Devoted to One Another

A young man I used to babysit got married recently to a gal from another community. They decided to get married at his church since they wanted to have the reception celebration out at his family farm. The evening before the wedding, the couple stood under the beautiful lights strung through the trees above the dance floor in expectation of the next day’s events. The reception tent for the guests was set up and looked more beautiful than they had ever imagined. In the morning all the hustle and bustle of a wedding began at the bride’s home. When the phone rang, the bride answered and heard the groom share some devastating news. He informed her of a wind storm that had passed through the farm and the mess it left behind. The reception tent had been completely destroyed, leaving the linens and other décor soaked and muddy. As she hung up the phone, with tears in her eyes, she told her mom, “God has a plan.” And that He did…

News of the destroyed reception site spread quickly in the small community and soon everything from the farm had been hauled to a shed by the elevator in town. The day went on and as the bridal party prepared for the ceremony, friends and family, and even a few individuals who were practically strangers, got to work. Someone took all the table linens home to wash and press them, chairs and tables were cleaned at the fire department, a local farmer dropped off a couple massive tarps to create walls like a tent inside the shed. It was truly all hands on deck, and at one time someone counted over eighty people at the site helping. There were others who were out and about gathering items and a woman who was folding and pressing table linens. When the newlyweds arrived at the reception, the groom covered his new bride’s face with his cowboy hat only to reveal the reception looking exactly how it had been left the evening before.

I had heard some of this story on Facebook through the groom’s mom, but was blessed to hear it first hand from the bride’s parents while we were at the fair. I stopped by their show box in the cattle barn to congratulate them on their daughter’s marriage and shared how I knew the family. The bride’s mom couldn’t help but share how complete strangers had helped them in their time of need and she was completely overwhelmed by the love and generosity they had experienced in my little hometown community. As she shared, it reminded me of the community of believers we read about in Acts 2. “42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The early church did everything together and for one another; they sacrificed what they had so everyone’s needs were met, they worshiped God together, and led a life filled with joy – together.

After some reflection, it caused me to wonder how well I’ve been participating in the community I am part of. Have I offered help with an outstretched hand to those in need? How do I welcome a stranger into my community to share in the joys and sorrows of life? I’d encourage you to do the same. Maybe even stop and wonder how we as a congregation are doing. How well have we welcomed the stranger into our community so we can praise God together? Are we a community that shares life with others, no matter the cost, all for the Kingdom of God? This scripture is one of my favorites because it is a beautiful picture of God’s people sharing Christ’s love with all they encounter. I want to be like that, and I pray it would be so of our church family as well.

Blessed to be part of this community,

Becky Ossefoort

PS – The woman who washed the linens lost her house in a fire several years ago. Completely overwhelmed by love and generosity she experienced, she wanted to pay it forward. After some conversation at the reception, it turns out the bride had anonymously sent a few of her favorite toys to this woman’s children after the fire. Neither of the ladies had any idea of this and had never met until they were at the reception and the bride’s mom wanted to thank the kind lady who had washed the linens. Wow! I just love those little stories God leaves for his faithful servants to find!

 


Talk About Them…

It was very quiet at our house a week ago. Kaylie was on her trip to Florida with the Luverne Cardinal Marching Band (Go Band!) and Austin was at Inspiration Hills Bible Camp with a friend experiencing God’s richness among the rolling hills. This left the youngest, Evan, at home alone with Mom and Dad’s undivided attention – and he loved every minute of it.

One of the highlights of Evan’s week was Josh cutting hay in the field south of our farm. While Evan may be the littlest farmer at our place, he is more than happy to help with the big jobs. I was doing some landscaping one evening when Evan emerged from the barn after feeding his freshly weened bottle calves. From the barn door he naturally fell into step behind Josh who was walking across the yard. They both walked past me and continued several yards out into the hay field looking as though they were on some type of mission. I continued with my work, but kept an eye on the two of them for the sake of curiosity. The big farmer bent down and grabbed a handful of drying grass and just like that the small farmer did the same. When the big farmer bent and twisted the bundle, the small farmer mimicked every move. Eventually the big farmer threw all but one blade down, stripped a piece off and stuck the end in his mouth; and in the blink of an eye, the little one followed suit. As they chewed on their grass they strolled towards me in perfect step with each other. I just smiled as my heart was blessed watching the precious moment. It was as though Josh was teaching Evan the trick of the trade just like he had been taught by his father and grandfather many years ago.

