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FAITHFUL LIVING: Our children, like all God's creatures, deserve the best

Even the sparrow has found a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself

where she may have her young — a place near your altar,

O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:3

“This nesting is much tougher than I ever imagined,” I whispered in the dark to my husband as we lay awake at 3:15 a.m. this week.

Our son had just wandered out of his room, down the hall and over to my side of the bed. He had rubbed my cheek and informed me that the roosters that inhabit a pen out by the horse barn and the dog run had awakened him.

“They’re up and crowing — already. They woke me up and now I can’t get back to sleep,” he reported while rubbing his tired eyes.

While Daniel grabbed a drink of water I moved clumsily to the end of our bed to retrieve a comforter we had kicked off during the warm night hours. I fashioned a makeshift bed on the floor next to me and watched him climb in happily. In a matter of seconds I could hear the rhythmic breathing of a sleeping 10-year-old, yet sleep did not come as quickly for me. In fact, my husband and I were both wide-awake by this time. As much as we wanted to sleep, we also enjoyed the glorious peace only experienced when kids are sleeping and you live at the end of a country road. The lure of uninterrupted conversation seemed more enticing than sleep. So we talked about how our daily routines and concerns have changed as we move ever closer to our 21st wedding anniversary. We also smiled when remembering how we thought things would be 21 years ago.

How modern, liberated and progressive we perceived ourselves to be back in 1981 when we informed our pastor that we preferred he not pray for a truckload of children during our wedding ceremony. After all, we reasoned, children were not the only offspring we envisioned for our union. We were recent college graduates. We had a world to conquer. Careers to create.

A home, run by a full-time mother who drives a minivan filled with children felt mundane and stifling when I projected myself into that picture.

Those were valid feelings and beliefs, to be sure. And I do not advocate parenthood for everyone. It is not the manifest destiny for all married couples. And yet in due time my husband and I decided that we did indeed wish to share our lives with children. We created, by careful design, a rather traditional nest. And a strange thing has happened: We now manage the kind of nest we worked to avoid in the very beginning, complete with our three growing chickadees.

It is a resounding theme at our house, aptly expressed by a barn swallow who with her mate has recently built an elaborate nest atop the light fixture that sits over our garage door. For weeks we watched them build up the mud structure. Discarded garden foliage and horse hair can be seen sticking out from the dry mud. It is a wondrous structure alone. But what makes it magical is the male and female swallows who faithfully sit on their eggs, watch us come and go from their near rooftop location and dive bomb the dogs when they get too rowdy below them. They are located too high for us to see into the nest, but from our vantage point we are able to see both parents as they take turns warming the eggs. Their dainty heads looking down on us remind me that diligent care of our nests is the best task in the world.

I have resolved with renewed vigor to make this nest of ours all that God wants it to be — a place where the kids feel secure, safe and loved. Where they can express themselves, find rest and direction. Where they can rid themselves of the stresses of school time schedules and expectations and deadlines during these lazy summer days.

It is my prayer that this nest of ours functions as a daily gift to God. That I will not resent the immense amount of time, energy and patience I need to be a successful parent. But I will remember that these are God’s children, placed in my care for a short time. They and their friends deserve my very best simply because they are alive.

May God show us all the way.

Contact freelance writer Joan Bay Klope at jbk@hotmail.com

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