, perhaps it is good that you are seperated by several years. I am better able to pray and concentrate on your difficulties and mine through these tough years for both of us.
Although I am only writing from my perspective, I ask you to remember your momma. We are coworkers in the Lord on your behalf. We have battles between ourselves in your behalf. Our strength ,courage,wisdom and love is tested almost daily during your teen years.(mostly on weekends....go figure) and usually past my bedtime!!!
If any of you thin you know how to raise kids please let me kno. Even with all my years of experience I'm clueless(you may agree)
Of all the jobs I've hadraising kids is way the hardest, but I shall not quit! I love it! I love YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU!
Anytime you want to cut me down to size , you go ahead. Smash me,bash me...turn me into dust for the wind to scatter to the hills. That is easily done, because I have built much of myself up with plaster and mud and shaped it to look good as I like people to see my image. What vanity!!!
But the things of God ARE in there. God has put them there and they will not crumble.
You will only make them more visible by taking shots at me. I am built on a firm foundation. I am not speaking out of pride but hope that you will learn to only...only see the God in me and not the me...in me.
All my love always,