I was reminded of this scene above while I was listening to Ken’s message this past Sunday. We as parents have much to teach and share with our children. As we do this, it is very important we show our children the world through the lens of the Bible. Ken encouraged parents to check out Christian Research Institute to find biblical perspective on science. I, too, recently ran across a little hidden gem on a webpage I have visited several times. On the page is a small, nearly unnoticeable tab about “Creation Vacations” (https://answersingenesis.org/creation-vacations/). The beginning of the page reads this “Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us we are to talk about God’s Word everywhere we go. Vacations should be no exception. Opportunities to see and explore God’s amazing creation abound, whether at a national park, a Christian-themed venue, or a natural history museum. Places with secular propaganda can easily be turned into learning opportunities, as we learn to separate truth from error. With some preparation, you and your family can enjoy a purpose-filled vacation as you gain a better appreciation for the Creator who made all things.” Listed on the same page you will find many articles with information about places to visit right here in the United States – some are even relatively close to home!

So if you find yourself preparing for a little adventure this summer, be sure to do a little research before you leave so you can point out God’s great creation and truth as you travel. Kids are full of questions about all sorts of topics and soak in what they learn. If you do not plan to travel this summer do a little research on one of their interests (i.e. dinosaurs) “from a biblical perspective”. I promise your child’s eyes will light up as you learn together and connect the dots back to the Creator of all things.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Happy Exploring! Becky Ossefoort

 


Influence

May of 2019 has arrived. Over the years, with each flip of the calendar, I knew this month would come and now – it’s here. Kaylie’s High School Graduation will be here in just a few short days. Like any parent has experienced before me, this day is bittersweet. There is no greater excitement than watching your child grow, mature, and seek the path God is leading them to. Some days it is hard to contain the joy that flows out of my heart as I watch her, but there are also days I realize I have so much I want to teach her yet. Thankfully we have a lifetime to share together and she’s not wandering too far from home this fall.

The ARC Class of 2019 holds a special place in my heart, not only because my daughter is in it, but because many special people in my life are part of it. This class is one of the first groups of students I taught here at ARC. Our journey together has taken us through Sunday School classes, Christmas Programs, the very first year of Pioneer Clubs, VBS, RCYF, mission trips, Power Connection, Rocky Mountain High, and countless other encounters. A few of the girls have lovingly called me “Mama Becky” for several years and I, too, count them as my honorary daughters whom I love very much. I have prayed for each of these students, I have cried with many of them, I have watched mistakes be made, and I have witnessed them surrender their life to Christ. A special group of kids I will never forget.

I think we would all agree raising kids in this broken world of chaos is difficult. Eighteen years sounds like a healthy amount of time and yet a lot has to be taught within them. We not only teach with words, but our actions as well. The things we give our time and energy to are all evidence of what is important and valuable to us. Naturally, over time, our children begin to mimic our actions and values. When I think of discipling a child, I often think of Timothy in the Bible. While he grew up with a Gentile father, his mother  and grandmother were believers and loved Jesus. Eunice and Lois were both great examples of influencing a child to be a Christ follower, yet there are few details of the ladies actually discipling him. In fact, what we know of Timothy is mostly found through Paul’s writing. In one letter, Paul writes to Timothy “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15) Evidence of loved ones modeling Christ in all they did and taught, from the   very beginning.

The words of Paul cause me to consider how I am influencing my own children. Do my actions and words speak of Christ or show my heart is really after the things of this world? Each morning when I rise, am I witness to seeking the Father’s face before I start my daily list of tasks and appointments? It also causes me to wonder about our church family within the ministry here at ARC. Are we preparing our Sunday School and other youth lessons with great joy and anticipation of the Lord speaking to the hearts of our students, or merely passing on a story that happens to be found in God’s Word. What about our regular practices and church activities; are we giving our whole selves in worship and praise to our Creator and Master, or simply participating and marking ourselves present each Sunday?

You see, I don’t believe Timothy’s mother and grandmother simply taught him the scriptures and complacently lived out their faith halfheartedly. I believe they were very purposeful and talked about their faith as they sought God with each and every breath. I pray that this too, may be our discipleship strategy both in our homes and here within our church family.

Congratulations Class of 2019! Thank you for the memories, the love, and all they ways you have influenced me by shining Christ’s light in this dark and broken world.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Grandma’s Cookies

A month or so ago, my cousin had a post on Facebook about her child requesting our Grandma’s molasses cookies. My mouth instantly watered and a smile spread across my face as I remembered the delicious treats. Grandma always had a variety of special sweets, and if those were not enough, her molasses cookies always adorned her special silver cookie tray. Grandma doesn’t recognize her faithful cookie eaters anymore and has not mixed up a batch in many years. A stroke has left her body frail and dementia has overtaken her mind. But I am so thankful for treasured memories, a simple recipe card, and a very special cookie tray in my hutch.

After reading my cousin’s post, I decided I should at least try my hand at making these cherished cookies once. Unlike my Grandma, I am not a master baker and I especially loathe making cookies. I do, however, enjoy a little challenge. To begin I got out the copy of her neatly typed (on a typewriter) recipe and read through the ingredients – simple enough. When I reached the instructions, I knew I was in trouble. “Mix. Roll in sugar. Flatten. Bake.” Maybe it was just me, but I was certain there were some missing details. Thankfully next to the faded, typed letters “365°” was scribbled in her handwriting. Somewhat blindly I began; I mixed, rolled, flattened, and baked at 365° having faith I’d have something resembling the cookie I remembered. Several batches later, I’m finally getting close.

One day I allowed a batch to cool and placed a few on Grandma’s silver tray. I proudly snapped a picture on my phone and sent it to my sister. She immediately replied with her plea for me to share. A few days later I surprised her with several dozen in a package on her doorstep. Later that evening I received a text message saying, “Never in my life have I eaten something that so quickly took me back to an exact place and time. Those are so good!” I must admit – they really are about as good as I remember them.

Her text reminded me of my study of the Israelites leaving Egypt. When Pharaoh finally released the Israelites, the instructions were not exactly clear either. Perhaps somewhat out of desperation the Israelites trusted God had a plan and set out on a journey like no other. Each day God led them and provided for their needs. They continued to whine and complain, but God stuck with them just as He had promised. Eventually God instructed Moses to have the Israelites celebrate the Passover out in the desert. (Numbers 9) This would be the first time commemorating the Israelites’ escape from Egypt by God’s power. Do you suppose the Israelites were swept back to a moment in time as they prepared the celebration, remembering that night and all God had done for them since?

It’s good for us to remember. When we look at our past we can more clearly see God at work protecting and carrying us through dark valleys in our life. The blessings He has provided us with become more evidence of His hand at work in our daily routines. It is almost as though we are able to dive into our past and better understand our present as we remember different times and events in our life.

As I have been preparing for Easter, remembering all God has brought me through in the last year has been a gift. Sure there were times I would like to remove from my memory, but I’ve realized that is where His power was the strongest. I pray the same is true for you as you prepare your heart for the resurrection of your Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Healing Touch

Sometimes the timing of things makes me stop and just smile. This week on my way into town I spotted a bald eagle swooping around near the ground. Just as I passed by, the eagle pinned down a pheasant, grabbed the hen’s body with its talons and took flight. Pretty incredible timing! The same was true last week as I read Mike’s article in the Archive. As I read about Dr. Pimple Popper’s “mashed potato” moment I both gagged and remembered what I had read in my morning devotions a few days prior. Leviticus 13 and 14 is full of God’s very detailed instructions to Israel of what is clean and unclean in regards to their skin afflictions and diseases. It’s not for the faint of heart and the reason I skipped breakfast that morning!

The Bible reading plan I follow takes me through a variety of selections from both the Old and New Testament each morning. My recent Leviticus readings have included several topics and instructions God gave the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. It has been interesting watching these same instructions tie into the culture of the New Testament as I read through them each day.

I was particularly struck when I read about the woman who needed healing in Mark 5. Jesus had been called by a distressed Father whose daughter was very sick and near death. The man begged Jesus to come quick and heal his daughter so she would live. (vs. 23) Being swarmed by a large crowd, Jesus agrees to follow the man. As he turns to go, Jesus feels someone touch his coat. When he asks the question, “Who touched my clothes?” (vs. 30) the followers thought he was crazy saying, “Who touched you? Look at all these people around you. Yet you wonder who has touched you? Seriously?” (my paraphrase from vs. 31). I don’t know about you, but I like my own space – my own personal bubble if you will. Jesus didn’t seem to mind, or perhaps even notice, the crowd pushing against him. The only contact he felt was the power of faith touching his coat.

