Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day and Happy 81st Birthday, Daddy

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

I am thankful today for two parents who began a long road together in December 1952. Armed with all the energy and innocence of youth, fueled by love and unflagging determination to a shared purpose, fortified by their families who stood behind and beside them cheering on these two barely-20 year olds, they charted a course together. 

And then there were three....then four....five, six, seven and so on, each one coming in due time until there were nine of us piled in that Ford van or that Mercury wagon. Now we do not fit in any vehicle. Numbering 37 strong, we await the arrival of three more this month to swaddle the same way she taught us how many years ago. 

One generation teaches the ways of wisdom to the next, and if we are wise, we take it to heart. 

They say it started over  mom's homemade white cake with white icing and a first date to First Baptist Church of Hattiesburg's revival. It only takes a spark to ignite a fire, but much more is needed to sustain and manage the blaze over the long haul. The time will come when each of us is road-tested and battle weary. When we run out of steam. When it's not fun anymore. What do we do then?

There's got to be more than cake and preachin' to see us through.

I look upon the example of dear friends and family God has allowed in my path whose faithfulness is marked by forgiveness in good measure, grace to give space when needed, courage to face an uncertain future, perseverance when we see more road blocks than road ahead, and love whose limit has yet to be found.

Someone asked me 30 years ago, "How can your parents divide their love by all those children? I know how much I love my children, and I could never divide it up that way." 

I found the question odd, but answered it the only way I could. "They don't divide."

"They don't divide. It's not a pie where there is a fixed amount of love and each one gets a smaller share. Love multiplies."

Love grows when shared. Love--with all it attendant joys and heartaches--expands. That's the nature of love; We simply cannot contain it or limit it if we tried. Knowledge will fail us. Understanding will fall short. We need something beyond our math operations and management skills to help us navigate this life. I find that being rooted and grounded in love is essential.

 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

Thank you for hanging in there with all of this crazy bunch all these years. We love you dearly!

The living, the living--they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness. Isaiah 38:19