Four Lessons

Four Lessons

Four Lessons

When I became pregnant with our first child in 2002, my husband and I were inundated with advice and old wives tales. I recall my aunts saying, “You can tell whether you’re having a girl if you’re carrying high.” Or was it “low?” We had a boy. Two of them. One is now six years old and the other is four.

Then I read an article somewhere claiming, “Don’t lift your arms up too high, or you might overstretch the umbilical cord and choke the baby.” I practiced prenatal yoga stretching. The downward-facing dog did wonders for my aching sides. Also, I am happy to tell you that both of my boys did not choke from the umbilical cord in vitro. They did have the occasional hiccups, however.

The advice was taken with grace, some with gritted teeth and some with genuine gratitude. What no one shared with us during my time of prenatal bliss were the post-partum events, which I was not prepared for. These occurrences span from the newborn phase through Kindergarten. I’ll just share with you my top four lessons in the school of parenting.

Lesson one, I was clueless as to how much discomfort was involved, down there. Note that this is after giving birth. I naively thought that the birthing process alone was the most painful part. The swelling and soreness after the baby was born were highly unexpected. Let’s just say that ice packs and an inflatable doughnut were my best friends forever, well, at least for a week or so.

Lesson two, the popular nursery rhyme along the lines of, “Snips of snails and puppy dog’s tails, that’s what little boys are made of” is a slanderous lie. Most of the little boys I have come across are sweet and sensitive children, including my own. They actually cry more than my two-year-old niece when injured. My niece just gets right back to playing without so much as a whimper. Meanwhile, our boys are milking the soothing process for as long as possible, just so they can get unlimited hugs from Mama. Also, if you’ve ever seen my sisters and me fighting as kids, the “sugar and spice and all things nice” phrase was not the most accurate description of us.

Lesson three, Cain and Abel suffered sibling rivalry before the birth of Christ. I highly doubt that this biblical archetype of brotherhood dispute will go away anytime in the near future. When my two sons fight, luckily, they don’t hit each other. Instead, they are the tattletale cops for everything that the other one does. The younger one is the Chief of Police in this department. Now I know why my mother would get so upset after walking into one of our childhood war zones. You get protective of each child when one hurts the other. Being a referee in this sport is like being a criminal judge for both parties.

Lesson four, the bittersweetness we experienced when our firstborn sauntered through Kindergarten was met with confidence, yet trepidation. Our son matured from a tender preschooler to an official big boy with big boy buddies who love Star Wars. The connection between father and son changed too. Our Kindergartner went from kisses to high fives at morning drop off. Then the emotional pull from each song recital was enough to make me long for those zombie-like nights of nursing at a fuzzy three o’clock in the morning.

As our boys grow older, I am aware that there will be more lessons to learn from. These four are just the beginning of a series of triumphs and challenges. I am quite sure that there will be more suggestions, solicited or unsolicited. In the meantime, I will continue to cry at school concerts and at each time an entire book is read without too much help from Mama and Papa.

By Charmaine R. Velasco

Meditation: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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Gifts from Children

Gifts from Children

Gifts from Children

I was doing an errand when the beautiful strains of a symphony came over the airwaves from NPR. I don’t usually have my radio on NPR, choosing instead to listen to a local news station. All of a sudden I realized it had been over a year since I had heard the richness of a really good orchestra creating live stirring music all around me.

Now that our middle daughter has graduated from the school of music at the state university in our town, we are no longer attending the frequent recitals and orchestra programs we made time for (let’s face it) just because she was in them.

And that realization made me suddenly aware of all the many gifts our children gave us. I know Christmas is over, but perhaps January is a good time to revel in the continuing glow (we hope) of the holiday season: remembering times with family, children, feasting. What gifts did your children give you? I’m not talking about the store-bought kind.

