Underdogs

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My father has always rooted for the underdog. Unless his favorite team is playing, he has generally pulled for the team that is considered less likely to win.

Being from Illinois and a Cubs fan, his favorite team and the team considered the underdog are often the same!

It warms our hearts to see teams considered less capable triumph and pull off a victory. I’ll never forget the feeling of victory when our daughter’s high school soccer team defeated the favored team from a big school in Charlotte for the second round of the state playoffs. We were definitely the underdog, and it was so exciting for our team and our fans. “Little Mountain School Beats Big City Favorite”

Paul uses examples of athletic events several times in his letters to the early church. His readers were familiar with competition in games of physical skill and so Paul uses these to encourage new Christians.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 NET

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, 2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.

That “great cloud of witness” are those who have gone on before us – who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness. (AMP)

They are cheering us on!

Even when we feel like the underdog, the less talented, the “loser”, God’s saints are pulling for us.

When we feel incapable of

  • raising our children,
  • facing the challenges ahead,
  • just getting out of bed,
  • feeding one more whining, reluctant eater

we must continue to run with endurance the race set before us.

Your race is different from mine.

Yet we have the same promise of God’s presence and strength.

It appears my father will be joining that great crowd of witnesses soon. I know he will be cheering us on, trusting in God’s faithfulness to give us strength for what we are facing.

After all, Dad was a track coach and he always pulls for the underdog…

 

 

My Father’s Daughter

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I have only had one person ever tell me that I look like my father.

I asked them if they had ever met my mother and they said “no.”

Ever since I can remember I have been told – “You look just like Esther!” I never have minded that, primarily because I think that my mother is an attractive person. Having three daughters has caused the comparison of appearance to be passed down. I have written this before but I think it bears repeating – someone once asked my mother – after saying how much I looked like her – whether our daughter Abigail reminded my mother of me at that age. My mother quickly replied, “Oh, no. Abigail is much prettier than Gayle ever was.”

So, I don’t look like my father, but I have inherited or acquired several of his traits.

* we both love to teach
* we both love plants and love to care for them, new blooms excite us!
* we both enjoy eating watermelon – the sweeter the better
* we enjoy biographies and reading about people’s lives
* we love to hear a good sermon
* we both enjoy gospel music sung from the heart

I am my father’s daughter. His love of teaching as a calling and a profession has had a profound influence on who I am. My father’s father and grandfather each spent some time teaching, although each held other career positions as well. My father was always proud of what he did and when I entered high school, I realized that he was respected by faculty and students alike. I am so thankful that I attended the school where my father taught because it gave me an opportunity to see him through my peers’ eyes.

I think it is important for us as parents and grandparents to share about our work with our children. Our attitudes about our jobs will be picked up by children whether we intend to share them or not. They will start to develop attitudes about work and careers by the things they see us say and do.

My favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 12 gives advice about work, among other things –

Romans 12:9-13 NLT

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

I am so thankful to be my father’s daughter. He has given me a legacy of honoring God through the work I am called to do. What a blessing!

Our Inheritance

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“Look, a worm, Great Grandpa!”

My father turned 90 years old Saturday and our family gathered to celebrate. What a joyous time we spent recalling family stories and memories of times past! We sang around the camp fire and my brother and I played guitar together like we used to when we started playing around 1968. (my brother has since gone on to become quite an accomplished guitarist and studio musician as well as a singer songwriter. I, by contrast, still play just as I did in the 60’s and 70’s – I just know more songs)

We gathered from North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, including 3 children and 3 spouses, 7 grandchildren and 5 spouses, and 12 great grandchildren, some aunts and several cousins.

We laughed a lot and ate a lot and took lots of pictures. It will be fun to look back on these pictures and remember the details of what is now somewhat a blur of activity.

Yet the overwhelming sense I take from this past weekend is one of gratefulness for a father who exemplifies the faithful love of our Heavenly Father.

What an inheritance!

Proverbs 13:22a Amplified Bible says –

22 A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children,

Amen! Our families are certainly reaping the benefits of that blessing.

Happy Birthday, Dad – and may you be blessed just as you have blessed us.

The Best Father’s Day Gift

A co-worker of mine was sharing recently that her son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child. She said that he was reading about becoming an effective father and that the article he read said that there was one quality that research had shown was most important in predicting the well-being of children. That quality was a stable, loving relationship between the parents. In other words – the best thing a father can do to help his children become well-adjusted and happy is to love their mother.

This makes sense on many levels. If the parents are loving and supportive of one another, this is certainly a positive example for the children. There will also be a sense of security if the parents have a stable, committed relationship. One of the worst things that can happen to a child is for that child to believe that she is the center of the universe. If the parents are investing in their relationship with each other, the child will learn that real love is not selfish, but can be shared among family members and multiplied.

We were encouraged early on in our marriage to make time for each other and to keep our relationship a priority. I must admit that it was not always easy to do this.  We had four children in 4  1/2 years. Phil was working at the university library as well as serving in leadership in our church. I was staying home with our children after having taught school for 3 years before our first child was born. I wanted to stay home and be a full-time homemaker, yet there were times when I tried to mentally calculate how much I would have to make in salary to pay for childcare for four children – and still have some money left. I’m not sure such a job existed in our rural community! I would hear “experts” talk about keeping romance alive in your marriage by having a date night. Right! When we only had enough money to make our house payment and buy groceries, a date night was not going to happen!

Looking back on those days one of the biggest blessings to me was that we were not alone. We had some very good friends that also had limited financial resources. They too desired to invest in their families. We would get together for picnics in the National Park, a cook-out at someone’s house, or share meals on the spur of the moment. Those times of fellowship with others did not cost anything (we would have eaten anyway) but they sure paid off in enjoying each other as families.

We now tease each others’ children that we helped raise them, and in part that is true. But more than anything, these families modeled Godly relationships for our children, as well as their own. Each of these fathers loved their children, but more than that they loved their wives. Their good example is a treasure that has paid off in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

I was blessed with Godly parents and grandparents. They loved me and prayed for me. My father and both my grandfathers loved their wives. I grew up expecting that was the norm. My husband did not grow up in a Christian home, his father did not honor his mother and love her respectfully. There was much turmoil and dysfunction in his family. Yet Phil has been a loving husband and a wonderful father to our four children. This is because he has committed his life to God as his Heavenly Father. Phil has allowed Biblical standards to guide his relationships in our home. We have three sons-in-law that are Godly young men who love and respect our daughters and are such a blessing to us! This is the evidence of God’s grace and redemption. Even though Phil did not have a Godly example, his desire to follow God’s plan has resulted in blessing for our family.

We are not perfect, our marriage is not perfect, our children are not perfect, and our grandchildren ARE perfect. Just kidding…they are amazing….but not perfect. Yet because of God’s love and grace, our family is blessed with the love we have for each other.

Ephesians 5: 25-28  (NLT) challenges husbands in this way;

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.

The best Father’s Day Gift is love, and the best thing a father can do for his family is to love his wife!