(Number 10 in a series of posts Ramblings from your Grandparents)
When the Children Come
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” ….Psalms 127:3-5a
I suppose it seems a bit premature to be talking about you having children when the eldest of you doesn’t have a boyfriend and the youngest hasn’t started school. Because parenting is the most important responsibility God gives to those blessed with children I wanted to say a little about it in this little letter.
The society into which Grandpa and I were born never used the word “sex,” nor spoke of a “pregnant” woman – at least not in polite company. I can remember being a little girl, perhaps five or six, and the ladies would be discussing this and that. Their voices would drop and occasionally I would catch a phrase like “in the family way.”
People of that era are now laughed at by our modern, highly-sophisticated, educated and know-it-all folks. How prudish could one be? Let me tell you, kids, in those days there were far fewer children born out of wedlock, few parents who divorced few people who did not work hard and pay their own bills, and a whole lot more people who knew about God and feared to go against His will than appears to be so today. THAT AIN’T ALL BAD!
Days in the Garage
I was born in 1933 – a lifetime ago – on Princeton Street in Barberton, Ohio, in the home of my dad’s parents. My earliest recollections of our own house was at 1139 Wooster Road North where dad had his auto repair shop out the back door. A homemade sign at the edge of Wooster Road and our long driveway proclaimed “JAMES GARAGE.”
I remember getting up in the mornings, dressing myself, having something to eat. Our cereal choices were: Wheaties (the Breakfast of Champions), Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies (Snap, Crackle, Pop), Grape Nuts and puffed rice and puffed wheat. The puffed cereals came in big cellophane bags – before plastic – and I can’t remember there being a trade name though there probably was. The shredded wheat was made by Nabisco and there was always a picture of Niagara Falls on the box. The biscuits were BIG and were separated in layers by a treasured card you could color.
I would eat my cereal and go out to the garage where dad would already be hard at work. I can remember sitting on the fender of the car while he tinkered with pistons and wires and carburetors and spark plugs. I never crawled under the cars with dad, but often sat at his feet that jutted out from under the car while he lay on the creeper, asking him question after question. I suppose that is why I knew so much about cars by the time I married your Grandpa. But we were told in those days (it’s still not a bad idea) not to be too smart in areas that belong to the men and I soon forgot just about everything I knew. (That’s another whole subject that we’ll not take up today.)
Learning from Dad
I loved to watch the sparks fly from the wire brush wheel on dad’s grinder. He would polish the crud off parts and make them look shiny and new. It was fun to watch him mix baking soda and water and pour it over the battery top to remove the green corrosion. The soda and water would bubble and foam and hiss. It was special when dad pulled out his retread tool and cut deep treads down used tires. Dad spent many hours welding with his acetylene torch. He always wore goggles to protect his eyes and would caution me not to look at the brilliant, red-hot metal and flame.
My VERY favorite thing to do while in the garage with dad was to take a putty knife, sit on a piece of cardboard on the floor next to dad’s big, red jack, and scrape the layers of grease and gook out of the jack cup that fit under the car,. Sometimes the grease would be a half-inch thick – it was like playing with clay. I can remember mother coming home from work and gently saying to dad, “Can you not find something else for Janice to do besides play with the jack?” He never did. What do you suppose a little four or five year old girl looked like after a day in the repair shop with her dad?
There were many of those days. My mother worked outside our home before my earliest recollections. She was bookkeeper for the Ford Motor Company in Akron. She loved the work and was good at it, too. But you see, the unusual part of all this is that almost NO mother worked out of the home in those days unless her husband was dead or had left her. Mothers stayed home and took care of their children.
I was told I had a babysitter when I was younger. One night dad and mom went somewhere in the evening and left me in the care of the babysitter. When they came home at midnight, they found me in my crib, asleep, and the babysitter was no where to be found. I was probably about two years old.
The next morning dad was waiting for her as well you might imagine he would be. He met her half way up the long driveway, and that was the END of babysitters for me. From that time on I was either in the care of one of my parents or with my grandparents.
Mother finally left her bookkeeping job when I was ten years old. Having a “working” mother made me determined that I would stay home with our children unless your Grandpa encountered ill health and I had to work to put food on the table. It didn’t seem to me that any job or the things that job might buy was worth time lost with our precious girls. As strongly as I felt about it, I never realized how indelibly marked I had been until I was over forty years of age.
