December 25, 1999
Just wanted to write and let you know that Dad and I are about half way through our “parenting years.”
Don’t get alarmed–we’ll always be your parents. This doesn’t mean we’re quitting in 2009. It just means that our toting, tickling, training, teaching time with you is half done.
People told us it would fly by much too quickly but we didn’t believe them. When you were babies, it felt as though some nights lasted forever. When you became toddlers, we hoped time would slow down a bit but it didn’t. Your baby teeth are all gone, none of you talk like Tweety Bird, and you never play dress-up anymore.
Thank God for memories.
We dedicated each of you at the altar of the church, among many witnesses.
When you turned two, you were enrolled in Sunday school and you’ve been there ever since.
We sent you to Christian day camps, sports camps and overnight camps.
We carpooled you to lock-ins, youth groups, choir rehearsals, drama nights, community clean-ups, outreaches, overnights, and pizza parties.
We have explained what the Pastors do and how you can pray for them and we’ve talked about practical ways you could be helpful to others.
We watched with a million emotions when the three of you decided to be baptized at the same time.
Thank God for the church.
When we sponsored a child through World Vision, we watched:
- As you took such a genuine interest in Tapiwa and rejoiced in the fact that she would receive the things she needed to live a productive life in Zimbabwe.
- When we sent Bibles to Christians in the underground church in China, you were upset to hear some of the stories we shared with you about the suffering of Christians around the world whose only crime was believing in Jesus.
- You guys wanted to fly to Sudan immediately to “buy freedom” for 100 Christians slaves.
- You have become acquainted with the Angel Tree program of Prison Fellowship and have clearly understood how sad Christmas can be for a kid whose mom or dad is in prison. Your hearts have been enlarged.
Thank God for effective ministries.
You have met many wonderful people who love the Lord and serve Him well.
Some have sat at our dinner table and some have stood in the pulpit, and some have spoken from microphones 300 yards away. You have gleaned much from their preaching, their teaching, their music, their mission, their passion. Some of the people you have benefited from are well-known and some are only known by those whom they quietly, faithfully serve.
Thank God for real heroes.
The bittersweet reality is that the years of Big Bird, Barney, and bubble-baths are over.
You don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin or the fat guy in red, (although we have gone to great lengths to teach you the true story of the remarkable Christian man named Nicholas of Lycea.)
Your formal education is also at a halfway mark.
- You’ve observed how easily kids are swayed by friends, music, and clothing ads.
- Words such as genocide, homicide, and suicide are no longer foreign.
- You’ve begun to believe school shootings are a regular occurrence in America.
- You have learned what “the system” has to say about aids, safe sex, alcohol, and drugs.
- You have heard what other kids think about dating, lying, MTV, and Pokemon.
- Sadly, some of the famous people you look up to have failed in their “personal” life.
Nobody seems to refer to any of this as “sin.”
Thank God for absolute truth.
We have checked off a lot of boxes on that ever growing list titled: “How To Raise Christian Kids.”
We bought you “all the right stuff”: Christian books, videos, CDs, games, jewelry, and shirts. We keep replacing your Bibles with age appropriate ones and Dad does a terrific job holding your attention during family devotions.
However, we will never be able to convey all the things we think you’ll need to know in order to be prepared for life. We had no way of knowing what current events would be hurled in front of your young eyes and ears and we can’t predict what issues will come about as a result of natural disasters, advanced technology, and a culture that’s becoming morally numb.
Sometimes, we feel discouraged because we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what we want you to know.
Thank God for grace.
In addition to doing a lot of things right–we’ve also managed to “blow it” on countless occasions.
We are embarrassed about the times you have seen Daddy and I display selfish attitudes and speak harsh words. At times we have used poor judgment and often shown you our own inadequacies. We never wanted to pass down our smelly baggage but we have managed to do just that. When we don’t like some of the things you say or do—guess who it reminds us of? We will continue to ask for guidance and forgiveness.
Thank God for mercy.
The dawn of the new millennium happens to mark the half-time of your childhood.
Dad and I want to be absolutely sure you fully understand these few things . . . Jesus sees you and knows you and loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be defined or measured. You were created to know Him and to make Him known. Whether you live on a mountain in Timbuktu—or in the White House—or in suburbia—your life will be mediocre, at best, if you are not intimate with God.
You will never have true success if you do not have true faith.
You will never become a fine leader until you become a fine servant.
You will never know deep joy without knowing the meaning of the very first Christmas. A Savior was born. A King was given. He is the best gift you will ever receive. His name is Jesus.
Merry Christmas, dear children.
I love you.