Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Horrible Warning

There are many ways to create a legacy of your life, and I believe that almost all of them are some form of sharing stories--either through telling stories or writing them. That's why this blog is here. More important than sharing stories is, I think, living to the fullest of our potential, being the best we can be, and leaving that example as our legacy.

Lately, I've been learning much about this from King Saul.

"King Saul?" you might wonder. "What kind of hero was he?"

I know, he was hardly a good example. He was more like the poster child for the saying: "If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning."

When God told Samuel to tell Saul that he must completely destroy all the Amalekites--"completely destroy" was the key phrase there--but Saul spared King Agag and some of the prime animals to use as sacrifices, God took his Spirit from Saul and dethroned him as Israel's king. Then, when Samuel went looking for Saul to give him the bad news, he discovered that Saul was off erecting a monument to himself.

That part is astounding--he was erecting a monument to himself. Nervy. I can't help contrasting that to the memorial the Israelites built from the stones in the bed of Jordan River, to memorialize God and his miracles on the day he led them safely through to the other side.

After Samuel delivered the news to unrepentent Saul, he left Saul forever and mourned (some Bible translations say he grieved) for a long time--until God gave him a new assignment. I imagine that Samuel's mourning wasn't done sitting in a dark corner while quiet tears slid down his cheeks. I think his mourning was of the wailing-and-rending-of-clothing variety.

This is the part that makes King Saul's story very personal to me. Samuel might have been mourning the loss of his friendship with Saul, or he might have been grieving God's decision, hoping God would give Saul a second or third chance. But I think what Samuel was wailing and rending his clothing over was that he understood the profound pity of unfulfilled potential: what could have been would never be. He knew that Saul could have been so much better, so much greater, so much more...anything...if he had only done things God's way instead of his own.

That's the tragedy and the horrible warning--that Saul could have been a far better Saul with God than he could possibly ever be on his own. We will never know the difference that fully-realized Saul might have made. The world would have been a different, and most likely a better, place if he had sacrificed his own desires instead of the Amalekite lambs.

Samuel reminded Saul that God doesn't want burnt offerings--the B-list forms and acts that we pass off as living, loving, and worshipping, while we reserve the A-list for ourselves. Instead, God wants our "broken and contrite heart"--one into which he can enter and then transform into his very best design.

If I'm going to be an example and leave a legacy to my children, and eventually to my grandchildren, I need to remember that God held nothing back for me when he sacrificed his very best on the cross. With that in mind, can I give no less in return?

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Interview with Tricia Goyer, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Tricia Goyer, author of the nonfiction books Generation NeXt Parenting: A Savvy Parent's Guide to Getting it Right (Multnomah), and Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan/MOPS). Today, Tricia talks about her life as a "Generation X" mom and her ministry with other moms.

Marilyn: Hi again, Tricia. In addition to your interest in the World War II era, you are very involved in working with young moms and Gen X moms. Please tell us more about that.

Tricia: My work for teen moms stemmed out from my volunteer efforts at a local pregnancy center. Because I was a teen mom (I had my son at age 17), my heart went out to them. I wanted to give them hope. I started mentoring teen moms, and then I wrote a book for them, Life Interrupted.

I also wanted to write for Gen Xers because I am one. I know the struggles moms from our generation face, and I wanted to help--not as an expert but as someone going through the same struggles.

Marilyn: So, how important is it to establish family traditions? And tell us about some of your family's traditions.

Tricia: Family traditions are so important because they build family unity. Our traditions clarify who we are and what we believe. We have daily traditions, such as Bible study as a family. My husband also reads a chapter from a fiction book to the kids every night, and then we pray together. Even though our kids are ages 17, 14, and 12, they still love this.

We have traditions for holidays, too, such as acting out the Bible Story every Christmas and buying special Christmas ornaments every year for each of our kids.

Marilyn: What do you see as the greatest challenges that moms face these days?

Tricia: Moms want to do it all--follow their own dreams and goals, raise great kids, have a loving marriage, serve God. One of the biggest challenges is balancing life. Another is making time for God. There is also the struggle of serving God in a world in which “anything goes.”

Marilyn: That sounds true for just about everyone. What simple things can moms do--even when their children are very young--to improve communication with their kids? And what else can moms and dads to do keep their family bonds strong?

Tricia: One of my friends told me that it takes three hours of fun to bring out three minutes of heart-to-heart conversation. I've found that to be true. Kids need time and fun, then they allow you into the deepest recesses of their heart. For example, yesterday I took my fourteen-year-old daughter out to dinner and to a play. Then, on the drive home she opened up about some issues in her life. Real communication doesn't happen during the busyness of life.

As for family bonds, moms and dads can make family a priority by serving God together. Our family has volunteered for a children’s ministry together for over ten years. We act out skits, sing songs, teach the Bible, and so on. We work together to share God and we grow closer in the process.

Marilyn: Those are wonderful suggestions. So, what are some of the greatest differences you see between how your parents' generation parented and Gen X parents?

Tricia: My parents’ generation was a time when many kids lived a latchkey existence. Parents worked a lot and the divorce rate was rising steadily. Media became more important (MTV showed up during that time). The Gen X generation is a time when life is superbusy as we try to do too much. More moms are choosing to give up careers for kids. And according to statistics, dads are getting more involved in the home. While there are some positive changes, we struggle with “too much of a good thing” trying to give our kids everything, to their own detriment.

Marilyn: And finally, Tricia, what are the greatest dangers that threaten young families today, and what can parents do to avoid them?

Tricia: Dangers include centering on our children, instead of on God and getting so busy that we miss what is most important. I struggle with these issues myself. Yes, as we parents spend time with God daily, we settle our souls. We find peace and listen to the still, small voice instead of all the messages that the world gives.

Marilyn: This is great information, Tricia. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with us!

Please check out Tricia's website ( for more information about Tricia, her books, and her latest news.

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton