Looks just like who?

Do you have a kid that you have no idea where they came from? I mean the kid looks nothing like either parent! That’s the way I feel. I look a little more like my dad, but then some like my mother, and who knows who else. :/

I’ve heard that we are a combination from the DNA of our 16 great-great-grandparents. Living on a dairy farm, that’s one thing farmers learn quick when breeding to a pure herd. It takes four generations to out-breed a trait. It’s uncanny the similarities between cows and humans. 😉

With my dysfunctional family tree, I have very little knowledge of my great-great-grandparents. I have a few names, but that’s about it. Heck, I only have pictures of two of my grandparents much less anyone farther back! Which means my great-grandchildren will be the first in my line to know the features of their 16 great-great-grandparents. I’ll be long gone by then…

So when someone says, “Oh he/she looks JUST like so-and-so!”

Hmm…

They don’t have a clue.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.” ~ Psalms 127:3-4

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Was I really meant to be here?

Here’s that mood again. So tell me…what if a person was not meant to be born? How is their life justified? Does the life that was not meant to be actually have purpose?

Deep questions for a dreary day.

I know a lot of babies these days born outside of the traditional home. I feel a sense of connection for those born out of wedlock. Do they use that word anymore? I don’t know. I guess it’s the new norm. Seems no one even knows virginity these days. I didn’t way back then either. Every generation drifts farther and farther from that biblical “family unit” we were taught from our grandparents. I’ve read the millennial generation is more likely to live together than risk getting married, to risk getting divorced. I don’t agree, but I thoroughly understand.

So mom gets pregnant. Sometimes dad stays, mostly he moves on. Sometimes we have two moms, and sometimes, two dads. Seems there is no “norm” these days.

In some ways I sure do wish the “anything goes” philosophy was accepted back in my day. Do the kids of today feel the awkwardness from being born as the result of a “non-biblical” situation? Has society evolved enough that no one cares?

I felt it…the rejection. In some ways, I still feel it. The lies Satan whisperers in my ear:

  • My parents had to get married because of me.”
  • Their hardships were my fault because I came too early.”
  • Six months after our wedding? Oh no, our baby was early.”
  • We’re so sorry we got pregnant, it was an accident.”
  • You’re nothing but an embarrassment.”
  • I see another zit…are you ever going to clear that thing up?”
  • You’re just a fat whore yourself!”
  • So you survived those illnesses, surgeries, and accidents? Maybe the world would be better off if…”

Oh yes, I’ve heard it all. The excuses, the cover-ups, the lies. So, what it boils down to is, I wasn’t supposed to be here. Right? Maybe. But doesn’t God himself breathe life? If so, why did He breathe life in me if I was not to be? Would I not have survived those near death experiences if I were not to be here?

I wonder if my own experience is the basis for my deep pro-life stance. My empathy generates great passion for the unborn, unwanted, and unloved. What right do I have to life if another is aborted or abandoned? Why me and not another?

Sometimes…I really do wish I could take their place…

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

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Another church debate?

And the church is now debating youth groups…

The newest movement in the church world today is the “Integration of the Congregation”. The concept is such that our kids are falling away, as argued in one of many circles such as in this article; Charisma News; which discusses statistics showing youth groups are driving Christian teens to abandon the faith. The trend is leading the church to abandon their youth groups.

The debate seems to be about destructive peer pressure in church. The new thought process is that separating youth from parents in church waters down and annihilates any teaching of Godly principles, leaving youth abandoned to seek total downfall with their church peers. By integrating the youth with the adults, they will learn to become exemplary, well rounded, Christian grown-ups. In all the articles I’ve read on Family Integration, statics and scripture references are used to back up this theory: Deuteronomy 16:9-14, Joshua 8:34-35, Ezra 10:1, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Nehemiah 12:43 and Joel 2:15-16…to quote a few from the above article. But, if you look at these scriptures, they talk of feasts and assembly gatherings (you know…church), but do not mention youth groups. In fact, I don’t think anyone has found any scripture stating youth groups are not allowed. (Yet, the bible doesn’t mention cigarettes either. Just sayin’!) One of the verses used by most when it comes to family worship is Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which instructs fathers to teach the statutes to their children. Yes…the fathers to teach their children. So, is this proof we need to abolish youth groups and put everyone together?

And then…finally…here is a common sense article by Ed Stetzer debunking the theory that all youth groups are bad, posted in Christianity Today. Actually, he debunks the statistics used by arguments for the bad youth group theory. When the statistics are skewed, we are compelled to take another look at our theories. I am not at all against Family Integration, rather I am for it. But I am not against abolishing our youth groups either.

This post is obviously just my humble opinion…but my opinion is based on experience…from my own youth. You see, I had a drug problem. My parents drug me to church every week! (Bet you haven’t heard that one before! 😉 ) Seriously, that is about the one thing my parents did right. Part of my “testimony” is that I hated church…and youth group…from being a pretty messed up youth myself. I felt all the kids were either hypocrites or dorks. They were not the kind of kids I preferred to hang out with on a Friday night…and I didn’t. I partied. And partied. But, that’s another story…

In spite of hating youth group…the Gospel got in.

It. got. in.

And I came back. Not to church. I came back to Jesus.

Yes, some of my most pivotal memories are of little words, verses, or phrases, Ron or Lindell spoke here and there. And then, there are the Sunday school teachers who put up with us one hour a week speaking into our lives.

And the list goes on…

I’ve often wondered over the years how many of them thought they were wasting their time. How many of them thought I was a waste…

I wonder where I would be if the church my parents attended (quite by default due to my Grandma) did not have a youth group. Would I have created less trouble for myself and others? Would I be here today? No, I don’t believe so.

Listening to the many in favor of abandoning youth groups, I hear a resounding argument that the youth would be naturally sitting at home on daddy’s knee listening to him quote scripture every waking hour.

Maybe in a bubble.

Not in my family.

Not in today’s world.

Yes, we were a “Christian” family. We went to church. We talked the talk. But not once do I remember my dad leading in anything other than prayer before dinner on Sunday afternoon. Even if he wanted to, how could he? He was either on a ship somewhere or working 2nd shift during the week. Neither did his father, or his father before him. I don’t blame them, they were living as their fathers before them taught. They were doing the best they could. Our forefathers believed the way to show love to the family was to work and leave the teaching to Momma and the Public Schools.

Hey Church! That’s the real world.

Yes, I gathered some instruction from my family. But when a teenager is “troubled” their parent is the last person they will follow. That’s reality.

What would have happened if I did not have a youth group? Where else would I have gone for instruction? The very places that encouraged my self-destructive behavior to flourish: the world. Yes, the public school and, of course, peers.

Now, they say times have changed. We watched a clip in church this morning interviewing several Millennials about their perception of the world and what it was like to be a Millennial Christian. Their words took me back to my own youth. You know what? Nothing has changed. Not really. As a child of the 60’s & 70’s, I had the same outlook…round peg in a square hole. I have a sneaky feeling youth have experienced the same moods since Adam & Eve. We can blame it on almost anything, but common sense says the human body changes and we grow up, during which time we search for purpose…that inner longing for the choosing between right and wrong…searching to fill the hole created by our own sin. That hole which only God can fill. Youth grow to adults, and in the process, we all seek to fit somewhere in society. Heck, even the disciples jockeyed for position…trying to “fit in”.

Youth of any millennia will seek their place in adulthood. Where is the best place to navigate those roads? I believe both the family and youth groups are the answer. The best place is the place where they can find Jesus. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent family, would they receive instruction outside of church? No. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent church, would they receive instruction sitting in the pew next to their parents? No. Are there churches with youth groups that are simply play-time? Yes. Are there families who are only “Christian” on Sundays? Yes.

As for the theory of separation, in most American churches, after “Sunday School” is over, when the kids are old enough to sit for a spell (older than toddler age), the youth are always sitting (Integrated) in the church service…sometimes bored to death. But…the Spirit can work years later to bring back God’s word to a broken heart. God’s word which we never realized will reach into our deaf ears. And the “youth groups” that are in question? They always meet outside of Sunday morning services, such as a Sunday evening or mid-week night. Most active youth groups meet more than adult life groups! Would you rather your youth go to the parties I attended on the weekend or to a church youth event? I didn’t think so. Are there “bad” activities going on during church events? Sometimes…for we live in a fallen world. Are there “bad” activities going on during social, non-churched, events? Of this, I can assure you, almost always.

If you want to “fix” our youth, abolishing the group is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Preach to the fathers. Yes, instruct the fathers in how to teach their children. And in all reality, that may fail. Bad stats show somewhere around 50% in the church are divorced/single parent households, where it is more likely around 25-30%…which is still huge no matter how you look at the issue. Embrace those kids, as well as kids whose parents are unchurched. When the fathers are absent, create churches that will hire Youth Pastors and not Youth Directors. Train leaders who will be examples of Jesus to kids. Create an atmosphere where youth have a safe place as they learn to break the parental apron strings and grow into adulthood.

