My dad’s birthday was a couple weeks ago and though we have not been able to celebrate with him for over three decades, he, too, left us with unnumbered memories to treasure because he was a great dad and very good man. One of his honorary pall bearers was a young man from the neighborhood with whom he had an ongoing “fun” relationship that included Christmas gifts “wrapped” in small boxes nailed shut. My brother wrote a poem about Dad which was read at the service which included the fact that Dad remained optimistic about life and thought it was never too late to plant a tree.
Recently, as I prepared to read Mom’s well-used Amplified Bible, a rectangular handwritten note fluttered out. On it was the reason I am posting this on my page today. I wanted to share the verse that captured Mom’s attention. Mom taught children and adults at her church for much of her adult life, and sometimes she was the speaker if the women were asked to “do an evening service.” Maybe this prompted a talk or lesson she gave. Her note says, “Psalm 16:11-Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
At a family reunion in Florida a couple years ago, our niece sat us four siblings down and gathered the other thiry-plus family members around us on chairs and on the floor. We were asked what we most admired about our parents and what we’d learned from them. It was a sweet time of tender memories. One thing that I remember about Dad was his philosophy that if we weren’t having fun doing something, we were probably doing it wrong. He wanted us to apply that even when we were sweating as we carried irrigation pipes over our heads or helped with post holes or hauling hay or fishing when the fish weren’t biting. He didn’t want “belly-aching” and he certainly didn’t want any of us to ever get a reputation for being lazy, but he did tell us that when we went to a youth meeting, we were to bring the fun with us. (I remember Mom telling me that the community gatherings of their young adult days aways liked to be sure Dad was invited because he was fun.)
At our reunion, I remember a brother saying, “Dad was a hard worker, no question, but Mom worked even harder.” Another told how Mom had sewed shirts and overalls when pennies were scarce – much of the time it is for farmers dependent upon the unpredictable weather or grasshoppers,, etc. My sister and I certainly remember our paneled Disney skirts and more complicated outfits that Mom created which we appreciated. Mom never felt like her skills matched her mother’s as a seamstress, but she could have fooled us. Anyway, we four all wanted the grands and great-grands to know that theirs was a healthy and Christian heritage and we wanted that to continue. Sometimes in letters, Mom would write that she and Dad had prayed for us, and we know each morning in her retirement, Mom got out several devotional books and her Bible to study and then she’d pray for all of us and our children. In heaven we’ll see how prayers made a difference greater than we now know.
I hope we parents and grandparents bless our children’s lives as much as great parents blessed ours. When we have opportunities, let’s lovingly interact with them, but in today’s circumstances, many of us have long-distance relationships with loved ones. It’s not ideal, but if our adult children are choosing to obey the Lord and He’s put them a long distance from us, then we take joy in their obedience and adjust to the separations.
But equally important in their day-to-day lives and for the lives they’ll continue after we’re gone, we can pray for them. Today, I pray this for them: “Father God, please watch over each of our loved ones today. Help each of them ….. to choose to honor You with healthy thoughts, carefully chosen words, and thought-through actions that bless others. We know the enemy seeks to steal them from You if they’re not already Yours, so shield them from his devious ways and let them not be content until their faith in You is settled. Those who are Yours, Father, we know are targets of Your enemy. We’ve seen his tactics, but let them realize discouragement is from his pit and You are there to triumph. When things go wrong and they are tempted to only see the pixel in front of them and slide into despair or anger, remind them that You know the whole widescreen and You are at work. Please keep them from stumbling into unhealthy relationships that would move them away from the plans You have for them. Father, may none of us lose our first love of You so that all of us finish strong and faithful. Lead not our children and grandchildren into temptation and deliver them from evil because Your heavenly host wars in behalf of Your children and Yours is the victory. Father, do what You must do so each of us down through our family lines mature into godly people who live Christ-honoring lives because little else will matter when we’re reunited in Your presence. And Father, we would be negligent if we failed to pray for the spouses our children and grandchildren will one day have because, Father, our prayer is that they, too, will establish homes that honor You throughout their lives and that future generations will be blessed by them, too, as long as earth time continues. Because You love us all and want what is best for our lives, we ask these requests in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”