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In Memory of One Special Mom (and in honor of all the others)

11 Dec

Much like Leroy Jethro Gibbs, I do not believe in coincidences. The following post was the daily email from Mikey’s Funnies (you can subscribe to the madness at http://www.mikeysfunnies.com)

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good mom all year. I’ve fed, cleaned, and cuddled my two children on demand, visited the doctor’s office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground, and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my daughter’s girl scout sash with staples and a glue gun.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son’s red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I’ll find any more free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I’d like a pair of legs that don’t ache after a day of chasing kids (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don’t flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to carry a screaming toddler out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I’d also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you’re hauling big ticket items this year, I’d like a car with fingerprint-resistant windows and a radio that plays only big-people music; a television that doesn’t broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking daughter doll that says, “Yes, Mommy” to boost my parental confidence, along with one potty-trained toddler, two kids who don’t fight, and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, “Don’t eat in the living room” and “Take your hands off your brother,” because my voice seems to be just out of my children’s hearing range and can be heard only by the dog.

And please don’t forget the Playdoh Travel Pack, the hottest stocking stuffer this year for mothers of preschoolers. It comes in three fluorescent colors and is guaranteed to crumble on any carpet, making the in-law’s house seem just like mine.

If it’s too late to find any of these products, I’d settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don’t mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It would clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family; or if my toddler didn’t look so cute sneaking downstairs in his pajamas to eat contraband ice cream at midnight.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the chimney and come in and dry off by the fire so you don’t catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don’t eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always, Mom

P.S. One more thing: You can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young.

The Other Side

8 Dec

We did something yesterday that we never expected to do. Sure, we know the only certain things for we Americans are death and taxes, and we know the number of our days is already known to God, but seldom are we ready so see someone we love cross over to the other side. And, as morbid as it sounds, I never thought we would see Mom cross over before my dad. Dad has been sick for some time. Elaine and I are sitting at the kitchen table right now at 6:50am, and for us this is all too surreal.

Everyone deals with death. Every family has their own dynamic in dealing with such things, and the Wikes are no exception. As is often true, Mom was the glue that held so much together. We children now have a job to do. As a pastor, I have walked many times through such situations with other families. I know the right things to say. I know the right passages of scripture to use. But I had never been in these shoes before. This situation will forever change my perspective on this ministry.

But this is not about me. This is about Mom. I have tried to be the glue … The middle child in me comes out, just like in mom. But soon I will be able to stop juggling all of the balls and just grieve. That that is natural and okay. And to Latha Janet Hooper Wike, whom I will always love, I take great confidence in knowing that I WILL see you on the other side. Until then, I will miss you terribly, Mom. I love you!!

So, we meet again

21 Nov

December 5, 1987 was a date that changed my life. FOREVER. In a great way. That was the day I married my soulmate, my best friend, my bride. We were CHILDREN!! Two weeks from today, we will celebrate our 27th anniversary. And I couldn’t imagine doing life without her.

Only a month or so after that day in 1987, my mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. That is where I met cancer for the first time in a personal way. And cancer was not my friend. Cancer tried to take my mom, but she fought. And fought HARD. Chemo and radiation, as hard as they were, worked well and mom has been cancer-free since then.

Since that time, much has happened in my family. Mom and Dad have seen grandkids, their first great-grand, and many other great milestones. Dad’s health in the past few years has declined as dementia takes over. Mom has given 110% of herself to taking care of him. Many tough days and sleepless nights. This summer, she fractured a couple of ribs and never quite recovered from that pain.

That catches us up to today. In the past two weeks, we have discovered there is more. This unwelcomed visitor that left us many years ago is back. We do not yet know the extent of it. We do not yet know what we are facing. But our doctors are certain it is cancer.

So, we meet again. I have purposefully not posted much on social media and don’t know how much I will be able to do that in the next few weeks. The biggest thing we need is prayer. Lots of big decisions to be made, decisions that will wrench our hearts. But we have to do what is best for both mom and dad.

Does honoring God really matter??

22 Mar

You KNOW what my answer to this will be.  But, instead of the pat answer, I present to you solid evidence.

There is a family I know.  Actually, many families, but one in particular.  They are NOT members of my church or even live in our city.  But I know them and have known them for many years.  When I look and compare this family to the family in which I was born, I see striking differences.  And the main, root difference goes back to how God is valued.  When I think about my grandmother, Tweeter Hooper (yes, her given name WAS Tweeter), she worked, pestered, fought, and did everything else to make sure her family was in church.  I see that paying off in the lives of all of her children now.  Somehow, we are seem to have healthy connections to God (at least as far as I can tell).  But this is not the family of which I write.

Another family.  A grandmother who really didn’t value God.  Her children, one who married into a strong family and does value Him.  One who did not.  As the generations go, they seem farther and farther separated from God and from His desires for creation.  With each generation, this family seems to move farther away from Him.  With no apparent end in sight.

Two things … Number one:  If you think your relationship with God and your service to Him doesn’t matter, YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE IMPACT YOU MIGHT BE MAKING FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.  YOU have a responsibility to the generations that will come after you, and your positions on such things DO MATTER and WILL MAKE AN IMPACT whether you realize it or not.

Number two:  This other family is NOT beyond salvation.  They are NOT beyond the scope, reach, or love of God in Jesus Christ.  But someone will need to share it with them.  Maybe that is YOU???

