If you’re like me, you can think of a million things you’d like to have time to do. Worthwhile things, too. I’d like to learn to play a musical instrument, be more involved in politics, be more active in my church, and read a lot of good books. (Some of which have been on my shelf for years). Many times, I’ve thought how I could improve myself if I only had time. But God reminds me that He is improving me through the very common responsibilities that I think are keeping me from my chosen pursuits.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what challenges, responsibilities and opportunities to bring into our lives as He builds a life curriculum for each of us. It is when we kick against the pricks and are constantly looking for something else more fulfilling that we miss fulfillment. I used to think that I was wasting my potential by not being in a full-time ministerial position. These days, I’m coming to see that there’s no more important ministry than the stewardship of little lives. We moms and dads hold the keys to future generations. We mustn’t get bogged down in the daily grind and forget to smell the roses, on one hand, and revel in the prospect of future achievement on the other.
There will be different seasons in the lives of our children, we’ve found. There was a time when we were living in our little yellow house in Concord and had two, then three, then four little boys. I was young and eager, wanting to get into full-time ministry work and leaving no stone unturned looking for God’s big opportunity for me. I was eager to get into the Lord’s work and out of painting. My wife stuck close to her home and children while my eyes were on the ends of the earth.
In the early days of our parenthood, it sometimes seemed that life would go on forever as it was going then. We’d never have any money, we’d never have a child who was old enough to babysit, we’d never have air conditioning. I was so tense as a young man that I made life harder for myself and those around me.
I’ve heard Marilyn say that when she had three children, life was tougher than it was with eight because when she had only three, there were no big helpers. Two were in diapers, and Rickey was a bundle of energy. Now, of course, we have some good help trained and that is a blessing, but the extra needs of the family are felt, too. It takes a tremendous expenditure of time, finances and effort to do what we do.
But by now we know that it won’t always be this way. There may be tougher times with a sick child or persecution such as when we were in court over home education. And there will almost certainly be easier times, too, when more of our children are mature teens and ready to carry their own weight and somebody else’s, too. All we know for sure is that everything that comes to pass, passes.
*We are starting a new ongoing series of posts…Family Memories…where we will share with you some of our favorite memories and stories from our family through the years. Having 14 children, you can be sure we have collected books and books- worth of stories worth sharing! I sure do love my family. And I hope you’ll enjoy reminiscing with us throughout these posts……
This first story is about a night where the call to protect my family knocked at my door. It definitely sent shivers down my spine!…..
The Night Our Dog Saw a Man In Our Yard.
It was late on a cold and snowy winter night that I was awakened by my dog’s insistent barking. The family had had a full and busy day; snowstorms aren’t frequent in our part of Virginia and one that dumps enough snow to play in is always welcome….for the children, that is.
On this particular day, the boys had enjoyed the white stuff to the fullest. There had been rides on the toboggan, courtesy of Daisy Belle, my faithful Bloodhound who didn’t mind being harnessed to the sled as long as she had me run beside her for company. We’d enjoyed snowball fights, built a snowman and eaten snow ice cream. Bedtime had come and we had all been ready.
But now my sleep was interrupted by Daisy with her barking. And it wasn’t normal barking. Daisy had different tones of voice for a variety of occasions, and I could usually tell right away whether she was challenging another dog, a human intruder, or trying to get the attention of someone in the house to order room service. This bark, delivered in the funny, baying tones of the Bloodhound sounded like her people bark but something was different. I lay listening for a minute trying to wake up enough to figure it out. What was she doing out of her kennel behind the storage shed? And what was that strange sound of doubt in her bark? She sounded uncertain somehow, not quite confident as she usually was when she accosted a stranger.