Thinking Back

Alli,

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How can I forget the day you were born? While your mom and I had concern for your health, the joy and excitement over God temporarily entrusting a precious life to us, a beautiful girl, was overwhelming.

As a baby your very life helped build our faith. As you grew your will and determination, though it seemed was set against us, taught us persistence and patience. I will never forget “can’t like a dad!” As a toddler your hope and optimism and consistent smile was always a bright spot in my day. I can still picture your charm winning over those in the vestibule of First Assembly in Brookfield and how you would get kisses and hugs and one day an offering. The Saturday you and Andy got up before mom and me and used markers to color yourselves like the clowns in the book Dumbo is etched in my mind. Mom and I still joke of spending hours trying to get the grease out when you decided to wash your hair with Desitin!

As you entered school your love for learning made you a great student. It was a pleasure to watch you grow in confidence and in wisdom. All those blue ribbons in speech meet after speech meet. I smile at the thought of your part in the fifth grade musical – the part you played so naturally – an intelligent mayors wife who had to run the town!

Even your middle school years did not slow you down. Remember those grammar songs? When you declared your confusion over your female classmates worrying so much over what those “dumb boys” thought, remember mom declaring “boys have cooties, stay away from them!” In high school you blossomed, recognizing your strength as a learner and winning all those academic accolades. You realized that being “smart” wasn’t a burden but a blessing, a blessing that catapulted you to college with a great scholarship. While you easily held your own in college you really began to blossom socially. I remember my amazement that you had taken up swing dancing and loved it!

Alli, you have been a joy to us!

Now, our temporary custody comes to an end and a new relationship begins. We hope you and Andrew will continue to allow us to be trusted advisors.

May God pour out His blessings on you and Andrew, enable you to create a wonderful home and make you a Christ centered family!

Love,
Dad

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mothers Day

Mothers,

Thanks for your hard work. You pour out your love in numerous unrecognized efforts. Your duties call 24/7. Day and night, while busy or not, well or sick, you give in unselfish ways. It is not easy to choose what is right and best for your children. May I thank you for your kindness and love? To each of you who seeks the Lord and calls on Him daily to fulfill the important calling of “mother”, I say “Thanks!”

Happy Mother’s Day,

Mark Strohm, Jr.

Why Loving Limits

The following is an excerpt from Loving Limits, a short book I wrote to help parents to set and keep loving limits in their homes:

Have you ever tried to plant grass on the side of a hill? On my drive to school I would pass a small Baptist church, which had gone to battle trying to grow grass on a slope leading to a small water retention basin. Early in the summer heavy rains washed out the young growth forcing them to re-rake and re-plant the seed. Unfortunately, three more storms came and three additional efforts were put forth. With the hot summer came a dry spell. They seeded and watered faithfully trying to get grass to grow enough to be established. Regrettably, by the time fall came, the grass died and gullies formed forcing them to start all over again. I felt bad that an entire summer’s hard work proved to be futile. Because there was no grass on the hill to start with, nothing held the seed on the slippery slope.

If there had been established grass, the roots of the older vegetation would have prevented the soil from eroding giving the new seeds a stable soil base as well as protecting it from the sun, wind and rain. This protection would have given the new seeds a chance to grow. The parallels with parenting today are striking. To under parent and not take an active role in the lives of our children is to leave them vulnerable on the side of the hill. We would be expecting them to take root without the benefit of our established, deep roots. Trials, temptations, societal pressures and the like all come like rainstorms. If we are not engaged and taking an active role through establishing and enforcing loving limits, we are leaving our children exposed on the side of the hill one step away from a disastrous rainstorm.

God has established a system for grass to reseed itself on the side of a hill. While the older, established grass with its deep roots keep conditions stable and weather the storms, the young, susceptible grass gets a chance to establish roots of its own. So we as parents need to sink our roots deep into the Word of God. Loving limits help protect our children so that they can establish roots of their own. My desire for you as parents is to understand the importance of and be encouraged to establish and maintain loving limits.

You may request the book in electronic form free of charge by sending an email to: bookrequest@colossians2.com.

A Must Read

I have taken a month off from blogging.  During that time I have neither written nor read other blogs.  However, I am now ready to get back into the swing.

For those interested in other blogs you can go to my TopList and look through a nice selection of Christian blogs.

Here is a “must read” for parents from Barna:

http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdateNarrow&BarnaUpdateID=269

May God bless you in your important job of parenting!

Mark Strohm, Jr.

Work and Family 24/6, God 24/1

no time for godI have heard parents who love the Lord talk about Sunday as a day primarily for family.  Some have arranged schedules and even church around this “family day.”

