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In the days leading up to Easter, my son who has recently taken an interest in, of all things, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations approached his teacher with a request to do a presentation on Easter. His teacher then allowed several of the students in the class to embark on this journey in small groups. Having the preconceived idea that she would see presentations including Peter Cottontail, candy, and baskets, she received the surprise of her life. The presentations were not cartoons at all. These kids proceeded to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the true meaning of Easter!
It's Sunday and we have just arrived home from a weekend getaway in Tennessee. Completely unprepared for what I am about to hear, my little princess who is now not so little says to us, "I want to get baptized." "What was that you said?" I asked. She repeated, "I want to get baptized." I was ill prepared to hear this AWESOME news! "That is great, sissy! When?" was all that I could muster, as I continued to bring luggage from the garage.
It's now Wednesday and the plan is set and I am going to get to help do the honors! I now have time and my attention focused to parse the thoughts of my beautiful daughter, who now has the capacity to make some important life decisions and has chosen to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Will to be baptized in water! I cannot even begin to fill my mouth with expressions of what I feel in my chest! She has never been forced to this decision, only informed as to what it is all about as given in Scripture, but my prayer continually has been, "God, may my kids know that You are their God! May they have a relationship with You all by themselves!" I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going so far with this petition before the Father, and I press on to the mark of this HIGH CALL, that my kids be fully espoused to Christ! I hope between now and Sunday, I can fully realize this moment. For now.... only "WOW!"
It's Sunday, the big day! Though delayed by weather from the original Sunday, we finally arrived. Today, I joined our Pastor in the baptism of my daughter at our local Church. I can't begin to express what I felt looking across the baptistery at my beautiful daughter robed and ready to enter into obedient worship! I know that she could not fully understand or appreciate what she was about to do, but I also know our Heavenly Father must have been even more pleased than I as our daughter stepped into the water to bring full Glory to God!! As quickly as she entered the water, the experience was over. I tried to fully capture every second, in my inner man and on my GoPro. As we began to lay her into the water, I placed my hand on the back of her neck so as to be her protector. I mean, she's going under water, I have to make sure she's safe, haha! When she rose out of the water, I couldn't hold back the smile that exploded from within. Crucified with Christ, nevertheless, she lives! Later that evening, as we talked briefly before bedtime, I said to her, "Watching you grow up so fast is not the easiest thing in the world, but you sure are making it easier." Then, I commenced to express how proud I am of her responsibility and decision-making. I blessed her and then walked out of the room, praising God for everything that I had experienced on this Sunday.
My wife and I continually emphasize the value of trust. It is hard to build, but easily broken. We as parents work to build trust by always being honest and real, and we hope that she as a young lady will continue to live so as to build trust. We assure her that her home life will be better as our trust in her remains. For now, she has done well! I praise God for her and for this day! May she continue this walk to glorify and honor the Name of the Father, of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit!
In 2006, Carrie and I began ministering to married couples in the context of a small group within our Church. Now into our 9th year, we have very close personal relationships with several couples from the ministry. For many years now, I have consistently given Thanks to God for "surrounding me with such great friends!" Even though I am the teacher, my own marriage has been highly impacted. How? you ask. Through the fellowship and the close walk with other couples. Walking with others who love me, laugh with me, and pray for me, all while knowing the "real" me is a critical resource for me and my marriage. If I encounter one of those weeks that causes stress in my marriage or God forbid, the often-experienced "Sunday-Morning-Disaster" just trying to get out of the house and to Church, it only takes about 15 minutes in Sunday School class to realize I am not the only one with troubles, and in relationship with others, I am able to laugh at myself, experience peace, and overcome. Fellowship with others has a way of revealing the truth of situations and reducing the size of the mountain I am facing. I come to realize, "this thing is not as big as I have thought it to be."
I am ever reminded that the marriage covenant is under attack, whether through cultural influences like those that seek to redefine "family," unseen spiritual devices, or the ever popular differences (that we politically correct term "irreconcilable"). Marriage has become an intense battle ground in our culture, with a high-percentage ending in divorce. Often, when troubles arise in marriage, isolation is the option of choice and through isolation, one feels completely alone in the world, which causes the problem to become magnified. A better choice, then is to walk with others who love you and will be there to support you through the difficulty. I find it interesting how often others have experienced or are working through similar situations themselves. This type of interaction will often strengthen us and give us power and energy to overcome the obstacle that would have otherwise seemed impossible through isolation. If there was ever a day to walk with other couples that strengthen and support you, it is NOW! "Thanks be to God for those He has surrounded me with!"
It's pretty amazing how quiet it can get on a Marriage/ Family website, when the marriage is "Under Construction." How can one expect a perfect marriage from individuals that are imperfect? Marriage takes work, it takes patience (why do you think Paul began the list of love's characteristics with "Love is patient or long-suffering..." I Corinthians 13). Marriage and family takes learning and discovery, both self and other. I am always changing, and if I don't know me, how can I clearly reveal who I am so that I can be known by my wife and family? Marriage takes selflessness, commitment, and a resolve to overcome all obstacles. Communication obstacles can arise in difficult seasons and it is critical to work through them to have a healthy marriage and family. Enter the main theme of this post.... With the difficult season which began when I broke my leg, our marriage faced stress, particularly in the area of communication. We faced this difficulty with a goal of really being able to have hard conversations and not bring harm to one another. Marital difficulty is not always pretty or worthy to be blogged and shared with the world, but marriages are not perfect and I am not the "Worlds Greatest Husband" so we must face the fact that hard times are going to arise, and the home is not always a bed of roses. AND.... that's OK!! God's grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect when we are weak, and make no mistake about it... we are weak! Prayer and time with God is something we cannot forsake, we MUST have His presence to overcome times of difficulty and weakness. The good news is He is available and we can approach Him and must do so. We must seek Him for help and stand with resolve and patience as He works "all things together for our good." "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their trust in His unfailing love." (Psalm 147:10-11, NIV). We cannot despise the work that it takes to meet our marital and family goals. Anything worth having takes work and effort. In our case, our communication is much improved; Perfect? No, but better and I am thankful for progress. We are walking with more patience and are more intentional to resolve without damaging each other. It's alright to face the truth that the family we are building is a constant work in progress!