David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Raising children”

Training Up a Child (2014-10-15 Daily)

Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.

—Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)


I sit at the breakfast table and glance at today’s Lesson Plan, Hannah’s future laid out block-by-block, printed in my wife’s handwriting, clear and concise, like my seven-year-old’s resolve. Sunshine pours through the glass, smudged with the evidence of long-fossilized window clings of holidays past, and splashes across the table. Like my first cup of coffee, its warmth awakens my purpose and straightens my demeanor. With no hesitation I relinquish my own plans for the day and prepare to execute a higher calling. After all, Mary and I are, indeed, Hannah’s teachers. Today it’s my turn to march forth with my head held high and lead homeschool.

Hannah sits in the craft room, waiting, whistling, passing the moment pitch perfect and wide awake. She’s still dressed in pajamas, still enveloped in after-sleep happiness, still wearing a childishness that’s beginning to fray around the edges like a much-loved nursery blanket. Oh yeah, she’s still got me wrapped around her little finger—and her ring finger, and her middle finger and her index finger. And, alas, even her thumb. On both hands. It’s good to be a dad.

Her face turns toward me as I walk into the formal-dining-room-turned-classroom. Her brown eyes smile, her lips follow suit. I breathe in, I breathe out, I sit down. I did this. We did this, Mary and I. We made this seven-year-old, God’s daughter, our child—brilliant, high-spirited, scary smart, our responsibility—with gladness. I look at her, this exquisite young lady with her Daddy’s looks and her Mama’s attitude, this sprig of a child, four foot tall and thirty-seven pounds, this living joy wearing her emotions on her sleeve and her assertiveness on the tip of her tongue … I look at her and fall in love all over again and ask myself if I’m really, truly doing a good job as a dad. One look and I know the answer, despite my shortcomings.

“Drawing today, Daddy?” she asks, voice drenched in sweetness, eyes radiating hope.

“Drawing,” I agree. Her smile spreads even further and crosses into my heart, demonstrating joy without a word, defining love without a doubt. I suggest copying cartoons today and she asks which one. I conjure up the internet and copy, print and lay before her the brilliance of Charles Schulz. Of all the characters I set before her, she chooses to copy Lucille van Pelt. Yep, Lucy. I pick Snoopy because he’s perched on the ridge of his doghouse roof with a typewriter at his feet and a paw resting on his chin. He’s looking up into the sky. Thinking. Creating. Reflecting. Yes, Snoopy it is.

We scribble for an hour, first Peanuts then on to Garfield, Jim Davis’ lasagna-eating cat. We draw with tongues sticking out, two perfectionists struggling to turn fun into work, but the point of this time together reasserts itself as we snicker over a spider getting the best of the fat orange tabby. “National Stupid Day,” Hannah says, giggling. “Dad, the spiders are celebrating National Stupid Day.” Sounds like a great reason to have a party.

Science and Math, History and Geography soon call to my practical side, so we put away the pencils and markers, hang up our masterpieces from the art line draped across the wall, and open Language Arts, Unit 2. I read, Hannah listens, and I turn her loose so can I finish up in the bathroom. Five blessed minutes of silence drift past before the door bursts open without a knock.

“Dad, this was too easy,” she declares. She stands in front of me holding her workbook open to a word search game that offered no challenge except, I suspect, to the improvement of her eye rolling skills. “See, all the words are in a line.” No vertical, no diagonal, no backwards. Nope, all the words lay on each other like a stack of orthographic pencils.

I set my cell phone down on my lap. “Good job,” I say. “Go ahead and work on the next section.” She gleefully leaves, I gleefully return to cleaning up email on my iPhone. One of our dogs gleefully traipses through the open door and greets me with a quick sniff.