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud parents who work hard on giving their family members time and attention.  However, robbing God of the time owed to Him to give our family time we did not give them is not the way we should increase our family time.  God intended for us to give family members our time and attention all week long.  Not just on Sundays.  I agree with the young couples I speak to – that the rush of our lives today robs us of quality time with our families.  Many sincerely enjoy turning off computers, phones and other outside distractions while having the whole family together for games or a movie on Sunday.  It is their only time where everyone “stops” long enough to enjoy each other.

While the pace of life for many has increased to warp speed, swapping what God intended for the Sabbath to fulfill what God intended for the week is simply not a good plan!  We try to have it all but instead push quality time with our families out, then want to take quality time from the Lord to give it to our neglected families.

Life is a balancing act.  But do not neglect the Lord on the day He asks us to give to Him.  Worship Him.  Rest.  Celebrate.  Do spend time with others, but remember who the Sabbath belongs to!

May God’s grace and peace be with you,

Mark Strohm

Another Song

After going to see the movie Amazing Grace my wife purchased a CD which indluded Chris Tomlin’s song Amazing Grace and several other hymns sung by different present day artists.  One of the songs included on this CD is It Is Well With My Soul. I was able to share with my daughter the remarkable story associated with the writing of this song.  Here are the words from Then Sings My Soul, by Robert J. Morgan:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

When the great Chicago Fire consumed the Windy City in 1871, Horatio G. Spafford, an attorney heavily invested in real estate, lost a fortune.  About this time, his only son, age 4, succumbed to scarlet fever.  Horatio drowned his grief in work, pouring himself into rebuilding the city and assisting the 100,00 who had been left homeless.

In November of 1873, he decided to take his wife and daughters to Europe.  Horatio was close to D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey, and he wanted to visit their evangelistic meetings in England, then enjoy their vacation.

When an urgent matter detained Horatio in New York, he decided to send his wife, Anna and their 4 daughters, Maggie, Tanetta, Annie and Bessie on ahead.  As he saw them settled into a cabin aboard the luxurious French Liner Ville du Havre, an unease filled his mind, and he moved them to a room closer to the bow of the ship.  Then he said good-bye, promising to join them soon.

During the small hours of November 22, 1873, as the Ville du Havre  glided over smooth seas, the passengers were jolted from their bunks.  The ship collided with an iron sailing vessel, the water poured in like Niagara.  The Ville du Havre tilted dangerously.  Screams, prayers, and oaths merged into a nightmare of unmeasured terror.  Passengers clung to posts, tumbled through darkness, and were swept away by powerful currents of icy ocean.  Loved ones fell from each other’s grasp and disappeared into foaming darkness.  Within two hours the mighty ship vanished beneath the waters. The 226 fatalities included Maggie, Tanetta, Annie and Bessie.  Mrs. Spafford was found nearly unconscious, clinging to a piece of wreckage.  When the 47 survivors landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled her husband: “Saved Alone.”

Horatio immediately booked passage to join his wife.  En route, on a cold December night, the captain called him aside and said, “I believe we are now passing over the place where the Villa du Havre went down. Spafford went to his cabin but found it hard to sleep.  He said to himself, “It is well; the will of God be done.”

Now read the remarkable words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
 when sorrows like sea billows roll;
 whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
 It is well, it is well with my soul. 
 It is well with my soul,
 it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
 let this blest assurance control,
 that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
 and hath shed his own blood for my soul. 
 It is well with my soul,
 it is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
 My sin, not in part but the whole,
 is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
 praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 
  It is well with my soul,
 it is well, it is well with my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
 the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
 the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
 even so, it is well with my soul.
 It is well with my soul,
 it is well, it is well with my soul.

Lord, thank you for sheding your blood for my helpless estate!  Though trials come, may I always be able to recognize the truth – it is well with my soul!

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May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

The Calling on the Life of a Parent

Jesus TodayParent, you have a wonderful calling on your life! Psalm 78 gives some direction to this calling.

Psalm 78
A maskil of Asaph 1 O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old-
3 what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their forefathers—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.

Some parents view instilling an understanding of God and His deeds as something you “add” to your schedule. Perhaps parents add periodic church attendance or a reminder not to use bad words. Yet, God gives a different perspective. He gives the picture of exchanging one type of life for another, complete transformation from a life of worldly values to a life of heavenly values. Part of this transformed life is a devotion to passing on an understanding of the praiseworthy deeds and commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God has called you to tell your children about Him. I pray you will consider ways to adjust your life to facilitate this great calling. May you keep the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord before your children. May the next generation know His deeds. Most importantly, may your children put their trust in God and not forget His deeds and commands!

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm