[My parents, as we were growing up] "When y'all get married and have kids of your own, don't expect us to drop everything, and babysit them all the time. We are going to travel...we are going to see the world."
Good to have in many cases. Maybe even in most cases.
But I think it's best to hold our plans loosely...very loosely.
Because things in my life, have rarely gone according to plan. "My" plan, that is.
After all, I planned on going to Italy...but ended up in Holland.
My Dad was raised by parents who thought kids were to be seen and not heard. They thought kids should be clean, neat, and proper, and never act unruly. And their feelings of pride at being grandparents seemed to be based on our behavior and accomplishments.
I'm not knocking them...it was all they knew. And so it was what my Dad knew, and what he lived. And, as a result, he learned to be...better.
Even tho he was way more invested in our family than the example that was set for him...it was still very different from the way Jim and I have raised our children (please bring me all the grandchildren...STAT).
That may be part of it, tho...ya think? That we take and learn from the generations before...and then we decide what we want to keep for ourselves, and what we want to let go.
However we were raised, my Dad and I, we both came to see our need for Jesus...and that's really everything, amiright?
So, as each of my siblings and I came of age, and left home for college...my parents saw the world opening up to them more and more. They had plans...big plans. They were gonna work a little longer, and then they were going to spend the rest of their days having fun and enjoying life. Oh, they would come see all of us, but we wouldn't be their main destination. They loved us, but they made sure we knew that they were about to have THEIR time.
But, ya know, God's ways are not our ways...and one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, my Mom just...died.
And all of those big plans she and my Dad had...they died, too.
I'm just saying. It's good to work and plan for your (earthly) future...but if you don't embrace the days, each day, and the good things God provides along the way, and the people He gives you to share your life...if you are only living for the "some days..." like, when you graduate, or when you move, or when you get that job, or when you get married, or when you have a child, or when they finally start school, or when they leave home...if you aren't willing to trust God NO MATTER WHAT...what happens if your dreamy future doesn't pan out? How are you going to react?
This is what I mean by holding our plans loosely.
Because my Dad? Just when he thought he might have a second chance at that life, with the new love God had provided for him, he had a heart attack, and that seemed to be the beginning of his health issues.
My Dad's plans for a healthy and active life? Well, he has Parkinson's.
Like the rest of us, his days were laid out before the foundation of the world. He may outlive us all! But I think he knows that he's not going to get any better...and he accepts it, which is good. Then again, he's always been the most content, most faithful person I've ever known.
Just last year, he told me, "It's unrealistic to think that I will live the rest of my days with good health..." And, "this is really the only adversity I've had in my life." And, "God has blessed me my whole life. I have no reason to think He will stop now."
I am thankful for a God who brings us new mercies each morning. I find comfort in knowing that, while my Dad hoped for a different path, he really has embraced all of his days. Ministry takes many forms, and because we are all different...it may look different, even in a marriage. But it has the same goal: care and connection and leading others to Christ.
My Dad has ministered and served others his whole life...in the places God put him, and with the family God gave him. He, in his quiet, behind-the-scenes way...and my Mom in her large, in charge, and out-in-front way.
I have peace knowing that my Dad's eternal future is secure...because on a day long ago, he placed his life and his hope in Jesus Christ, and HE is the one who has walked with him through all of the ups and downs of life...and He carries him even now.
"...Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity..." (Job 2:10)