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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grown Children

One of the greatest blessings in my life has been in seeing my children grow up.  I look at the children of some of my acquaintances—I won’t say ‘friends’ because most of my friends have successfully raised responsible viable adults.  On the other hand, I know many who have brought their children to the size of a full grown member of the human race, but never succeeded at instilling in them the ethics and outlook of an adult.  So many of those offspring continue following the same irresponsible and selfish ways of a thirteen year old who has escaped mom and dad’s supervision.
They take no thought for their own support and maintenance, assuming, like a child, that what ever they need will be supplied to them from some gift falling from the sky.  They are content holding down a job at McDonalds or the corner gas station.  If they plan ahead far enough, much of their paycheck goes to paying the rent someplace and the rest goes for entertainment and recreation.  The bill for utilities is an affront to their nature.
They may have a vehicle of some sort.  It is one of two types—a clunker that they bought somewhere for $500 or a fancy new model car (maybe a pick-up even).  In either case the cost for maintenance, in the first incidence, is a constant drain on their finances, causing them to be constantly either trying to repair the vehicle themselves or collect cash from friends and family to have it repaired.  In the second case, the payments are almost more than they can scrape together in any given month.  If they actually think of things like groceries they apply for Food Stamps.
In the happy event that they do latch onto a job that pays decently, the paycheck is always overspent before they ever get it.  They cannot seem to grasp the fact that yes, the pay may well be $500 or $600 a week but a huge chunk of that is withheld for taxes etc.  Consequently they spend the entire amount before the check is ever in their hands.  Then they realize that they are short on payday.  This usually engenders resentment rather than the realization that they must budget more carefully.
Sadly, their parents are viewed as an open pocketbook rather than given the respect they should have. The adult offspring are angry when the parent says they cannot afford to give them the money to pay a bill or buy groceries.  They are angry when the parent isn’t forthcoming in making up the rent on the first of the month.  They expect to be able to play house as long as they can eke out the money to do it and then move back home when they can’t.  Of course, moving back home is a good deal anyway because it leaves them with their entire paycheck to spend on recreation or a fancier set of wheels; it frees them from things like utility and rent payments or grocery bills.
I’ve seen those exact circumstances over and over. 
Sometimes my heart hurts when I think of how hard my kids had things when they were growing up. Money was tight to say the least, especially after grandpa died and in addition to the groceries and bills for the kids, I took on the utilities and taxes. There was not much money for extras. Notah and Rachael knew, most times, exactly how much money we had to do with and what it had to be spent on. From the time they were able to really comprehend ‘money’ they learned that budgeting was a necessity.  They learned early on that just because there was $300 in my wallet it had to be spent for things like food and gas and paying the electric bill. They learned that doing without wasn’t a fantasy but a reality. 
Both of them went to college and struggled, more than they ever told me, to do things like pay rent and buy groceries.  Their entertainment involved things like riding a skateboard over ridiculous obstacles or hiking through Columbus parks; that was all free for the most part and didn’t involve laying out cash for alcohol and good times. Which was a good thing.
They grew up knowing, too, the value of living a life centered on grown-up things like ethics and honesty and a sense of responsibility.  They grew up with a relationship with God and His standards for living not just a good life but one that held the fullness of His Presence. 
Now I look at them from the perspective of thirty plus years.  Both of them have families, houses, good jobs, and a relationship with the Lord.  Now my whole relationship with them has reversed.  From being the one who provided for them, I’ve become the one taken care of by them.  From being the one turned to in time of trouble, I’m the one who calls them. And from being the strong one in the family I am the one who needs help.
And they give all of that freely and without grudging. 
My daughter has set beside me when I’ve gone to doctors and had surgery.  Yes, she had a job and sometimes had to rearrange her schedule or just plain take off work, but she did it because she loves me.   She wanted to be there, not just to encourage me but to know exactly what the doctors were saying and what she could do to keep things on the right path.  When the doctor put me on a low carb diet, she rearranged her and Michael’s entire menu to accommodate it. 