Then, and only then, will you have an explosion of salvation in our youth culture….our future!

God's Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

God’s Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

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The Pain of a Child

We all have our crosses to bear. If your child is perfect, count your blessings and ignore this post. If your child is imperfect, join the crowd. You are one of the gazillion humans who’s beautifully innocent baby evolved into a normal human. Imperfect. Fallible. Normal. So, why are parents everywhere beating themselves up?

Just what is “normal” in our world? I have several friends who have offspring deemed handicapped, or the PC term, special needs. I’ve seen firsthand the agony they feel as they navigate through social barriers. It hurts. It’s not fair. It’s humiliating. But I also see more patience, care, and genuine love from these parents to their special children than from anywhere else.

One time a close friend confided that even though she would never trade her child, she sometimes grieved for a “normal” child. She grieved for the sports that were never played, the parties never attended, and the weddings never planned. She dreamed of having just one day that her child would not embarrass her in public with weird noises and gestures. Just one day where the awkward stares were of jealousy and not disgust. Oh, to have just one day with a “normal” child…

And then there’s my other close friend…the one with the “wild” child. How many times did she get a call in the middle of the night? I watched as she stood in court next to her son, dressed in orange. I would be upset too. I hate orange. It totally washes out my complexion. Orange is only good on a pumpkin…and then only in a pumpkin latte…or pumpkin ice cream…or pumpkin pie…with whipped cream on top. Autumn is the best time of year…the fall color of changing leaves…and pumpkin. Ahhh…

Pumpkins & Mums

Oh yes…back to court…

Can you imagine the pain a mother feels standing with a judge staring down in front and her son’s friends staring from behind? The boy she gave birth to made a few bad choices, yet, society blames the parents. I saw her teach right from wrong. I saw her love. Then I saw the very life she gave turn on her, lie about her, and hate her. My friend always said she did not expect her child to be another Albert Einstein, Peyton Manning, or Brad Pitt, yet, how she longed to have that “normal” child. Just one day where the awkward stares were of jealousy and not disgust. Oh, to have just one day with a “normal” child…

Why do we long for what is not ours to have? We want relief. We want acceptance. These two mommas were human. Just a small longing of a world without the difficulties of life. That’s all it is. But, are we willing to walk the path of those we perceive as normal? I once heard the recount of a musician in a symphony who was sought after by several fans. One commented they would give anything to play as well as the musician, to whom the musician replied, “You can, if you are willing to give up everything to practice sixty hours a week for most of your life.” The fan sadly walked away…not willing to make the same sacrifice.

Would my two friends trade places? Would they be willing to walk in the other’s shoes to have what they deem as normal? I also have friends who have those “perfect” children. For the most part, they cannot relate to parents with difficult children. But, are their lives perfect? Is their world free of difficulty? No. In every case, in every life, drama digs in its evil claws through some small area of their lives. One friend is riddled with financial burdens, while another is plagued with health issues. One friend is aching for the loss of children from a barren womb, while another wrenches from miscarriage. One friend mourns the death of her child from a reckless driver, while another reels from the death of her child from suicide. Would anyone want to trade places with either of those friends? I didn’t think so…

Thanksgiving Holiday can be a very grim time for people in rough situations. How can we be thankful when we face so much adversity? How can we explain the situations we have no control? Why is our pumpkin never a silver-lined coach? Character. Yes, God is building character. Think about it…don’t the best people in life have a trail of tears? It’s been said the biggest problem with the next generation is ingratitude with an entitlement mentality. I believe it. We give trophies for participation. What do they learn? Self. What happens when the pressures of life surround them? And, they will. Most young people crumble. Looking back…I did too. But I got back up. I survived. Experience has a way of not only maturing, but of strengthening.

If I can convey anything in this post…it’s hope. Only when we stop looking at the supposed successes of others will we see our own. We are each unique. We are each made for a different path. Quit longing for someone else’s path. Mow the grass on your side of the fence first. When we realize that God in his great love did not place any greater value on Albert Einstein, Peyton Manning, or Brad Pitt than he did on Jane, Sally, or Mary, then we will appreciate the little “thorns” in our life. For when we look up past our thorns…the rose of God’s love holds us in his palm.

