And When They Are Old

This time of year, my mind always goes back home. It’s this time of year that I became an orphan. No. I wasn’t a child. Or a teenager. I was a self-supporting, happily married adult. And I still am. But seven years ago this week, my mother passed away unexpectedly. And eleven short days later, my father passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them.

No. We weren’t expecting to lose our parents so close together. It was unplanned. Unexpected. Unwanted. But there it was. And we were left reeling in grief. We had two parents to bury and one farm to sell. The sale was bittersweet but necessary.

My parents taught their seven kids about God. They loved God and lived for him. They taught us by example. No. They weren’t perfect, but they were godly.

Every night before bedtime, we gathered in the living room. My dad pulled out the old Bible story book and read us a story. Straight from the Bible. Then we knelt to pray. One night, my dad would lead in prayer. And then the family would recite the Lord’s prayer. The next night my mom would lead in prayer.

I can picture my dad sitting in his office each morning reading his Bible and spending time with God. I can see him preparing his Sunday School lessons. I remember seeing him writing his tithe checks. I can still hear my mother, through the closed door, praying for each of her kids by name during her morning devotions. I remember the day that my mom asked me, after I returned home from youth camp, if I had asked Jesus into my heart. I remember the day she suggested that I start having daily devotions. She was interested in making sure I had a close relationship with God. Both of my parents were.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I have lived faithfully for God ever since I asked Jesus into my heart as a child. I have read the Bible from cover to cover. I spend time in prayer. That’s what my parents taught me, and that’s what they did. I don’t do it to be like them, although they were good Christian examples. I read my Bible and pray so I can become more like my Savior, Jesus Christ.

My parents had their own personal relationships with God. Now I too have my own relationship with Him. My prayer is that my parent’s prayers and teaching will be honored by my faithful life. But my relationship with God is my own to develop and grow and maintain. I can’t expect their faith to save me. I must have my own faith.

My parents taught me well. Their godly example is stamped on my memory. I want to be like them. But, more than ever, I want to be like Jesus. They led me in the way I should go, so now that I’m older I won’t forget it. Their biblical lifestyle and teaching has led me down the path of godliness. I hope my life would make them proud. But at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be their approval that I seek. I seek only to know and be known by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now as I’m getting older, I find that I want others to see Jesus in me. I want others to see that my life lines up with the biblical teaching of my parents. I want others to see that I faithfully follow and serve Jesus Christ. Make no mistake. It’s a daily decision to follow God. I have to make the choice for myself to live a holy life. I can’t piggyback my faith off of my parent’s faith. My faith is my own. My faith is my responsibility. My parents were my teachers and mentors. Oh. Let all who come behind us find us faithful.

Thinking of Home

I think of home this time of year.  The home where I grew up.  The home of my childhood.  Oh.  It’s no longer my home.  I’m rarely in the area, but when I drive by it even looks different.  New owners.  New look.  New traditions.  New memories.  It’s no longer home for me.

But I like to remember when it was.

I remember mornings when our entire family would sit around the breakfast table.  Mother would make homemade hot chocolate and toast for breakfast.  On the rare occasion, we would have donuts from the bakery. Mother would buy glazed donuts.  There were no fancy donuts back then. Glazed are still my favorite.

I remember working in the garden in the summertime.  We would plant long rows of green beans.  Tomatoes.  Corn.  Cucumbers.  Lettuce.  Peppers. It was hard work, but it was worth it.  I say that now.  Back then, I would have given anything to get out of doing all that work.

Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

I remember the summer evenings.  We would sit outside with the radio in the window listening to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  We kids would play softball.  Until the year that our parents planted sweet gum trees in our yard turned softball field.  Now forty some years later, those trees are full grown.  I wonder if they’re still there.

Oh.  I remember the year my dad planted a row of pear trees.  He loved pears and was hoping for a bumper crop.  When the trees eventually produced fruit, someone would always steal them.  But oh.  He loved his pears.

Saturday mornings were spent cleaning the house and baking desserts for Sunday.  That was the girls’ chores.  The boys were out working with the pigs.  Sunday was our day of rest.  Our Sabbath.  Oh.  The boys still fed the pigs.  But we went to church.  Sunday afternoon was nap time for the family.  Odd sounding these days.  But what I wouldn’t give for another Sunday nap. Then back to church for another service.

We always got to choose what kind of birthday cake we wanted. There were no store bought cakes for our family.  My mom made her cakes from scratch.  Carrot cake. Red velvet.  Italian cream.  German chocolate.  Chocolate sheet cake.  Her cakes were out of this world.  What I wouldn’t give for one of them for my birthday this year.  Summer birthdays didn’t require a birthday cake.  Oh.  There was a choice.  My dad and brother always asked for a watermelon instead.  Who knew that birthday candles fit nicely on a watermelon.

The living room was a sacred place come nighttime.  Daddy would call us into the living room, so we could have family devotions.  He would read a Bible story and then we would pray together.  Every night before bed.  I love that memory.

These scenes from my childhood are imprinted on my heart and mind.  For that I am thankful.