- What are your three greatest needs as a parent right now?
- Are you and your spouse parenting as a team?
- In what way does your spouse help make you a better parent?
- What similarities do you see between how you are raising your children and how your parents raised you?
- In what areas of parenting do you and your spouse agree? In what areas do you differ? How much of barrier does that create between you and your spouse? Is it a balance and strength or a source of conflict?
- Have you examined yourself to see if there are any inconsistencies between what you say and how you live out your faith?
- How often do you sit at your table and eat family meals together? What kind of conversations takes place when you do?
- What do you think it would take to initiate a time of family worship/devotions that everyone could take part in?
- In what ways are you teaching God’s principles to your children?
- Do your children know what your boundaries are for them and why those particular boundaries are important?
- Are you involved in a local Bible-believing church?
- Do you share with your kids what you’re learning from God’s word?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Contributed by Peggy
The cellar was cold, musty, and frightening—not a pleasant place for four young girls in the middle of the night. You see, growing up on a wheat and cotton farm in Western Oklahoma, it was not uncommon for us to be awakened and escorted to the cellar while a storm passed over. Usually after an hour or so we were allowed to return to our beds. However, we never really knew what to expect when we opened that cellar door.
Generally the storm had simply run its course and was gone with little damage. Sometimes there had been wind, rain, and hail. Occasionally, a tornado had even been spotted in the community. On one special night, however, the wind and hail had been much more extensive than ever before.
As we emerged out of the cellar that night, we saw that the entire west wall of our living room was missing from the house and the room of furniture was destroyed. More ominous to our family, though, was the harvest-ready cotton crop totally stripped from the fields. Acres and acres of lonely brown stalks now missing their fluffy white cotton bolls were all that was left.
As we tried to wrap our minds around what had taken place, something unexpected happened that had more lasting impact on my life than the storm. My father gently put his arm around my mother’s waist and calmly said, “Well, Mom, I guess we’ll just try cotton again next year.”
I don’t remember how old I was at the time. I was young enough to be totally dependent on my parents, but old enough to understand the consequences of losing one of two yearly crops. Nor do I remember how we made it until the wheat crop came six months later. I don’t even remember repairing the house or replacing the broken furniture.
What I do remember… and will never forget… is the security I felt from my parents’ faith that night, faith that brought us out of the cellar.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matt 7:24-25 NIV
Contributed by Sue
I woke up one morning and realized our children have become young adults. They live away from us so it was inevitable our ministry to them would look different. We can’t just sit down in the living room and carry on a conversation with them. I thank the Lord for our cell phones, emails and visits. We are available to them day or night. As our son goes on military deployments around the world, those phone calls are extremely important and precious to us.
And as each crisis or small problem occurs with our young adults, we get phone calls. One of our children thinks every little thing is a minor catastrophe. I love this about him because I know he is calling us to vent. I have found that I need to be a very good listener, only asking questions and not quickly jumping in to give advice unless it’s asked for. Okay! Sometimes I panic and just have to ask: “Did you get this taken care of?” or “Are you going to pay that bill?”
My husband and I have learned from each other’s conversations to our kids. I have learned from him to ask “What do you think about it?” instead of telling them what I think about it. My husband has learned from me to respond gently to their situations, reassuring them that all will work out.
We don’t receive many emails from our kids—unless, of course, they are commenting on one of my husband’s philosophy statements! They don’t like to write that much so I just send short emails saying “Hi”, sharing a thought or two and telling them I love them. When my son is deployed, I send him an email daily—even if I don’t get a response back. I share what is going on with the family and the activities of the day. We tell our kids over and over that we are praying for them. We say “thank you for calling us” and “we love you.” We know they are special and your kids are too!
When we go to visit them or when they come home they often become the center of attention. We do what they want to do, even if it is hours of watching their favorite TV show or eating food we don’t especially like. (Meatloaf is not my favorite food!) During one visit, I remember a 24 hour marathon of watching Star Trek with my older son. A recent bonding time involved a request from our son to take a picture of Keith Green’s grave (Christian recording artist). It was well worth the out of the way request during a road trip. Later we took him and his wife there and it meant the world to them.
Now, please share your ideas about how to minister to my daughter-in-law long distance. We are still developing that relationship, so it’s been a challenge.
Contributed by Peggy
Four girls, a mom, and a dad living happily on a farm in a three-room house filled with love. This is how a family establishes lasting memories that become part of a legacy.
When there is only one bedroom for a family of six, sharing becomes a way of life. The living room served as a children’s bedroom at bedtime. With a full size bed and a crib available, it was necessary for the oldest three girls to sleep crosswise in the bed and the baby to sleep in the crib at the foot of the bed.
Mom and dad were not ready to go to bed at the same time as the girls so the room pulled double duty. This required us to go to sleep in the living room with the light on. The bed had four posts so my mom would stretch her fabric across them and use it for a quilting frame. She would stand on a short stool so she could reach the middle of her masterpiece. Night after night I would fall asleep watching the needle make its way in and out of the fabric. I tried to predict the pattern the stitches would form as my mom would patiently weave her magic in those designs. This became a wonderful source of comfort for me as I shared this precious time with my whole family.
My mother never knew what she gave me through this activity. She was just doing what she could to provide warmth to our bed by creating a quilt. The warmth she really provided was the teaching I received from the love she gave to every stitch. Even though this was only one stitch in time that the four of us received from Mom, it became an extremely valuable one. I began to look for patterns throughout my life and was always drawn back to the wonderful memory of this stitch in time.
Contributed by Peggy
Life was just wonderful six years ago. I had three grown kids, a husband, and seven of the most incredible grand children ever. The kids were married to Christian spouses and contributing to society in a very productive way. We attended the same church pastored by our son, shared birthday parties and holidays, and were able to go to dinner together on a whim.
March arrived as usual with all the anticipated spring activities fresh on our minds. It was at this time that our oldest daughter announced that she and her husband were moving to Washington DC with their three sons to accept a “once in a lifetime” business opportunity. Two weeks later our son, his wife, and their daughter moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to be a part of a wonderful church and work for FamilyLife. Then on the 20th of that same month, our youngest daughter and her husband along with their three children moved to Orlando, Florida to continue their careers with Disney.
Quite a month for me as a mother and grandmother, to say the least.
It was at this point that we began to reevaluate our real responsibilities and blessings as parents. After reading Psalm 127:3-6 our vision cleared. The secret for success as a parent was to be able to release our children to spread their influence to other parts of their world.
Some of our greatest blessings as parents have come since that lonely March six years ago. Two more grandchildren have been added to the fold, and believe it or not they are just as precious. Our children’s influence continues to grow and impact those around them, and our blessings keep increasing. The joy of seeing God use our family in new ways has been something we continue to be thankful for. The anticipation of sharing the next great impact of God’s love makes every day a bigger blessing than the day before.
Do we miss having our children and grandchildren living near our neighborhood? Yes! Would we trade what we have now for what we had then? Never! Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, and we were blessed with an instant empty nest.