Without my children, I would never have experienced what marching band was all about and all that went with that the running to cities hither and yon to attend competitions, see parades or go to the football games where they were playing in the band, including a high school state championship game and a college national championship game as well as the Macy Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. I would never have run alongside to keep up with the band during a parade, and then wept silly sentimental tears for each one’s very last parade, or leapt (in a very undignified manner) high off my seat in the grandstand with other parents when finally, finally the band achieved their first “first.”

I would never have experienced keeping eyes peeled to my children on stage in musicals, choir and band concerts, recitals, plays, elementary school pageants, graduations.

I would never have experienced sucking in my breath when a fastball was hurdled at them in girl’s softball, or an elbow was thrown rebounding a basketball, or the shared embarrassment of one coming in last in the long jump or the 440.

Without my children, I would never have gotten to relive the drama, pain and proffered bouquets of roses thrust into awkward hands during teenage dating.

I would never have had the privilege of chaperoning sleepovers and birthday parties and eavesdropping on tales of other kids’ first kisses and guys’ roaming hands if I hadn’t driven carpools and van loads of adolescents.

These are the gifts of children and that’s just the beginning. I know I wrote at one time about the many gifts children give when they are smaller. Tight hugs and wet kisses. The candy they held tightly in their hands for an hour, but now want you to eat. Already-been-chewed hamburger or French fries. Sweet bed and mealtime prayers. Innocent questions like “Why did God make the clouds so high?” After you’ve grasped for a decent answer, you gape in wonder at the answer they had already formulated, waiting to test it with you: “Maybe it’s so we don’t mess with them.”

Children bring the rediscovery of how fun it is to watch ants scurry on the sidewalk, butterflies emerge from a cocoon or experience the peacefulness of observing crawdads in a rippling creek.

Many times the gift children give us is just to make us laugh. A ten-year-old was helping his mother at our office one day when he saw one guy’s desk stacked high with many messy papers. “Looks like he’s got lots of work to do,” Owen observed. I got a good laugh out of that. It brightened my day.

Whether they are two, 12, 22 or more, thank God for the gifts children have brought to your life whether they are yours or someone else’s!

by Melodie Davis

Meditation: …children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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A Father’s Influence

A Father’s Influence

A Father’s Influence

A father’s influence goes to the fourth generation after him. A popular music artiste’s parents divorced when she was in kindergarten. When she grew old, together with her lover, she smoked crack in the presence of their five-year-old daughter. This artiste later died of drug abuse at age 48, while her young daughter died at age 22 for similar reasons. Great careers and, more importantly, great lives were thereby lost due to weak fatherhood.

While there is little you can do about your ancestors, there is something that you can do about your descendants. One thing that prevents a man from being a good father is that he hasn’t completed being a boy. To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. Having kids doesn’t make you a father. Raising them does.

There are those who were raised up in unstable families, but they should not pass it on to their children. We don’t have to fight in the presence of our children. As adults, we can choose to shield our emotions from our disputes. To a large extent, you are a product of your early relationships.

Unstable parents create insecure children. Stable parents raise stable children. Children need affection (hugs, kisses), attention (listening) and affirmation (positive words) every day. When a man loves his wife, it creates security and stability. The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. Children learn how to handle feelings, losses, failure and conflicts from the home.

Regrettably, parenting can neither be delegated nor suspended for a while as we work for the ring of fame and fortune. The growth of children is irreversible. Like a young tree, it takes the bends directed by the gardener, so is the life of a child. You can’t shape it in adulthood; you can’t pick it from where you left off after you reach the top in your career pursuits. It’s always easier to model to young boys than to rehabilitate grown-up men.

If you invest in your child, you don’t have to invest for your child. Children require presence, not just presents. No amount of gifts and meeting their financial obligations can replace your personal presence. Inherited wealth by an irresponsible child gets squandered in a few years. The only sure inheritance that you can leave behind is the investment you make in your child, not for your child.

