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Friday, August 19, 2016

Uncommon Adventure

It’s a common experience.

Just like all the really important events in our lives.

God made the best in life attainable to every creature, regardless of economic level or region of residence.  Waking up to the sunrise, experiencing the exhilaration of adolescence, falling in love, wondering at the strength of  an infant’s finger-clutch, delighting in grandchildren, reveling in the moonlight on an autumn night  - these are not reserved for those of high birth or family privilege or even to those who might somehow seem to deserve them. No, these shared channels of human experience are for all.

Mothering is among those experiences. Obviously, not every woman is a mother; our sin-scarred DNA has taken care of that. But for those who have the physical capacity to bear children, there is no aptitude test one must take to qualify. Perhaps it would be good if there were. Yet, who among us could truly pass such an exam, could grasp the significance of the questions being asked, the responsibility being undertaken? We enter this state of motherhood unaware of its import. Perhaps God knew we wouldn’t do it otherwise.

And so all the stages of motherhood and family are common; millions of homes encounter similar seasons and events, whatever the culture, whatever the language. Human relationship and the emotions evoked are the same everywhere. Grown children moving farther away from the nucleus of the home is not then such a cataclysmic event. It happens somewhere every day. It is one of those common things, a piece of living that comes to every household.

Why then does it feel so very uncommon? Why does it seem more of a tragedy than an adventure? Why does it look like loss instead of gain? Why do I struggle with accepting what has been part of the storyline since the moment I felt the first twinge of new life deep within me?

I’ve been through this before, after all. Three years ago, my firstborn took the first flight from the nest. And I did survive it (though I have to admit I still don’t like it). Now, the second-born is eyeing the distance to her own new perch, getting ready to leap out, on her own and into God’s hands.

As I write this, one daughter is on the front porch in a rocker, the other sitting on the screened-in back porch, both with coffee cups and open Bibles, blonde hair spilling over their shoulders, their hearts lifted up to the One it has been my privilege to know as well. It makes me happy, this knowledge that they have such a Friend, a Guide. Yet, since mothers are allowed to have contradicting emotions, I’m still fighting back the tide of melancholy that rises up when I remember that soon I won’t have the privilege of seeing them first thing in the morning, hearing their silly banter and giving them a hug or kiss when I feel like it. And that’s when I realize anew that I am displaying another common trait – selfishness. Maybe it’s not as ugly when cloaked in motherhood, but it’s still as damaging. And there is a fine line, perhaps, between mother’s “heart” and smothering. After all, how do you ever really distance yourself from a being who began in your body and who never leaves your heart? Yet, to clutch your child so closely that she can never experience her own life is absolutely selfish. I was not given my children for me, but for Him. And they are separate entities, however deeply they are imprinted on my soul. They were meant to soar, without a mom-tether.  Now, the thing that binds us will be our hearts, our mother-child tie that no distance or life experience can sever unless we let it.

It is an adventure for both of us.

 If we let it be.

 If I let it be.

The loss is there, but it is a loss that gives way to a greater horizon.  As the journey from the womb to the world outside gives greater freedom to know a fresh, squalling infant, so the trek from the home to the dorm or apartment or wherever allows greater liberty to fully know an adult child, to learn what nuances of character are hidden, waiting to be released and to begin to appreciate from a new perspective the overwhelming beauty of this creation that God allows moms help to

Yes, it’s common, this vortex of emotion that swirls in and around me now. I don’t know if I will ever really enjoy the process of letting go, but I hope I can see the exhilaration of discovery that awaits both of us or rather all of us, as more of my children enter this hallway of transition. And like Mary of old, I will treasure all these things in my heart, and maybe even find myself growing eager for the next installment of our family story.  Because, like yours, there is nothing at all common about that.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I Knew Rosie the Riveter . . . and She knew Jesus

We called her Susie, not Rosie, and the life she lived went far beyond helping America win a war. She fought the good fight and kept the faith.  And now she has won her final battle and heaven welcomed a faithful daughter on March 8, 2016.

Velma May “Susie” Smith entered this world on July 25, 1925. It was the Roaring Twenties and there might have been a little extra noise on that summer day when this remarkable lady bounced onto the stage of life. There were seven siblings in the family of Martin and Adeline Andrews which in those days likely wasn’t considered an unusually sized family. I don’t know a lot about her childhood except that Susie was a fragile child and because of problems with her spine, had back surgery at a young age. This surgical fusion of bones resulted in a difficult posture with which she struggled for the rest of her life. But if her body was bent, her spirit was beautifully formed.