 

Can we be content? Can we be satisfied? Can we be Thankful??

Romans 5.2-5

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Warning! This memory is not for weak stomachs! But there is a point to my drama…

I’ve wanted to get this memory out for three decades. I may lose some weak stomach readers. I may make you laugh. But some stories are epic. And we always wonder…why??

Christmas Vacation ’84. My daughter was 2 ½ (middle of the terrible two’s!), and my twin boys were 9 months. I came down with a 24 hour bug mid-way through our visit, missing out on a whole day of visiting with relatives who only cared about visiting with the grandchildren. It was perfect. Three days later, on our return flight home, we flew out of Chicago where my ex-in-laws traveled the four hour trip to send us off. I guess back then, the tickets were quite a bit cheaper to fly out of Chicago than at a closer airport. Half-way to Chicago, my fastidious daughter declared she was nauseous. The poor thing up-chucked all over the back seat of her grandparents car…spraying vomit on her Grandma! While I was cleaning her up my ex ordered his dad to pull to the side of the road so he could exit the vehicle as he almost lost his innards from the smell. Men usually do have weak stomachs.

The grandparents treated us to lunch at a very nice restaurant in Chicago, and my ex still felt ill. I assumed he was still reeling from the 2 year old’s puke. Regrettably, he waited until we were half way up in the air to decide his innards were not staying inside. The stewardess told him to return to his seat, to which he asked if she wanted him to hurl in the isle. Stepping aside, she let him go to the restroom…during the ascension. I was too busy wrangling three babies by myself to care if he had his seat belt on or dangled out the window! He then continued to vomit throughout the whole flight, using every barf bag on the plane. I wonder how much those lined tiny little bags cost…

About half way home, 40,000 feet or so up in the bright blue sky, my 9 month old decided to get sick…from the other end! Do you know how small those old airplane restrooms are?? There is no imagination wide enough to envision me cleaning diarrhea off a very active baby in an old airplane bathroom!! The toilet water was blue, with no lid, thank you very much. The sink was not large enough to wash hands properly, much less a whole baby. He kicked. It flew. That’s all I am going to say about that. Thank goodness we had baby wipes back then. In case you are wondering, I did leave the tiny restroom sterile, along with his butt.

One more little person to go…

An hour later, back in our seats, on our descent down, I smelled it again. Of course. After all, they are identical twins! We did not have booster seats back then, in the “stone ages”, so he was on the airplane seat. A cloth airplane seat. Now, a wet cloth airplane seat. I would not risk taking my baby to the tiny little restroom due to the plane descending, as most accidents happen on ascent or descent. So the seat got…more…wet.

Oh, the stares…the glares…the rejection! I waited until everyone vamoosed off the plane before grabbing my puking-pooping little family and headed for the nearest airport restroom. Again…there is no imagination wide enough to envision me changing a wiry 9 month old boy on the restroom floor (before the days of baby changing stations) in the Houston International Airport! My good friend who picked us up at the airport stood in front of us with the skirt of her sundress spread wide to keep the onlookers from looking. The midnight travelers were quite entertained…I was simply humiliated so bad I could not stop laughing. We were a first class three-ring circus. If you ever find someone who will live through that kind of smell with you…keep that friend for life!!

Oh…and to top that off…

We finally arrived home, it was midnight, and we had no food in the house due to us being gone the previous week. So after tucking every sick little body in bed, I headed for the store. The only reason I ventured out at 2:00am on that very foggy night was due to having only one vehicle…which my ex took to work every day, leaving me stranded in nowhereville with three babies. I drove to the edge of the neighborhood, about four blocks from home, and the car sputtered and died. Someone had siphoned our gas while we were on vacation! After walking through fog so thick you could cut it with a knife, I woke up my ex, who woke our neighbor back up, who took him to the gas station for gas…and milk.

Three months later…we moved four states away… 🙂

I’ve often wondered why. What possesses a person to endure this kind of drama…and yet, the next morning, hug, hold, kiss, and love the little ones God entrusted us. Motherhood. Hormones. The beauty of creation.

God, in his love, showed me a picture of His love. We puke on our creator, and he still loves us. We poop on his creation, and he still loves us. Yes, human parents are fallible. They screw up. Sometimes big-time. Sometimes, human parents don’t love their children. Sometimes parents physically or emotionally hurt their kids. Yet, God’s parental love is infallible. Perfect. God created the human parent-child love as a glimpse of his love for us. That gives me hope. No matter how far into sin that child (us) falls, God still loves his children. When every relationship on this sin-ravaged planet falls away, our creator God, in his grace, longs for us…for me…for you…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8

 

Three Babies…

Momma & Babies

 

More babies…

Baby Kittens

 

And more babies…

Baby Bunnies

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“You’re a bad mother! But Happy Mother’s Day anyway.”