– Author Unknown

Meditation: “…For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” – Genesis 18:19

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

I hope you understand

Mama has to let you fall

So you can stand up and be a man


When you were only 7

Coach Joe said I should take the tit out ya mouth

My eyes squinted, anger blazed

My teeth clenched, his words caused rage

But now that you’re 17

I understand just what he meant.

Son, you’re still suckin on my breast

Which is worse than a thumb

If I don’t do something soon

You’ll grow to be like some of the rest


This life you’ve chosen is not God’s best

The seeds you’re sowing

Will reap a harvest like this:

Trifflin’ without ambition

Coach potato channel surfin

Sarcastic little prick

Looking for another “mama”

But she’ll be full of drama

And a bunch of babies is all you’ll get

Casual relationships

Emotional promiscuity

And even the sex won’t be worth it

You’ll be a leech

a parasite

A blood-sucking tick

Your life will be hell

Living off welfare

You won’t fare well


Son, I hope you understand

Mama has to let you fall

So you can stand up and be a man.

For 17 years I have been your safety net

Mama knew what was best

But you don’t know how to fall

Because of mama you’ve never fallen into life, never gotten wet


Son, I hope you understand

Mama has to let you fall

So you can stand up and be a man

Your knees are beautiful

Because mine are black and blue

I sheltered you from real pain

Because that’s what mamas do

But sheltered is what you are

Sunburned from my sunlight

You’ve never seen night

So you don’t appreciate the stars


Son, I hope you understand

Mama has to let you fall

So you can stand up and be a man

Son, giving up on you is not what I’m trying to do

But your future is more than your past

A mother’s love will always last

Through your success and failure too


Son, I love you

And I hope you understand

Son, Mama has to…

Mama has to let you fall son…

….let you fall son

….let you fall son.

Son, mama has to let you fall


And today you may not understand.

Mama is letting you fall

So you can stand up and be a man

Son, stand up and be a man…

Lord, take care of my baby

I’ve gotta let him go Lord…

Son, you’re in God’s hands.

…stand up son, stand up.


You’re not a little boy anymore.

…stand up and be a man.

Psalm’s 71 – A man’s prayer:

Son, never be ashamed of dependence upon God. With this petition every true believer may come boldly to the throne of grace. Be grateful for the gracious care of God’s providence in your birth and infancy. He that was your Help from your birth, ought to be your Hope from your youth. Do not expect ease or comfort from the world. Those who love the Lord often are hated and persecuted for their principles and conduct; but the Lord has been their strong refuge and He will be yours too. The faithful servants of God may be assured that He will not cast them off in old age, nor forsake them when their strength fails (Psalm 71:14-24).

by Tracy Curtis

Meditation: The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. – Proverbs 29:15

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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Time to Fly from the Nest

Time to Fly from the Nest

Time to Fly from the Nest

Ginny and I sat on the deck, like we do a lot, and watched the world flow by. A robin flew into the tree in the yard. It had a twig in its mouth.

“Looks like they’re building a nest,” Ginny said.

“I think you’re right.” I watched the robin select a perfect spot and thread the branch into position. A second robin with a twig joined the first.

Throughout the next few days, we watched the mates work together to construct a resting place for their soon-to-be-laid eggs. The nest was completed. A few days later, momma bird settled into her new home. The two parents took turns warming the eggs, always aware of the needs of the other and their precious charge. Each knew the other needed nourishment and the eggs needed warmth. It was a perfect partnership.

Every hour or less, the two robins traded places keeping the eggs safe, while the other flew off in search of warmth. The rains fell. At night, the temperatures dropped below freezing, but the two robins, who chose a safe position for their nest, stuck by their eggs. They knew their duties. The wind blew; the tree rocked, and the robins held tight. The eggs would not fall on their watch.

A week or two later, Ginny and I watched as they carried worms to the newly hatched babies. Again, they took turns, sacrificing their own needs for the babies God blessed them with. We watched three little beaks rise above the rim of the nest, and reach for Mom or Dad, as they delivered their meals.

