Mother’s Day – Don’t Leave the Kids Behind!

The most exciting event of my life occurred on Mother’s Day when my son was four. Count Your Many Blessings, name them one by one rang out as the invitational hymn and Luke left my side, walked down the aisle, and asked Jesus to come into his heart.

That memory is more important to me than ever on this Mother’s Day as USMC Major Luke Gaines Parker celebrates another day with Jesus and I endure my first Mother’s Day without his cheerful, enthusiastic voice starting off the day with, “Good morning, Mom. I love you! Happy Mother’s Day!”

The magnitude of the decision he made 33 years ago is my peace and hope in a rest-of-my-life without him because it assures me that, just like the Jesus he served, Luke is in Heaven. This separation is painful – but temporary.

Luke gave me a Bible for Christmas in 1992, when he was sixteen. He paid for it with earnings from his first job. Two years later, I gave him a Bible when he entered the U.S. Marine Corps. He carried his Bible with him for the rest of his life, including his six deployments to war zones, and read it nearly every day. Like the Bible he bought me, nearly every page is marked, underlined, or has notes written into the margins. I cherish both Bibles and keep them visible on my desk as constant reminders of how marvelously privileged and honored I was to have a son who walked in God’s Truth.

When I look back to Luke’s childhood, I regret all the things I couldn’t buy for him because – as a single parent – I couldn’t afford them. I regret never having had enough money to take him to Disney Land or on a vacation. But what Luke and I did share is bigger and greater than all of my regrets combined: a love for Jesus Christ Who gave up His life on the cross for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him in a place where there is no death, sickness, dying, sorrow or tears. Wow! Luke’s plane crash on Nov. 17, 2013, wasn’t the end – it is the beginning.

You mothers reading this Mother’s Day blog may suffer the same insecurities that I did as a parent if your finances aren’t long enough to stretch to meet expenses. Don’t fret. More than things you can buy for them, your children need your time. More than expensive vacations and trips, your children need your love.

One of Luke’s most cherished memories was living in poverty in the Nevada Desert in a cabin with no electricity, no running water, and an outhouse for a bathroom. Luke loved it because he could have me – my time and love. Instead of running between two and three jobs to make ends meet, I was teaching him at “home” and spending every day and night with him. He mentioned that as a highlight of his life in every Mother’s Day card he sent, and in nearly every phone call.

Don’t waste time and energy agonizing over what you can’t give your children. If you spend time and love on them and teach them about Jesus, you are a successful parent. The only thing we have here on earth that can follow us to heaven is our children. Make sure they know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Don’t leave the kids behind!

Books by this author: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Old Hat

Besides precious memories, too few pictures, and a much-read and much-used Bible, all I had left of son USMC Major Luke Gaines Parker was the old hat. Now the hat is gone.

It was ironic to still have Luke’s hat after he departed for Heaven at age 37. A hat should not last longer than the person wearing it – especially an old hat.

I bought the bright blue wooly hat for Luke in the Great Basin Desert of Northern Nevada when he was eleven. He left it behind when he reported to the Marine Corps for basic training.

Because it had been Luke’s hat, I kept it and wore it on cold, windy days – even though since it was a child’s hat, it was too small for me and kept popping off my head. Over the years, the hat became tolerant of me and relaxed enough to remain on my head. After I moved to Scotland, I wore the old hat nearly every day of the year – spring, “summer,” fall, and winter. Even in the height of “summer” it is still cool – often with a strong wind. The hat kept my hair from blowing across my face and getting tangled.

Now the hat is gone. It vanished. I wish I could believe that Luke reached down from Heaven and reclaimed the hat as a sort of sign. He didn’t. Heaven is a perfect place with a perfect climate. Luke would have no need for his old blue hat. When a person dies, their spirit goes immediately to be with Jesus in Heaven – if they belong to Him. Jesus is alive, Luke is alive – but he didn’t come for the hat.

I spent several days retracing walks and runs to look for the missing hat. Folks here in the Black Isle are honest and thoughtful. When they find someone’s property, they hang it on a fence post for the owner to find: shoes, socks, keys, dog whistles, shirts, hats, dog leashes. No bright blue wooly hat.

Perhaps the hat fell out of my pocket on the rocks and washed into the sea. Perhaps it blew out of my pocket when I was running and someone who needed a winter hat took it. Actually, I’m glad that it vanished because it taught me to look into my heart for what’s left that’s really important.

Everywhere I go, I see Luke’s smile. I remember the times he called me to sing a song he had just written. I still have cards and poems he sent me. When I look at his daughter’s face, I see his eyes and the bridge of his nose. He lives on in precious memories, and in the life of his daughter. These things are important. The old blue hat? Well, it was just a hat.

Every physical possession we have on this earth, no matter how valuable, will eventually wear out, get stolen, get lost, or disappear. Even the ones that we keep until we “die” will get left behind, just like Luke’s old hat when he went into basic training. No one leaves this earth for Heaven with a suitcase.

Value your children, friends, family members, pets – everyone and everything that you love – now. Spend all the time with them you can and lavish all the love on them that you have to give. You can’t spoil anyone with too much love – but you can break their hearts with too little love.

Build memories and hang on to them. Let old hats go.

Author’s books: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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