Chapter 6 Exercises

God Revealed . . . in Our Family Relationships

I feel closest to God when I am enjoying time with my family. From the date of our marriage, through the adoptions of our daughters, the births of our sons, and through hundreds, if not thousands, of subsequent blessed events and experiences, my faith journey has taken on new meaning and a greater awareness of God’s love. I believe God blesses us richly in the sanctity of marriage and in the relationships within our families. At the same time, He blesses us, God also entrusts us with enormous responsibilities to support our families and to raise, develop, and spiritually nourish our children. Chapter 6 tells numerous stories of my encounters with God in precious familial relationships.

A Mother’s Love

As a man, I can imagine but never fully appreciate the bond that usually occurs when a child is conceived in its mother’s womb, is carried through many months of pregnancy, and ultimately emerges from the painful but joyous birthing process. There are, of course, examples of mothers who reject, neglect, or abuse their own children, but such children are no less loved by God and often are blessed with a loving home like my own adopted daughter Denise who was neglected as an infant. A good mother’s love is from God. In the story “Memories of Mom,” I tell just two among many wonderful memories of times when my mother’s unconditional love gave me the support, the encouragement, and the moral foundation that have lasted a lifetime.

– What are your fondest memories of your mother that have most positively influenced you since childhood?
– Are you creating similar memories for your children?
– Whatever your gender or age and irrespective of any past mistakes you have made in parenting, what can you do now to nurture your children (even as adults) or to mend the wounds of earlier mistakes? It’s never too late to reach out with parental love.

Balancing Your Life

Despite my obsessive type-A personality and workaholic behaviors, I have found some coping techniques that allowed me to capture a modicum of quality time with God and with my family. I’ve arisen early every morning to work out, to read the Bible, to pray, and to send email messages to my kids and to my wife. But perhaps the most meaningful and important practice was that of taking one-on-one trips with each of my five children annually. As the title of the story indicates, the practice became an “Accidental Legacy” as I retold my experiences to thousands of New York Life agents and employees, many of whom successfully adopted the same practice.

– Do you feel you are adequately balancing your work life with time for your family and your spiritual nourishment?
– If you’ve enjoyed successes in this regard, will you share your “coping techniques” with your family, friends, and fellow believers?
– If you still sense an imbalance, what concrete steps can you take to begin to rebalance?

Realizing Potential

I get choked up with a painful lump in my throat every time I reread “Johnny’s Yard.” I am as deeply affected now as I was when I first experienced it, and I believe this is because, at its essence, the story is one of glimpsing God through the accomplishments and triumphs of a very special child.

– Have you seen God in the triumphs of your own children? Describe a situation and how you felt.
– Have your children faced and successfully endured difficult battles with illnesses, disabilities, or other challenges? If so, was God’s love and healing power an important factor in the ultimate outcome?
– Have you adequately expressed your love, your joy, and your faith to your own children? If not, will you start now?

Next Chapter 7: In the Workplace

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