One morning I sat, drank my tea and read a book. The morning sun warmed me. The day was peaceful. No one stirred. I heard a bird chirp in front of me. I looked up. No bird was in sight. It chirped again.

“OK! I hear you, but where are you?”

I stood. The yard was empty. The chirping stopped. I gave the yard one more look, scratched my head, and sat to read. Out of the corner of my eye, I detected movement. One of the young robins hoped over my foot, chirped, and looked up at me. Little white baby feathers stuck out from the side of its face and head. It looked like a bad feather day for this one.

“Hey, little fella. Did you make the big leap?”


“Really?” I asked. “Is that all you have to say?”


I moved. Little robin hopped to the safety of a small bush by the fence.

“So that’s where you’ve been hiding!”

He peeked out at me from behind the thorny branches.


I left him or her alone and went inside. Later, I went outside and there were two of the babies on the patio. Only one remained in the nest. It sat on the edge of the nest, chirped for his siblings, but they were gone. Mom and Dad followed their two coup-flying offspring around the yard. They no longer pushed worms between the baby’s beaks. They put the worms beside them. The hungry young needed to learn how to satisfy their hunger, pick up the worms and feed themselves. In the nest, the last of the family sat and continued to chirp for its dinner. I watched it for another day. Momma and Daddy flew to a branch close to the nest with a tasty worm dangling from their beaks. The last baby chirped and watched its parent fly off with dinner.

“Chirp! My dinner?”

It sat at the edge of the nest and cried out for food, but Mom and Dad refused. It hopped around the edge of the nest, leaned forward, flapped its wings, chirped hesitated, and settled back in the nest. It cried for food, but none came. Momma and Poppa had worms. They dangled them in front of their baby. Momma flew off. Hunger took over. Baby jumped to the edge of the nest. Its fear was a smaller power than its hunger. It balanced, looked at the ground, spread its young wings and leapt toward momma on the ground. Nature taught it to flap and fly. Its heart raced as the ground gently came up to greet it. Momma rewarded its effort with the food it so badly wanted.

Robins, who mate for life, have many lessons to teach: a life devoted to their mate, commitment to family, and the ability to look at their children and say,

“Life has many worms. If you want yours, you need to fly. You need to know when it is time to fly from the nest.”

By Michael T. Smith

Meditation: The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. – Psalm 34:10

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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When Daddy Prays

When Daddy Prays

When Daddy Prays

I could not keep it to myself anymore. I drove all the way to Dad’s office and confessed to him I was in love with a young lady. He asked for her name and description. He kept smiling as I described her to him. Afterwards, we prayed together and trusted God for His leading.

Daddy did not say a word.

Two days later, my wife said “Yes” to my marriage proposal. I told both dad and mom as a birthday gift for him. My mom smiled and said, “Months earlier when your father went to preach at the Corpers’ Fellowship, he saw her and the Holy Spirit told him then, “Isn’t she the wife of your son?”

I was the only unmarried son. So it had to be me. But daddy kept his peace about this and did not utter a word until I told him.

I want to talk to men: You must be the priest of your home. Nothing must happen without your knowledge. If your wife is the one waking you up for family devotion and setting the pace, then something is wrong with you.

You must chart the course of your children’s lives in prayer. Call them by name in prayer and prophesy over them. Bless your wife daily. Lay hands on her before you step out. What makes a man is far beyond finance and romance; you must be a man of prayer! Nothing must happen in your home until you permit it, not by stubborn conduct but by prayers.

Brother, if you are unmarried now and you are not learning to pray, you are living like a spiritual gambler saying, “what will be will be.” You need to wake up and smell the coffee. Stop sleeping like a log of wood. Wake up at night and pray in tongues by the Spirit. Take on the Word and confess it. Do not leave your future home or anything to chance.

Marriage is not a game. Fathers and fathers-to-be, take your place. Build finance, learn Romance but exercise your Spirit and take your place.

Author Unknown

Meditation: [God has] made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. – Revelation 5:10

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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