When she and Michael were house shopping one of their priorities was a room where I could stay and have a bathroom all on one floor.  They found that and the Lord blessed them with a house at the right price.  (When I heard what they were offering I was sure the owner would turn down the offer. It was that low.  He didn’t and they bought the house.) Before they moved in they made sure my room was painted and arranged so I could not be disturbed with paint and ladders and upheaval.  Everything was out of the way of crutches and bad knees. 
Every year Rachael plans with Notah to get me from Ohio to New Mexico so I can spend time with him. It has involved cost that I didn’t have but they have spent the money without complaint.
Now I’m with Notah for the summer. He and his family have worked everything out to make me comfortable. Keva moved to her room behind the garage. It’s a nice room but it isn’t in the house. They put me in the room Keva had, or has most of the year, because it has a bathroom attached and I have to get up several times during the night.  That arrangement gives me a place to put my clothes and so forth without having to use a suitcase for part of them.
Kerra, although she hasn’t rearranged her entire menu for me, makes sure I have fruit and sliced meat and high protein leftovers for my diet.  And the meals she makes for the family are such that I can leave out the carbohydrates and still have a good dinner.
Notah and Kerra have a better work schedule than Rachael and Michael so they can take long hikes and trips on weekends.  And they take me along. I’ve enjoyed this summer more than any of the others I’ve spent with them because I’ve been able to get out of the truck and actually walk around a bit! It has been years and years since I’ve been able to hike in the desert. I don’t really call what I can do now ‘hiking’ but at least I can get sand in my shoes and wind in my hair.
Getting me in and out of the truck is an operation, but the whole family is faithful at bringing me my stool.  Really I can get out okay; it is getting in that causes problems.  I cannot step up into that high Dodge Ram.  But Notah or one of the kids always brings me the little step stool.  Seth is particularly dependable. I think he follows his dad’s example.
My knees work fine, but the muscles in my legs and my balance are still not dependable in spite of rehab and exercise. At inopportune times I call on certain muscles or ligaments and they don’t have the strength to keep me steady on my feet. I don’t ordinarily need a cane, but sometimes just the smallest step up becomes difficult or impossible.  At those times I need a little support to hold me steady.  Seth is usually there to help.  He is willing and quite strong, but frankly I’m lots bigger than him and if I would happen to fall, I’d likely hurt him as well as myself, probably mostly him.
But he and Notah are always there for me to hold on to. It is amazing for me to find my son’s hand there to help me up hills or over uneven ground. Even walking in close quarters or rough parking lots can be difficult without him.  How many years ago did I hold a small hand to keep him safe. Now it is turned around.  Taking hold of that grown up hand  is like taking hold of a tree or a rock.  It is strong and I need not worry that it will give way when I pull on it or lean.  It is like holding to his father’s hand so many years ago. It’s firm and absolutely steady.  
I have another daughter. Her name is Dianne.  I didn’t give birth to her, but the Lord put her in my pathway and in my life.  I love her as one of my own kids. And she is just as self sacrificing and loving as them.  She would drop everything to come if I need her.  She has taken care of me and helped me over and over when my own kids were far away or not able to help.
When I came home from my surgery for the hernia repair, Rachael couldn’t be off work to stay with me and I wasn’t able to do a lot of things on my own until my abdomen healed.  When Rachael called to ask her to help for a few days, Dianne dropped her own life to bring Nic and stay with me a week until she and Rachael trusted me to be alone. Her husband brought her down on a weekend and turned around to go right back home. 
Dianne took care of me and Nic and the dogs while I got well. It was wonderful having her there, not just for the help but for the fellowship that we hadn’t been able to have for several years since I moved to Columbus. It was like having her home for Christmas, but it wasn’t winter.
Now I look at those three (and their spouses) and I’m proud of them.  No, I couldn’t have done any of it without the Lord, but I can still look at them and feel such a sense of security.  I’m not ancient yet, but my body is.  I’ve done a lot of hard work and put these bones through a lot.  They don’t work as well as they used to. 

But I look at my children and it has been worth every hard place, every heartache, every worry, every long day and early morning when I see them all three, doing what the Lord would have them do, caring for their families (well, Rachael and Michael don’t have kids, but they have the dogs and cats and Michael’s family).  They are responsible, thinking, caring adults.  They have good homes and their bills are paid with a little laid aside.  They don’t live ‘high-on-the-hog’ as grandpa would say, but they live well enough to be content.

Because we know godliness with contentment is great gain.

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