The Day our Hero Cried – Romans 12:15

Dad’s mood was somber that morning in 1966 when he sat on the couch and opened his arms for a bear hug. The four of us piled on his lap, hugging and chattering, squirming and pushing. Dad didn’t seem to mind the ruckus. Lowering his head, he squeezed us extra hard.

We knew Dad loved us more than anything. We didn’t know his heart was breaking.

The night before, the phone rang after we’d started getting ready for bed, which was unusual. Mom and Dad talked quietly about the call, and as Dad prepared to battle the Kendall Ford fire*, he pulled the curtain back to peer into the evening sky.

firefighters. skeeze. free pixabay

He drew us all to the window to show us the glow over downtown Eugene. It was all so exciting, like waiting for fourth of July fireworks or a lunar eclipse. We bounced into bed for hours of peaceful sleep, unaware our dad would spend the night at war.

As he held us on the couch, he described how big the fire was, how hard he’d worked, and that two firefighters had died. One was a friend whom he’d supported as he fell, the other a young man several yards away, a young husband and father.

That’s when I saw the tears in his eyes.

I’d never faced the possibility my dad could be hurt before. It rocked my world to see him cry. I thought he was indestructible, unshakable, but he proved otherwise. His heart hurt for the wives and children who were suffering at that very hour while he held his family close, and I shared his pain, thanking God my daddy had come home.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV).

My dad’s example drew me closer to him, because now I understood he had weaknesses just like me. Because he allowed his family to see him grieve, he helped us see that everyone needs God to be their Father.

It was such a powerful moment in my life, it made the transition from trusting Dad to trusting God a natural one. Thank you so much, Dad!

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

*The Kendall Ford fire occurred on October 11, 1966.

 

Keeping the Joy

My son and his wife and daughter from Florida are here this week, and we’re filling our days with all the touches of love that we can – from siblings, aunties and uncles, great-grandparents, and more.

We’ve played Frisbee on the beach at Florence, popped in to see old friends from church, visited family in Portland, and sat in the Oregon sunshine to eat BBQ. Three homes have felt the gyrations from all kinds of raucous noise.

Where my Joy Comes From

KD joyfulmom 10-1980

With my first two sons, Joshua and Aaron 1980.

When I asked God for children, I felt I understood the heartaches that would likely come with parenting. That’s why I chose to recognize him as the source of my joy. I am a “joyful mother of children” (Psalm 113:9 NIV), even when disappointing things happen, because of who he is and what he’s promised.

These Things are True

God made me a woman, and my desire for marriage and the capacity to have children was his idea. Therefore, I can find reasons to be thankful even in the middle of misunderstanding and schisms – when my world seems to be completely falling apart.

Here’s what Jesus said:

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12 ESV).

He wants us to follow him, do stuff his way, and abide in his love. His purpose is to give us the fulfilling joy that comes from abiding in his love.

Note that he only asks us to do what he does. He wasn’t known for following the whims of folks around him, but rather, he kept his Father’s commands, staying close to his heart. He loved people, even to the point of severest agony, for those who misunderstood him (“for the joy set before him,” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

Abiding in his love, I can do this, too.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Parenting Tip #6 – Get Down on Their Level

Do you remember the joy of playing with an adult who loved being with you – one who would forget about personal dignity for a little while to act like a kid with you? This is was one of my father’s gifts to his children.

My favorite place to hide was under our dining table. I would squeeze between the chairs in the narrow space and duck under, tucking my toes under the hem of my skirt. As I watched my family’s legs go by, I slowed my breathing and fidgeting, feeling like quite the spy. I even decided to remain hidden until everyone left the area – so I could use the space again and again.

I got the surprise of my life one day when my father’s upside-down head appeared. He grabbed my ankle, growling like a bear, and after my initial fright we chased and laughed together. It didn’t bother me that my special place had been compromised. Dad was in my world!

grandma with kids. free duchessa.stockxchng

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).

Though this verse talks about Jesus’ humility and obedience taking him to his death on the cross, and my father’s playfulness doesn’t relate much to dying, he did show us that he enjoyed putting aside his grown-up concerns for a while to be fully involved with his children. In fact, we never doubted that he treasured these times as well.

I’m thankful to my dad for showing me our heavenly Father like he did, paving the way for me to relate to God on my own.

And I must add, from my older adult perspective, the play times I’ve enjoyed with my children, foster children, grandchildren (and random children I have the privilege to engage) are still precious treasures to me, though I’m not able to convince them I’m the scary she-bear any longer.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Parenting Tip #5 – Teach God’s Ways

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to help our children avoid making the same mistakes we made? I think there are guides for accomplishing this in the Law given to Moses and in following Jesus’ example.

parent teaching child bicycle.free. pavaranda.stockxchng

from pavaranda. stockxchng

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ESV).

The scripture says I need to keep these words, of loving God with all I am, in my heart. He says I must teach them diligently to my children. Then he tells me how to do it: Talking about loving him when I’m sitting, walking, lying down, rising; and keeping his words before me always.

This is how Jesus taught his followers.

I mentioned in an earlier post, Parenting Tip #3, that we can copy Jesus’ example in his interactions with his disciples. He was God’s perfect Son, yet he humbled himself and walked, ate, slept, admonished, fed, taught and encouraged them day by day.

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:11 ESV).

I need to bring my children to Jesus daily, sitting with them, walking with them, engaging them in discussions they’re curious about – and otherwise teaching them in all ways possible of the importance of loving God with all they have. So they can know him and follow him, and grow beyond my human limitations and my mistakes.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Parenting Tip #4 – Watch, Listen and Learn

My fourth parenting tip is simple: Watch and learn. Your little person is one of God’s greatest gifts to you, so put less important things aside to become an expert on your child.

Observe experienced parents

stoneraven. stockxchng

stoneraven. stockxchng

I sat on a curb near a play structure at Emerald Park watching a grandma interact with her granddaughter. It fascinated me to see the child reach behind her to pat her grandmother’s arm, though her gaze was riveted on an approaching dog. It was apparent the girl wanted to be sure she was still safely anchored to the person she trusted.

I took note of their relationship and decided to make developing trust an important part of my parenting plan.

Keeping alert to catch insights from others is one of the ways I learn best. When I see a family with outcomes I appreciate, I watch them, collecting bits of wisdom for myself.

Learn from my childhood

I visited pleasant memories where I felt cherished and appreciated, and not-so-great memories of times I felt adults were unkind or confusing. This led me to search for alternatives, determined to improve on what I’d been given. Here is a psalm I use often in my prayers.

“Show me your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; on you do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV).

Listen to wisdom

And if I’m floundering, listening to wise people helps.

“Without counsel plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 15:22 NKJV).

Poll several sources and try the advice that seems to fit best. There’s no shame in making mistakes if you’re willing to correct them. That’s how we learn to follow Jesus.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis