Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Mother's Prayer

Dearest Lord, may we use this time when our children are small to prepare our hearts to love them as You have loved us; to prepare our hands to serve them through our daily tasks; to prepare our feet to go where You need us to go in order to bring them to You; to prepare our mouths to speak Your words, gently, effectively and continually; to prepare our ears to hear their heart needs; to prepare our eyes to see what holds their affections; and to prepare our minds by filling them with Your Word.  Daily, hourly, moment by moment may we dwell in the knowledge of You. 


ER March, 1998

“O call back yesterday, bid time return!”

   I sat in a coffee shop with a dear young woman awaiting the birth of her first child. I first met this woman when she was 9 months old. I was her babysitter and remained so for the next 8 years. I have a special place in my heart for Katey and it has been years since we sat close, talking and laughing. It reminded me of what a privilege is this task of motherhood. I pray she realizes the enormity of what lay before her and that she would cast her complete dependence upon Christ.

Delivered at a baby shower, spring 2014…

O call back yesterday, bid time return”, says Shakespeare.

There is a wisdom that comes with the years. And could we, who have gone before you, have opportunity to redo our early motherhood, bringing the wisdom of our today back with us to our distant yesterday…hmmmm, but, alas, we cannot. We can only relay to your heart what we see from our vantage point. You sit here in the privileged place of The Beginning. With the birth of this precious soul, you and your husband embark on your own unique journey.
A quote hung in our boys’ room for the longest time: “Your life is like the driven snow. Be careful how you tread it for every track will show.” Your journey of motherhood is yet in its infancy, just like your soon-to-appear newborn babe. I encourage you to handle your new and privileged position of mother as carefully, as delicately and as wisely as you will be handling that lovely and wondrous and miraculous new baby.
A mother is a beautiful thing; purposefully directing her child’s attention to that which is beautiful, lovely, divine. When a mother has conquered herself, her children will feel the blessing of that, as she can now bestow upon them the greatest of blessings. “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:2) Three of the most blessed things that can be bestowed upon a human being: grace, mercy and peace. We can offer these to our children only when we have tasted of them ourselves.
Our life with our children begins with labor; intense, physical labor and great, personal sacrifice. Why do we think that will stop with the birth? Or that it should stop? The labor continues. For we must continue in intense spiritual labors for their souls; entreating God to not only work a miracle of regeneration in their hearts but to also work a miracle of a total transformation of our own heart from selfish woman to selfless mother. Just as a child moves from infancy to toddlerhood where he must learn some very basic lessons such as, “Obey Mommy and Daddy” and “Share”; these are the foundational lessons of submission, sacrifice and selflessness. In this stage of early motherhood great personal sacrifice must continue long after the labor ends as we die to ourselves, namely: to our will, our plans, our personal ambitions, our pride, and learn to serve others with a pure heart.
As the toddler grows and moves to elementary learning, he is quickly faced with the basic building blocks for the advanced lessons yet to come. So, too, for the mother comes some early lessons crucial to future success. I believe that perhaps your greatest need, and one of your most basic lessons as a mother, is going to be in learning how to walk with your God. For life is filled with both the bitter and the sweet. In the midst of Job’s terrible suffering he cried out in profound desire, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to His seat! I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me. Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would put strength in me.” (Job 23:3-6) Job is trusting in God’s mercy and God’s good plan for his life but is struggling to draw the more closely to the only One who can make sense of it all. In the agonizing “whys?” along life’s way there is for the Christian mother the assurance that the All-Powerful God longs to impart this generative power to us, “He would put strength in me”, that we might know Him and understand Him in the midst of the pain and in the turmoil of questioning, that the great I Am is and that He walks with us. Seeking first His strength and His help through His Word and through prayer is key to the lessons yet to come on this journey of motherhood.
Ah, yes, the bittersweet of motherhood. How keenly we feel it. Dear young mother, you know not what lies before you. I encourage you to set your will firmly in line with the Lord’s and drink in the entire experience. Ladies, remember labor? What were we coached to do? “Breathe, Breathe! Work with the pain.” That advice is very good! That advice carries through long after the labor pains have passed: terrors such as the realization that this child, this eternal soul, makes its own choices, and must suffer its own consequences; the brutal reality that this child has its own will; and that much of her life is completely out of our control. Mothers: Breathe! Pray! Breathe! Pray! As natural as breathing, should be our communication with God. A continual conversation should flow from our hearts to His throne. This sweet, this precious, this hard, this scary, this exhausting, this exhilarating experience of motherhood; drink it in deeply. Savor the cup.
Throw yourself into this motherhood. Give it your very all. The master passion of your life has been decided for you as you now bear the title of mother. Succeed you must! And in Him, succeed you will. From the old book, The Golden Gems of Life, “Success is the child of confidence and perseverance. The talent of success is simply doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame…Success in life is the proper and harmonious development of those faculties which God has given us. Whatever you try to do in life, try with all your heart to do it well; whatever you devote yourself to, devote yourself to it completely. …There is no substitute for thorough-going, ardent, sincere earnestness.” And I say, there is no failing as a mother if you seek to live fully in the present; devoting yourself to your sacred calling and to God; striving daily to walk with Him in lowliness of mind and meekness of heart bringing your children alongside of you.
There is no “perfect”. The finish line is death. Our goal is to spend ourselves for Christ while we yet have breath. The race is your own and your only competition is you. God has called you to the task of motherhood. Rise to its challenge. Die trying if you must but don’t quit. I remember a time of terror during one of my pregnancies when I believed I could not move forward. I still had some months left before the delivery, and being my fourth, I knew what was ahead. I wasn’t up for this task and all that lay before me. I had completely panicked. My husband leaned over my hospital bed, held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “You must. There’s a baby in there who is counting on you. You must and you can.” There was no way out but forward! So, too, in this Christian life. Fears? Yep, but face them we must. Fatigue? Most certainly, but wisely pressing onward we must go. Failures? Absolutely! “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again...”
Don’t give up! You cannot avoid the lessons slated for you to learn. We must remain at our post and overcome. The enemy is waiting, lurking, seeking whom he may devour. There is a child, perhaps children counting on you not to give up but to pursue your calling of Mother with every fiber of your being.
Let me encourage you today, all of you dear, dear ladies: a mother is a beautiful thing; an emblem of grace and beauty; of survival and selflessness. Grace, mercy and peace… A gentle hand, a smiling eye, a patient response… …these are some of the great blessings in this life and you have the power to freely give them. Are you deserving of that forgiveness, of that grace, of that mercy Christ has brought to you? Neither are your children nor your husband worthy. Freely you have been given, freely give. Live today as one who holds the gracious trust of mother and dispense your influence wisely to those particular souls that have been positioned at your feet, on your lap, at your side by God Himself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Matthew M. Roy
Valedictorian Williamson 1W5
Commencement Address by Senior Class President

