So, we packed up our swimming gear and picnic supplies and headed to a natural waterpark about 45 minutes from Refuge Ranch. It is a beautiful place called "The Forest"! It is a private park centered around a rushing stream with huge trees with exposed roots and rocks along its shore. This stream, and other natural springs, feed the swimming pools in the park. In fact, Moctezuma, one of the Aztec emperors centuries ago, would visit this location to bathe in the springs with his Aztec leaders.
Julie exploring with Daniel and Ana
We had a wonderful day exploring the stream's edge, a small (OK a VERY small) pyramid structure left over from centuries ago, and several natural springs. We enjoyed delicious grilled hamburgers and watermelon, finding pretty pebbles in the stream bed and swimming in several pools....and going down the water slides!
Grandpa and Grandma at the top of the water slide!
Grandpa and Grandma at the bottom of the water slide!
Mind you, the week after these two pictures were taken my father turned 59! That's almost 60 years old, folks! Go Dad and Mom! Seriously, I cannot thank the Lord enough for my parents and I decided to make that thanksgiving public for three reasons: 1) that you may praise the Lord with me for His many wonderful gifts 2) to inspire children to be grateful for their parents 3) for parents to be inspired to be an inspiration to their children and continuing fighting the good fight
Mom visits Mexico four times a year! Dad comes down twice a year because he continues serving full-time as senior pastor at Mayfair Plymouth Congregational Christian Church in Toledo, OH. They are constantly saving money for plane tickets (and for all the extra little gifts they bring us on those trips)!
The time, money and energy that they invest in coming to spend time with us is simply an outward expression of the way that they have fully embraced the call that the Lord has placed on my life and made it a part of their call, as my parents.
Obeying the Lord and following His will for my life would be so much more difficult without my parents' support and participation. Ever since I was a teenager they have fully and obediently supported me in following God's call for my life and I am so grateful for that - beyond what words can express.
The summer that I was 17 years old, Dad and Mom allowed me to come to Mexico to volunteer at Mission Mazahua for four weeks. This was before the time of internet and Mission Mazahua did not even have a phone line. So, at the age of 17, they put me on a plane in Toledo, OH, trusting that I would get to Mexico and back to Toledo okay because there was no way that we could communicate for that entire month! Of course, as a confident 17 year old I saw no problem in that arrangement - until I became a parent! I then asked Mom why they ever let me do such a thing! Without hesitation she responded: "Julie, I don't want to get to heaven and find out all that the Lord had prepared for you and discover that I was a stumbling block to all of that." Wow!
Dad and Mom have done an incredible job of opening their hearts and lives to their 13 grandchildren (11 mine and my brother's two beautiful children). People have asked them, as well as us, if they really love all the kids the same, as their grandchildren, even those who are not biological grandchildren. They respond the same as we do: Before you actually meet the child it is hard to imagine you will love him or her like the rest. But, as soon as he or she is in your presence, in your home and in your arms, you just love, love and love!
Ministry can be tough at times, but it is so much easier with their love, support and encouragement! Besides supporting our ministry, I am so proud of them for the ministries that they continue to carry out in their own arenas of life - Dad as a pastor, writer and photographer; Mom as a Bible study leader and encourager!
I am even more proud of their private lives! I know that I can call home any day of the week at 6 a.m. and find Dad reading his Bible; at 7 a.m. and he will be on a prayer walk; and a little later in the morning call back and Mom will be studying her Bible and then spending her own time in prayer and worship once Dad is at work. It has been that way for as far back as I can remember!
But, they don't just read and study the Word, they truly live it out! I laugh now as I hear Dad's sermons as an adult because they are the same things that he and Mom taught both my brother and I through their words and actions while we were growing up! I have never heard Dad say something from the pulpit that he has not lived out at home. It is a wonderful privilege to count my mother as literally my best friend. I can share anything with her and know that she will listen to me, love me unconditionally and, if she does choose to share any advice, I know it will be based on God's truth. I can now have a great relationship with my parents as an adult child because of all the hard work, time and effort that they put into raising us when we were children and teenagers.
So many times we talk about parents being proud of their children, but Proverbs 17: 6 lends a new twist to that!
How awesome as a child to be proud of your parents, contrary to so many adult children who are bitter towards their parents, embarassed by their parents, disappointed in their parents, etc. Parents of young children and teenagers, are you living in such a way that your children can one day be proud of you? Parents of adult children - it is never too late to start living in such a way that would make the Lord, and our children, proud!
Why does the verse say "children's children are a crown to the aged?" Who are "children's children"? They are the grandchildren! Why are they a crown to the aged? I believe it is because if a grandparent sees their grandchild living in a right way, that means that that child's parent has done a good job of raising him or her. Who is the grandchild's parent? The grandparent's child! If their child does a good job raising his or her children, that means that the parent was also raised well by the grandparents!
Let's see if this makes more sense with some real names! As my Dad and Mom visit our family, if they are pleased with the way that Angie, Diana, Martita, Martha, Fidel, Josiah, Jocelin, Caleb, Ruth, Ana and Daniel are living, that means that Victor and I, by the grace of God, are doing a decent job raising them, which means that our parents probably did something right in raising us - so the grandchildren are the grandparents' prize for having raised their own children in a God-fearing way!
So, may my children be a crown for my parents, their prize after so many years of consistently loving, disciplining and raising my brother and I. And, may I one day be the pride of my children for having run the good race set before me in a way that honors the Lord.
I know that my parents are a source of pride for me! Thanks, Dad and Mom!