Children are a heritage from the Lord.

[Not sure why this did not post a couple weeks ago … oh well … here it is!]

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God has greatly blessed us with SEVEN wonderful, interesting, gifted and curious children.  Each one of them is a joy and each one of them is an adventure.

We take great delight in God’s blessings to us – even when His blessings come in the form of a very unexpected surprise …

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them…” Psalm 127:3:5a

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” Psalm 128:3-4

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The Blessings Of A Big Family

Blessings-Word-Hanger-DecoA poem by, Jennifer L. Sylvester

“The blessings of a big family
are only seen by a few
A few of the chosen ones
that God has given this blessing too

The blessings are so numerous
it’s hard to even start
to number or to name them but
they all hold a place in the heart

The heart of every person in a
big family is unique
it’s uniqueness makes us special
and should not be critiqued

The memories that are made
are more precious than gold
from babies to weddings
from young and to old

From grandparents to grandchildren
and everyone in between
the many special relationships that are built
and could have never been foreseen

Thank you God
for my big family I will treasure
through the good times and bad
the memories could not be measured

Thank you God
for birthdays, simple get-togethers and even the tears
for I pray that these blessings
last many, many more years

To have a big family
can be a lot of work, not just play
but life is too short
so I THANK GOD FOR MY BIG FAMILY TODAY!”

IFCA Cultivate 2014

So pleased with Nathan & Jordan’s MTA at last weeks IFCA Cultivate!  Great job guys!

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

sing-praise-thanksgiving-550x320“O My God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves, thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee

  • ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
  • ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
  • ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

  • for the body thou hast given me,
  • for preserving its strength and vigor,
  • for providing senses to enjoy delights,
  • for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
  • for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
  • for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
  • for a full table and overflowing cup,
  • for appetite, taste, sweetness,
  • for social joys of relatives and friends,
  • for ability to serve others,
  • for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
  • for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
  • for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
  • for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
  • for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.”

~ The Valley of Vision

Go hug your wife.

How-To-Love-Your-WifeGentlemen: Your responsibility in your marriage is not contingent upon how well your wife fulfills hers.

Joy is loving and serving and delighting in your best friend – for the glory of God alone.

Go hug your wife.

“Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking in your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:8-9

Blessed & Challenged

931210_617913124887606_615344544_nWhen Jenny and I were first married we had all kinds of ideas, goals, and plans. After twenty years I am so glad that God is in control and not us! Among our various conversations during the first few years was something like this: “So. When we are ready to have children, how many do you think we should have?” And the response, “Oh, I don’t know…definitely three, maybe four.” (As though it were entirely up to us rather than God; see Psalm 127:3 & 139:13-14.)

Thinking back I can’t help but cringe at our brazen audacity (that’s a nice way of saying self-centered, self-serving, thinking). At the same time, it is equally wonderful to think back and recognize God’s patience with us and amazing grace extended to us!

Today? Well, today we have the joy of seeing God’s manifest blessings in our home. Each one is totally unique and individually an absolute treasure. Nathan is a poet. Jordan is an athlete. Hannah is a voracious reader. Josiah is a hard-working cowboy. Lydia is gentle and sweet and tender and sometimes not gentle. Grace is an aspiring princess. And Caleb is beginning to reveal a very complex (and fun) personality.

To top it all off, God has blessed me with a beautiful, wonderful, long-suffering, spirit-filled, Christ-exalting, God-honoring wife whom I adore, favor, and love passionately! Oh wait…I was talking about the kids.

Anyway. I wanted to share a couple quotes that really blessed and really challenged me today:

“In the family, life is brought not only to our doorstep, but into our kitchens, bedrooms, and dens. In the family, life is happening all around us, and it begs to be questioned, evaluated, interpreted, and discussed. There is no more consistent, pregnant, dynamic forum for instruction about life than the family, because that is exactly what God designed the family to be, a learning community.” ~ Paul David Tripp

“An ideal Christian home ought to be a place where love rules. It ought to be beautiful, bright, joyous, full of tenderness and affection, a place in which all are growing happier and holier each day. There should never be any discord, any wrangling, any angry words or bitter feelings. The home-life should be a harmonious song without one marring note, day after day. The home, no matter how humble it is, how plain, how small – should be the dearest spot on the earth to each member of the family. It should be made so happy a place, and so full of life, that no matter where one may wander in after years, in any of the ends of the earth – his home should still hold its invisible cords of influence about him, and should ever draw resistless upon his heart. It ought to be the one spot in all the earth, to which he would turn first, when in trouble or in danger. It should be his refuge, in every trial and grief.” ~ J.R. Miller (1882)

Hairbrush Hero

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The Crisis: I was sitting quietly at my computer enjoying a cup of coffee and contemplating the deep things of God when Lydia approached me with sadness and fear. “Daddy,” she said, “Have you seen my little pink hairbrush?” Do you have any idea how much hair-brushing is required in a house that contains four females? Wow.

Initial response: I admit it. I was not very gallant in my response to the hairbrush crisis. In fact I was rather brutish. “Sweetheart,” I said, “Daddy doesn’t use your brush and daddy did not have your hairbrush. Now you go find it like mommy said.”

The interruption: Grace tapping my arm, waiting, tapping, waiting, “daddy,” waiting, tapping. Lydia walks away head down, disheartened, and unable to solve the mystery of the missing hairbrush. I finally looked at Grace and said, “Yes Grace. What is it?” “Umm. Daddy,” she says, tilting her sweet little face to one side. “Yes Grace. I’m busy. What do you need?” Grace, “Umm. Do I look pretty daddy?” Sigh. “Yes sweetie. You look pretty.”

The Hunt for Red October: OK, so I didn’t really organize the entire Russian fleet of nuclear submarines to find the hairbrush. Actually, I didn’t even get up from my coffee and computer. About an hour later I happen to be walking down the hall and saw the little brush underneath a chair against the wall. I have to be honest, I walked on by shaking my head and leaving it lay.

An opportunity lost, recovered: Another thirty minutes past and I overheard the troubled voice of little Lydia trying to explain that the little pink hairbrush was gone. Jenny, being much more considerate than I had been, responded with encouragement and counsel. In that moment I remembered seeing the hairbrush!

The moment:  I leapt from my seat (not really), swept little Lydia into my arms (yes I did), whisked her to the top of the stairs like a knight in shining armor (in my head), crawled on my hands and knees under the chair, recovered the brush, and on one knee held forth the little pink brush to my now elated little girl. Hero.

You don’t have to defeat all of the host of Mordor in order to be a blessing to your family. You don’t have to be a Jedi Knight to be a hero to your wife and kids. You just need to give them your time, attention, and affection. You know, act like you like them.

Points to ponder: Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7

Joy, Despair & Gratitude

0211131518I have often said that the greatest potential for joy is very often the greatest potential for despair.  That’s what our children are, are they not?  Every child comes with the greatest potential for joy and the greatest potential for despair.

There really is nothing like holding a newborn baby in your arms.  There is nothing like wrestling around with your little ones on the living room floor.  There is nothing like watching your sons and daughters as they begin to discover God’s design for manhood and womanhood. Joy.

There is nothing as troubling as hearing the doctor say, “We need to admit your baby to the hospital for observation.” There is nothing as frightening as hearing the doctor say, “I’ve called for an ambulance because your baby’s oxygen levels are dangerously low.”  There is nothing as fearful as watching your infant, unconscious, intubated, and unable to respond to the sound of your voice.  Despair.

2013-02-07_08-34-59_591In February of this year we heard and saw all of this the day before our little Caleb Michael turned two-months old.  He was diagnosed with RSV (Really Stupid Virus) and another “bug” (virus) that caused his blood oxygen levels to drop dangerously low.  He could not breathe… and neither could we.  Honestly, I have never felt so helpless in all of my life.

The question is: Where do you go when your tiny two-month old baby is hit with a life threatening double virus?  How do you respond when his little body is struggling for oxygen and thus, so are you?

Before answering those two questions I must pause here in order to say “Thank you.”  To the Doctors and Nurses and Hospital Staff (so professional and passionate) – THANK YOU!  To our Leon Bible Church family (What a joy and blessing you are to us. It is an absolute delight to be a part of what God is doing here.) – THANK YOU!  If you were one of the many people praying for Caleb and for us, THANK YOU!

So, where do you go when your child is hurting in ways that you cannot prevent or stop?  How about to the Author of life Himself!  Here are a few great places to start:

Psalm 94:17-19 “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 62:5-7 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

Psalm 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

2013-02-14_10-59-34_618Today we continue to praise God for His kindness to our son and His blessings upon our family!  Little Caleb is doing really well, gaining strength, growing stronger, and beginning to reveal his own delightful personality.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver…

At 9:36PM, Wednesday, December 5th: Caleb Michael was born!!

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Jenny & I are praising the Lord for His great kindness in bestowing such a wonderful blessing upon our family!

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“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127

“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.  The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!  May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” Psalm 128

‘Tis the Season

tis8217theseasonIt was a wonderfully snowy Sunday Morning in early December a few years ago when the Sunday school teacher asked her students, “Does anyone know what Season this is?”  Several children eagerly raised their hands to answer the question.  Our oldest daughter Hannah must have seemed extra enthusiastic as she was called upon to give her answer.  Smiling from ear to ear she proclaimed, “It’s deer season!”

It’s true.  Like so many Southern Iowa natives our house over the years becomes a hunting lodge between the September’s Youth Season and the January High-Power Season.  I must say that I am so blessed to have a wife who does not mind living in a meat locker / butcher shop for a while every year.  Fortunately, in more recent hunts, our friends have allowed us to use their “shop” and things haven’t been so messy around our house.

Some of the men I know would argue that the hunting season is the “most wonderful time of the year.”  While I would agree that it is indeed wonderful I would argue that every event or evening spent with your family is the “most wonderful.”  I have never heard any parents say, “Oh how I wish I would have spent more time at work while the kids were growing up.”  Or, “I really wish we would have had fewer meals together as a family.”  No one in their right mind would ever say, “While my children were young, we played way to many games together.” Or, “My kids always got in the way of my hunting.”

There are several things that I enjoy about the hunting season.  I love being out in the woods with my children.   I love teaching them, walking with them, helping them understand safety, the elements, and just being amazed by God’s creation all around us, together.  I want them to understand how to properly handle firearms, clean whatever game they get, provide for the family, and just what it means to “have dominion” over the earth, as Genesis 1:26, 28 instruct.

This is a wonderful time of the year – for many reasons.  The holidays are a terrific time because they tend to be focused times for the family.  I want to encourage you not to wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day!  Make plans to spend a few evenings at home, together, as a family. If you are a hunter, include your family, teach your children, and take advantage of the limited opportunities you have to influence them for God’s glory and their own good!

Clegguart Mitchell