Capturing Their Heart
By Malissa Custer
When you were young, did you ever notice something that your parents loved, and wonder why it was so precious to them? When I was a kid, my grandma had a bunch of odd knick-knacks and glass paper weights that meant very much to her. They were always dusted and displayed, and we were not allowed to play with most of them. She was an English professor at the local college, and she tutored all the kids who were failing. She spent a lot of time with each individual to help them pass, and most of them considered her their favorite professor, and a friend. A few of them, when graduating, would give her these gifts and a nice note. To her they represented hard work, investment, success and accomplishment in her career. Treasures. That was 25 years ago. Now my grandma is safe and mostly happy at her place in the nursing home, with a lot of her mind and memories missing. Last summer, when we were all home for our annual family reunion, we went through their house and took the things that meant something to us. Of course, these other things really only meant something to my grandma. They didn’t have any significance to any of us, and were in the junk pile with no one giving them a second glance, except Ellery. I gave her a cardboard box and told her she could take whatever she liked, and she liked it ALL. So, here I am with all my grandma’s treasures lying around and being displayed and accidently broken by these orangutans. Every time I am cleaning one up and throwing it away, I think of how much they meant to my grandma, and how little they mean to all of us. Then I sit and wonder when I’m old and my kids are given the task of cleaning up my life, what will they think is trash, that I consider treasure?
I was recently teaching this parable of the treasure to the teen girls Sunday school class:
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth the field.”
After reading it, I asked the girls if any of them knew their parents’ salvation stories, or even how the gospel had entered their families. All of these girls have been raised in church, knowing the gospel from a very young age. Most didn’t know anything but the general gist of the stories. I challenged them to go home and ask Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa their salvation testimony, and get all the details. It was not a requirement, and not all did it, but those who did were blessed and impacted because of it. You see, they didn’t understand why it was considered treasure, and what their family member had given up to obtain it.
I then began to wonder why these stories weren’t told often. I thought back, and counted how many times my kids had heard mine. Not enough, would be the answer. I was ashamed at the thought that when I am old and my marbles are missing, my salvation could be what my children put in their junk pile: a treasure to me, but of no significance to them.
How does this happen? Well, I know exactly how it happens. They start out babies, then toddlers who can’t understand what you are saying. Then, they are talking a mile a minute, and most of it is of no importance. Soon enough, you have blinked and five years have gone by. Your day is so occupied by the needs and demands of these tiny people, that to have a conversation with them at the end of the day seems ridiculous. They take everything out of you, and giving that extra bit is hard! You desire to have your hard-to-find alone time, and if you went and lay with them in bed, you would have to give some of that up.
I know, for a fact, that I would not be saved today if my dad had not been willing to sit with me in my room and just listen to all my thoughts. I was a night owl, even as a child, always caught with my nose in a book way after bed time. It was his job to manage me, and he would come in and hang out. We would talk about anything and everything, including my strong desire for him to call me Priscilla. Through those times, he captured my heart, and continued to keep it all through my childhood. He never once laughed at me when I told him I thought demons were under my bed trying to take me. He showed me what the Bible had to say about it, and how to deal with it. In that very special time he led me to the Lord after lots of talks about my sin, and his too.
After being challenged, myself, with all of these thoughts, I am hoping to pass along the challenge to you. Evolving with the growth, change, and maturity of your children is hard to do. Capture their hearts young, and keep them so you know everything that is going on in their minds. Facilitate a relationship that breeds open communication and unjudging love. Show them the truth, through your own personal story. Make your treasure theirs.
Today I Give Away My Baby
By Barbara Russell
On my wedding day, I was so excited to be getting married that I was totally oblivious to the feelings of my dad and mom. I had no idea how difficult this day was for them, and how my wedding day marked the beginning of their “empty nest.” I remember before leaving the house to go to the church, my dad said, “Well, baby girl, you’d better come and sit on my lap one more time before you leave, because this will be the last time you do.” Looking back I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for him! I was his for 19 years, and now in just a few short hours, he would be “giving me away.”
I was determined not to cry on my wedding day, and I succeeded until I was on my way to our honeymoon. My mom had written two letters: one for both my future husband and me. We were instructed not to read them until after we were married. While traveling to our honeymoon destination, my husband suggested I read the letters aloud. We chose to start with his. “Today I give away my baby,” the first line read. I cried and cried and cried! When I regained my composure I tried again, “Today I give away my baby,” I repeated. I cried and cried again! After unsuccessfully reading this line at least three more times, my dear husband of 5 hours kindly suggested, “How about trying the second line?”
I never knew what it felt like to “give away my baby,” until it was my turn! When I handed my sons over to their bride, I knew they were getting the perfect help meet for them, and that they had a new cheerleader in their life. No longer would Mom be the one they spent their day with, or called to share their burdens and blessings. Not that my boys have totally shut me out of their life; we just have a different kind of relationship now. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, because God says that a man should leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. (Matt. 19:5)
BUT giving away my baby girl?! Now that was a different story! It had nothing to do with who she married, for he is a good man; it had everything to do with ME letting go!
The following letter is one I wrote to my daughter. It was read aloud at her bridal shower. Several moms thanked me for sharing my heart, because they, too, struggled with letting go. Sometimes it just helps to know that we are not alone.
“To my Baby Girl,
Oh how thrilled I was the day your Daddy placed you in my arms and announced, ‘It’s a girl!’ I was delighted! After already having 2 boys, I was secretly, deep down inside, so wanting a little girl. From that moment, I started calling you ‘my baby girl,’ and I guess in my heart, that is who I thought you would always be.
Throughout the years I loved our long late night talks, and how you would share everything with ME! You would tell me that you didn’t know how you could ever leave me, or live without me. I assured you that you could stay with me as long as you wanted, but that ‘Someday,’ when the time was right, and God sent along that special Man, it would become natural and easy for you to leave.
Well…along came Brent into your life, and ‘Someday’ had arrived! Our talks got shorter, and sharing everything turned into some things. Although I must admit that at first it was hard feeling the separation that was coming between us, I was thrilled that the Lord was blessing you with a man that you could talk to and share everything with.
I’ve watched you grow into a lovely, godly young lady. As you leave our home, and become the ‘Keeper of your Home,’ I hope I have given you skills that will help make this very important responsibility a little easier for you. To be the keeper of your home involves so many areas…cooking, cleaning, doctoring, teaching, organizing, scheduling…OH! And don’t forget, you must have a JOYFUL spirit during this whole process! Because ‘If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ Although I chafe at that saying, it is, unfortunately, all too true. You do set the tone of your home and your attitude is so important!
LEARN to LOVE being a wife, and someday, a mother. This will involve an extreme amount of work, self-denial, humility, and applying the principles of God’s Word in your life. But if you joyfully and diligently take on this task, you will one day be able to look back on your life and be so glad you chose to live your life God’s Way! Titus 2:4-5 ‘That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.’
Well, my baby girl, I guess it’s time I let you go, and allow my heart to let you become, Mrs. Bethany Chaney.”