If you have children then what I’m about to tell you will not come as a surprise. Parenting is many times a thankless job. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we love our kids and we know that ultimately we are not only serving them but also the Lord, and that we should not parent with the motivation or expectation that our children will be grateful for the hours, the sweat and the tears that we pour over them – but sometimes you just wish they would express some small form of a “thank you”. As parents to six children of our own, and house parents to eight teenage boys here in the Hope Program, we have the special pleasure of seeing this lovely “thankless” spirit day in and day out….multiplied by fourteen!
So…more true confessions: Sometimes this “spirit of thanklessness” (I believe I just made up that word!) can make a parent lose steam. It can make one wonder why they spend their life cooking, cleaning, reminding people to do their chores, making sure people are getting to bed on time, and up on time, and that they’ve finished their homework. Sometimes it starts to get old. The good news is that God is great at taking over when we reach what sometimes feels like the end of ourselves. Julie and I want to brag on the Lord that He’s doing a great work in us in this season of our life. I think that in some ways we had reached the end of ourselves. The wonderful news is that He is making all things new – including bringing renewed focus and vision, renewed passion and love towards our boys, and even what you might describe as personal revival in our relationship with him.
In the midst of all that God is doing he recently gave my wife specific encouragement with regard to her role as a mother to 14. In Galatians 6:9 we are reminded, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It sounds like such a simple command – but yet if we are trying to “do good” out of our own strength it can become so very difficult. Praise God that the very motivation to “do good” is from him, and that ultimately all the good we do is for him or for his glory as we serve those around us. And so it is with that renewed vigor that Julie and I are tackling each day, and each task as we press on to serve and love those who God has called us to minister to.
A few days ago we were cleaning out the closets and came across some things that have not been used in awhile. We got out some puzzles as we figured they could be good family activities for all ages. Just as we suspected, our young children and our boys have loved them. They have been taking turns throughout the day, and late into the evenings putting them together all over our kitchen table. It’s been very fun to watch. The other thing we got out of the closet were some refrigerator magnets of the alphabet. We plastered them all over the front of our fridge and assumed that at least our two youngest could entertain themselves. Much to our amazement nearly the whole household has gotten use out of them, making designs, writing the names of people in our family, and practicing spelling words – both in English and Spanish.
The other night Julie and I returned home later after being out and encountered a very special message that some of the boys had created for us. There on the fridge, spelled out in letter magnets was the following, “We love you mom and dad – thank you – by your boys”.
Our hearts were touched indeed. What a special thank you! So simple, yet so profound. It meant the world to us because as parents you long to hear it or see it in any form. But more than being just a message of thanks from our boys it was an encouragement from the Lord, “Do not tire of doing good.” I’m not sure he could have made it any clearer. Thank you Lord. May you continue to give us even more love to love, and more desire to serve those around us.