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25 February, 2015

It Takes a Village

The other day we had occasion to visit with a fine young man. We listened as he shared.  Then we thanked him for being a man of integrity, for guarding his ways and for being a man of truth. He sort of chuckled, gave a big smile and said, “It wasn’t too hard. It was pretty easy.”

Hmmm, really? Pretty easy?  Maybe that choice felt easy, but that is because it sits on the foundation of a thousand-and-more right choices. That foundation was built over generations, one decision at a time, one person at a time, one choice on top of another, all leading to, “It wasn’t too hard. It was pretty easy.”

So here is to God, who gave us His word to be a light to our path and a guide to our feet. Who gave His own Son that we might have the mind of Christ. For listening and hearing, caring and answering. For gifting and enabling and bearing. For all of these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to Christ, who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” and went to the cross to die for us that we might live. For coming, abiding, teaching and modeling. For personifying humility, selflessness and grace. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to the generations of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings; family by blood and family by experience, whose decisions led to what is right. Making decisions to go to church even when it wasn’t easy. Choosing to stand firm even when others were not. Deciding to go the extra mile to be sure moral lessons were rightly learned, guarding as well as guiding hearts. Speaking up, speaking out, speaking into as needed, choosing to convey God’s way as the best way. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to the neighbors whose unconditional love modeled rightness in life. For teaching there is a knowing deeper than language can express and that smiles and handshakes say more than we can know. For teaching that people groups and culture are very important yet create little difference. For helping to learn to be at home in a thatched-roof hut as much as in one’s own bedroom. For being willing to be chosen as friends and neighbors and heroes. For sharing and answering and asking what matters. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to the prayer warriors who answered the call to battle, raising their voices and hearts to the Victor who leads us all. Who willingly awakened to God’s Spirit prompting them to pray for safety and provision. For persisting and enduring, repeatedly reminding and petitioning. For remembering and continuing without ceasing. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to the teachers who believed and challenged and modeled the way into making wise choices. Holding the standard high, taking time to further explain and re-demonstrate, offering yet another suggestion. Applauding successes and forgiving failures, bringing learning at the highest level, ever champions for right-doing in all things. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to dorm parents who set down rules and made it possible to keep them. For pointing out that one can have fun and enjoy life without making it hard on others. Deciding to stay up late and listen, to check dorm rooms and beds, to study and pray and model the way. Giving and going and sharing the journeys. Being there, rightly, in all situations. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to the coaches who gave out game plans and workouts. For challenging and inspiring and motivating when no one else could. Who molded and shaped not only muscles and skills but hearts and minds as well. For expecting the best and training others how to give it.  For reinforcing there is fun in the playing of the game and that the best never forget it. For maintaining good sportsmanship as the wisest of all game choices. For building character that can be trusted and counted on. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to all the friends who became as family, mattering not what passport country their parents called home. For playing and imagining, creating and sharing. For jokes and for tricks, for sharing in fun and in discipline. For being there in joy and equally present in sorrow. For making hellos so sweet and goodbyes so hard. For understanding without words, knowing without being told. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

Here is to all the classmates, roommates, workmates and teammates who shared life on all levels. For being willing to be observed and analyzed, partaking in discussion that ultimately leads to making good choices. For fun and laughter; shared tears, clothes and frustrations; for games and hugs and prayer. For being there, sticking with it, explaining, helping to find a better way, showing alternative routes to good ends. For risking and including and staying. For all these decisions and more, “Thank you!”

It takes a village to raise a child. This is our thanks to all in the international village who helped us raise our children. Standing on the foundation you all helped to construct, now as adults our kids can say, “It wasn’t too hard. It was pretty easy.”

Who in your village influenced you in making right decisions? Who in your village is learning from your decision-making? It takes a village....

Jeff and Christine