What does it take to be a good mother? Perfection? And whose perspective of perfection do we strive to achieve? Yours? The Governments? Or possibly, that perfection of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” the church promotes?

We went to the movies this Mother’s Day…and we saw a Mother’s Day movie…just because. Normally, I would only pay money at the theater to see movies where the action is lost on my home TV. But the previews looked pretty good, and I was in the mood to smile. Moms’ Night Out actually made us laugh, relate, laugh, and relate some more! It’s lighthearted fun. Yet, the mainstream criticism hurled at the movie was directed to the mom’s choice of staying at home…and homeschooling. The movie actually celebrates mothers. It has a good plot, good actors, and good quality cinematography, and of course, Trace Adkins stole the show! What’s not to love? Yet, some just had to complain. And complain. And complain some more.

Our culture has reversed. Before the industrial revolution, mothers were ridiculed and condemned for working outside the home. Now…mothers are ridiculed and condemned for staying home…and mothering. When my kids were young, I was pretty good with my replies to belittling questions such as, “What do you do?” followed by blank looks of boredom. Like I actually sat on my derrière all day watching soap operas and eating Bonbons! I was busier during the times I spent my days “playing house” than when I brought home a bona fide paycheck! But our culture does not put great worth in mothers who choose the “old fashioned” life, the “lazy” life, the sacrificial life. So…we leave our children to the arms of another and climb the corporate ladder.

My reply? “I’m a Domestic Engineer and CEO of a corporation responsible for training future agents to aid in our quest for a better society.” I liked it.

Momma's Love Never Ends

I’m not against women working. Sound contradictory?? I occasionally worked. And occasionally…full time. Sometimes it is necessary. But mostly…not. Do we really need the material life? The deciding factor is in the priorities. Proverbs 31 gives a pretty good description of the kind of woman God appreciates. Does she sit at home wasting away? No. Does she shove her husband and children off to build her own empire? No. She works…for her family. Proverbs 30:8 says to give me neither riches nor poverty. Balance and priorities…lost treasured words.

So, does being a stay-at-home mom always produce perfect little adults? No. Though time proves most healthy adults are produced from solid, secure childhoods with one parent who is a “constant” in the child’s life. Thus, the biggest reason divorce is so destructive to the family. Divorce automatically creates a single parent home. Yet, there are no guarantees. I have often seen good kids come out of bad homes and bad kids come out of good homes.

Part of the degradation of the stay-at-home mom is a longing for control of our children. If our children are placed in the hands of outsiders, we have lost our future. And the societal parent-bashing begins. Do parents really know best? Have you watched TV lately? In the past decade? The parent in our society has been dubbed the recipient of demeaning jokes, especially the father. Parental rights are diminishing. Even our president has turned over to the “experts” teaching his daughters the century old art of driving a car. One of my fondest memories is the day my dad took me to the local race track when I was only 14 and let me have the wheel. Oh sure, the track was closed, and we were in an empty parking lot so it wasn’t as exciting as actually driving on the track, but I was with my dad. Who do we want our kids to look back and remember being by their side throughout their childhood?

When normal childhood problems arise, do we help or hinder?

Our society claims bad behavior is the parents’ fault. We are masters at blame-shifting. If we take responsibility for our actions, we may be right…but we may also be wrong. Blame-shifting our problem on others is a characteristic rooted in pride. And that pride thingy won’t allow us to be wrong! But, shifting personal responsibility from children to those in authority is inadvertent control. When we cannot control ourselves, we attempt to control others. Parental boundaries are crossed…by our family, our friends, and especially by our government. Our over-reaching government seeks to eliminate families altogether. I see headlines almost daily reporting on parents being threatened with their child’s removal from their home from a child service worker on a witch hunt. The most effective wave today is through medical blackmail.

Everyone, especially our government, seems to know what’s best for little Johnny…disregarding the very people who brought him into the world. Authority bashing becomes fair game. So little Johnny grows up lacking in allegiance to family…his allegiance is transferred to self, and anyone who can fill his desires.

