Monday, September 12, 2005

Rearing or Raising

God, Parents and Stained Glass

Parenting children is like living in a desert. Sandstorms and beautiful sunsets come with the real estate. Grit and beauty usually arrive on the same day.

Home’s the place where loving, refereeing parents civilize kids. “Raising” and “rearing” can have different definitions. Our family “raised” chickens, and unlike children, they didn’t require much care. We opened the coop in the mornings, and threw out grain.

No need to baby sit hens. Let them fend for themselves. They won the battles with the beetles. Then at night, we locked up the brood so critters didn’t steal them.

There’s a barnyard of difference in “raising” chickens and “rearing” children. With dedicated, watchful parents, children prosper. Homes need mothers and dads standing guard, making their abodes sanctuaries against unwholesome influences. Families aren’t perfect, but they are one of the God-ordained units where goodness can get a toehold.

The family is a schoolroom where one clan under one roof will provide plenty of teachable moments. Successes open doors for celebrating triumphs. Failures provide opportunities for empathy and correction. Wrongdoings occasion forgiveness.

Radio host Joe White says that through families “God is in the business of building stained-glass windows.” The windows are “made from thousands of broken pieces, skillfully picked up and dusted off and soldered together in magnificent murals.”

Erma Bombeck told about her frolicking young son knocking a bubble gum dispencer over. Glass and colored orbs scattered. Many onlookers overheard her say he’d “never see another cartoon the rest of his life” and that he “was going to be making license plates for the state.”

Embarrassed by the attention and scolding, and “in his helpless quest for comfort,” he turned to the one he most trusted, threw his arms around his mother's knees and “held on for dear life.”

It’s comforting to know that God sees the sparrows and our babies. He is looking at the blueprint for every child’s life, and his influence is supreme. One of the best requests parents can make is for God to be their children’s teacher. Then, offer thanksgiving for the job of lab assistant.

Parents, keep handing God the soldering tool. Gorgeous light shines through assembled pieces of colored glass.

“Love is patient, love is kind . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7).

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