Family Thoughts

Family Thoughts13 Jul 2006 03:37 pm

Over the last months some of my prayer requests have sounded more like begging or nagging.

Last week I was listening to Dr Stanley talk about Faith, and his first message point was assurance – the confidence that God would answer a prayer. Pray and ask God for his help, then take confidence that he would respond. It might be in his time, it might be no, but God would respond. That message really touched my heart and was something I needed to hear.

Later in the weekend April mentioned that she had heard Dr Stanley preaching about faith, and how it had affected her. God was reinforcing the message for us to strengthen our faith.

Family Thoughts20 Feb 2006 10:56 pm

A bitter winter wind, blows across the mist covered cemetary. The green tent of the funeral home stands guard over the freshly turned earth. A row of oak and hickory trees marks the edge of the cemetary.  Along the fence, a dogwood, has begun to bloom, tricked by the recent warm weather into an early arrival. Winter, in its icy grip, can still show its power; the temperatures now in the low thirties. Yet, the bleakness of this day, and the solemn procession of the mourners are betrayed by the warmth of the memories of this place.

The old country church, with the gravel parking lot stands watch, just as it has done for years. We have visited this place often; more often than we would wish. We came to remember Uncle Edward, and Mammaw Butler.  Some call it the old home place. Years have passed, and most have moved away, yet still we come together on sad occasions, and we see faces that remind us that, although we may leave this place, this place will never leave us.

As I pass Mammaw’s tombstone, a tear escapes my eyes, not in sorrow or in loss, but a tear of thanksgiving, for having known this remarkable woman. I take a rough count of the headstones as I walk, maybe 80, maybe 100 people. Many of these people are members of the family.

I turn and look at the procession. I see the faces of my cousins, my aunts, and close family friends. And while we came today to mourn a loss, we also glory in the reunion of the family. My cousin Walter, whose sister we now grieve, put it best in his remarks: We thank God for this place, and for this family and we should seek to enjoy our time together and be happy.

And as the rain began to fall harder, and the funeral broke up, I smiled and thanked God for this old home place.

Encouragement and Family Thoughts05 Feb 2006 01:12 pm

We have been working on a pinewood derby car, and when I say we, I mean of course me. It has been a frustrating experience, which when coupled with our previous pinewood derby history (we have mostly ran in the bottom 10% of the cars), left us with a general unease in the pursuit of this car. Rather than a bright, shiny finish, Thomas’s car would be a pale shade of green, which had been the color of a bathroom in a house some years ago. When I accidentally sliced a gash in the side of the car after it had been painted, it became character, not a mortal flaw for which it could not leave the house, nevertheless race. Our accepted motto this year had become – “Well, we can’t do much worse than last year”. But this was Thomas’s last race, and we still hoped that he would place.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the race. At the pre race weigh in, we had ran a respectable race, and the starter commented that the car looked fast. Like Charlie Brown waiting for Lucy to pull the football back, we took a careful wait and see attitude. On the way to the race, Thomas asked if he could pray, and he prayed a sweet prayer. Let his car do well, and he would love to place, and if he couldn’t then could one of his friends. No doubt there were lots of prayers being issued from cars yesterday by 8,9,10 and 11 year old boys.

I should point out that the other boys cars were amazing. Not only were they bright and shiny, but they looked like they were fast. It was as if they looked on the pale green wedge shaped car with disdain. “You cannot keep up with me, ugly green car” they seemed to say. We had our eggs solidly in the performance basket, for their would be no design prize today. Mom and Dad came, despite my Dad feeling sick. He must have felt as green inside, as Thomas’s car.

When Thomas’s car ran in the fourth race for the Webelos, he won first place. I liked to have fell out of my chair. Thomas meanwhile was estatic, but quick to compliment his fellow racers. After four years of slow cars, Thomas is a model sportsman when it came to losing. I was proud of how he showed himself as a winner. Thomas’s car raced 7 more times, and he won a total of four races, and placed second on four more occasions. Each time he raced though, his car was right in the thick of things, just barely getting inched out.