The fifteenth chapter of Leviticus would reveal to us this woman was unclean due to her condition. This nameless lady had been bleeding for twelve years and would have likely been separated from everyone for that time. Twelve years is a long time to be alone, likely without any kind of financial support. Yet she had a hunch if she could just reach out and touch Jesus’ coat hem she would be healed.

The amazing part of this story for me that morning was not the healing. It was the idea that the woman didn’t let the “clean” crowd block her view of the Savior. There were years in my life where I didn’t feel clean and therefore didn’t think I could get near Jesus. What faith she had!

I also think we as Christians can innocently get caught up in our cleanliness of doing good and church busyness that it causes us to miss those who are desperately seeking Jesus; ultimately blocking their view of the Savior. May that not be so of us, friends. We were all dirty and unclean from our sin at one point in our life. Yet we reached out in faith, knowing we had no other choice than to trust, and grab hold of the hem of our Savior’s robe. Instead may we be more like Jesus who was always on a mission but always aware of the needs around him. May we ourselves reach out to those we encounter and help them step forward in faith to find the healing touch of their Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Like a Child

We made it! The Polar Vortex of 2019 has passed and the sun is out – at least until next week’s forecasted snowfall. You know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a day.”  I was one of the lucky ones who were able to stay indoors and work from my dining room table during the bitter cold. My husband and oldest son were out in the elements keeping the livestock happy. Other than coming in and commenting the obvious, “It’s really cold out there!” they didn’t say too much about it. On Thursday morning I had to remind Evan to zip up his coat before heading out. He seemed completely oblivious to the cold temperature on the other side of the threshold. Even with my coat fully zipped and mittens on, I had to give myself a pep talk just to open the door!

A friend of mine stopped by my office this week and commented that she saw some younger kids running down the sidewalk without any gloves on and coats hanging wide open. “How do they do that” she asked. I assured her I wasn’t sure either, but kids seem pretty resilient to extreme temps. I’m sure we’ve all commented on the fact that kids don’t seem as easily chilled as we adults. Kids can play outside in the snow for hours in soaking wet snow pants and gloves and not think twice about it. All I have to say about it is, “Brrrrrr!”

The innocence of a child is pretty special. I am fortunate to experience this innocence both at home and here at church on a weekly basis. Watching children learn about the world around them is great, but there is nothing more exciting than watching them learn about their Savior. As they sit and listen to what the  teacher is saying you can almost see the gears in their mind turning. It is such a wonderful feeling within the soul to observe them drinking in the information and believing it without question. Something us adults could all take a lesson from; just simply listen, trust, and believe. No questions, no reasoning, and no arguing otherwise.

The gospels speak about this childlike faith and instruct us adults to take note. The disciples had been arguing about unimportant issues and lost sight of what really mattered. “3[Jesus said to them], ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” (Matt. 18:3-5)

When Jesus spoke of becoming like a child, he wasn’t speaking of their maturity, but rather their humble and sincere hearts. The disciples had become so preoccupied with the things and statuses of this world that they had lost sight of the Kingdom of God. May the same not be so of us; rather may we humbly look at a child’s faith in awe and in wonder as we seek to serve our Great Master with full dependency on him. Let’s throw off the gloves and unzip our winter jacket and experience all that God has for us.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Remember

One day back in mid-November, my sister and I were discussing our parent’s Christmas gift. Each year we try to give them something fun, but meaningful. Sometimes the gifting options seem endless and it can be hard to pick, other years the gift plans get a little goofy, and some years there just simply are no ideas. This year we were struggling a bit when we remembered the home video tapes from our childhood. Mom and Dad have talked about updating the old tapes those memories are stored on before the last VCR known to man does not work anymore. The moment it was said we knew this would be the gift for them and could not wait to see their faces when they opened their package at Christmas. Our first step would be to find the tapes and after a few frantic attempts to dig through mom’s storage room without getting caught, my sister located them. Next, I contacted the smartest computer guy I know to figure out how to best get the tapes transferred to digital format so they could be enjoyed for years to come. It all sounded easy enough so I got started on the process.

All-in-all it was pretty simple to transfer the tapes. My mom is organized and the tapes were labeled with dates, so it took very little time to get things in order. However, I knew shortly after beginning the actual recording process it would not be a quick task. To accomplish this undertaking, and keep things neatly organized, I would have to take the time to watch each segment as it copied. Not all was lost, because it really was a lot of fun watching myself as a child and being reminded of some of our family memories and trips, but especially seeing how everyone has changed.