I brought along a prop: the student handbook, aka The Rule Book. I will admit, Mr. Moffit, (Dean of Student Affairs) this looks much smaller than it did freshman year. Then again, everything seems smaller since freshman year. Guys, (addressing fellow graduates) this is not a trick question. Does this rule book directly apply to you once you receive your diploma? No. That is correct. You are no longer held to the same standard as you were during your time here at Williamson. Let me ask you another question. Since you were held to a redefined standard when you entered Williamson, is it possible to say that you will also be held to a redefined standard as you now enter a new phase of your life? Yes. Let me be so bold as to take that logic to the next step. You will be held to a standard, by others around you, but most importantly by yourself.

My dad has a saying: “Matt, that's just a fact of life.” You know, for a while I thought that was just something my dad said when he was making a point. But after a while I began to see a pattern emerge, when he would say, “that's just a fact of life.” The principle that he was teaching would be consistent in all areas of life. Some people would call these maxims; others say that they are the rules of nature. But, let me explain. Everyone should know this one, and shout out if you do, “What goes up...” And, “Water follows the path....” There you go! Now, Williamson men, “Don't walk on the...(grass).” And, “Don't step on the …. (seal).” Those are easy, and we all should know them. But how about the ones that are not written down, how about the rules of life: maxims by which to live. We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is a great one, but do we ever apply it to our lives?

     Rules are so much easier to obey when you are not worried about where the line is. Has anybody else ever noticed that? To this day I'm not entirely sure what the failing grade is, I just made sure that I aimed for the highest possible grade I could achieve. I never had to worry about how many hours I had left before they kicked me out, I just tried to never get any. The same thing applies to our lives.If you strive to be a man of faith, you won't have to worry about what others think. If you strive to be a man of integrity, you won't have to worry about people not trusting you. If you strive to be diligent in all areas of life, you will never be called lazy. If excellence is your aspiration, mediocrity will never be acceptable. If you are a servant to those around you, selfishness will no longer be your biggest challenge.

     If you are a man of character, you won't have to worry about how far down you are, because you are only looking at the next step ahead. Let me say that a different way, if you are a Williamson man of character, you won't worry about how close to the cliff you can slide, because you are as far away from it as you can be. A poor work ethic will never be a problem, because you are putting all of your effort to be the hardest working man on the team.
     Don't be a man that tries to apply the principles when it is convenient and easy...own them! That means when hard times come, you try harder. That means when you have to make a choice that seems impossible, you don't give up until you have seen the task through. That means when you fail. You will get back up and run faster. That means when you don't know the answer, you run and find it. When you own your principles, you don't have to worry about anyone else around you, because you know that you are consistently doing what is right.A man of character will accept who he is, and take responsibility for who he will become. 
     You control the outcome of your life, we are all given the gift of free will, and it is the daily choices that we make that set us apart. It is not the circumstances around you that determine the kind of man you are, it is what you do with the circumstances in which you have been placed that demonstrate the man you truly are.That means, Freshmen, when you are the only one that seems to be trying; it won't matter to you; because you are looking straight ahead to your goals. That means, Juniors, you will take a stand as the leader. Why? Because you are a man with principles and that is the only option. And that is why, Seniors, all of you can succeed; because failure is not in your vocabulary. We simply will never know what it is life to fall and not to get back up because we have the determination to push harder. Be a man of character, and nobody will ever doubt that you are a Williamson man.


Poole Forge, Lancaster County

     It was a beautiful day. The children set off for Lancaster County to rent scooters for half the day. They left early as they needed to be out there by 9:00. The weather was unusually chilly and a bit windy. The thermometer climbed only to about 68 degrees that day. With youthful enthusiasm, off they went! Plans were made for Matthew and Dyanna to split from the group and for Grammy and Grandpop to meet at the covered bridge at Poole Forge along with Ron, Grace and me. 
     Matthew chose a lovely walking path at Money Rocks Park that led to a rocky high point overlooking the valley. There, he got down on bended knee and proposed to his chosen one. He offered her his name and a beautiful ring. She accepted.
     I admire this man who at the age of 20 has set his heart and mind towards something and is filled with the courage to pursue it. 
In the evening, after the proposal
 Hunsicker's Grove, Mertztown, PA