Monthly Archives: June 2015

Recommend Virtue to Your Children

Recommend Virtues

A Father’s Day Letter to Dad

My Dad, with Jessica (22 months), at Yosemite. 2006.

I was 18, on a one-month visit to my family in California. I would be heading back to India in a week or two. My dad was driving me to the DMV to get my ID card renewed. I don’t remember the details of our conversation, but it went something like this:

“You’ve been in India for nearly two years now,” my dad observed.

I didn’t really need him to do the math, but I knew he was getting at something. “Yep,” I answered.

“Your mom and I were missionaries for a while. Sometimes it takes a lot out of you. I want you to know that we are proud of your, whatever you choose to do. We do everything we can to support all our children.”

“I know,” I told him.

“If you ever want to pursue a different path, we will fully support you. You can stay with us for as long as you like.”

I nodded. “Thanks.” I didn’t say much more. I wasn’t very communicative in my teens, especially in matters of the heart or mind, matters I didn’t completely understand or hadn’t fully worked through on my own.

But my dad’s words stayed with me, because I was struggling at that time. I held the struggle inside, as I did with so many things. For my first few years in India, I felt very alone, even when surrounded by people. I struggled with my sense of purpose and the way it seemed to mingle freely with depression.

I returned to India a couple weeks later, but it meant a lot knowing that I had a home to return to if ever I chose.

***

I was 21, sitting in a chair, a friend across from me helping with a last-minute application of eye shadow. It was the big day. My wedding day. The phone rang and a friend ran it over to me. “It’s your dad.”

I don’t remember much about the exchange, only that he wished me well, told me that he loved me, and that things would turn out okay. I tried valiantly to hold back the tears. I was in India, 8,000 miles from my family. None of them had met the man I was about to marry. Most of them were very concerned about that fact. We were in a Catch-22 because my husband could not get a visa to visit the U.S. unless we were married, so I hoped my family would trust my judgment. But the distance and uncertainty wasn’t easy … for any of us.

In some ways, I felt like I was having to choose between marriage and a supportive family, and I hated that. At 21, it was a hard decision, especially not knowing whether my husband would be accepted into my family. I knew that they just didn’t know him; if they knew him, they would love him, like I did. All they knew was that they didn’t know him. And he was marrying their daughter. Or for my siblings, their little sister.

When my dad called, I felt for a moment that connection with home. I knew things would turn out okay.

And they did. That uncertainty I felt is a distant memory. Twelve years later, we as a family are very close … in location, and in heart and spirit. (And everyone in my family prefers my husband’s cooking. Including me.)

***

It’s Father’s Day, and I was thinking that if there was a single word that could describe my dad, it would be supportive. The support that he has given in countless ways, to me and my five siblings, has shown a lot of things about his character. His reliability and loyalty. His love and concern.

His trust in God.

Over the years, I’ve realized just how much my dad’s supportive nature has been grounded in a deep faith in God, that everything would work out alright. That God had things in His hands. The whole world, as the song goes, and his children as well.

My kids are not yet teens, but when those years come, I only pray that I will have a portion of the faith and trust that my dad has shown over the years. I pray that I can show them, through my words and deeds, my faith in God’s perfect plan, my trust in God’s purpose for their lives, and my love for them no matter what roads they take.

To my dad: Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for being the best example a father can be, by pointing the way to the Heavenly Father with your words, your actions, your life.

Prouder to be a Father

Proud to be a Father

My Son’s Dream – A Place to Buy Friends

icy cold place

Photo Credit: Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel

My six-year-old son usually wakes up around 7:30. This particular morning, however, he slept in until nearly nine. As soon as he woke, he ran to me and told me about his dream. I asked a couple questions along the way. It went something like this:

In my dream, there was a place you could buy friends.

I chose a little girl in a place that had a door and it was freezing cold there. She didn’t like it there, so I chose her so she didn’t have to be there anymore. If I didn’t get her, they would still replace her with another one and put her in a warmer place. That was the most freezing place. All the water she had there was frozen water.

