I have spoken many sermons on Thanksgiving and the things for which we should be thankful. As this day dawns upon us I want to pause and reflect on those things for which I am thankful. However an attempt to list those many blessings which have been mine would be impossible and any attempt to do so would meet with great disappointment and failure.
For that reason I will make no pursuit to list those blessings which are many and sundry.
Considering the fact that I could not give justice to all I will attempt to give at least justice to one. This one blessing to which I want to give pause is the blessing of my family.
My family is unique to me and my wife. No one else has our family. Our family is ours and ours alone. I am aware that everyone has a family of which many of you are equally proud. But in these few words I want to express our love for our family. Even though I am the author in our household these thoughts are shared by my wife as well and one would be foolish to think I am expressing my thoughts and love alone.
My wife and I have a different legacy handed down from our parents and their parents before them. We are both proud of our parents. They were all kind and wonderful - caring and loving - noble and just. I am so thankful that God provided this legacy for my life from which my character was built. My wife, as well, has eyes that sparkle with pride when she speaks of her father, mother and their families. But we joined those legacies together in 1966 when we married in Iowa Hill, California on a warm May afternoon.
From that moment we began to build our own family and taught our children to embrace pride in life and character. My wife gave the Lord three children. And I often thought that she never looked more beautiful than those times when she was about to give birth to our children. From their birth we recognized that these little babies were not ours. We were given stewardship for these children that God had put in our care.
Our responsibility was to train these three children which at birth were 100% physically dependent on our care and eventually send them out into the world 100% physically independent of our care. The opposite is likewise true. We were to take a child that was 100% focused on itself and train them so they would learn to be 100% focused on Jesus Christ.
I am thankful that we accomplished our goal and when we stand before the judge of the universe we can say we fulfilled our mission.
We are extremely proud and thankful for each our children. Each has passed the tests of childhood and have stood strong in the temptations of adulthood. But not only are we thankful for their lives but we are thankful for those that they have taken into their lives. For that reason we look upon their spouses as our sons and daughters also.
Our family has grown and we can honestly say we are proud of each of them. And each of them have the talent to make contributions which can strengthen our family. We are proud of our eldest son Nathan which has such fantastic people skills and a “hit” when he walks in the room. His wife Anna has a warm personality and can develop a friendship with someone at the speed of a heartbeat. They have two children, Alex and Alaina. Nathan and Anna live out of state, so we are not as aware of outstanding characteristics of their children, but knowing their mom and dad they are on the way to become young people who are sharp of wit and sharp of character.i
Rachel has focus and drive and can get things done while others are still thinking about it and though doesn’t “click” with others as quickly as Anna, she develops long and loyal friendships. Her husband Scott is solid like a rock with an intuitive judge of character, He’s quiet and seldom draws attention to himself, but as they say don’t underestimate the power of a deep moving river. Their children are Charity, Shelby and Andrew.
Charity was our first born grandchild. We were so happy to be grandparents - we were told it would be fun and they didn’t lie. She is one of those people who knows how to get over “an issue” and remind everyone that things are not really “that bad!” She has a wonderful new baby that has a character yet to be developed, but little Ward seldom cries or get angry. It appears he will be well disciplined like his father Freeland (our grandson-in-law) who gets business done without getting side tracked on frivolity.
Charity and Shelby are both quite talented in music having composed the lyrics and music for many songs including those on their CD’s. Singing under the name Heritage Connection they have developed a following in both the U.S. and Europe.
Shelby is focused on what ever task engages her. She has a quick mind and ready for a debate.
Andrew is like his uncle Nathan. He is sharp and can “take charge” if the “party” gets too slow. Andrew likes to greet people on Sunday mornings as they come to church and is always ready to present his ideas and thoughts to a listening ear and can make friends at the speed of sound.
Jason is our youngest son. He is one of those people that displays character of integrity in a handshake or smile. Extremely focus on our ministry he is just there to do what needs to be done without fanfare. Like Nathan and Rachel, he is an excellent pubic speaker and everyone is eager to listen to him when he addresses and audience.
Amanda, Jason’s wife is an excellent mother and bounces around taking care of two little boys like she was born to “bounce.” We are so happy to include her, along with Scott and Anna as one of “our” children. Amanda has a sharp mind which is so much help in our office. She establishes friendships fast and helps people to feel comfortable. Jason and Amanda have two little boys, Caleb and Tayton. Both boys are brilliant (what else did you expect me to say). They love the outdoors and nature.
I hope no one is offended, but I am extremely thankful for my family. I love all my kids: Rachel, Scott, Charity, Freeland, Ward, Shelby, Andrew, Nathan, Anna, Alex, Alaina, Jason, Amanda, Caleb and Tayton.
OK! I have to admit it - none of them are perfect - but I didn’t say they were. I only said I am thankful for them. They all have good qualities and they all have some poor qualities. But they are all men, women and children of character. They all love the Lord and love our people. And if they weren’t my children - my family - I would still be honored to call them my friend.