I was in the middle of enjoying one of our church’s Christmas Programs when I noticed several faces of men and women who have since passed away. Many who were at one time teachers or leaders in my spiritual walk. Tears welled up in my eyes as I recounted the lessons they taught me about life and my Savior. All treasured words of wisdom, love, and testimony I still carry with me. Each individual demonstrated the Kingdom of God to me through their words and in how they lived their daily lives. They were some of the foundational people who walked alongside my parents and helped raise me in Christ as if I were their own.

The glimpses of these mentors from my childhood were a great reminder of what God has commanded me and you to do. We have all been instructed to “go and tell” by Christ himself and there are many ways we can go about following those commands – teach Sunday School or Midweek classes; start a Bible Study with people from your workplace; mentor a young man or woman; or help with mentoring at ATLAS. No matter your age or where you are at in life the opportunities to serve and witness in God’s Kingdom here on earth are endless!

The writer of Hebrews says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (13:7) The truth is we all have someone in our life who has been a witness of Christ to us in one way or another. May 2019 be the year you follow in the footsteps of those who spoke the word of God to you. Instead of letting that shared wisdom sit on an old, dusty tape in your mind, imitate those of your past and invest yourself in another person’s life as you point them to our Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

PS – My parents loved their gift!


God’s Plan

Have you been watching any Hallmark Christmas movies this season? I do not spend a lot of time watching television or movies, but I’d likely be a little embarrassed to admit how many of these flicks I’ve watched over the last couple years. My husband thinks the shows are ridiculous, my brother claims they are way too predictable, and my kids say the movies always end with a beautiful snowfall and a couple falling in love. Honestly, I don’t really care if they are predictable, they are good clean entertainment and simple to follow.

Life isn’t always as predictable as these ninety minute Christmas stories. When I was a teenager, I decided I would go to college to be an architect, settle in a big city, help people build their dream homes and eventually start my family. It was a picture perfect vision of what my future would look like and yet through a series of events, my life turned out very differently than I had planned. I actually found myself engaged before I even started college. Never in a million years did I anticipate marrying a guy who loved to farm or living in rural Rock County. Fast-forward twenty five years and there is not one part of God’s plan for my life I would trade for my own ideas.

God has had a plan to redeem His people from the very beginning of time and we read about that plan throughout the pages of scripture. Several hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah shared a prophecy – or a prediction – to the people of Israel. It was a powerful message of both judgement and hope. Isaiah warned the people to repent of their ways because the Prince of Peace was coming and He would sit on David’s throne and over his kingdom. (Isaiah 9:6-7) It took Isaiah’s words about 400 years to happen, but when they did, the people missed it. While they had cried out for a Messiah, the events that took place when Jesus was born were so far from what the people thought would happen many refused to believe He was indeed the Messiah. As Jesus grew and began His ministry the people knew He was special, but many remained puzzled if He really was the Messiah. We read in the book of Matthew Jesus asking the disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (16:13) They reply with a variety of answers, and then Jesus focuses in on Peter and asks, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” (vs.15) Peter knew exactly who Jesus was because as he had been intimately following his Teacher. God revealed Jesus’ true identity to Peter and his answer was, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (vs.16) Peter knew his life had forever been changed and his days of tangled fishing nets were but a distant memory.

While I would never compare a silly Hallmark Christmas movie to God’s great love story in the Bible, we too know how His story of redemption ends. One day Jesus will come to this sin-filled world again and rescue His people from darkness. His entrance to this world will look different than the first time and, once again, the arrival time is only known by the Father. While on earth, Jesus instructed us to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt. 24:42).

Advent is a time we not only look back at His birth, but forward to His second coming with great anticipation. It is also a season to ask ourselves if we are keeping watch. Are we spending time in the scriptures and with our Father to know our Savior like Peter did? No matter how troubled our situation or how evil the world becomes, we must continue to be God’s faithful people who hope for His return and not complacently wait for the ending to take place or we will miss it just like many of the people did all those years ago.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Waiting…

What stirs up in you when you hear the phrase “wait patiently”? Life is full of instances where we are called to wait. When we are single, we wait for that special someone to enter our lives. Eventually we get engaged, and wait for the wedding. In time, many couples decide to start a family and again there is a period of waiting. For some the news will come quickly, others it takes an extended time of waiting to make the big announcement to their family and friends. For others, they wait patiently only to realize what they are waiting for may never happen as planned. Some couples seek fertility treatments and wait to see if those will work; while other couples seek adoption – and once again…wait.

