Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day: Lessons I've Learned

     On Mother's Day I wrote about my wonderful mom and mother-in-law and the things I have learned from them over the years. Today I would like to write about my father, John Putney, and my father-in-law, Vic Carpenter. Both have been wonderful blessings to me!

     I remember, when I was little, seeing Dad on his knees in his study praying. That image is burned into my mind; I never had to ask where my father got his guidance and wisdom. He led our family in daily devotions, and stressed the reading of the Word, the memorizing of verses, sharing of prayer needs, and praying together as a family. When I was little I took this all for granted; surely everyone had a family like this! But now that I'm older and wiser I realize how unusual it was, and thank God for it. Even now, my dad and mom pray for all of us kids, and all of our kids, every day. If I have any prayer request, from the most trivial thing to the highly urgent, I know that I can call my parents and ask them to pray.
    I learned many other things from my dad.  My dad taught us to work hard (one of these days I'll blog about the Chore List) and yet imbued our lives with a sense of fun, too.  He sang silly songs in the car (do you still do that, Dad?) as we drove along. My teenagers still enjoy "Mareseatoats" and other crazy songs. Dad made sure that we went to the beach together as a family for breakfast on the beach every once in a while (thanks, Mom, for all your work in that, too.)  We saw the beautiful sights of Puerto Rico along with living the daily grind of school, work, housework, and church activities.  Trips to El Yunque and Luquillo Beach were day-long adventures of fun; as an adult I now realize just how much work went into planning those trips, and it inspires me to do the same sort of things with my children.
     Dad taught all of us the importance of consistent, loving discipline. I will never forget being in his study, having been disciplined for some naughtiness or other, and Dad giving me a huge bear hug, telling me that he loved me very much and wanted me to be a grown-up who loves the Lord and lives to please Him. Through his loving discipline I learned self-control and self-discipline.
     I thank God every day for Dad, and realize just how blessed I am to have him as my daddy.
     When I met and married Eric, I gained another dad, Vic, my father-in-law. God has blessed me greatly through him, as well! Who knew, back in 1985 when I took French 1 at Houghton College, that my French professor would one day be my father-in-law? Vic has a great sense of humor, and has endured much goofing-off on my part over the years. He can make a pun out of nearly anything, much to the we're-groaning-but-we-love-it dismay of the kids. He and I can make cross-lingual jokes out of things, and while I help him learn Spanish, he can continue to help me learn French. Vic inspires me to keep learning throughout life; he has learned multiple languages as an adult and continues to both take and teach classes at a local senior center. He shares his knowledge with others and maintains a personal quest to learn more all the time. He plays tennis as his life-time sport, continuing to play despite having both hips replaced about fifteen years ago.

TO SUM UP:  I have been greatly blessed through my own parents, John and Ruth, and Eric's parents, Vic and Char. They have taught Eric and me by their example how to have a good marriage, how to raise our kids, how to manage our finances, and how to serve the Lord and keep Him first in our lives. I don't deserve any of these blessings; I consider them unmerited favor, or grace if you will.  I praise the Lord for His enduring kindness.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stream of Consciousness...On Mother's Day...