She had a pink dress, and at the bottom of her shoes, they were purple. If you were there and you thought she was candy, you would think those things of purple looked tasty. There were lots of other girls. Actually, there were only girls. I mean, like, only girls. If you saw on the top of the door, only girls allowed in those things.

Her hair was golden and she had blue eyes … wait. It was brown eyes.

(Do you remember anything else?)

There was another girl that had dirt brown hair. She was really pretty because she had a white necklace and blue and purple earrings, and the best part was that she had green shoes and a green dress.

(Did you talk to the girl with the golden hair?)

I talked to her when I brought her here, because it was warmer here.

(How much were they being sold for?)

Twenty cents. Actually, they were free. The people that brought them there didn’t want them to be so, so, so expensive, especially that girl in the really cold place, so they had her for free, and the rest were free.

It was part house and part shop where you can get friends. Do you know why they sold them? They didn’t have any families so they took them from their homes and all their things, put them on their shelf, and kept them there. That’s why I brought her and her things here.

The thing that was too bad was that it was a dream. I wish it wasn’t a dream.

It’s too bad that I have to be an adult to do that. Can you drive me to a place in America to where I can look at all the houses and see if there are any children that don’t have anyone to take care of them? We can bring them here.

His focus then switched to other things. But that dream paddled me sideways, reminding me of a few things. It has been exactly one year since the idea of foster parenting grabbed hold of me. The feeling was very strong that first month, in June of 2014. It’s faded but never completely disappeared. Another dream that has been with me for far longer, and has also never disappeared, is the desire to be involved in ministry for young mothers and their children. What kind of ministry? I don’t know. There are opportunities all over the world. We send money to some of them when we can. We support a child through Compassion, but I don’t think that’s all I’m meant to do. I don’t think that’s all any of us are meant to do.

Yesterday, I was reading a Bible chapter with the kids. Matthew 25. I read them the end passage, about Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, take in the stranger, visit the sick, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoners. Then I read them the story right before it, the parable of the talents [See Matthew 25:14-30]. We made the connection between the parable and His statement, in that the “talents” — the gifts and skills — that God gives us are meant to be used for His glory, and for us to make a difference in the lives of others.

Was our discussion of those passages and the Compassion Magazine stories we read afterwards the cause of my son’s dream? Part of it, perhaps. Part of it might also have been a nudge for me, that we do need to do more. More for others, for those who suffer needlessly because of the lack of those who care and who can help. As I was looking up Compassion’s website, I noticed something I had never seen before, a page titled “Help Mothers and Babies.” Maybe that’s a place to start.

If your son had a dream like that … if you had a dream like that … where would you start?

Lord Make Me Childlike

prayer to be childlike

“Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child.

Deliver me from pose and pretense. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou mayest answer this prayer, I humble myself before Thee.

Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that through it I may find rest. Amen”

– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

What a Child Knows

 

children climbing stairs in forest

A child has not made up his mind yet about what is and what is not possible. He has no fixed preconceptions about what reality is; and if someone tells him that the mossy place under the lilac bush is a magic place, he may wait until he thinks that no one is watching him, but then he will very probably crawl in under the lilac bush to see for himself.

A child also knows how to accept a gift. He does not worry about losing his dignity or becoming indebted if he accepts it. His conscience does not bother him because the gift is free and he has not earned it and therefore really has no right to it. He just takes it, with joy. In fact, if it is something that he wants very much he may even ask for it. 

And lastly, a child knows how to trust. It is late at night and very dark and there is the sound of sirens as his father wakes him. He does not explain anything but just takes him by the hand and gets him up, and the child is scared out of his wits and has no idea what is going on, but he takes his father’s hand anyway and lets his father lead him wherever he chooses into the darkness. 

Frederick Buechner

The Magnificent Defeat