I was blessed to have a good dad. Although I think he would have enjoyed having a son, he was a sympathetic dad to me and my sisters. He was a good listener (even when he must have thought our problems were silly or girly) and never seemed impatient when we acted out or went through mini-crises as teenagers. I remember a lot of the girls from church seeking him out to talk about their problems too. I guess, in the end, God had obviously created him to be a father to daughters.
And now I get to see Terry with my boys everyday. And even though in many ways my heart longs for a girl to join our household, we seem to be having the time of our lives with the boys God entrusted to us. Terry is, in many ways, the picture of patience when it comes to our toddlers. He's fun and he disciplines well.
When we were waiting on results from my PET scan- waiting to know how serious all of this was- I had a lot of thoughts about Terry raising the boys alone. And even though I think they might wear mis-matched clothes to church, or eat the wrong foods, I know that their hearts would be happy because, lucky for them, that is their Daddy's first priority. It's hard to be selfless all the time (ok, it's probably impossible) but that's pretty much what being a parent calls for. That's what I was thinking about this morning. This Father's Day morning.
So being a parent requires us to be servants, requires a lot of love and patience. Requires a good amount of "rule teaching." Hmmm.... sounds like what we're called to be as Christians too.
I've always wanted to be a mom. And Terry's trying desperately to correct mistakes of the past when it comes to his family. So we entered into parenthood deciding that our children would be at the top of our list and that we would embrace our roles as "mom" and "dad." Every day we wake up and think about what the kids need for the day. What do they require according to their personalities, ages, current dispositions? What things can we teach by example? What lessons should we teach by instruction?
So, I'm sitting here this morning, praying for dads across the country, and it occurs to me that being a Christian should be just as intentional as being a parent. In the end, we could read all the parenting books in the library, we could take courses on childhood growth and behavior, we could study the common ailments of children and know how to treat them. But if we don't apply the knowledge then its useless, right?
So maybe when I was faced with my mortality and was wondering if I'd been a good enough mom for my influence to carry on even without me, maybe I should have been thinking about my impact as a Christian, instead.
Did I get out of bed today and think about what those around me needed? About how I could serve others to make their world better? About how I could lead by example, or teach from experience, or just share the Biblical truth?
Because if I'm not thinking those things then I'm being disobedient. I've been very convicted these last few months of whether I was living like God tells Christians to. I was reading the Bible, praying, going to church, tithing, and working on my own spiritual walk. But I was still missing a huge part of what we're called to do as Christians-- serve!
Looking back over my life so far, I can see how God used different situations I was in to teach me new things.
My senior year of highschool and into my freshman year of college, I was clinically depressed and God showed me how necessary it was to lean on Him on a daily basis. I had a prayer journal during this time and I still like to look back at it and see how many of my prayers were answered then. That's when God taught me how to really pray.
When I was eight months pregnant with Micah, nearly 4 years ago now, we had an emergency in our family. It brought up so many questions in my and Terry's minds about what was right and wrong. We got confused by what the culture says and even what well-meaninged Christians said. It was a tough time when we had to search and search the Bible to gain an overall sense of what we were supposed to do. I can see now that during this time God taught me the importance of knowing His word and seeking His will in every situation. We learned to routinely turn to scripture to seek the truth before making decisions in our lives.
And now God is bringing us up another step. He's calling us to stop looking inward and start looking outside of ourselves to see the needs of others. I can't explain why having cancer has brought us to this step in our walk with God. I'm not sure if it seems logical or makes sense, but during this time when we're facing a very personal crisis, God has tapped us on the shoulder and asked what we're doing for others. The books I've been reading, the scriptures I've come across, even the current sermon series at church is asking me, what am I doing to serve?
It's my new goal to be as intentional of a Christian as I've tried to be as a parent. I'm trying to see those around me and think about what they need. I'm learning to see them at the "Christian age" that they are in (if they're even a believer at all) and tailor my actions and speech to fit their needs. All day long I wonder if my young boys are hungry, tired, thirsty, bored. And now I'm trying to look beyond our family's four walls and pay attention to those same needs in others. I'm still very, very far from being that servant God has in mind. In fact, I'm still praying about what area in particular God's called me to serve in. But, I'm thankful that He's using my illness to get my attention and to prune me a little bit more. I know that when all of this is said and done, I'll be a better person and Christian for it. Terry too.
I've already seen how it's made Terry a better father. Could it be that their mom being diagnosed with cancer in her twenties will actually provide my boys with better parents? God sure can answer prayers in the strangest ways!
Terry, husband, love of my life, player of XBox and Wii, eater of chicken sandwhiches, lover of baseball and golf, hard worker, and cheesy joke teller... I admire you most for the daddy you are to my baby boys. Thank you for trying so hard and loving us all so much. Happy Father's Day.