Learning from What If’s

Teaching our kids to look people in the eye was challenging. Bill and I had listened to a set of parenting tapes given to us by very new friends. As I look back, I am amazed at how God orchestrated Bill and I receiving those tapes filled with wisdom. Allow me to share.

We were at a Carolina football game and we passed some friends in the crowd. I am embarrassed to say I don’t remember who but a friend stopped us and said, “We have dear friends who have just moved to Columbia. They don’t know very many people. Will you reach out to them?” With that she handed me a piece of paper with their name and number. Fast forward. I called the next day and left a message. The lady called me back and two days later we met them for dinner. :o)

I had no idea that at dinner that night at the Blue Marlin in Columbia our lives would change forever. It was at that dinner that we made a lasting and meaningful friendship with complete strangers, Hope and Barkley Radebaugh! Just to let you know just how special these friends became, Hope sang at my mother’s funeral. The night we met we talked about a variety of things: God, sports, kids.

Knowing Hope now, I smile. She is always studying, reading, seeking wisdom and ready to share just like she did that first night we met them. Hope talked about these tapes she had listened to called “Growing Kids God’s Way” by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. I had never heard of them but Hope was willing to share the tapes with me. I call it a “fresh drink of cold water in the hot desert!” The tapes nourished my soul!

At the time we had two rambunctious boys. I couldn’t remember what my parents did with me when I was their age and I needed some good practical advice. This material was so helpful and centered on biblical principles. I felt I had been given gold. This very wise husband and wife team, the Ezzos, put their wisdom and experience, coupled with God’s Word, into books, audios and videos.

Small groups developed from that dinner with Hope and Barkley. It was a time of sharing the information that they had shared with us. New friendships formed and hundreds of people applied God’s Word to their parenting.

Big lesson from this story. Looking back, God ordains our steps. He orchestrates and He answers prayers. God and God alone knew of my prayers in seeking parenting wisdom. He knew the overwhelming feelings that I experienced living away from my mom and not having any family nearby. The desire I had to have my children obey and teach them was strong.

I took passages such as Deuteronomy 12:28 very seriously. “Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.” I wanted to honor God in my parenting.

The answer came from a stranger whose name was given to me at a Carolina football game. Often times I wonder “What if?” What if I had not followed through and called those strangers? What if they hadn’t called me back? What if our conversation hadn’t turned toward parenting at dinner? What if Hope hadn’t shared the tapes with me?

What if’s…are a way to see the orchestrating of God’s hand. God’s timing. God’s provision. And God’s answers to my specific prayer for wisdom in raising our children!

I specifically remember listening to the first parenting tape. It was so good that for the next 6 hours I listened to tapes. I stayed up late to listen and the next day, to complete them, I put the boys in the car at nap time and drove around Columbia while they slept so that I could listen to all the tapes. I vividly remember handing the tapes to Bill and saying, “Please listen to these tapes. It is the answer to our prayers.”

Point of post. Pray. Ask God for wisdom in all things. Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

If you are struggling in an area of your life–parenting, marriage, emotional pain, spiritual darkness, financial, addiction–whatever the struggle, God freely gives wisdom without finding fault. James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

From my experience I can say, learn to LOOK for God to answer. Don’t miss it. He answers sometimes in the most unlikely ways and through the most unlikely circumstances. It could be wisdom that is funneled through a stranger.

I can tell you this. I pay attention keenly, daily, to people and interruptions in my day or requests that come my way. Some I act on immediately because it is a “no brainer” and some I filter through prayer.

I encourage you to know from this one example, God wants to guide you, to provide for you, to lead you. We cannot miss it by not being aware, by not praying.

Proverbs 3:13, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.”

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