Continuing in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for the people that God has so graciously put in my life. I have been blessed with so many amazing people all through my life that have been an expression of God’s love, grace, and compassion. He has put people in my life that have helped shape me, direct me, correct me, and challenge me. He has put people in my life to teach me patience, and teach me to be an expression of His love, grace and compassion to them.
Mom and Dad
I figure the best place to start is at the beginning, with thanking God for my parents. The first two people whom God put in my life.
My parents weren’t perfect (none are) but they were good parents. My mom wasn’t the best cook, but we always had a good meal. She, for reasons I will never understand, hung her clothes back in her closet inside out. She had an insatiable sweet tooth. Her favorite dinner was strawberry waffles with ice cream. She had a very hard time saying “No”, so she often over extended herself.
My dad was an avid reader and never got rid of any books. This was an issue with my mom. We had a three-car garage that we couldn’t park in because it was full of magazines and books, which he moved to three different houses. He was an incurable sentimentalist, which was charming as well as problematic. He was a total white-collar guy. He didn’t hunt, fish, or work on cars, but he loved to garden. I remember him gardening in his dress shirt and slacks. I never understood that either.
I am telling you these things to let you know my parents were just real folk. They were however, remarkable. I want to express my gratitude for them and honor them in this season of thanks.
The word I would use to describe my parents is faithful. They were faithful to the call of God on their lives. They served faithfully for over 50 years in pastoral ministry. They were faithful to their family. They were faithful to their friends. They were faithful to their communities.
Faithful To One Another
I’m not just talking about “forsaking all others” kind of faithful, however I am grateful that is true as well, but they were faithful to be kind to one another. They were faithful to serve one another and support one another. They were faithful to laugh and play with one another. They were faithful in the good times and in the hard times. I know this sounds very Norman Rockwell-ish, but I am grateful for the good home I came from.
Faithful To Their Kids
I have two older brothers. I’m sure our memories differ on any number of things, but I know we all agree on the devotion of our parents. They were firm but fair. I didn’t always see it then, but as I matured, it didn’t take me long to realize it. My parents held steady to their Biblical beliefs and convictions. They were faithful to not only instill those beliefs in us, but they also lived them out before us.
Mom had a huge heart. She would take me with her to visit the elderly, visit the sick, and pick kids up for church. This modeled great compassion to me.
Dad was a great pianist and taught us the importance of music and worship. He studied hard and worked tirelessly on his sermons. He put his own sweat into the church: cleaning, building, repairing, etc. This demonstrated work ethic and how to truly care.
Both Mom and Dad taught me the things I needed to know to be an independent adult. I know it was their goal to make sure we were self sufficient, and for that I am forever grateful. I was the youngest and only girl, but I still had to learn to chop wood, mow the lawn, as well as house work and cooking. Dad made sure all of us learned how to work, budget (including tithing and missions), keep a checkbook, and pay bills. He wouldn’t let me drive an automatic car before I mastered a manual, all types of manuals (yes, I can even drive a three on the tree). He always said, “No daughter of mine is going to be stuck somewhere because she doesn’t know how to drive a stick.”
Thank you Mom. Thank you Dad.
Faithful To The Lord
We grew up away from extended family because God called my parents to pastor a small church in the small town in Oregon. They were faithful to this body of believers for almost 25 years, when God called them to pastor another small church in California were they faithfully served for another 25 years. Their commitment to love and serve God and His people left an impression on me that I don’t think they even realized. They were just doing what God had asked them to do, but it taught me determination, perseverance and fortitude. Again, I am forever grateful.
My folks taught me a great deal about being a person of character, especially when no one is looking. I don’t remember a lot of verbal lessons or lectures, although there were a few. Most of what they taught me, they exhibited before me.
They taught me to work hard and be loyal. They taught me to laugh and play. They taught me about Jesus and to trust God. They taught me to forgive. They taught me patience. They taught me to learn. They taught me to teach. They taught me to serve. They taught me about marriage. They taught me to parent. They taught me to minister.
Both of my parents are with Jesus now, and they still continue to influence my life. I pray that my life will influence my children the way they influenced mine.
“A faithful man will be richly blessed.” Proverbs 28:20a