My dear friend, Alma Hoel, whom I visited with often, said to me one day, “Janice, you talk about your dad all the time but you never mention your mother.” That little sentence pulled me up short. She was right. I realized it in an instant. I also knew why. My most formative years were spent in the constant care of dad. Not until the age of ten, when my own world was widening, did mom stay home. It was precious time and memories lost – never to be regained.
I had a dear mother, gentle, quiet, loving, gracious. I doubt she ever realized how very cheated I felt for the years she worked, nor would I have wanted her to – there was nothing to be changed and I would not have hurt her for anything. Now, working mothers are so much a part of our society that many children have no concept of having a mother OR a father in the home caring for them. It is a sad commentary on how we prioritize our lives.
No Work is more Important
When the Bible speaks of children they are ALWAYS a blessing from God. Oh, sometimes Bible children didn’t turn out well, like Eli’s terribly rebellious, wicked sons, or some of King David’s sons who were deceitful, dishonest, disobedient to their father and their king. But they, like every other baby, came into this world innocent and pure and eternal.
ETERNAL! What can be more important than that? A few years ago when the Women’s Liberation Movement began to roll full speed ahead, the accepted thought was that any woman staying home to take care of children was certainly wasting her time and not reaching her full potential. Beloved grandchildren, THERE IS NO WORK SO VITAL, SO REWARDING, SO LONG-LASTING, SO IMPORTANT OR URGENT as raising children to love and serve our God and Savior!! Many women, even Christian women, have lowered their sights and chosen occupations of far-lesser value because they have bought the lies of Satan.
One myth that is still circulated is: You can’t live on a one-family income. Of course you can’t, in many cases, if you must have a new house, new furniture, new cars, regular vacations, latest fashions. But IF one keeps his eyes on what GOD considers important – the things of eternal value – we can find a way to keep mom at home.
You’ll be Glad you Did
Just a few weeks before Lisa died, I had done a workshop at the Women’s Retreat at Rock River Christian Camp entitled, Influencing Your Child for Christ. Lisa had been in that workshop and had taken home to Kent the little pamphlet I had made for the occasion. They looked forward so to the day when they would have children. Lisa often came to the church office at 511 West Jefferson to eat lunch with Grandpa and me since her workplace was just two blocks down Jefferson Street at Pioneer Life. One day we were alone and she told me she and Kent had gone over the pamphlet together and were anxious to try the suggestions I had written about.
Eventually I worked the material from the workshop into an article and submitted it to CHRISTIAN STANDARD for publication. The letter of acceptance was in our mailbox the day Lisa died. When I finally looked at the mail, two days later, I stared at the letter that said, “Your article, Influencing Your Child for Christ, has been accepted.” I thought, influencing our child for Christ, I’m so glad we did. Out of that moment and a broken heart I penned the article, “You’ll Be Glad You Did.”
I rushed the article to Sam Stone, the editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD, with a note that if he wanted to use it, it should be run as a companion article to “Influencing Your Child for Christ.” His reply was very tender and kind….yes, they would appear one after the other. Did we have a picture of Lisa we could send? And so the last Sunday in October of 1983 the first article was printed with the notation at the end that a sequel to that article would appear the next week. The following week Kent and Lisa smiled out at us as we opened the publication to “You’ll Be Glad You Did.”
I can say now, as I said then, if you are ever called to look upon the lifeless form of your beloved child lying in a casket and you influenced that child for Christ, you’ll be glad you did. (That is putting it mildly.)
God Wants us to be Successful
I believe God gives parents all the strength and wisdom and understanding they need to be successful at raising devoted children – devoted to God. After all, God WANTS us to be successful. The failure is not God’s if children grow up rebellious and ungodly. He surely doesn’t want that to happen. But we cannot ASSUME everything will be all right just because we want it. Parenting must be worked at, prayed about, and given much attention in order for us to be the kind of parents God wants us to be.
Parents can make mistakes. Children are very forgiving when they know their parents love them and are trying to do their best at parenting. But parents who ride roughshod over the emotions and needs of their children are in for a bad time.
I could write so much more, but perhaps referring back to the chapters on obedience, respectfulness, hard work, contentment, etc., will be very helpful. Just know how VERY PRECIOUS children are and how important it is to lead them to Christ. They will not become Christians by osmosis. That’s why we are instructed to teach them and train them. Raising devoted children to God does NOT just happen. God bless you when the children come!
Lisa and Kent