Susie had many gifts. She excelled in art, notably painting; she had a remarkable memory, focused on the Scripture; she had a strong worth ethic, in a variety of jobs; and she was a comedian, at least to those of us who knew her well.

I came to know Susie in 2011 when our family moved to Massillon to minister to the congregation of the Massillon Wesleyan Methodist Church. Susie had long taken up residence on the end of the third pew on the piano side. She sat right behind me. And that is where I came to know and love her.

She was a colorful person, and I always enjoyed talking to her before and after church services. She wore zip-up print dresses and her hair was always coiffed in a spray of curls on top of her head. She was continually amused at my teen daughters’ colorful assortment of high-heeled shoes and many Sunday mornings would ask to see “what shoes you are wearing today.”

Susie had many Bible verses committed to memory, and she recited them every morning. Many times, during a group discussion in Wednesday Bible study, I’ve heard her comment on a certain Scripture being highlighted, “That’s one of my verses.” Often she would start quoting it at just the mention of the reference.

She kept me laughing with the little quips and assessments of life that she voiced from behind me in church.  Once during Sunday School class when we were talking about wicked King Ahab, she said in that little undertone of hers, “That King Ahab – he was a bad egg!” She was unflaggingly kind in her support of the pastor’s wife’s piano playing and singing, often commenting when I returned to my seat, “That was good.” And perhaps she took that a little far. Once when I came into church and walked down the aisle past her, I heard her singing softly, with a little twinkle in her eye, “Here she comes. . . Miss America!” Oh, Susie, I miss you on that plain, hard bench behind me in church!

Susie had an interesting life, though long before I knew her. She was a real “Rosie the Riveter.” During World War 2, she worked in a war plant which provided parts for Boeing bomber planes. She told me she actually drove rivets into the metal; I think she said they were B-29s. Imagine! And when we were once talking about the different jobs she had held in her lifetime, she remarked that she first saw the carnage from the Nazi death camps when she worked in a local drugstore where returning soldiers were getting their pictures developed.

Susie liked painting. There are two pictures in the sanctuary of our church which are gifts from her hand, literally: renderings of Christ kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane and Christ Standing at the Heart’s Door (she told us that she was always frustrated because she wasn’t done with the detail on the roses but the pastor at the time told her it was good enough; I don’t think she ever quite reconciled to that! Obviously, it was still bothering her years later every time she saw it in church.)

But though she painted with lavish color, her own life was simple and quiet. She never traveled outside the state of Ohio. She lived without frill, sleeping on a bed that she “got a good deal on” but that was terribly uncomfortable from the descriptions of others who were appalled when they saw it. She never complained. She didn’t have extravagant taste in her cooking either. Her Sunday dinner of choice was frozen tray dinners. She and I would often discuss which selection she was having on that day; some she liked and had tasted before. Rarely did I hear her say she didn’t like something.

For several years until she was no longer able, Susie operated the card ministry at MWMC. It was a delight to receive a birthday card from the church which meant that Susie had remembered your birthday and had taken the time to send out a greeting on the church’s behalf.

Susie was very close to her sister, Evelyn Mays. They were confidantes and prayer partners and friends up until the end, calling one another every day and sharing bits of life with each other. They usually spent holidays together. Though their four brothers were gone, these sisters held onto one another and tried their best to support their other sister, Pauline, who had long since been in a nursing facility.

But the most remarkable thing about Susie was her relationship with Jesus. She loved Him and talked to Him daily. He was her Friend in her lonely times and her comfort in her hours of pain which were many toward the end of her earthly life. Because she had been redeemed by His blood and kept by His power down through her life, she is with Him today. We know, as the Apostle reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:8, that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” She is there now, happy and free from the pain she suffered so long. One day, on that glorious day of Resurrection, she will have a new body, an upright, whole one in which she can spend eternity with the Savior she loved and the friends and family who loved her. I look forward to seeing her there. What a great day that will be! Until then, I will hold close in my heart all the lovely things about my sweet friend, Susie, and I don’t think that spot on the end of the third row will ever be right without her in it. Farewell, Susie. I’ll see you soon and we’ll laugh some more and thank Jesus for the reality of eternity in His presence.  Keep looking for me. . . 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Looking for a Hero


It isn't that strange. Not really.
It's built into our psyche, this delight in a champion.