….I want to celebrate the incredible blessings that God has given me in my own Mom, Ruth Putney, and in my mother-in-law, Charlotte Carpenter. They have both shaped and influenced my life greatly, and I thank God for them.
One of my earliest memories of my mother is of sitting in her lap, being rocked in a rocking chair, and hearing her humming and singing me to sleep.  In fact, I remember hearing my mom hum and sing a lot during my childhood as she cooked delicious, nutritious meals for our family, as she folded laundry, as she mopped the floor…my theory that life should have background music, as my older sister Ruth once put it, clearly comes from my mother (and my dad, let’s not neglect his singing in the car, but that’s a topic for Father's Day) who always seemed to be making music of some kind, whether her own humming, or playing the piano.  Oh, yes, the piano!  She played for multiple church services on Sundays, for choir practice, she played for us kids to sing along at home, (how can I ever forget our family sing-along Messiah times?) she played Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” for us to dance around to like total maniacs in the living room—one of my favorite childhood memories—and I remember some nights going to sleep to the sound of my mom’s hymn arrangements floating down the hallway.  My lifelong love of the piano and pretty much every kind of music has deep roots in the musical garden that my parents cultivated every day in our home.   
Now that I’m forty-something and have three teenagers of my own, I am in awe of my mom and the incredible amounts of work she did daily to keep a household of eight running.  I learned cooking and baking from her, and how to shop wisely: my mom organized a collective shopping group with other missionary wives, going to a wholesale warehouse to buy flour, sugar, meat, frozen vegetables, and other staples in large quantities at wholesale prices, in order to stretch the family budget.  She cooked wonderful meals at home, taught us how to bake bread, pies, cookies, how to cook, and how to roast a turkey (don’t even get me started on the enormous Thanksgiving dinners at our house with 30+ people on our back porch.) I learned how to sew from my mom, how to mend clothing, how to clean a house, how to do laundry, and in general how to keep a home running. She taught me by example how to nurse a sick child, how to juggle work and home responsibilities, how to manage finances, and how to be loving and yet firm.  Does Proverbs 31 pop into mind?
When I got a little older, my mom began teaching at the mission school, Wesleyan Academy.  I had the privilege of having my mom as a choir leader and as a teacher in a class for the Seniors called “Personal and Social Development”  (think:  Sex Ed, Marriage, & Family.) My mom was a wonderful teacher, and I know that my own love for and rapport with high school kids is really just an echo of her ability.
Where did my mom get the strength to do all of this?  Well, another thing I learned from my mom is the importance of spending time daily in God’s word, and speaking with Him in prayer.  From my earliest childhood I knew that my mom (both parents, actually) placed a high importance on personal and family devotions. I know now that the only way she did everything she had to do each day was through supernatural strength from the Lord.
When I met and later married my husband, Eric, God blessed me for the second time with a mom, this time my mother-in-law. Like my own mother, she is a true Proverbs 31 woman. She is constantly serving others: cooking and serving in the ministry at her church to senior citizens (yes, I know technically she IS a senior citizen, but she is not old in any way,) ministering to the homeless, caring for the flowerbeds at her church, helping me and her own daughter Esther with our kids and homes in pretty much any way we need her, counseling many people through difficult times…and the list could go on.  She has helped us move from north (NY) to south (GA,) then halfway north (NC,) and finally all the way around the world from India back to Georgia. For that last move, she did all of the telephone leg-work to find out where we should have Bobby treated, and even set it up so that when we got off the plane, we already had an appointment to see his pediatrician. What would we have done without her?
She has been there for Eric and me through life-threatening medical issues with two different children, through the infancy of two of them, through life’s ups and downs, and we always know we can count on her to help if she can. Like my own mom, she is multi-talented and frugal; she, too, knows how to shop well, how to manage finances, and how to run a household efficiently. She has added to her abilities in the last year by learning how to quilt, and making Mary a beautiful quilt, with plans to make each grandchild one. This inspires me to continue with my own quilting efforts!
As I reflect on motherhood today, I realize that God has given me two of the finest examples of mothers that there could ever be. My mom and my mother-in-law are truly two of my best friends and closest confidants.  How many women can say that? Next to Eric, who is my best friend, they are the first ones I think to call in life’s hard times, or if I need Godly advice, or to share a joyous moment.  I am blessed beyond compare. 
So today I praise God and thank Him for both of my moms. May I continue to grow as He shapes me to be the mother I should be; this would mean becoming more like each of them.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I read two books recently....

....that really shook me up a little.  I got them both from our local library. The first was Making Supper Safe, by Ben Hewitt.

It's about our food industry and the lack of oversight which leads to food contamination. A good read, but also a little frightening. The only way we can ever be truly sure that our food is not contaminated is to grow it all ourselves, something which in our society today is nearly impossible to do. It makes me wish I had enough of a backyard to have a huge garden.

The other book was American Wasteland, by Jonathan Bloom.
This one is about the massive waste of food that goes on every day in our country, mostly due to the fact that we Americans want all types of food available at all seasons of the year, and we want it to look pretty and seem fresh-picked. Stores throw out thousands of dollars' worth of food every week. This book, more than the first, made me really stop and take stock of our own food consumption.  There isn't much I can do about food contamination in the supply line before we buy the food, but there is a lot I can do here at home to prevent wasting perfectly good food.

My current non-fiction read is The Smart-Aleck's Guide to American History, by Adam Selzer.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas.  It's hilarious, but also a seriously well-researched book on American History. I'll blog more about it when I'm finished reading it.