all words and photos © by June Friesen, scripture from The Message translation
National Parents Day is a day that encourages people to honor their heritage, particularly their parents. One may ask or even wonder, why do we have to set aside a special day to honor parents. So often in today’s world and particularly in America we often fail to appreciate the value of having good parents. Then one may ask: what does a good parent look like? What may be some characteristics that they practice? Some may even ask – aren’t all parents good? Do not all parents care for their children?
The first photo is my one set of grandparents. I remember how my grandmother made time for me. She would include me in baking some yummy sugar cookies which we decorated with all kinds of sprinkles. Another favorite activity was coloring at her house. She always had cool colored pencils she let me use as well as a large box of 48 crayons. And she would patiently sharpen the crayons as they wore down so that it was easy to color inside the lines. There were times too when she sat down with me and colored. By her investing time with me and making me feel special I grew in my love and appreciation for her and often would make special little things for her. My mother and father also made time for doing some special things with me and for me. While we worked hard on the farm there were still fun activities that were included like day trips and picnics especially on Sunday after church as well as some vacations from time to time to visit people.
In today’s world it is hard to be a parent as there are so many demands on one’s time as well as energy. It is often hard to find the time or opportunity to make special times for parents because of our mobile society. So many families, ours included, find the parents living often hundreds and or thousands of miles from their children and grandchildren. So it can be challenging to make days like today be particularly special for one’s parents. And yet so often just having a friend or two that one can share with can be the most helpful support. When our children were young, we spent time together with them doing special things that they enjoyed. Some of those things were going to the Farmer’s Market and a favorite treat was cheese curds. We lived only about an hour drive from Niagara Falls and they not only loved picnicking, but also watching the water thunder over the rocks to the depths below. As well, they loved watching the ships being lifted and lowered in the locks at the canal(see photos below). Going to the apple orchard and picking up windfall apples, going to the maple tree farms in spring and watching the sap drip into the buckets, then gathered and processed into maple syrup were a few of their favorite outings. These were times we set aside so that our children knew they were the focus of our attention and we embraced doing some of the things they enjoyed. Today our sons are adults and we still choose to make memories with them as well as including our daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Just this past Christmas we were all together and our sons made us feel special as they made it possible for us all to be together. I cannot emphasize enough that when we choose to make family time important it becomes the seed that grows into something that is carried on and reproduced from one generation to another. We have also chosen to keep these memories going with our granddaughters and have done some special things that have included them. In turn as they are now teenagers they are already thinking of ways to make things special and honoring their parents as well as their grandparents.
God created parents in the beginning of time. While there are not a lot of stories included in the Scriptures about parents and children, we do find somewhere there was special mention given to how the parent/parents cared for their children or a child. I think of the parents of Moses who hid him from the Pharoah. I think of Hannah who taught her son well and then encouraged him to become a helper at the Temple. And there was also Mary who cared for Jesus until he became old enough to be on His own. We do not read much in the Scriptures about how the parents may have been honored yet God instructed His people including you and I to honor and respect our parents.
Hebrews 12: 4-11 … have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off big-time, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
I included these verses from Hebrews as it emphasizes that as we train our children they will grow in respect for us, and I might include that it will also include respect for other adults as well. Then it links how this respect will translate into our relationship with God as well. In the Scriptures it talks about God being our Father and when we grow up with a home where we are taught to respect and honor our parents and other adults it will spill over into enhancing our relationship with God.
EMBRACING THE GIFT OF LIFE
One may ask – how can I embrace this gift of life that I have?
How can I really say ‘thank you’ to my parents?
For some it may be a struggle
And for others it may seem to come so naturally.
As one moves through life from beginning to the end –
There is the time of full and complete dependency upon another –
This is where one’s parents fill a vital role
As they provide food regularly that is readily digestible for our age,
They provide shelter from the harshness of the climate at times,
They provide opportunity to learn how to develop relationships,
They help us learn how to properly care for our bodies in all aspects –
Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
They help us learn how to protect ourselves from harm and danger,
They also help us to get the education needed for life in this world and beyond,
Education of our minds so we can make a difference in the world
As well as provide for our needs by using our abilities and talents for good work.
Today let us be encouraged to say thank you to our parents –
For some of us, our parents are no longer here on earth,
But we can still express our gratitude to God for His blessing to us,
We also can let our children, family and friends know the great impact our parents had on our lives and the world.
For some of us our parents live thousands of miles away,
But we now have phones and computers with video chat
Allowing us to do what is called ‘facetime’ –
What an incredible opportunity to honor parents and grandparents from afar.
There is the gift of blessing –
Something that is often missed in today’s world,
But I challenge us today –
Send a prayer of blessing first to God for your parents –
And then drop a text, an email, a phone call –
And let them know –
How thankful you are that they have blessed you with life
As well as raised you and gave you wings to fly and make a difference in the world.
Happy National Parents Day –
Bless the world with your life – and receive the blessings gifted to you today for being the best parent you can/could be. Amen.
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