Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good-bye, girls--part one

We moved Shanny again last weekend. We moved her out of her summer sub-let and into a permanent unit where she can stay until she finishes her degree, if she so chooses. She has a bedroom, a bathroom, a large walk-in closet, a long room that serves as study, living room and dining room, and a tiny kitchen around the corner. It is an institutional building, about 60-70 years old, built of brick with block walls and linoleum tile floors. But after we cozied it up with some rugs and furniture, it is pleasant and cheerful. She has three large windows that look out onto a green, treed courtyard in the middle of these brick buildings. She will be snug there.

Three weeks from now, Shawn and I will be home after moving Lulu back to school as well. And then I will be daughterless.

I cannot really imagine what that will be like. Up to now, whenever one of the girls has been gone, the other one has been home. But this fall, it will be me and the guys. I will see what life would have been like if we had only had two children, and they were both male.

In the meantime, I am feeling a strong need to impart words of advice to my girls. As a mother, you are never prepared for them to be gone and on their own, never quite ready to stop taking care of them. You fret that you have forgotten to teach them all kinds of important things.

So here is what I would like to say to them. Some of these things are based on what I have done in my own life that has worked, and some are based on my painful mistakes, and my desire to shield my girls from traveling undesirable paths.

To my daughters...

Read your Bible every day.
You do not need to read terribly long portions of your Bible, but never let a day go by without taking in some scripture. It is spiritual food, and without it your spirit will starve. Jesus said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)

A good goal is to shoot for reading a chapter a day. Some days perhaps you will only read the section under one division heading in a chapter. Other days you might read only one or two verses, and then write them on a notecard and keep them in your pocket to remember through the rest of the day. Some days you might find yourself engrossed in something and read two or more chapters. It really doesn't matter, as long as you are reading something every day.

It is good to do your reading in the morning, because often if you put it off, it gets crowded out of your schedule. It is also nice to read a portion of scripture at night, right before you fall asleep, to set you mind on things above. I would recommend trying to do both and making sure that you do at least one.

Pick a book of the Bible and read through it. When you finish, pick a new book of the Bible. Keep a nice marker in your Bible so you always know where you are. This way you won't find yourself picking up your Bible and wondering where to turn. Here is a list of books that are good ones for when you are starting out: Mark, Philippians, Colossians, Psalms, Proverbs, Ephesians, Luke. When you finish those, move on to these: Genesis, James, Matthew, Isaiah, John, Romans, Deuteronomy. When you have finished all of these, give me a call.

Thank God for something every day.
Remember that God is the Giver of all good gifts. Cultivate thankfulness in your life. Each day as you awake, remember that God is with you, and thank Him for that. Thank Him for the gift of a new day. Thank Him that He has already planned this day for you, that He is good, and that He promises to do good to you.

Every time you sit down to eat, remember to thank Him. Thank Him for the weather, the sunshine, an encouraging conversation, a surprise meeting with a friend, a good grade on a project, legs that work, a roof over your head. Whatever is before you, be thankful. If you have to take a scary test, be thankful that you have the opportunity to go to school. If you can't sleep at night, be thankful that you have a bed and blankets. Recently, I saw someone ask the question: If you woke up tomorrow and all you had were the things you had thanked God for yesterday, what would you be left with? Live thankfully!

Turn your burdens over to the Lord every day.

God's Word says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7). Pray when you are sad, lonely, frightened, nervous or bewildered. Never forget that you have a perfect friend in the Lord; He will always be there for you and never let you down. He may hide His face temporarily to teach you to become stronger, but He will never leave you nor forsake you. This is one of His promises (Joshua 1:9, Hebrews 13:5).

You can read the next post in this series here.

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