Friday, November 03, 2006


When I think of the word family, I get a warm feeling in my heart. Seems like yesterday, our daughters were ten and seven, and we were riding bikes after supper through our small town in Florida in the heart of citrus country, pedaling along oak-tree dotted streets in front of stately homes of yesteryear, then coming home at dusk, grabbing quick baths and later eating bowls of ice cream, then having a bedtime story and prayer. My mother used to say, “These are the best years of your life,” and we were so busy with the cares of living that I didn’t fully, completely realize it. But we truly enjoyed family times.

Now our daughters are grown and have children of their own.

I’m thankful for our family’s rich spiritual heritage. There are approximately 30 ministers and wives in our family. Our family has been there for us, offering prayers and encouragement, and vice versa. During holidays and vacations--often in crowded conditions--we’ve shared our lives. A few times, the only place to make the children’s pallets at Grandma's house was under the dining room table. Of course, they loved that!

Jennifer wrote us after she married and said, “Do you realize how unique our family is and how lucky? Sometimes I wish I could go back and relive our times spent together. We’ve had some good times, river rafting, bike rides, festivals, and trips.”

Our parents (married for 60 and 67 years) did a lot of things right that we tried to duplicate when our daughters were small. Milton and I made plenty of mistakes along the way (I think the mark of good parents is their frequent statement, “I wish I had done...”), but maybe we did do some things right. Here are some of those things:

SPEND TIME. From the dinner table to outings to working together on chores or school/church projects, give your children your time. Fifteen hundred school children were asked, “What do you think makes a happy family?” The most frequent answer was, “Doing things together.”

SHOW LOVE. When is the last time you hugged your child and said, “I love you. I thank God for you”? Author Kate Samperi said, “Before becoming a mother, I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.”

DATE YOUR MATE. Someone said, “The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Let them see you showing affection to each other. They see it on TV between the unmarried and the married-but-not-to-each-other. Show them that mommies and daddies can be romantic.

TRAIN. Teach them godliness by modeling holiness, purity, love, and honesty. Don’t send them to church; take them. My mother said, “When I got saved, God wrote G-O on the bottom of my shoe.” By being involved in ministries, you are telling them, “The things of God are very important,” thus establishing a bedrock faith in them.

ENCOURAGE. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) were my mother’s guideposts in rearing me and became mine also. In high school, she encouraged me to run for lieutenant governor of a club at county-wide level, helped me write and memorize my speech, and I won! When our daughter Jennifer was in tenth grade, she decided to train for competitive swimming. Many Saturdays, we sat in the hot Florida sun at swim meets, cheering her on. By twelfth grade, she won at city, county, and regional levels, and earned a chance to race at the Hall of Fame pool in Ft. Lauderdale. Her relay team was in the top ten of the nation. Our daughter Julie skipped two years of high school and entered college at sixteen.

LAUGH. Laughing 100 times a day is equivalent to ten minutes of exercise on a rowing machine. Called internal jogging, laughter has psychological and physiological benefits. Behavioral scientists have found it’s a stress reducer, a face-saving device, and even helps speed up recovery from illness. Engender in your children a sense of humor. One day when Julie was three and Jennifer was three months, I put Jennifer in the crib; Julie was playing with some toys, and I left their bedroom for a moment or two to get something, then raced back in. The baby’s face and dress were soaking wet, and Julie was standing at the end of the crib with a water pistol behind her back. “What in the world happened?” I asked. “Her tears came out in puddles, Mommy,” she said. “Isn’t there something else you’d like to tell me?” I said. Looking guilty, she said, “A big wave came by.” Through the years, we laughed and laughed about that. My father always kept us laughing by reciting the typewriter keys, and my grandfather used to recite the alphabet backwards. Joke-telling is the norm in our home.

TAKE HEART. If you’re going through turbulent or discouraging times in your family life, remember what the old country preacher said, “Faith’s what ain’t, but what’s going to be.” Be of good cheer, and “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5 NKJV).


At 2:05 PM, Blogger PatriciaW said...

What a wonderful post! As the mother of three sons under 12, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing enough, or the right things. I'm printing this one for when I lack energy or inspiration.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks, Patricia. And I'll pray for you, that God will give you supernatural strength as the mother to three sons under 12.
What a great family you have. You're blessed. God bless--


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