After the race when the finishers were being announced, Thomas was announced as Third place. We were thrilled. Long forgotten were the hurt feelings, as well as the piles of sawdust on the porch. Thomas had a winning car. His smile was worth every ounce of work we had put into the race. The years of slow cars, and disappointing finishes gave way to a smile that said in the end, it was worth the price.

A committe gathered at the scorers table, and immediately, I felt like Lucy had just yanked the football, and we were in that small sliver of time between knowing that we cannot miss, and coming to realize that in just a moment we are on our back with everyone laughing. Instead the committe had reviewed the scores, and Thomas had won second place. In the end, his car had been more consistent.

Reflecting on this day, I had so many glimpes of lessons from God. Hope to keep trusting Gods promises, the patience to be consistent in my daily walk, the joy God must feel at our happiness, and the true importance of our time were just a few of my observations.

Thank you God for loving me enough to teach me important lessons, and for the joy and love of a little boy, to share it with. Thank you God for loving parents who shared these same lessons with me years ago.

Encouragement and Family Thoughts01 Feb 2006 05:31 pm

Thomas and I spent last night working on his pinewood derby car. Well, I did. Thomas and I were at loggerheads almost from the moment that I got home. “Clean up the dishes” I said. “blah, blah, blah blah” he heard. “Feed Lucky” I said. “Blah blah” he heard. Finally I got fed up, and sent him to bed around, oh 6:30pm.

Thomas has a wonderful way of apologizing when he has messed up, and last night while on our way to Home Depot, (yeah he went to bed for all of about 3 minutes) he said “Dad, I’m sorry”. “Sorry for what” I pushed. “Anything that I did or might do over the next hours” he said. That was priceless.

Thomas’s response is sort of like my prayers sometimes: God forgive me if I have done anything wrong, and kinda keep an eye out because I feel like I am gonna mess up here soon. I am so glad that God is a more loving and patient father than I am.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Matthew 7:9-11

Family Thoughts03 Jan 2006 10:32 pm

On January 1 2006, I watched as my son and daughter were baptized. The baptism service at the start of the new year, was a way to show their rebirth. The events which surrounded the baptism, and the service which followed, have pushed me to start this site. Let me explain.

Thomas and Elisabeth, our twin children were born in Knoxville Tennessee in 1994. Through the years, work and life had taken us from Knoxville to Abingdon, Virginia and finally to Brandon Mississippi. The move to Brandon was tough on the kids, as they were fourth graders when they entered the school system here, and because they moved from a school of approximately 100 children per grade, to a school with approximately 350 per grade.

Last summer the children went to summer camp with our church, and they both accepted Christ as their savior. This was an exciting time for April and I as parents, as we have seen the kids mature so much in the last years. Thomas and Elisabeth are both great kids, well mannered and the like, but their salvation brought a change that was noticeable. Both children showed more caring, and both were more aware of their witness to others.

Our church held a membership information class, over the course of several weeks in the fall, and baptism was scheduled for a week before Thanksgiving. We had planned a visit to Knoxville to see friends, and were out of town that weekend.

Simultaneous to the camps and classes, the church was losing it’s senior pastor to retirement. Brother Gene who had been the pastor for many years was retiring to pursue a mission ministry. The church had identified a new pastor, and he was coming to speak the weekend we were headed to Knoxville. Little did we know, that we would pass him on I 59, somewhere in Alabama, his source Knoxville and his destination Brandon. Brother Scott was called practically unanimously, and would start during the Christmas season.

Two additional baptisms that were scheduled before Pastor Gene left were cancelled, and Elisabeth especially was disappointed, as she was excited about being baptized. When we received the letter about baptism on the first, it just seemed as though it would be a great fit.

Brother Scott noted the irony in the fact that the first person he should baptize in Brandon, was someone born in Knoxville. “Born in Knoxville, reborn in Brandon” he said. Indeed.

For a couple of kids who still identify the mountains of East Tennessee as home, Brother Scott’s words, and encouraging sermon brought a sense of acceptance, and comfort.