But, for most of us, it's a surreptitious search. Because it makes us feel silly. We were okay with it as children when we could latch onto a strong persona and no one thought anything of it. It could be anybody from an older teen we admired to an athlete, celebrity or musician. When we stumbled upon someone to whom we could look up and aspire to be, we were hooked. If one was blessed to be born into a committed Christian family, the stars who attracted attention might have been preachers or missionaries, Gospel singers or historical patriots of the past. They made us trust in their abilities and character and presented us with a winsome example to follow. 

People are hardwired to be drawn to a strong and appealing person. And they are further designed to feel a sort of proxy satisfaction when the hero accomplishes the goals set out for him or her. That is probably one reason why the Old Testament story of David and Goliath has strong appeal for children and for all of us. We like the idea that even a disadvantage of size and experience and personal power cannot hold back the hero. We like knowing that David had the guts to accept the giant's challenge. In some surrogate way, we feel as if we had those same "guts" too. We identify with the hero and his achievement becomes ours. The pages of the Bible are filled with stories of men and women who were put in place by God at a certain time to be the catalyst and the courage for others.

And in the same vein, many of the books we have loved down through the years have centered on a hero-like character. And in the dawning of the 20th century, old time radio dramas and Hollywood began to play to this area of human psychology. Remember those old characters? The husky, honest, hardworking, courageous yet courteous men who conquered the West or fought organized crime or solved dangerous mysteries or prevailed against the elements of nature? There was the Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet, Roy Rogers, The Rifleman and Perry Mason, the dedicated officers from Dragnet, stalwart mountain men and even strong family men like Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Pa"who couldn't be bought or bluffed, weathered the onslaught of the wilds and always stood for justice. All of these heroes, and the countless others in books and on film, evoked in us not only a sense of security but a celebration of righteousness, truth and liberty. 

And how could we not be drawn to this type of story? It is in our eternal DNA as well. We were made for relationship with the Creator, the best kind of Hero if one can call Him that. And when humankind messed up the perfect Plan, God already had the provision in place - He sent His Son to be the Redemption for us all - the greatest Hero Prototype ever. He embodied all those traits that we subconsciously seek in human champions. He won the final battle. Every other battleground for right merely mirrors His. 

And so it is no wonder, in an election year, that we are looking around for our hero. We don't expect him to be the Messiah; not if we are truly followers of Christ. We know that 1). the only Savior is Jesus; and 2). it is much more important to live one day in the heavenly Kingdom where we will be part of the majority. But still, we are looking for an earthly man, a human like us, who will be our voice and our will and our power in the realms of government over which we have no daily influence. We are yearning for the cowboy in the white hat to ride in and punch out the bad guys. We are wanting to see the officer handcuff the dudes, watch the lawyer indict the culprit or see the head of the family act like one. But since it is the Presidency we are talking about, we want to see a principled, determined man of accomplishment and dignity stride into the Oval Office and conduct the affairs of Washington D.C  without regard for popular opinion or cronyism or threats from rogue nations. We want a hero who reflects, in some dim way, the Champion of the Heavens and who affirms our deep convictions about the way things ought to be. 

These days, we rarely get our earthly hero. There aren't even tin star badges or club membership cards in cereal boxes now. Times have changed. And the heroes who do appear in the twenty-first century arts and literature are far from the stalwart greats of yesteryear. The superheroes of today's cartoons and comic strips tend to be plagued by bad judgement, nasty attitudes, goofy personalities and character flaws. We are told today that our heroes and heroines have to be "real," have some flaws. And I suppose that is true to life. And certainly we will never elect a politician who has no backstory or doesn't demonstrate some unique idiosyncrasies. But we should never dumb down our checklist. It never hurts to expect as high a threshold as humanly possible. After all, once in a while, a man or woman of above average ability and character appears on the stage of life and performs spectacularly to the benefit of the nation. If 2016 is the year in which that happens, great would be the rejoicing. 