Today, I write and say that I am thankful for my grandmother and the impact she made.  I am thankful for my parents and for the fact they taught me that God is real and Jesus really does love me, not only in their words but in their lives.  And I am praying that I won’t let the next generation down.

An Open Letter to the Parents of young children

1 Feb

Specifically, I hope every parent of a young child at Ebenezer will read this.  But it applies to every parent I know.  There is a battle waging for the hearts of your children.  Satan is trying everything he knows to steer them away from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  And much of his success or failure will be placed in YOUR HANDS.

Been praying and thinking a lot today.  Thinking about my role at Ebenezer.  Thinking about how one day, I will stand before God and He will not only ask me about how I lived my life, He will hold me accountable for how I shepherded His flocks at the churches I have served.  One huge truth swelled up in my heart today and, even though I seldom EVER blog on a Saturday, I had to write this down.  One of my jobs is to remind parents of this fact:

YOU will teach your children FAR MORE about the reality of a relationship with Christ than I ever will.  

Your children will see if God is real to you in how YOU SERVE HIM.  HOW YOU REVERE HIM.  HOW YOU WORSHIP HIM.  Makes me wonder about what the children of parents who send them to church but never make time for it themselves REALLY think about God.  I KNOW there are parents with jobs that prevent them from being at church, and I KNOW there are circumstances that sometimes prevent it.  But how about those times when parents do the drive-by and then go out with friends or do their own thing??  Those that deep down, if they really would admit it, don’t find a relationship with God to be all that??  What are they teaching their children about LIVING FOR CHRIST?

But those are not the only parents who need to think about this.  WE ALL DO.  Because how we handle adversity and how we deal with crises and how ethically we do business with others ALL teach our children about how people live and conduct themselves.  We are teaching our children the realities of God by HOW WE LIVE.  No excuses.  No bones to be made about it.

Even when we do our best,  ULTIMATELY, each child will grow into an adult and be responsible for their own decision. All a parent can do it do their best to show Christ to their children. Some parents do the best they can to show their children Christ and the children still grow up and go their own way … Don’t ever stop loving, praying, and showing them Christ!!

What are YOU teaching your children about God?  Because you will teach them far more than I ever will …

Family

30 Sep

This past week I saw the entire spectrum of life unfold before me.  And in all of it, FAMILY plays a key and vital role.  Earlier last week I saw the burial of a good friend.  Actually, the father of a really good friend for most of my life.  And at the core of it all was family.  How does someone make it through such trying times??  Without God and without family, it would be virtually impossible.

Later in the week, I took my parents down to the Isle of Palms for a wedding … well, SORT OF a wedding.  My nephew and his bride have actually been married for over a year now.  But life has just slowed down enough for them to be able to plan a blessing of the wedding, something done in the Catholic church for church recognition of the marriage.  The service itself was brief and very meaningful.  And the celebration surrounding it was much like that of a traditional wedding.  And I don’t see how anyone could ever make it through that without God and without family,

It boggles my mind how some don’t value family.  When you minimize family or cut them off all together, there is a price to be paid down the road.  You might say “Well, you don’t understand what I’ve been through with my family.”  Maybe.  But I know they hold a special place in our heart.  And when they are no longer with us, if we have denied them access to our lives, we will pay a price.

Today I am thankful for my family.

This might just be about YOU

24 Sep

Today I did a funeral for a man who made a huge impact on my life.  And even though life and circumstances have been so that I haven’t spent a lot of time with him in the past 20 years, I still very clearly see his impact on my life today.

This blog post is for every parent who spends time with the friends of their kids.  Who opens their homes, their tables, their lives to their “kids” who do not share their blood or DNA.

When I look at the adults who shaped my life, my parents hold the top spot on that list.  I see them in myself every day.  And, honestly, there are several other adults who are on that list.  Who played major roles in shaping who I would become.  Who helped to make me the man I am today.  There are teachers, coaches, mentors, friends.  And then there are my other dads.  There are only a couple of them.  They were the fathers of my friends as I was growing up, and they helped teach me what it means to be a man… a dad … a husband.  I see their fingerprints in my life as well.  As I rode and walked into the wilds of Honduras this past summer, delivering Bibles and helping churches, ALL of these were with me.  And I think about them often.

Today, I did the funeral of one of my “dads.”  His name?  Walter Ronald Burton, but we knew him as “Nick.”  How did they get “Nick” from Walter Ronald??  I asked often.  Nick had a different answer every time.  That is just how he rolled!!  He had a great sense of humor and knew the value of laughter.  Always had an encouraging word when we needed it.  Would cut our tails when we needed it as well.  He loved his family, and he loved those of us who were his sons’s friends and considered us family as well.

Nick and his sweet wife, Jane, were those parents.  The ones who would open their doors to us.  Who would get us to stay for supper.  As a dad, I now KNOW there had to be times when he came home from a long day of work, saw our cars in his driveway, and just cringed.  But we NEVER saw that or knew that.  That is just how he was.

So, to you parents who do that today. Who open their homes, tables, hearts, and lives to the friends of their children, I leave you with this:  YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE INFLUENCE YOU ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW.  DO IT WELL!!  Do it like Nick.  Because you ARE making a difference.  YOU are shaping lives.  And that is pretty cool!!

Now … Of all of the great mysteries of life, I guess I will have to wait until I get to Heaven to ask Nick, once again, “Why Nick?”  And I cannot wait for the 20 new answers he will have for me!!!