I am just home from the evening Church service and am in bed having supper watching an old Day of Discovery video. When I was first saved I used to get a catalogue and every now and again send for a video on a particular subject. They would post it to me, I would watch it, sometimes pass it on to somebody else, then post it back to them. A few years ago they said they were changing over to DVD so I wrote to them asking them for some of their old videos. They very kindly sent over lots and lots of them to the Church here in Dundalk. So, although they are very old, and very light, they can be just the thing after a full day.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, I was listening to one of the male singers and noticed how he has lost a lot of his hair over the years (although he is young) and I thought of a very young boy who lives in Virginia that I know. He is a good looking wee fella with fair hair and I thought to myself, 'what will he look like in twenty years?' His dad lost his hair early in life and this child might too when he grows up. I got to thinking about this boy and his younger sister. Their parents are Christian and the children have also been converted and baptized. They used to play with my son when they were 4&5 years old. Their mum was the first Christian woman who befriended me. I have had the great privilege of having them in my home, being in their home, minding them for a week at a time, teaching them in Sunday school and the Bible club, being involved in their lives and loving them and I think being loved by them in return.
Last year they moved back to the States and I tell you, it was a pull on my heart, and it still is. However, I keep in contact with the mum by e mail and the odd phone call, with the dad through Face Book, with the boy on the odd occasion by e mail and with the girl through e mail and blogs. I get to see photos of them in their every day lives which is good.
My point is, tonight, the thought struck me that I have something really nice to look forwards to that I have not really noticed before. I have the great joy and privilege of not only watching my son Sean grow up with a hope that I hadn't, but them also, and other children in my Church family.
It's not the same as my nephews and nieces... I have some that are almost thirty, living between Dundalk and New York. The difference is that they have not been reared in a home with ANY resemblance of Christianity. Five are already single parents. One is a musician, (I know first hand all about that lifestyle and it's not something I would want for Sean) one a model, sounds good in a worldly way but again, not a good career choice, quite a few are unemployed and sadly the list goes on along those lines. I have watched most of them grow up and been very involved with most of them and although I love them and they have been a joy to me over the years, it is very VERY sad to see how they are turning out... Very sad.
So now, I find that I have been given the chance to do it all again, but this time with my new family. The family God has adopted me into. This time I have a hope that things may well turn out differently with some of these children. They have a chance that I, my family and most of our children didn't have. They are being brought up in homes with parents that love their children God's way, who discipline their children God's way, who bring up their children God's way.
Instead of watching children being took from one pub to another, I am watching them learning about God in a safe, friendly and loving environment in our Church Centre.
Instead of hearing about young children going to therapists for help with abusive parents, I am watching children form strong bonds with godly people in the Church.
Instead of hearing about children being taken out of bed in the middle of the night by drunken parents, I am seeing children tucked up in bed early, with prayer and protection.
Instead of seeing these same children grow up a bit and being took to the pub with their parents when they are fourteen years old, I am seeing some enjoying their childhoods to the full, just being children:0)
So, although I grieve at the way my family's children have been reared (I don't forget that this would have been me if God had not intervened) and am sick to the pit of my stomach to see it start all over again with this new generation, I am witnessing something that is pleasant, fresh, clean, hopeful, good and holy.
It is an amazing miracle how God can reach down into a family such as mine, pick one of us out of this painful, this crazy mixed-up group of people and transform them. To do this, with no one noticing......
Life has gone on much the same with my family. Gone on, down the broad road of destruction. No one can see that I am born again, that my life has been transformed. That I have peace and happiness, hope and comfort. That God is my dad, that I am his daughter, that Jesus is my friend and brother, that I have One that comforts me and is with me all the time, who will never leave me nor forsake me.
They see someone who threatens them. They see somebody they can't understand. They see somebody who rejected their lifestyles and think I rejected them.
I love my family and I am brokenhearted that I can't reach them.
But I have a friend who can, so I pray and wait, wait and pray and above all, I trust my friend.
And while this awful life is continuing along its path, God has given me another pleasure to give thanks for, to enjoy and to hope on, these children. This new generation that may not go the same way that others go, with God's help.