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To My Dear Father
1 August 2016
Hi Dad,
I wanted to take the time to wish you a happy 76th birthday.  I recently had the opportunity to go through some old photos and I was reminded of how grateful I am to have had you and mom as parents and the good home and upbringing you both made for us girls.  First and foremost, I’m so grateful for the value of love for God which you both gave us.  It must have been difficult to meld your two denominations, especially in a time when those things were more strictly divided. But I always knew that Saturday night we’d be settling into our preparations for the next day and that Sunday morning, without fail, we’d all be going to church.  That rhythm you set, despite going to two different churches, let me know that our time set apart to reverence our Lord was not going to be negotiated and it established a pattern in our hearts from an early age.
Although Holly was too young to remember, Heide and I have warm memories of living in town.  But I want to thank you, too, for all the opportunities you made for us when we moved out into the country (hard to believe that was “the country” once, isn’t it?) You instilled in us an ethic of work (with the morning to-do lists you’d leave us girls) and of doing a job well.  You gave us opportunities to enjoy the fruits of our labors by allowing us to earn money with the gardening and our chickens or pigs.  And you gave us the privilege of knowing that we were contributing in our small way to the family good, whether it was helping to set fence poles or harvesting vegetables or taking care of the animals or hoeing the shelter belt.  I (we) didn’t always like those jobs, but amazingly we all look back now with fond, funny stories of those tasks and we’re so glad they were a part of our childhood.  Work wasn’t the only opportunities you provided for us, but it’s surprising how warm and fuzzy that forced labor seems to us now.  I also thank you for things like your work at our lake cabin, 4H, a playhouse, time with our larger family and cousins, vacations, as well as showing us how to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, etc.
Lastly, thank you by leading us in good character.  As a man of routine, we watched you go off to work each day (even when office politics must have made things difficult at times) and come home on time.  You’d enjoy a very s-l-o-w-l-y eaten supper (while we cleaned up dishes around you) and then you’d have a bit of a rest on the couch before heading outside to do your “putzing and tinkering” (often with Jim, a.k.a “Elmer Fudd”).  Your willingness to help others in need, your honest work, moderation in everything, and your steady approach to almost everything you’ve ever done, really defines you.  Thank you for letting us grow up seeing that played out in your life.
So, on this, your 76th birthday, I pray you will know that we hold you very close in our hearts… as we do each day.  Thank you for everything.
Lots of love,
Kim

 

Dad and Kim - snip

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Carolyn McCulley is the consummate modern woman—author, business woman, public speaker and entrepreneur. So you can bet I took notice when she wrote in a recent True Woman blogpost, “Over the years, I’ve talked to many women about whether or not they should pursue a career. My answer is a qualified no.” I held my breath for a moment until she answered her own question, “So should women work? Absolutely!”

I have to agree with McCulley’s assessment that our modern idea of career is a self-centered one. “It’s ultimately about self-fulfillment and self-definition—how you are defined by what you do.”  Although I desire both of my own girls to find meaningful, fulfilling work to do in their lives, I have never desired their chief identification to come from a “career.”

McCulley echoes my heart for my girls in my wish that they will spend their lives in God-honoring and God-glorifying occupations, “Women should work and work hard every day. As Christ-following women, the Bible calls us to work for the glory of God. But the location of where we work is neither the definition nor the measure of our productivity.

“We may be wives or mothers, but as important as these are, they are roles that end in this life. We continue on as children of God and sisters to those who have been rescued by Christ. We may work in highly esteemed professions or we may not be paid for our daily labors. Those roles are not our identities, either.”

McCulley would challenge women to find their identities through the many opportunities God gives them in their lives. Certainly we are responsible for the use of our talents and interests, which we may or may not be paid for, but we are equally answerable for our relationships, our children, our time, and the myriad of tasks, urgent or mundane, that fill our days and years. “Whatever God gives us in terms of relationships and opportunities, He wants multiplied for the sake of His kingdom.”

Our career, if we must, is to be good investors of these opportunities and to steward them to the glory of God. And that is no mean life-work.

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My dear mom set the standard for me.  Her home was always clean and tidy.  Unfortunately I learned the standard, but did not learn the system.  Her clean house was very important to her (and I’m grateful I grew up with order), but it wasn’t always easy for the rest of us to attain.

My two sisters and I learned how to work while growing up.  In fact, I fear I was not as skilled as my parents at holding my own children to a regular schedule of work; meaningful work that would have benefited the family and eased the load on my husband and I.  In my heart I longed to develop this, but in practice, I was not consistent.

My sisters and I had regular chores that were expected of us.  We laugh (and marvel) today at our after-dinner routine.  My mom would not even say a word; she would just get up and remove herself to the living room, her hard work done for the day.  My sisters and I knew then that the kitchen was ours to clean.  We created our own systems of what was fair in regard to who did what jobs, but we knew the standard and would not dream of leaving the kitchen until the work was done to our mom’s expectations.

During summers my dad carefully left a list of jobs on the counter for us girls before he left for work.  These were outside jobs on our 10-acre truck and hobby farm.  We knew they needed to be done before he got home that evening, but more accurately they needed to be done before we did anything of our own choosing that day.  We laugh (now) about the hard nature of many of these outside jobs that my dad required of us, but acknowledge that we usually rose to the occasion and in the process learned life-long work skills and unwittingly had our character developed in the process.

It is a great regret of mine that I lacked courage, creativity, and intentionality in equipping my own children with a similar skill set.  I did not give them consistent opportunities to do hard things for the benefit of the family, thereby leaving to chance the development of that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from a day’s work done and done well.  Who knows, perhaps this teaching will skip a generation and somehow my children will acquire what I lacked to teach and train their own children; that they would expect of them meaningful, regular jobs to the benefit of the child himself and to the family as a whole (see June 14 and 15 posts).

Well, while my sisters and I did our outside jobs, mom was working hard managing her housework and her gardens.  Unfortunately, this meant we did not learn her system for effective housekeeping.  What’s more, early in my marriage, I rejected the critical model my mom had employed which brought about results, but made for a rather uptight family, always sure we were not meeting the standard.

Expectedly, I floundered in my housekeeping.  I maintained my home with a lick and a prayer, putting out fires rather than being systematic.  I was suffering from an impossible standard with no tools to attack my duties in a logical, manageable manner.  Later I learned that I was suffering from a condition called C.H.A.O.S—Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome!  You can maybe imagine, then, how it seemed the clouds lifted and the birds and angels began singing when I stumbled upon a website that would finally give me hope and direction.

It is this website I will introduce in my next post.

 

[Illustration: We Help Mommy, Eloise Wilkin, c. 1959, Random House, Inc.]

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