Global Warming? Terrorism? Natural Disasters? No…the greatest threat to our country is the breakdown of the family. When parental boundaries are crossed, whether it be by a relative, teacher, or the government, the child formulates a belief that their parents’ values are worthless. This belief eventually spills over into their remaining authority figures. Our court systems and jails are full of those who believe they are above the law, those who believe they are wiser than the learned, and therefore, they are unlearned. Stats show that more than 80% of inmates come from broken homes. We have more laws on the books than ever in our history, and our country is more incarcerated than any other on the planet. Morality cannot be legislated.

What about those closer to home that cause division in our homes? Not only do we have our government interfering in our families, we have school teachers, physicians, and yes…relatives.

The popular philosophy of parent-bashing hits all levels of society. Parent-bashing is a phenomenon that reverberates not only from rebellious child to parent, but from parent to child to grandchild…even in the most of subtle ways. Grand-parenting is easy. You load them up with hugs, love, and send them home. Right? Except sometimes, the love is self-promoting, placing the grandparent over the parent and thereby dividing the parental relationship. Little Johnny brings home a horrible grade in school due to his homework negligence…and Grandpa tells him to ignore Mommy’s reprimand because Mommy made bad grades too. Little Susie insists on attending a party with very questionable characters, and when Daddy says no, Grandma pulls in the drive to give her a ride. And what disciplines does little Johnny learn? What character trait does little Susie pick up?

I have seen whole families torn apart, separated, and divorced due to a grandparent or two who insist on being the primary love in the child’s life. Jesus said, “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” And he says in the last days, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Unfortunately, I have seen this in my lifetime. People do not put others above themselves. I have seen grandparents lie to and about their own children, turning the family against them in order to take control of their grandchildren, so that the grandparent will be the center of their grandchild’s world. Lies disintegrates trust that takes a lifetime to rebuild. Grandparents remove personal responsibility from the grandchildren and blame-shift on the generation caught in-between. If that interfering grandparent were an exemplary parent themselves, there would be no need to interfere in the parent/child relationship, for the parent would automatically be a great parent. If the grandparent does not agree with the parenting philosophy of their own children, maybe they should realize that they were the very people who raised the parents, and may not be qualified to give unwarranted advice! The presence, influence, and mentor-ship of the extended family, especially the grandparents, are very important and imperative in the development of children, but never to the extent of over-ruling the parent. Grand-Parental interference not only will destroy the parent/child relationship, left unchecked, it will destroy the whole family.

One of the best books I have read on the role of a grandparent is: A Call to Grandparenting, by Mark Adcock which celebrates the role of the grandparent. Again…it boils down to balance.

Sadly, many divorced parents lie and brainwash their children against their ex, severing their child’s relationships with the other parent, usually the father, out of jealousy and revenge, especially if the ex has remarried. These interferences cause years of broken relationships…and since God is a God of Justice…the damage done eventually and always will backfire. Eventually children grow up and most of the time will figure out where the lies lie. The anger and rejection grown children felt against the parent who was lied about will then transfer to the parent/grandparent behind the lies. And sadly, without forgiveness, more broken relationships ensue. Maybe we would not have as many broken relationships if we took to heart Jesus’ words to heart; “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Encouraging a child to turn against a parent for your own benefit, to hold them closer to you, is causing a little one to sin. Period.

Most people don’t realize that even God taught each person is responsible for their own sin and their own actions. If we continually enable our children to escape responsibility for their actions, how will they ever come to the place where they realize they need forgiveness? If we do not teach our children proper authority structure in the home, how will they learn to respect outside authority? If we turn our children against a parent to benefit ourselves, how will they learn structure? Even atheists believe there is structure in nature. Without structure, children do not learn respect for others, which leads to self-centered lives, which leads to an “anything goes” morality, which finally leads to chaos and death.

No one describes the pain of broken relationships better than Rich Mullins in his song: We are not as strong as we think we are…

Rich Mullins Songs

Now, what do the above paragraphs have to do with complaints about mothers not working outside of the home? It’s all in the priorities and the covenant of the nuclear family. The big question is; what does it look like to selflessly want the best for others, especially our children? How do we show unselfish love? Most of the time, it means simply to mind our own business! From our government all the way down to our relatives. When we only take responsibility for that which is our responsibility, not only will our lives be more peaceful, but our relationships with others will be richer. Most of the time, this philosophy requires a dose of common sense. Naturally, if you see physical abuse, you need to step forward and intervene. But, most of the time, divisions in families are caused by selfishness in those who are determined to control others. When little Johnny or little Susie have an issue, step back and let the parent be a parent first. Your grandchildren, students, citizens will respect you more if they have their root in the parent-bond.

