Saturday, November 22, 2008

One of the very best gifts I ever gave my children

The best gift I ever gave my children would have to be doing what I could to give them a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with whatever integrity God has graced me with. But next to that?

Best thing I ever did for my children was giving them the mother they have.

I've had reason to think that again and again. I had reason again last night.

Every human in my house except me is in various stages of a cold. My 13yos is almost over it, my dear wife Valerie is cycling, and my 9yos Jonathan has just had a relapse. He'd had it, then he seemed about 95% recovered on Wednesday, but had a setback Thursday and Friday.

My dear Jonathan, in my late mother's words, "Suffers well" — meaning he's pretty dramatic. There are lots of moans and whimpers, and he falls apart easily. Josiah is more stoic; Valerie hates being sick at all; I'm seldom sick (too old and mean), but when I am I vary between Josiah and Jonathan.

So Jonathan was very "puny," as we say, suffering lustily, coughing and being miserable. I cuddled him before bedtime and rubbed on the vaporub. Then my wife and I spent time together, and when we went off towards bed, Jonathan was awake and unhappy.

We both went in and sat with him and comforted him awhile. Then Valerie stayed to snuggle and comfort him, and told me to get off to bed. (I'd been awake around 20 hours.) So I eventually did.

As I drifted off, I thought about Valerie, and thanked God (again) for her. What a dedicated mother Valerie is, and always has been. Every one of our children, she's shown this kind of sacrificial care and devoted love. Always thinking of better ways to homeschool them, good experiences and trips to expose them to, ways to help them and point them in the right direction. She's painstakingly made amazing clothes and costumes for Rachael (now 25) and Matthew (now 21), cared for them when sick, scolded and encouraged and taught and played with and loved them.

Valerie so deserves devotion and appreciation and love and respect and honor from them all.

She surely has mine.

So, I've given my kids my own love and care and toys and time and all. But next to the Gospel, the best thing I ever gave them was a superb, amazing, devoted, never-ceasing-to-astonish mother.

I've done so many things wrong in my life, made so many bad decisions.

That wasn't one of them.

And now, since I'm blessed with readers from all stages of life:

Word to husbands. Need I say more?

But especially, word to would-be husbands. Remember, boys: you aren't merely choosing fun company or sexual release. You're choosing a person created in the image of God, whom you are to serve, lead and cherish; a partner to fill and round you out in your service to God — and a mother for your children.

And finally, word to children. You have a mother anything like that? And you aren't regularly looking for concrete ways to show her honor and love, and to say "Thank you" to her?

Shame! Repent!


Jay said...

This reminds me of how my mother, father, and I all caught an extremely nasty stomach virus on Christmas Eve a few years ago (my Freshman year of college, I believe).

We were in no condition carry out our Christmas day plans, so we all spent the holiday lounging in the living room (and making regular trips to the bathroom, natch). What amazed me was my mother's sense of humor about the whole thing. My father's always been a joker, and I had pegged her as more serious.

But instead, she realized the humor in the situation and helped make me feel better (I was rather depressed, since I had been away at at school for a year and not being able to see most of my family for Christmas sucked). She really made that holiday less of a disaster.

*As a side note, it turns out about a third of our church all experienced the same virus. There had been a pot luck after the Christmas play the night before Christmas Eve. Nobody knows which dish did it, but I'm blaming a tuna casserole.

Andreas said...

Enlightening post Mr. Phillips. Thank you.

Kim said...

Wow. I think I'm going to cry, that was such a wonderful tribute.

I think I could probably learn a lot from her.

Andrew D said...

But especially, word to would-be husbands. Remember, boys: you aren't merely choosing fun company or sexual release. You're choosing a person created in the image of God, whom you are to serve, lead and cherish; a partner to fill and round you out in your service to God — and a mother for your children.

I had the unique experience of dating (courting for those who prefer that term) a single mother. Lemme tell ya, for all of the obvious challenges that presents, there is one particular advantage. That is, you don't need to guess what kind of mother they will be! You can watch for yourself. Observe how she manages the stress of working full time and being a full time parent simultaneously. You can discuss real-life parenting situations, offer suggestions, and even practice fatherly leadership (that part only comes with engagement) in parenting.

They can't fake that, because it dominates their everyday life. Single moms don't have time to pretend. They're too busy packing lunches, doing laundry, cleaning the house, shopping in thrift stores, and... um... working a full time job!

I found a single woman doing all that (and much more), so I knew that if she could be relieved from working full time she would become an even more excellent mother. And what a blessing it has been!

Being a single mom is not God's best plan for parenting. But I have learned that God sometimes gives very special grace to Christian mothers without husbands. And then sometimes He is kind enough to give them a loving husband.

Praise God for great mothers! May their husbands be humble and grateful! Praise His name!

DJP said...

Andrew, thanks for sharing that. God bless you all.

Kate said...


Really nice post. I am thankful to have a husband who treats me at least as well as it sounds like you treat your wife. Single men of all ages NEED to hear your "word to would-be husbands," and young men especially need to see strong male role models practicing Biblical family headship. So, thanks for that.

candy said...

Very nice tribute to your wife Dan! I am especially impressed with the "painstaking" sewing of costumes. Even though I can painstakingly paint single blades of grass on canvas, sewing is one of those evil things inflicted on women in my opinion, and anyone that can do it is really elevated to a higher realm of womanhood in my eyes. Wrapping gifts fits in there too.

candy said...

BTW. The sewing thing was seriously a complement and I hope it is taken as one. I used to wish I could sew and had no patience for it, and have always been impressed with people who can. I wanted to be a pioneer woman in my younger years and fell woefully short in the area of sewing. My kids costumes were pillow cases with holes skillfully cut in strategic areas.

Aaron said...

Great post. I love the sexual release bit...Before my conversion that is what the primary purpose of dating was. Thank God he elected to save me for now I am married to a Godly wife (and mother of my child). I can't tell you how hellish it would be without one.

Moon said...

what a wonderful post! :)
my mom is not Christian but she is a woman that has given her life to take care of us, to clothe and feed us, to cuddle us (all of us including my dad) whenever we've been sick and as for me, all through-out medschool she has been the one to take me to the hospitals(even if it meant for her to have to wake up extra early), and pick me up at 1am after my shift is over, the one to scold me and be 99% of the time right!. It was until the Lord saved me that I began to appreciate all she has done and continued to do for me and the entire family, but also it was by God's grace that I truly began to love my mom. My desire is that the Lord would save her and my entire family if its His will.
Thanks for posting this!