Birthdays have typically been something I’ve looked forward to and enjoy. My 30th was particularly amazing since my first baby girl was born that day. I always say it was a good distraction from turning 30. Birthdays are school holidays for us as homeschoolers. The kids enjoy getting to have their birthday off of school. Today is Willow’s and my birthday, so we’re enjoying our school holiday. Well, Willow is at least. 3 years ago is when I realized that I don’t really enjoy birthdays anymore. Instead it’s a reminder of loss.
In June of 2015 my world came crashing down when my mom suddenly passed away. She passed away in her sleep. She had just watched my older two the morning before when I had a doctor’s appointment for my pregnancy with our third baby. It was completely unexpected. I could barely sleep for months after, let alone do anything but the minimum requirement of taking care of my little ones. My 33rd birthday was my first birthday without my mom. It had been almost a year since I had lost her, but it hit hard that day. I did my best to focus on Willow and helping her to have a good birthday. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and wait for the day to pass by. My hubby did his best to make it special and support me. I just couldn’t shake the sadness. The sudden grief coming back full force.
My 34th birthday was a little easier. Possibly because the distraction of spending it at our local Renaissance Faire that we go to each year as my birthday gift. It still hit he at times throughout the day. My wonderful husband is amazing and just holds me when those waves hit.
My 35th was a bit easier still, although it made me think of how my mom would never meet the little one that was growing in my belly.
At the end of April last year, I watched as my Daddy took his last breath. In some ways his death was easier since I got to spend his last weeks with him and had a chance to say goodbye. However, it’s never easy to lose someone you love. I still miss him terribly and some days are really difficult. Today is one of those days.
At 36 years old I’m spending my first birthday without my mom or dad. The sadness is overwhelming. I never thought birthdays would be something hard to get through. I have known some that didn’t celebrate their birthdays at all as it was just a reminder of the grief of losses they’d faced, but I couldn’t fathom it. Not until I experienced it myself. I’m thankful to have had another year. I pray I get more years to watch my little ones grow and spend time with my loved ones. But, just for today, I will allow myself to feel this grief and think of the parents I love dearly that I sorely miss and maybe we can celebrate tomorrow.
We are a very blessed people. Our nation’s foundation on freedom has allowed us to prosper materially. The Thanksgiving holiday tends to hold a magnifying glass over these material blessings from God. We are right to attribute these blessings as being from God, however, if we are not careful, these same things can blind us from the reality of God’s design.
Part of this reality: the blessings He gives us come with a requirement. To quote the late Stan Lee, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Or, even better, Jesus says very plainly that the blessings that God has given us means that He expects a tremendous amount from us.
Luke 12:48 “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
So with this in mind, I want to touch on three of the blessings that God has given us and their respective responsibilities.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They fill our lives with joy and chaos, pride and fear, love and sorrow. As we teach them about the world around them, we are given the opportunity to rediscover it through their eyes. I personally feel that they are the greatest material blessings God has bestowed on me.
The passage above calls our children arrows. As they grow older and we let them loose in the world, they will never hit the target unless we ourselves are facing it and aiming them with purpose. As Christian parents, our responsibility, of course, is to guide them to God.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
With divine inspiration and providence, God has provided us with His Word in the form of the Bible. Through it, we know His will, our hope in His sacrifice, and that through it we are saved. Unfortunately, Satan uses the world to drown out the Word in a sea of noise. This blessing gives us the responsibility to rise above the noise and share it with others to the greatest of our ability.
The Ability to Worship
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
My in-laws spent several years teaching English in China. There they were unable to worship God unless it was at one of the government-sanctioned churches that taught a heavily modified form of Christianity. Instead, they chose to worship and teach the truth in secret despite fear of persecution. Any time they came back to the states, the joy they felt at being able to worship openly was palpable.
What a blessing it is to be able to freely gather together to worship the Lord! Our responsibility is simple, we are to not take for granted our ability to meet with the Saints. (Hebrews 10:24-25) However, do not mistake its simplicity as unimportance. When we come together, we come to encourage, admonish, teach, and correct each other, as well as praise and worship our Living God.
There are so many more blessings that God has bestowed on us. As the song says, “count your many blessings, name them one by one.” But while you’re doing that, don’t forget to take the time to count the responsibilities that come along with them.
Terry, our minister had a fibrous growth removed and was unable to preach for several weeks. The men of the congregation were asked to fill in during his absence. I was fortunate enough to be one of those men. This is the sermon I offered.
Christina found this letter while going through her mother’s things. This is a letter from her grandfather to his father when he was young. I found it very touching and inspirational and I hope you do as well.
I am just a little fellow, but I have been doing some thinking. Some day I will be a big man just like you. You are my ideal – I think you can do anything. I like to hear you talk, and watch you walk, and to see you drive the car. You are so strong and it seems that you know how to handle any situation. I am never afraid when you are around.
But Dad, there is something that is bothering me a lot, I know that I am going to be like you, even though I should try to be different. I like to go to Sunday school and Church. When I get a little older, very likely I will not – cause you don’t go. I like to study the Bible now, but will I when I get as big as you? You do not. When I get big like you, Daddy, I want to go to Church with my Wife; but will I? You don’t very often. I am going to be like you, I want to give thanks at the table for food, clothing, and the home God has given us, but Daddy, I want to help my wife and win others to Christ and especially our Children – but how can I? You think only of your work, and paying for our house, and buying our food and clothes. This is very nice Daddy; but the Bible says, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” and I know that is true because people are dying every day and leaving pretty homes behind, and also their savings accounts. Daddy, I am afraid you wouldn’t take time off from the store to go to heaven.
Anyway, Dad, I have enjoyed talking with you about these things. I do hope you will become a Christian some time so that I can be the kind of man I want to be – and be just like you too.