Daddy and the Poppies

 Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13 NIV

One of the earliest memories I have is of my father “buying” me a poppy from a man in a military uniform outside our church on a Sunday morning. As I grew older, I came to understand when Dad put money in the can, he was donating to a local veterans’ organization.

A World War II veteran of the US Army, my father didn’t talk about his service. He’d been defending the continental United States on the godforsaken island of Attu when he was wounded. Shrapnel in his spine left him recuperating in a VA hospital for a year.

How I wish I would have asked more questions! But I was young with my own life ahead of me, and had little, if any, interest in something that didn’t directly affect me.

Now I regret that selfish attitude. I realize my roots are as important as my wings. I have plenty of questions now. Where was he stationed? What was his Army job? I know he’d attained the rank of sergeant but little else. I may never know this side of eternity. My parents, and that generation of relatives who could have given me answers, are all gone now.

I wrote to the Veteran’s Administration for my dad’s service records, but unfortunately a fire destroyed them. I researched “Attu” online and learned that had the Japanese won that historic battle on the westernmost Aleutian island, we may well have fought World War II on continental American soil. I sent for the DVD of the PBS documentary, Red, White, Black, and Blue, “a wrenching look at a forgotten battle.”

But I’d rather have the story from my father’s point of view. It would mean so much more to me.

So every year, in memory of my father, I “buy” a poppy and entwine it on my purse. When I had my grandchildren with me, I’d get one for them, too.

“My daddy—your great-grandfather—always got me a poppy,” I’d say. “Do you know where the idea for poppies came from?”

Then I tell them about the poem written by Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915, during World War I: “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row.”

I tell them about Moina Michael, who, in response to McCrae’s poem, went out and bought a bouquet of poppies and distributed them, asking that they be worn in tribute to the fallen. Donations were given to servicemen in need.

If I still have their attention—and I make sure I do—I recite the verse she penned:

“We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead in Flanders Field.”

“And today,” I say, concluding the brief history lesson, “red poppies are made by disabled veterans in hospitals, with the donations going to support a variety of veterans’ organizations.”

And then I give them each a poppy.

Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. –Proverbs 3:3 

Father, let the poppy also remind us of the sacrifice Your Son made for our eternal freedom. Amen.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

First Corinthians 13 for Mothers

Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels

 

Though I may speak the jargon of professors, doctors, and ministers, if I can’t speak so that my own children understand me, then all I do is make educated noise.

Even if I was known as a scholar or a person with mountain-moving faith, unless my children could truly say, “Mommy loves me!”, then I am nothing.

And although I save Campbell’s labels for missions, distribute food boxes to the needy, make a dish for a funeral dinner, give used clothing to the local homeless shelter; even though I carry a signed organ donor card, if I don’t lovingly look to the needs of my own children, all other good works will profit me nothing.

I need to be patient with their immature thinking, stupid mistakes, and know-it-all attitudes; and show kindness in the face of whining, arguing, and pouting. I need to love them as they are, not as I expect them to be. I cannot envy the parent whose child is a better scholar, musician, or athlete than I perceive my child to be. Yet neither should I vaunt my own child’s successes, for to do so would put the burden of proof on my child, who will strive to live up to my sometimes unrealistic expectations, and perhaps never feel good enough.

I should not be rude to my children, even in my own home, where I long to let my hair down, not snap at them when I’m feeling tired or pressured. I need to give them the same respect I give others and be considerate of their feelings, their privacy, their possessions, and even (shudder) their rooms!

I should not keep a tally of my children’s wrongs, and then triumphantly flourish it at a time when it’s convenient for me. To gently show them when and why they are wrong is more effective than harsh punishment that doesn’t fit the crime and serves only to crush their spirits. Insisting my way is the only way will stiffen their resistance, but teaching them right from wrong by example and praying for discernment may someday lead to rejoicing when my children follow the truth.

With God’s help I will never give up believing in them, knowing that He who created them has a wonderful plan for their lives and will complete what He started. Even when they respond to the pull of the world, I will rest on the promise that God’s Word never returns void. They cannot stray so far that my love and prayers cannot follow.

Genuine love outlasts parental sermons that they quickly forget. Even if I was able to understand insurance policies and all the legalese in which they are written, what good would it do my children if I had no love for them?

I must remember that I, too, was once a child. What wisdom and knowledge I have now were acquired with painful experience.

I must remember that God alone knows their hearts. I see only the outward appearance and assume way too much. Someday God’s plan for each of their lives will unfold like a beautiful flower, and I will understand the trials that seem so hard to get through now.

Faith, hope, and love are the foundation blocks upon which I build my relationship with my children. But the strongest, most enduring block of all is love.

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 13.

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From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.