Hannah finishes her unit, moves on to the next. As I rejoin her and begin to review her work, my critical eye starts picking off misspelled words and incomplete sentences strewn across the pages of the Language Arts and Science modules. One-by-one I blast each mistake with double-barreled attitude, and one-by-one Hannah corrects them with mounting frustration. Inch-by-inch “dud” becomes “bud,” “dasedall” becomes “baseball,” giggling becomes silence becomes arguing becomes no fun. I sit at the craft room table and glance at my watch. I capitulate to tension and declare “good enough.” And it is. Better, in fact, despite my impatience.

What a blessed man I am, I reflect as I drive Hannah to gymnastics, playing the animal game, getting beat yet again. What a blessed man I am, I ponder as I drive home after dropping off my amazing child, grateful God chose Mary and I to steward His daughter in this big, scary, sometimes overwhelming world. What a blessed man I am, I consider as I recall the wisdom of Psalm 22:6, to train up my child in the way she should go so she won’t depart from it when she gets old.

As I walk into the house and close the garage door, I push aside the to-do’s gnawing my heels, sit down at my desk, and allow myself this moment to ruminate at the keyboard. God placed in my hands the honor and the responsibility to train up my child in the way she should go. And I am. God placed in my hands the privilege to pour out my knowledge and the obligation to correct my own flaws and prevent them, as best I can, from passing on to her. And I do. God placed in my hands the privilege of raising up a warrior, a daughter of the Most High God, a princess, a fighter, an ambassador. And, by God, I will. I am old, and I have not departed from it. And when she is old, neither will she.


Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes


The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 13: Joy in Obedience (2 of 3)

Throughout the Old Testament God is clear about the results of obeying His commands: things will go well. “Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you,” God said through His prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:23b NIV). Here Jeremiah was reminding the Hebrews of God’s promises in Leviticus 26 in return for their obedience. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses wrote: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33 NIV).

Several years ago one of our church small group members described an epiphany he experienced while driving. “If you stay within the speed limit,” God told him, “you remain under my covering of protection. But if you speed, you move out from under that covering.” Speed limits have been imposed in an effort to protect folks from the consequences of irresponsible driving; God’s precepts have been given to protect folks from the consequences of sin. Remain obedient and things will go well for you.

When Hannah disobeys us then asks why we’ve disciplined her, Mary and I sometimes paraphrase what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, regarding the Fifth Commandment: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’–which is the first commandment with a promise–‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV). The alternative, we tell her, is for us to eat her. A little hyperbole never hurt anyone, but it sometimes leads Hannah to paraphrase back to me Paul’s next line: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children . . .” (Ephesians 6:4a NIV). Smart aleck.

Obedience to God’s commands also leads to power. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses instructed the Hebrews “If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow–to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him–then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you” (Deuteronomy 11:22-23 NIV). And in Deuteronomy 28:1, God promised to raise Israel “high above all the nations of the earth” as long as they heeded His voice and obeyed His commands. In Deuteronomy 28:9 (NIV) Moses reiterated this truth: “The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him.”

As we keep God’s commands as grace-covered children of the New Covenant, as we yield ourselves to God’s authority, as we love Him and fear Him, we open our hearts and our lives to receive His unlimited power for His Kingdom, His glory, and our joy. As Jesus said to his apostles before His arrest, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14 NIV). And later He promised the disciples, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24b NIV).

Obedience to God’s commands also results in prosperity. “Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses,” David told his son, Solomon, before he died. “Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go” (1 Kings 2:3 NIV). In the Second Book of Chronicles, the Chronicler described Hezekiah, one of the most upright kings of Judah, as a man who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 29:2 NIV). And as a consequence of “doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God,” Hezekiah flourished. “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21 NIV).

Obedience to God’s commands also leads to long life. After Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of long life and wealth, God told him “if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life” (1 Kings 3:14 NIV). And again, the Fifth Commandment says “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV). Whenever Hannah questions the wisdom of what we’re asking her to do, Mary and I remind her that obedience leads to things continuing to go well for her. Then we throw in Bill Cosby’s famous line for punctuation: “I brought you in this world, and I can take you out” (Bill Cosby, Himself).



Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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