Yet, I can't help but express a word of caution that, should that be case, we not make an idol out of him. We cannot throw all of our hopes and devotion into an earthly man or woman. That kind of misplaced worship is the path to cyanide-laced Kool-aid or to cattle cars headed to death camps. It might not be that dire, but it will result in destruction in some way or form. We don't need a demagogue; we need a hero. I think there is a difference. The best hero is the one who deals deeply in the currency of humility. Why the Lone Ranger who graced the airwaves of long ago often didn't stick around for the accolades of his latest accomplishment! The echo of hoof-beats and the fading cry of "Heigh Ho, Silver"told us that he was gone, off to fight the next battle rather than attend a crowning ceremony.

Yes, heroes are needed. We need them. God has often chosen to use them. And a generation of little boys and little girls who can't find badges in their Wheaties are depending on us even more to look for the next lineup of heroes, or just maybe, be one for them. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Husbands Who Pray and Kiss

Behold, the great day of romance is upon us! Cupid’s whisper is in the air and the store displays are filled with pink and red hearts. Florists are doing a booming business. Hallmark is adding to its revenues in great style. Boxes of chocolates are flying off the shelves. And husbands are thinking about how they can wow their wives with a presentation for this celebration of love. And it is appropriate that they do so. But here’s a tip that will keep the Valentine’s Day spark going for the rest of year  . . .

Kiss your wife.

Uh-huh. Kiss her at least once a day.

It’s really a small thing. Doesn’t take much effort. Hardly any commitment. Well, just your heart.

Let’s digress.

Women, wives, need affection. They want to be winked at, glanced at, purposely noticed, embraced, kissed, talked to . . . .romanced. These things tell her she is loved, prized, wanted. They will make her beautiful in ways her husband has never dreamed. They will give her energy to be at his side, keep the house, nurture the children and maintain a special interest in intimacy.

Wives need this kind of attention just because, randomly, spontaneously. And it costs a husband so little to wink at his wife from across the room. Or catch her hand and squeeze it when she walks past him or put his arm around her while they sit together in church (this means even more to pastor’s wives who almost never get this privilege!). Yet, for some men, it is too high a price. It will cost him his heart. You see, a man can enjoy sex without his heart being involved. But he cannot truly romance his wife without committing the inner core of his being.

Most Christian pastors and counselors agree that a wife should care for her husband’s need for intimacy as regularly as possible. For the most part, she should not base her response on his behavior. And she should try to accommodate him even if she feels a little tired or isn’t really in the mood. It is a biological need, and she should make the effort as an expression of her love.

Yet, there is a disparity when it comes to frequent teaching about a man giving his wife affection, regardless of her behavior or his mood. The affection thing seems tied to “chemistry” which in all honesty every married couple admits comes and goes. And so sexual fulfillment is viewed as a need, but a gentle hug or sweet kiss is not.

Willard Harley addressed this issue in his classic book His Needs; Her Needs. He ranked a woman’s need for affection as the number one need of wives, and sexual fulfillment as a husband's number one need. They are equivalent.

What? Don’t believe it? Well, it is difficult for a woman to understand the sometimes strong sexual urge that her husband experiences. So, it would likewise be challenging for a man to comprehend that his wife has a deep hunger for his loving words and tender touch. But without his tenderness, she feels as starved as he does after a week of abstinence.

 Now, of course, there are exceptions. And there may be variation in the degree of affection women desire from their men. Some brought up in more reserved families may feel differently than those raised in “huggy” ones. But, as a general rule, even if she were raised in an austere environment, a typical woman wants and welcomes affection from the man she has married.

And the most affectionate thing a man can do for his wife?  Pray with her. Take her hand, sit or kneel together and come before the Father’s throne together, bringing praises, requests and thanks – simply opening your shared life to His leading and grace. It is an amazing bonding experience. It requires a bit of risk; you are vulnerable when you open up to God with another person. But the rewards are incredible. It will do more for your marriage and your romance than anything else you will try. You know why? Because He is the Unifier, the power that makes one out of two. He will give you eyes that seek to find the good in each other and give you the grace to overlook more than you thought you could. He will be the peace-giver when you let Him into the midst of your “circle of two,” as Steve and Annie Chapman used to sing. He will help you see ways to love your spouse and give you the desire to do so.  And He will bless your relationship and cause it to bloom like a June rose on a summer day.

My friends, that’s about it. If more husbands would pray with their wives and kiss them every day and wink at them now and then, there would be a lot less frantic shopping on the evening before Valentine’s Day! No wife is going to let a good thing get away from her no matter how wilted the flowers from the bucket at the gas station.

DISCLAIMER: My husband does not give me wilted flowers. He is a classy sort of  man and whatever he gives is topnotch. In fact, this Valentine’s Day, I was wowed with a “techy” gadget that he knew I would like and gave me early because he wanted to see how much I enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m gonna keep my guy. (smile)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Three of the Best Decisions my Parents Made

Options, Directory, Many, Selection, Chance, ListParents make many decisions. And I suppose one could argue that the most vital one is the answer to the question “Will we have children?” In former generations, that wasn’t really an option most of the time. When a man and woman married, they assumed that they would have children and usually welcomed the idea. But since the feminist movement popularized and promoted the concept of birth control, there are varying views on “having kids.” Some couples today choose not to have children at all or to wait until parenting fits in with their career paths. I am not focusing on all the angles of birth control today except to say that it seems wrong from a biblical perspective to separate the blessing of children from the marriage package. And of course, there is the other side of the coin where cohabiting couples bring children into an environment that isn’t really a biblical home, and the many ramifications of that have a decided effect. So, I am glad that my parents united in the covenant of marriage and then gave life to me and my two brothers.

Ours was a blessed childhood, almost idyllic in my memory. We were taught from our earliest days about the God of heaven and His plan of salvation and His constant watch-care of us. We were nurtured and mentored and disciplined and read to and instructed and encouraged. We were taught to respect our elders and use good manners and accept difficulties by leaning on God’s grace. We were not spoiled; my parents did not have the resources to do that and were not inclined to do so if they had. But we were part of an extended family that laughed and prayed and talked together and therefore were rich in relatives and wonderful togetherness. We always knew we could depend on our parents; their walk with Jesus was real and influenced everything they did as a couple and then influenced every nuance of our family life.

But there are three “big” decisions that I believe had a major impact on my brothers and me – our worldview, college and career choices and personal relationships as well as our desire to make our parents’ God our own.

  1.  Honoring God’s House and God’s Day

My parents were ministering in traveling evangelism when I, the eldest in my family, was born and continued doing so until I was age twelve. So my brothers and I were literally “raised in church.” Those were the days of extended ten-day revival meetings and every two weeks, we were in a different location, in nightly services. This was our life for about six to seven months of the year. It must have been hard with small children but my parents did an amazing job of teaching us to respect God’s House, the church. We were never allowed to run or play in the sanctuary (though once my brother, Jim, and I initiated a new church where my parents were setting up by rolling under the pews from the back to the front of the church – quite sure that was not my parents’ idea!) We were taught that there was something special about the place where we worshipped, and it was to be respected. But my parents also showed us it was very important to honor God’s Day – Sunday. Even after our family stopped traveling and my father became a local pastor, Sunday rest and worship was the way we observed the “Sabbath.” Going to church twice on Sunday with family dinner and rest in the afternoon was a way of life and something we came to appreciate and then replicate in our own families. We always dressed in our best for Sunday and Sunday dinner was the best meal of the week. I believe this practice gave us a foundation for the way to order the week and taught us that one must offer to God one’s best, even in the clothing one chooses to wear to worship Him. And when one starts the new week by focusing on God and His Word and spending time around the noon meal together as a family, balance and proper priority is established.  

Giving God the whole day and not just a part of the morning is not only good discipline, but is in keeping with the 4th Commandment which is still part of God’s Law for us to follow. Going to service twice may not be expressly stated in the Bible, but “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves” is mentioned (Hebrews 10:25) and I have observed that when one does not have structure for Sunday, it soon fills with other things. Going to evening service keeps one from filling God’s Day with other activities and puts the soul under still more instructive teaching and encouraging fellowship. Besides, there is a unique “aura” to Sunday evening service, different from Sunday morning worship. It is a gathering of God’s family, doing life together and supporting one another. As my husband used to say “Church is the Sunday night place to be.”

I believe that because my parents established these practices in their home and trained us to see it as good and natural, my brothers and I actually like going to church and see it as necessary for our spiritual welfare.

