The Blessings of Family

A FAMILY IS LIKE MANY THINGS, perhaps most like a garden. It needs time, attention, and cultivation. The sunshine of laughter and affirmation. It also needs the rains of difficulties, tense moments, and serious discussions about issues that matter. And there must be spadework, where hardness is broken loose and planting of fresh seeds is accomplished with lots of TLC. Someone recently passed on to me suggestions for fifteen rows worth planting:

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Stay in the Kitchen

NOT LONG AGO I was reading through Psalm 78 when my eye fell upon verse nine. I was intrigued by the strange stroke of the psalmist’s pen. See if you get the same vibes: The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle. Like foxes hunted by hounds, they ran. The only weapon they used to restrain the enemy was a cloud of dust they stirred up as they retreated en masse, in a hurry, while “armed with bows.”

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Letting Loose

ARE YOU BETTER AT smothering than loving? That’s why you are blown away with the thought of relaxing your gargantuan grip on the things and people you love the most. Letting something precious go is, on occasion, unbearable. The parting cannot happen without inward bleeding. It’s hard to let go. Turning loose heightens our stress.

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Watch Your Handoffs

FAMILY. The place where principles are hammered out on the anvil of daily living. Where character traits are molded and shaped under the watchful eyes of moms and dads. The batons in this relay are many. Determination. “Stick with it—regardless.” Honesty. “Speak and live the truth—always.” Responsibility. “Be dependable, be trustworthy.” Thoughtfulness. “Think of others before yourself.” Confidentiality. “Don’t tell secrets. Seal your lips.”

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Handle with Care

THE PACKAGE ARRIVED SAFELY, the reminder “Fragile: Handle with Care” affixed to the front. Oh, it had a few scuff marks and a bent corner or two, but by and large, nothing was damaged. Inside was a photo of my family, just a picture of six people with the same last name, four of whom were delivered by God into our home between 1961 and 1970. Those four deliveries should have had the same reminder: “Fragile: Handle with Care.”

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Hoping and Waiting

AT LONG LAST I AM FINALLY discovering that that stuff about Rome not being built in a day is true. And speaking of Rome, Paul’s words to the century-one Christians who lived there are truer than ever. We believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children . . .

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Who’s Imitating You?

WHO IS IT THE LORD HAS used to model His message and challenge you to change, to shake off that tendency to settle for less than your full potential, to stretch and pursue and conquer new territory you once never dreamed possible? All of us can name atleast one individual, can’t we? Four characteristics are usually found in those who impact our lives:

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The Next Generation

THE BIBLE doesn’t try to paint its heroes as anything but real people with real flaws. Consequently, Abraham becomes real, not despite his frailties, but because of them. Like all real people, he had weaknesses.

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Disintegrating Families

The temptation of any child of vocational Christian ministers is to see the work of the ministry as just another thing, just another religious occupation.

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A Gift for Dad

In an age of equal rights and equal time, it seems only fair to give dads equal attention. Sometimes it seems the only time that happens is during the big commercial buildup for Father’s Day, and then it’s all buy, buy, buy! Families wonder whether to wrap us in robes, fill us with food, surprise us with skis, tickle us with tools, or just cover us with kisses. If I know dads, most of ’em blush no matter what you do. They are so used to providing, receiving is a little weird.

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