I’ve come to learn that it really does take a village to raise a child. In fact, my dad and mom always said that their “success” in parenting really had more to do with the people they surrounded us with than anything they did. Not sure if I completely agree (I think they made some right choices along the way). Either way, they were certainly onto something. When I look back on my childhood I can remember the missionaries, the pastors, the small group leaders, the coaches of high character and integrity that surrounded my upbringing. It’s not surprising that all of us “children” grew up to serve God in various ways in full-time vocational ministry.
The adults in out lives were more than just friends. They were more than just people to hangout with and friends to have near while we tried to “survive the troubles of life”. They were influences. They were partners in parenting and childrearing.
Our life was not easy. We had struggles like every other family. We had times when we had “enough” and there were times when we struggled financially. There were times of health and times of sickness. Throughout my childhood, my parents kept the main thing the main thing. They raised us kids with a purpose in life that was beyond ourselves. It was beyond the “typical”. They raised us with the belief that God was calling us to more. He was preparing and leading us to make a difference in this world… to offer hope to people who were far from Him.
Aime and I are right in the middle of raising our six kids. They range from a senior in High School to kindergarten. We’re trying hard to surround them with key influences… people with strong character and an outspoken call on their life to make a difference. Sometimes this means we have to make the tough choices to change these influences by changing where we spend our time. These choices can be tough in the moment, but we’re banking on it paying out in the long run.
So, just a challenge here –
Who do you choose to surround your children? What kinds of people have influence in their life? What things are they striving after?
These are important questions because chances are …
Your kids just might grow up to look like them as much as they will you.
Feeling lost as a parent? Looking for a way to discover the purpose for your family? Wanting to establish family values, set goals, or just need a tool to help you keep the main thing the main thing?
We’ve got it for you (Right Here)
A few days ago (April 16), my wife and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary… of our first date. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m one of those guys who remember obscure anniversary like that. I remember it like it was yesterday. Oh, not just because I was finally going out with Aime Johnson. I remember it because we had to end it short so that I could go to the hospital to see my twin brother after he had a bad pole vaulting accident. As a matter of fact, my buddy J.T. took her home and spent the evening with her. Lucky for me, J.T. was a good guy and one I could trust otherwise it could have been our 1st and last date.
My wife and I dated from the time she was just sixteen and a Junior in High School until we we engaged on her eighteenth birthday and married six months later (she was eighteen and I was twenty).
When you marry young like us you get the advantage of growing up together. To be honest, I have a hard time thinking about my life before my wife, because there really wasn’t much life before her. Eighteen years seems like a long time until you’re pushing forty. Every year since the first year of marriage, I’ve asked myself the question:
What do I want to be when I grow up?
That seemed like such a tough question at twenty. There were so many possibilities. My resume’ had everything on it from a Degree in Bible, to a vast array of coaching experiences, to a license to drive a M113 tank from serving in the Army National Guard as a TOW missile gunner.
So what was it going to be? A pastor? A missionary? A mercenary for hire? I had no idea.
At first, the decisions of life and work were easy. Just do what ever you can to make enough money to pay the bills. If the bills were paid, then your family would be taken care of and everything else would fall into place. So that’s what we did. I worked as a hardware rep. for my uncle for many years. I was also a part-time Youth Pastor at my Grandma’s church. I coached 3 seasons of sports at a local school, worked production line at my in-laws. I even went as far as buying and selling artwork on this new website called eBay, and built custom-made barn wood entertainment centers and tables and sold them at flea markets. You name it, I did it. Whatever it took.
Ok, this is the first post I’ve written out of pain. I’m not speaking metaphorically. I’m not talking about my inner emotional pain or turmoil, or anything like like that. I’m talking about a “bite on the stick, cold sweat, rip the head off a stuffed animal” kind of pain. Thursday, I had surgery on my ankle. For those of you who really know me, you know that I have had weak ankles all my life.
I remember in high school, twisting my ankle after coming up a little too short in my pole-vaulting attempt at 14 feet. Ouch. I’ve twisted it on all-weather tracks, wrestling mats, in the woods, and even mowing the lawn. Just a few years ago I twisted it at work in Indiana causing it to swell to a rather abnormally huge size. I’ve twisted my ankle at least once a week for at least twenty years. And come to find out… I’ve broken my ankle twice and have torn all the exterior ligaments. Ouch, ouch!
So now here I sit on day three (said to be the most painful day of recovery) in my bed wishing the pain away. Do you know what the hardest thing about this is? A few days ago, my ankle felt fine! That’s right…fine! I didn’t have this surgery to stop immediate pain or to get me back on my feet again. Nope, this surgery was to correct the reoccurring problem (sprains, twists, and breaks) at the root cause.
A few weeks ago, Stephen Burks, a good friend and colleague of mine told me about a gift that he gave his wife. In my opinion… it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever!
Here’s a little of his story from his own words.
“I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” – Psalm 119
I remember so vividly the moment I gave up. My father lay dying down the hall and my family had gathered for a week of goodbyes and great Southern cooking. I was standing in the kitchen when somebody said, “it’s hard to grieve and worry about eating healthy too.” That was October 23, 2007.
From that moment on my health declined and my weight increased as my life grew very, very complicated. I conveniently used my trials as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Extra responsibilities at church . . . “I’ll take a cheese burger.”
Wayward teenager at home . . . “I’ll have that with fries.”
Child with special needs . . . “I’ll have the vanilla malted.”
Seven years, a number of trials and one hundred-plus pounds after that fateful day I experienced another “moment” – a divine lightening bolt really. In an instant I was made painfully aware of my own pathetic excuses and I was finally sick and tired of hearing myself make them. Let me describe the scene:
Dining room table celebration of my 26th wedding anniversary.
Two out of my three kids were there along with my wife.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Specifically, the Five “Love Languages” are:
Here’s the thing. Years ago my wife and I took the Love Languages quiz and dissevered our top Love Language. Yesterday we re-took the test and discovered that our Love Language has changed slightly. You see, your Love Language is somewhat dynamic. After seventeen years of marriage and six kids our needs have changed slightly… or a lot.
How about you? What’s your Love Language? Do you know it? More importantly, what’s your spouses Love Language.
Bonus: We had our kids take the test too and we were a little surprised with a couple of their results. Kinda important to tell your kids you love them. More importantly… you want them to feel your love.