Monday, January 18, 2010

"Cultivating" Our Children

I was reading No Greater Joy Volume 1 last night. It is by Michael and Debi Pearl. Now, let me just say, most people either really, really like them or really, really don't. As for me, I really like what they have to say concerning training children to obey the first time they are asked by being consistently disciplined and trained. I like them but sometimes wish they were a little less harsh when they word things and we do have some doctrinal differences but it is not over any essentials of the faith. That being said, he gave me a really good word picture that I would like to share.

"If you will take time to anticipate the character you desire in your teenagers and cultivate it while they are young, you will be able to enjoy the fruit later on. We gardeners know that it is much easier to weed early in the season, before the sun gets hot and the ground gets hard. If you wait too long, you may wait until the experience is so painful and humiliating that you give up on one of your "plants" and say, "Well maybe next year-next child..." "I encourage those of you with small children, train up your children now. Do not wait until they are one year old to start training. Rebellion and self-will should be broken in the four-month-old when it first appears." He then gave an encouragement to think of ways you can train your child.

Now, I have tried to do some things in the hot sun and hardened dirt in a small garden that was so difficult to deal with I don't even have it in the backyard anymore. It is SO much harder. I have also had some difficulty with my little "plants" because I failed to train earlier and let some things go. It is much harder to undo the behavior than to train in the beginning. We learned that they understand waaay more than we think they do at an early age. We started training Isabella much younger and we are enjoying the fruit of that. My children are wonderful blessings and are little sweethearts but we do have issues that I think we wouldn't have had we trained them earlier. But, I pray God will help us where we are to train them up. I, myself, am still being "trained up" and hope that I can be a better example for my children to "follow me as I follow Christ."

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Year 2010

This year, of course, will have in store many blessings. One being the birth of our precious Livi in May. But, at the same time, we have had a significant loss and this year we will be without some of the blessings we have had in previous years. We lost Derrick's dad on December 30th and this will be our first year without his presence. He fought a long and hard battle with cancer and was extremely strong and absolutely amazing with the things he could still do being that sick. One being, putting together much of my brother-in-law and new sister-in-law's wedding.

There have been many things written about him including his obituary and the article the Tulsa World did on him, the things spoken about him at his funeral, and the many wonderful comments from friends and family on his facebook. He would feel so honored by the many events that have happened concerning his death. Derrick said, "I wish he was here to see all this." I said, "I know, but then there wouldn't be all this..." This is not an attempt to write something wonderful and elaborate but just my thoughts. I can't sleep as I have been laying in bed going over and over the events of the day from his funeral. Derrick and I talked and talked as he could not sleep either but I hope he can get some sleep because, bless his heart, he has drill he has to get up for at 5:30 this morning and it will be his birthday.

This may just be me but I feel like you can't really feel the weight of a person until you don't have them anymore. Like, you don't fully realize how much you love a person until you don't have them anymore. And then, even their annoying traits become endearing. In the last days I have definitely felt the weight of Rick's life. His friends left so many comments on his facebook, we watched the touching video of his life at his funeral, and all the things we've learned about him from his death. I looked at the pictures of him when he was younger with his children in the stage of life Derrick and I are in right now. I've been thinking over his MANY talents. And the little things...but they were huge. He used to elaborately decorate his place for Christmas with two Christmas trees, set a fancy table with namecards and decorations to take home (Christmas ornaments), make his wonderful Syrian food (I especially loved his grape leave rolls and baklava), and pour sparkling grape juice or apple cider for us. He was the best dog owner! His dogs were like his children.

This is the first time I have had anyone close to me die. One of the saddest things I have discovered about it is the impact it has on my children. Mostly Bailey because Samantha is kind of in "La La Land" about it. It was the saddest thing when he bawled and bawled and I just held him. Once he said, "Even though he died, he's still my Papa." Bailey understands and has lots of questions. I have to explain things like, "Why did God take him when he was only 56?" I contrasted that one with our little 4-year old friend that died of lukemia and our little baby I miscarried this year. I talked about how blessed he was to have those 56 years and how blessed we were to have him as long as we did. Then I reassured him that "everything works together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes". I told him that even when some things "seem" bad to us that God has a reason for it even though we may not understand it and that it is for our good even if it doesn't "look" like it. I gave him a scenario of our baby. I said, "What if God knew that our baby was going to live maybe even really long on the earth to be 70 or 80 years old but that it was going to reject God? What would be worse for that baby to live long on the earth and reject God or for that baby to die and go to heaven?" As I have said before, I have prayed (what John Piper prayed about his children), "Lord, if my children are going to grow up to reject you, take them now, take them now." Meaning before the age of accountability when they understand and may willingly choose to reject God. I, of course, don't know the reason why God allowed this to happen but I still know that He will work it out for our good.

Already, I have seen atleast a couple of really exciting things come out of this. One of them being that someone came and spoke to Derrick after he spoke about his dad at the funeral. Derrick gave an account of some of the happenings the last couple of years of his dad's life such as his being interested in reading the Bible, praying more, and seeing God's hand in the events of his life. One of the things he told us that Derrick quoted at the funeral was something like, "I'm going to miss thunderstorms. The sound of the thunder, the way the clouds look, the lightning..." He had gotten a liver transplant almost 2 years ago and his heart stopped beating. The doctor had to cut a huge incision and reached in and massaged his heart. Derrick talked about how he thinks his dad ended up receiving much more than a liver but he thinks a new heart after that event. A new heart that only God can give when a person begins to see things from God's perspective and however gradually or quickly begin to turn from their own way of doing things and begin the process of leaving behind the things that grieve God. Anyhow, this person told Derrick that they used to think his Christianity was fake and he was just excited about his newfound "faith". They said after hearing him speak they could tell that his faith was real and they said they trusted him and were interested in doing the same with their life. That is SO exciting that God would use Derrick in that way. The other thing is way too precious and I haven't even gotten a full grasp on my thoughts of it and maybe I'll share that at a later time.

And now I want to draw my thoughts to what our church family did for us. They put together a reception for us and it was VERY nice with a variety of foods and, of course, tons of desserts. I cried when I walked in and saw what they had done. These women (and a couple of men) have young children and many responsibilities at home (believe me, I know what it entails) and, yet, they devoted their time, energy, effort, money, and love into this day for us and made it so special. There was so much food we split it atleast 5 ways and got to take a bunch home. What a huge blessing as I don't have to go to the grocery store right away or cook. I have no idea how to thank them enough but wish I could. I hope to pass it forward to someone in need in the future. I struggle to keep up with the many things that have to be taken care of at home so I know what a huge sacrifice it was for them. I am so thankful for the many people who have ministered to us whether it be by praying, sending us a card, providing food, sending flowers, donating to Rick's scholarship or to Arts and Humanities, serving us and cleaning up at the funeral, giving us a phone call, singing or playing an instrument at the funeral,coming to the funeral, for loving and caring for my father-in-law, and much more.
Well, I think I may be able to sleep now and am starting to realize I will struggle tomorrow if I don't so...I really better go and try.