I am happy that days are getting longer and we have sunshine some days. The winter cold and shorter days are almost as difficult as masks, hand washing, trying to remember that I need to be distancing, trying to refrain from touching my face, staying home (which is not really a big problem for me), and generally being concerned that so many people I know and love are ill or coming down with Covid-19. I am not usually so easily depressed. One of my problems may be that I have not played the piano since Covid-19 invaded our world. And, as my sister always says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22) and that music and singing can help us. I need to make time to play my piano and sing.
I have been planning to tell you about my niece, Ashley, and her husband, Andrew. They are married and have four children and are raising them into the most delightful people I have ever known. How are they doing it? They do not live close enough for me to visit but the few times I have seen them, they amazed me. They told us they were going to play out a Bible Story and we were to guess which story. There were only three of them at the time, but they played out a story of the baby Jesus. They were probably younger than about 7, 5, and 3 years old. I remember Aven (who was Mary) carrying little Reeve (who was Jesus), with Crew being Joseph. Can you imagine children that age doing that without constant instruction from the parents? How could it happen?
This is what I remember about them. Ashley is a Registered Nurse; Andrew is a State Police Trooper. They have been friends growing up in the same town, went to Seventh-day Adventist schools as children, went to colleges and then at some point along their growing up years, they fell in love.
In my “recipe” for a happy marriage the First ingredient is that they both love each other and God, He being the only Third Party ever to be in a marriage triangle. Second ingredient is that they agree in their beliefs (2 Corinthians 6:14). Third ingredient is that they share in the work of running a home and raising children. From what I can see, they have all that.
Ashley has continued working as a nurse because she and Andrew planned their schedules so that one of them is always with the children without the use of babysitters, except on rare occasions when their parents care for the kids. The children are being home-schooled and as soon as they become 6 years old, Ashley starts them on the piano. The children often do special music or enact a Bible story for Children’s time or for special music, singing and piano, for their whole church. I think they are willing to come visit their dear great-grandmother here in Buckhannon and present special music for us or enact a Bible Story when there is no Covid-19 danger. (Please, Lord, let that happen!)
The Fourth ingredient is that at least once a day, the parents read to the children. The best time seems to be at bedtime and along with bedtime prayers. I read to my children hours at a time. Kids will always remember these times.
One young mother ended up at Sharpe Hospital when I worked. When I talked to her the night before she was returning home, she confided that she was scared to death about her boys. They were evidently quite rowdy. I told her to remember just three things: (1) every day tell them they are good boys (even if they weren’t so good that day). I said if you tell them they are bad, or mean, they would BE that. So, keep telling them that they are good boys, even if you have to punish them at times. (2) I said tell them that you love them every day. (3) Then I said, “Read to them every day, especially at bedtime.” I had her repeat the three things and she said she would do that. As far as I know, she never returned to Sharpe Hospital. I think every mother, dad, or teacher could use these three things, adapting to what each child seems to need. We all need to hear something good and uplifting about ourselves, we need to hear that we are loved, and we all need to hear (or read for ourselves) good, happy stories, especially Bible stories. I think this could change the course of some children’s lives for the better.
From my studies to become a registered nurse when I was already a grandmother, I became very interested in the exceptional benefit to the children and the mother and actually the whole family when new babies came along and were provided natural mother’s milk. This they did for all of them, with Ashley filling enough baby bottles to last the baby when she was at work. This gave Andrew time to love and nurture the babies, thus building loving relationships with each one. This would draw the whole family closer together for a whole lifetime. I regret that this was not possible for me all the time with my own children, but they have turned out rather well in spite of that.
This is the ideal family in my estimation, and I hope some new families will consider this recipe for a happy marriage and use some of these ideas in their marriage and family planning. If you find that you just cannot do all the things I mention in my plan for a happy family, do as much of them as you can, especially loving God and each other, and loving your children, giving each of them personal cuddling and affection (from both parents). It is never too late to start showing your love to each other and each child.