Let us put some order back into our society.

Let’s let the parent be the parent.

Let’s stop demoralizing moms who need to work outside the home.

Let’s stop making working mothers feel guilty if they have no choice.

But, let us take a look at what materially we can do without to be the one our kids will remember by their side.

Let’s all stop equating stay-at-home moms to old-fashioned ignorance.

Let’s all stop degrading those who want to raise their kids in a two-parent, stay-at-home mom, type family. Can we respect their choice?

Can we celebrate motherhood?

Holly & Mommy Easter 1985

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Home That Love Built

A little story about my ancestors…

Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me!

As a child, Bethany Children’s Home deep in the back hills of Kentucky left an indelible impression on me. Nestled in the bottom land by Holly Creek, the first sight looked like a brilliant painting by Thomas Kinkade. The Appalachian Mountains protected the home from modern civilization. Magnificent, aged trees hovered as angels spreading their wings. The only clearings were the fields on the farms, and the hillside where the old buildings seemed to harmonize with nature.

Living in the city, I rarely had the opportunity to breathe in the air God created our lungs to inhale. The aroma of huge oak, beech, cedar, and pine trees mixed with the tickling of the dust from the dirt road steadily lifted the soul. Pennyroyals and goldenrod lined the road creating a natural landscape along the curb of the forest. I often miss the simple beauty of a landscape created by God alone. A city offers neat little houses lined up in perfect rows. Shrubs, trees, plants, and flowers are precisely placed within utopian gardens. While the perfect houses and the precise gardens are charming, nothing compares with the picturesque beauty of nature.

With scarcely a motor vehicle traveling back and forth, we could hear only the sound of nature. Maple, hickory and walnut leaves played their stringed instruments in the wind. Cardinals sang harmony and mockingbirds sang backup. A woodpecker led the percussion. Only the fighting of my siblings interrupted the earthly orchestra.

Throughout time, Bethany Children’s Home, a place we call Bethany, seemed unchanged. The plain, wood buildings always needed paint. An old windowless, three-room, two-story log cabin was on the property when a local man donated the land in 1926. It stood silently still. The original wooden church burnt to the ground before I was born; therefore, they built the new church of cement blocks. No steeple stood on top of the church, just a small wooden cross on the front attic roof. Sounds from the “Liberty” bell in front of the church called all to worship. The two-story dorms were endlessly long. They reminded me of old government apartment buildings. Several smaller buildings just as dilapidated as the first, were scattered on the hillside. The home began with only three little orphaned girls. Known as “The Bethany Orphanage” in 1926, in just a few short years, by 1956 the home gained a Board of Trustees and became “Bethany Children’s Home, Inc.” The home was started by three women : Marjorie Burt and Laura Wendland, missionaries at the Free Methodist Mission at Oakdale, Kentucky. They were joined by Lina Miller (from the Chicago Evangelistic Institute class of 1924, Miss Burt’s Alma Mater), who resigned her position in the office of a business firm in Dixon, Illinois to join her two friends in the bottom land of Holly Creek with nothing but a dream, a prayer, and a miracle.

I visited the home as a child and Great-great-aunt Mildred was the first to greet us. Great-grandma Frantz was waiting anxiously in the background. I never fully appreciated the sisters. As any child would, I only saw them as old. Born in 1896 and 1898, respectively, they wore the dress of spinsters. Their gray hair projected a crown of righteousness. Thick glasses kept secret the direction of dissenting looks. When Aunt Mildred welcomed us, her voice was not a loud voice, yet she commanded attention. Great-grandma Frantz had a quieter nature about her, yet she never went unheard.

Aunt Mildred had an abundance of spirited energy. Always working, she expected an equivalent effort from others as well. She gave orders with an air of sternness, apparent even when she smiled. A well-deserved air of authority emanated from Aunt Mildred. The children knew, in her devoted manner, she loved them deeply. Somehow, through her gruff exterior, she obviously loved her stature in life. Called to the mission field by God, she originally set her sights on India. Aunt Mildred graduated from Asbury University in 1925, and subsequently began nurse’s training at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through a series of events, she left Ohio and arrived at Bethany on March 29, 1927, the year after its conception. There she stayed; a towering rock that helped build Bethany Children’s Home. Nearly sixty years later, her declining health forced her to move in with my grandparents in 1983, just before her death in 1986. Her primary position was a school teacher and nurse. She became the first clerk at the Bethany Post Office on July 28, 1928; Acting Postmaster in 1950; and Postmaster, April 19, 1951, maintaining that position until May 31, 1970. During her nearly sixty years at the orphanage, as a pioneer nurse she delivered 267 babies without a doctor being on the case at the time of delivery. Aunt Mildred never married. The orphanage became her mission…and her family.

