Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Lesson I Learned from My Son

This morning I was reminded of an incident that happened when our son was small. The sweet memory immediately brought a smile to my face and I thought I would share the story with you today.

Let me preface this story by saying that we have tried to set a positive Christian example for Matthew as he was growing up. Although we have been far from perfect as parents, we have shared our beliefs and values with him in what we hoped were age-appropriate ways. He is an only child, and although we don’t have an issue with the term “spoiled,” we wanted to be sure that he wasn’t spoiled in a bad sense. That is to say, yes, he was showered with love and affection, but we wanted him to value people and to be a generous and giving person. At the same time, we wanted him to understand that we need to be good stewards of all that God has given us. (We need not have worried, because he is very saving and rarely asks for anything. Now, we know our child and know what he likes, but whatever we give him it’s because we want him to have it, rarely because he has asked for it.)

Keeping the good steward concept in mind, at some point I shared with him a verse from Matthew that my mother had used to teach me. It's Matthew 7:6 and reads: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Yeah, I know that’s pretty heavy stuff for a little guy. And I also realize the passage this is taken from teaches us that we should not judge others. In our case, I used it to also explain that we need to be good stewards of whatever we have. We need to be generous, but at the same time we need to be careful not to “throw away” that which we have worked for.

And he seemed to get it. I can’t remember the circumstances under which I talked to Matthew about it that time, but I can certainly remember the second time it came up… It was when he was about 8 or 9. At that time I used to work in a neighboring town. Because I was already there during the day, I would often stop by in the evenings to get my hair done at a salon in the area. I also took Matthew to this salon. He has always been particular with his hair (not in a mom’s way particular, but particular, nonetheless), and whenever I found someone who cut his hair the way he liked, we continued to darken their door.

I later came back to our town to work and eventually realized that both of us would need to find someone new to assist us in the hair department. So, I needed to explain that to him. Now remember, this was a child who was very particular about who cut his hair. So with that in mind, I started to explain to him that since I no longer worked near that salon, we would need to find someone closer to our town to cut our hair. It simply didn’t make sense to drive 20 minutes to get a haircut, since we would be driving there just for that purpose.

I expected a little friction at my announcement; I shouldn’t have worried. When I started to explain that we needed to be good stewards of what God had given us (which really meant not driving JUST to get his hair cut), he smiled like he understood. Then he said, “Yeah, I know, Mommy. It’s like that Bible verse, right? ‘Don’t let your pigs wear jewelry’?”

At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, then I realized he was referring to the “don’t cast your pearls before swine” part of that lesson! I laughed so hard for so long. I still remember it! He laughed too, but he wasn’t quite sure why. He thought I was just happy that he had remembered the lesson. Well, I was happy about that and I was also happy to know that even when we don’t think our kids hear us, they do. It’s just not always in the way we say; it’s in their interpretation!

We still laugh about that lesson. Whenever we wonder if we should purchase something or support a cause we’ve heard about, we know we have to be careful. After all, you can't let your pigs wear jewelry!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

We have been on the road for part or all of the last five weekends for some wonderful events (well, most have been wonderful, and one 'weekend' was a Monday, but you get the picture....). As a result, it seems like our life has been rush, rush, rush. So, when this last weekend was filled with several reflective moments that truly stood out among the others, it made me think about just how very blessed I am. They have also made me think that God is telling me I should slow down and think about what I have. Instead of rushing forward to accomplish the next thing – whatever that thing is – that I should slow down and be grateful. I need to be more thankful for what I have been given and for what He has done. I thought I’d share these moments with you.

Our son brought nine members of Miami’s Table Tennis Team to our home to spend the night Friday night. They competed at the University of Akron on Saturday and we had the opportunity to host these young men while they were in our area. It was a special time and Ken and I loved every minute of it!

While they were here, Miami University (football) was playing in its conference match Friday night (MAC). After we welcomed the guys in and talked a bit, they were watching the game in the family room. I had taken a call in the living room, and after my call I just sat there, listening to the talk in the family room and looking at our Christmas tree, enjoying the beautiful lights.

Those of you who know me personally are well aware that I know nothing of football. What I do know is the sound of excitement I heard coming from our family room as Miami edged closer and closer to winning that game. Sure enough, Miami took the MAC that night! I heard whoops and hollers and my, did it do my heart good! You have to understand that Miami did TERRIBLY last year (maybe they were even in last place in the MAC??? I’m not sure…). I can tell you with all certainty that they won Friday night. Those guys were so excited! I hope they will remember where they were that night, because I know I will. Even though I know nothing about football, I’ll remember that.

The following day we met the team at U of Akron for the matches. Now, cheering for table tennis matches is kind of like cheering for golf and tennis – you have to be fairly quiet and very reserved. That however, did not stop us from ‘doing the wave’ on occasion for our team and providing other support as we deemed necessary.

We had the opportunity to steal a little time away with our son on that day. Our time with him is always priceless. We saw a different side of him that day, though. Matthew has developed a real compassion for ESL (English as a second language) students at Miami. He shared with us how the development of the table tennis team (which he and his friends founded at Miami last year as an intra-mural sport, and has since been picked up by the University as a Club Sport) is a “home away from home” for many foreign students without family ties near campus. Several ESL students practice with the team each week and three came last weekend; two were from China and one was from Viet Nam. Seeing our son exhibit this kind of compassion and mature in this way has been an incredible gift for us. Personally, I see it as an extension of hospitality, so I see it as a double blessing.

Because we’ve been away so much lately, we have missed many church services. On Sunday we took two cars because Ken needed to go into work and had to leave before service was over. As we sat there holding hands before he left, I sat there thanking God for the blessings I enjoyed in the man he had given me and the life we enjoy. I know I take so much for granted and right there in that very moment, it was like time stood still. Have you ever had that happen?

Later that evening, when Ken returned, it happened again. I had a headache and Ken held me on the couch. It was late afternoon, the lights were off and the snow was falling softly outside. It was so quiet and we didn’t speak. I just let him hold me and enjoyed the moment and watched the snow fall. The world seemed to stop – if only for a moment.

I was so thankful for that moment. It was actually at that time that the other three events of the weekend came to mind and I realized that they were connected. I think God is telling me to slow down and be thankful. I take so much for granted and have been blessed with so very much.

It’s especially easy to get drawn into a frazzled pattern this time of year. I have been so guilty of that in past years. I pray I can keep my focus on the Reason for the Season and remain thankful for all the blessings I have.