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

Not Always Easy

I love my wife and I am not ashamed to say it!  She is my best friend and I am her best friend.  We will be happily married for nineteen years this August and I can honestly say that we have grown closer to one another with each passing year.  She is my sunshine, my delight, and my treasure.  My name is Clegguart Mitchell and I approve this message.

God has been so kind to bless us with six children; and a new baby due in December!  The children range from almost three up to fourteen years.  We love to go golfing, fishing, hunting, and playing all sorts of games together.  Yes, each child is different and has his or her own personality, preferences, and problems.  But I can honestly say, I love every one of them in their own personal uniqueness and I would not trade any one of them for anything in the world!

As a husband I have no problem loving and honoring my wife.  As a dad my chest puffs up with the best of them when thinking and speaking of my children.  As a man accountable to God for leading in my home and shepherding my family, well, life is not always easy.  I am so thankful that God’s Word spells out so simply and so clearly what God’s design and desire are for me!  Now, you may be single, a single parent, childless, or even a grandparent. God has written down His design and desire for you no matter where you are in life!

Parenting is not always easy.  A young pastor fresh out of Seminary and newly married preached a sermon that he called “The Ten Commandments of Child Rearing.”  A couple years and one child later he changed the title to “Five Biblical Principles for Parenting”.  A few years and another child later he re-titled again to “Three Suggestions for Parents”.  As you may have guessed after ten years and three children he was no longer in the ministry, he was selling used cars.

Sometimes raising children is just hard.  In one bookstore I counted over sixty titles on “Family” and most of them did not agree!  Mark Twain had an interesting idea about parenting.  When you are faced with one of those hard moments consider what Mr. Twain said.  His philosophy was: “When a kid turns thirteen, stick him in a barrel, nail the lid on top and feed him through the knothole.  When he turns 16, plug up the hole!”

It is almost Father’s Day.  Did you know that God actually spells out the stages of personal growth for us Dad’s?  In Psalm 127:1-2 we need a godly foundation; v3-5 we need to trust God for blessed fruitfulness; Ps 128:1-4 we can enjoy a happy family life; and v5-6 we get to reap the joys of a satisfying family when we get older.  God really does have a plan, and friend, He wants to help you!  Read His Word, the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed by all that you discover!

 

Clegguart Mitchell