Quite a bit shorter than her older sister, great-grandma walked with a limp, crippled from polio as a child. Deep down inside this quiet spirit lay a gentle sense of humor. During evening assembly, great-grandma acted out one of her many readings. They were always funny, and some were quite ornery for a conservative great-grandmother. I enjoyed her peaceful demeanor, but being an inquisitive child, I eventually ran off to find some adventure of my own.

In the dining hall, everyone ate on long tables with a staff member on the end of each. That was quite an experience. They always expected proper manners from the children. The food was home-grown, and the milk was fresh from the cow. I didn’t care for the vegetables, but I always begged for more fresh, raw milk. The flavor was sweet and strong, a very different flavor from a city, store-bought milk. Great-grandma packed a jug for our trip home, just for me. My most memorable time came on a walk across the road to the farm which supplied most of the food and milk for the orphanage. Being from the city, I was unaware of the shock I would receive when I unconsciously grasped the electric fence to aid my hike up the hill. While I was listening to the bellowing cows, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker in the Forrest, I suddenly found my backside in the middle of the dirt road! While the laughter flowed easily from the children, aside from my embarrassment, I sensed an air of contentment.

Great-grandma spent most of her days running the used clothing store. An old tin building, it was more of a shack that reeked with the aroma of moth balls. All the clothes at the home were donated by outsiders. The staff rationed the children out what they needed, and the children could buy extras with money they earned from chores. My mother gave us spending money to buy items in the store, not because we needed any clothes, but as a means to help support the children’s home. Great-grandma always smiled and patted our heads, as older people do, when we gave her the money for our purchase.

Through her peaceful spirit, given to her by God himself, it was apparent Great-grandma’s life had not been easy. She was young when she married. While pregnant with her second child, my great-grandfather left. No one ever saw him again, except in the features of the two children he left behind. After living at Bethany for a school year in 1927, she returned to her parents in March of 1928 to East Liverpool, Ohio to have help in raising my grandmother and her brother. During that winter, it was not unusual for them to find streaks of snow across the bed clothing in the morning, after a night of snow that had blown through the cracks in the walls of the side room that had been added to the store where they lived. Great-grandma visited often, and in 1939, she returned to Bethany to take care of the Home Girls and was in charge of the used clothing store until her death in 1977, thirty-eight years later. Great-Grandma never remarried, finding contentment in her position at Bethany and the many children she cared for. My Grandma loved Bethany so much she actually sent my dad and his two siblings to live with Great-Grandma and Great-Aunt Mildred at Bethany for three years in the late 40’s to attend school while Grandpa worked out west, giving three generations to have lived in the bottom land by Holly Creek.

Unwanted children…that’s what they called them. I never thought of my newfound friends in that regard. We played on the large iron swings, and ran through the fields just the same as my friends at home. The children were loved and well adjusted, a far cry from the horror stories about orphanages in the media today. I remember stories of the mountaineers leaving children to the door of the orphanage during the night, especially during the depression years. They had no means of feeding their families, yet loved their children and wanted for them a better life. At the orphanage, instead of a mountain shack, they were placed under a roof with heat on their feet. The children were fed, schooled, and definitely loved.

I have not returned to the tranquil valley in the Appalachians since the sisters passed away. Often, I consider taking my own children to the place which holds a few very dear memories for me. They need to experience the natural tranquility of the bottom land near Holly Creek, to experience the joy of giving love to those who have so much to give back. I cannot give this priceless heritage to my children for the Bethany Children’s Home we knew no longer exists. Government red tape forced the orphanage to close in the 1980’s. The home then became a private Christian school in 1986, leaving the mountaineers to fend for themselves or depend on government handouts. My children will see the orphanage only through my eyes when I reminisce on my own experience. I often wonder, since Great-grandma is gone, since Aunt Mildred is gone, and since the home where so much love abounded is gone, who will take care of the orphans?

My Dad, Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me! @ Bethany Children’s Home.

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