           2. Sacrificing to Give Us a Christian Education
When I was still quite young, my parents heard a presentation by Attorney David Gibbs, Jr. on the important of Christian education. He made a statement that one could not give a child “a Christian heart and a pagan mind” and expect him or her not to struggle later in life. My parents saw the truth of that statement and made Christian education a nonnegotiable in our family. It cost them much. It cost them in convenience during our traveling days by the long hours spent on our homeschooling. It cost them in finances; they had a lot less than they might have otherwise. And my mother had to go to work to make the tuition payments to the Christian school we attended when we were home. She spent weary hours every week cleaning other people’s houses so that we could be students at Victory Christian Academy in Shelbyville, Tennessee. It cost them in miles driven when other couples’ kids were picked up by the bus.

But I am oh, so grateful. The value of a Christian worldview cannot be overstated. It comes through in so many aspects of education – origins of life, historical perspective, literature requirements, attitude toward winning and much more. Because we attended a Christian school which was well-run and was oriented toward shaping Christian character, we emerged after graduation with not only an excellent education but also a grasp of Scripture and life that continues to benefit us.

I firmly believe that many Christian teens depart from their faith because of the pagan way of thinking that they develop while they are surrounded many hours a day by an educational system and by other students who do not honor God. Often, the influence of the students is as much to blame as the curriculum. Christian teachers in public schools can do a tremendous amount of good but they cannot totally nullify the effect of the other factors.

And because we have seen the positive results in our own lives, my brother and I have also chosen to put our children in Christian education. Talking with someone the other day about this choice, I stated that “when you want certain kind of children, you raise them in certain ways.” And that is the philosophy that guided my parents in their decision. You look at the outcome you desire and then make your decisions accordingly.

The pastor of the church which ran the Christian school we attended once gave Ecclesiastes 3:12 as an illustration of the importance of Christian education – “. . . .a threefold cord is not easily broken.” When a child has a godly home, godly church and godly school, he or she will not be as easily swayed by Satan’s schemes.

3. Choosing Not to Have a Television
This is always a controversial issue, but since I am speaking of my own childhood, I will give my opinion from that perspective.

I benefitted from not having a television in the home where I was raised. You have heard this before but yes, we were more creative, more inclined to read, more inclined to play out of doors and less inclined to waste time sitting inside. And we were not overly exposed to the philosophies of the media and the secular marketplace. For, no matter how careful one is in guarding the television programming, there is no way I know of to ascertain which commercial will be playing in the next break. And oft as not, it will be using sex to sell something or embracing an anti-biblical mindset toward fashion and possessions. And then there is the problem of the “theology” one picks up from reality shows and “Oprah-like” shows which is usually not of the biblical persuasion and contributes greatly to the erroneous beliefs of our generation. My husband calls this conglomerate belief system “folk theology” and it is rampant today. People today have pieced together a philosophy about God and salvation that sounds good to them, but is often false.

From my exposure to television programming (not including Christian stations, though many of them teach a prosperity–type gospel which also is in contradiction to the Bible), it is very difficult to assimilate the offerings of television with the doctrine and principles of the Bible. The power of the visual images is great and a young impressionable child is very much affected by the philosophies that are hidden in every program.

Now, I know this is not quite so much a “black and white” matter (pun intended!) as it used to be. Seriously, with the technological developments of our time, television does not refer only to “the set” but to matter available on the Internet from a great many devices. It is more difficult today. But no matter, it is still urgent that parents make thoughtful and careful decisions about what viewing is offered to their children. I, for one, am glad that my parents chose not to make television programming accessible to me and my brothers. There were less ungodly voices speaking into my life and heart and less false messages for me to offset in other ways. And it was much easier to face these pagan ideas as a young adult because I had been so carefully molded as a child.

Yes, parents must often make difficult decisions. And these decisions may be very unpopular with their children. But parents are not called to be their children’s buddies, but their guides, mentors, caretakers. Later in life, parents may be their children’s friends if they have first taken their other roles seriously. My parents understood that they were responsible before God for the way they raised my brothers and me. They wanted to steward their duty well, and they proved it by the tough decisions they made. I have illustrated just three of them but there were many. Today, I rise up to call them blessed. They were and are faithful parents who reflect the Heavenly Father well. I want the same to be said of me.  
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