Recently Josh and I have been invited to share in the waiting period of a possible adoption. No, we aren’t adopting, but a couple whom we love dearly hope to. They have been waiting to start their family and it would seem as though God has a bit of a different path for them than they originally thought. So we are now waiting with them for the sweet, little blessing God already has picked out for them (and us) to love. During a meeting with the social worker, we discussed what the process will look like for both the couple and the child. I’ve always thought of the adoption process as being a waiting period for the parents-to-be. But in our conversation, I realized this is just as much a waiting period for the child whose greatest desire is to be loved by a family of their own.

Have you ever been in a season of waiting? I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. It can tug at our heart and mind; it can be exciting, but it can also be very painful. The other day I was reminded of a quote I had heard a while back about waiting. I’m not sure of the original author, but it goes like this: “The work God does within us while we wait is just as important as whatever it is we’re waiting for.” Similarly, we are reminded of this in scripture. Romans 5:3-5 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (NLT)

When I reflect on my life I can think of several situations when I wanted God to take the difficult time away and fix it. Yet, in reality I would never give up any of those trails, simply because they have formed and shaped me into who I am today. Yes, some of them were hurtful; no, I do not care to experience the pain again – but I am thankful for each experience. I guess in some ways I have learned to simply remember some of my past a little differently because of the joy I have found in the outcome of my waiting.

This week many of us will sit around a table with family and friends and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Some families will go around the table and share what they are most thankful for this year. There are likely a few individuals who will struggle with what they are thankful for. Others will simply say a prayer of blessing and carve the turkey. Whatever the case is for your family, may it be so of each of us that we not only find ourselves grateful for the bountiful blessings of this life, but also for the good work God has done within us while we are waiting.

Becky Ossefoort

 

 


Protective Gear

This past week I was sitting with some moms at a junior high football game. While enjoying the game we commented how we cringe each time our child gets tackled, fearing for their wellbeing. Apparently it’s not only me who finds it hard to sit on the sideline and watch your child get jumped on! I was enjoying the company around me and the action in front of me as we watched the game together. Often times, during a game, I lose track of Austin in the sea of white helmets on the field, and this one was no different. Following one of the plays, a player remained on the ground after everyone else had stood up. The player rolled around in the grass a bit and appeared to be in pain. About the time he got to his knees, my heart sank realizing it was my little boy who was injured. After a quick chat with the coach, Austin walked over to the huddle for the next play. I could sense he was hurting. (Moms just know these things.) Sure enough, a few plays later he was along the sideline removing his jersey and pads. All I wanted to do was run down and hug him, but knew he would be mortified if mommy ran to his side. After the game and a trip to the school’s athletic trainer, the injury to his side was determined to be bruised ribs. The trainer advised he wear rib pads and recommended he not overdo it at practice the next day. Just a couple days later, with rib pads in place, he was back on the field running, jumping, and tackling as though nothing had happened.

As parents, we want to do whatever we can to protect our children from harm. We purchase mouth guards to prevent harm to their teeth while playing sports. Baseball players must wear helmets to shield their heads when running the bases. In hockey we wouldn’t think twice about putting the goalie in front of the net without the proper pads and protective gear. We buy the safest car seat when they are little and refuse to put the car in gear until all seatbelts are buckled as they are able to do it on their own.

It makes me wonder if we are as protective of our children’s spiritual lives as we are their physical lives. Do we put as much care into helping them know their Savior as we do caring for them while playing sports or driving down the highway? We cram our schedules full of opportunities for our children to participate in –which are all good – but are we scheduling time to sit and intentionally read God’s Word as a family? Sure we take them to church on Sunday mornings, attend Sunday School each week, and wouldn’t think of missing a midweek class, but are they the only three hours a week our children are digging into the scriptures?

These questions are not meant to shame anyone, rather only help us each examine our discipleship process at home. God has entrusted us as parents with our children with the instructions to be their primary teachers of who God is. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. When we raise our children to not only know who God is, but be in a relationship with Him, we are providing the greatest protection available. His Word becomes our safeguard against false teaching and our source of guidance for how we are to live for a lifetime of protection.

Becky Ossefoort