A Two-Slot Toaster…

September 7, 2017

Letter to the Editor_Banner

Dear Editor:

My wife brought home a two-slot toaster recently.  My breakfast today was toast with strawberry cream cheese.  And, something new, it was VERY QUIET.  The two-slot one replaced a four-slot one that was faded and broken.

I think we have had it for twenty years!  The toaster is a picture of our life journey.  We just crossed over the line as empty nesters and the two slots will be just fine, thank you.

On Monday we dropped our youngest daughter off at Spring Arbor University as a freshman.  It seemed appropriate that it was Labor Day.

Since I have 2 daughters going to SAU, the amount of stuff they took was staggering.  It took an hour to load a Ford Explorer, an SUV, and a small sedan.

I loved the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony that Spring Arbor does.  Roughly 350 incoming freshman gathered with families at the Clock Tower Square at the center of campus.  The freshmen face the front of the open square with parents behind, supporting and praying.  A massive blue ribbon is placed in the hands of the freshmen and cut by the SAU staff as the families say goodbye to their teens.  The freshmen are then whisked away in a group with staff, who will speak into their lives as they cross this rite of passage.  It is a VERY MOVING EXPERIENCE.

I guess you could say that Labor Day was the culmination of a journey.  We have spent the last 26 years raising children.  It has been a fun, exhilarating, and wild ride.  These 26 years have brought many hugs and laughter, as well as occasional tears and anxious moments.

Today, I have a wide range of emotions.  Did we do enough as parents?  Did I invest enough in roots so they are ready to sprout their wings?  It is one of life’s key “lack of do-over” opportunities.  The simple fact is no, a parent can never “do enough” and that is OK.

Parenting is really about the heart.  When texting began to take the country by storm I pushed back against it, seeing many possible negative outcomes.  As my children began to embrace their adult lives, my wife encouraged me to, “Text them, especially your three daughters.  You will be speaking their language.”

So I did.  I texted, “I love you.  I am proud of you”. To text this to three daughters took about one minute.   They got REALLY EXCITED!  It really blessed and encouraged them.  I was letting them seem my heart and I was speaking words of blessing over them.

On Monday, when we dropped off our youngest, I gave her a letter that included fifteen little thoughts to set her up for success in college.  I have done this for all four children.  It communicates that I care, believe in her, and desire to stay connected in a supportive role as she grows in her independence.  The goal of parenting needs to be raising responsible adults. Over the years my kids have shared that these letters bring tears to their eyes and they refer to them many times while at college.
Scott Harper

My youngest two daughters run track at Spring Arbor University.  We go to as many of their meets as we can.  I have been told more than once I have the loudest voice at the track.  While this is a bit embarrassing, it captures how we roll.  I want them to know they have our full support.

As my kids were growing up, we always had a policy that they could talk about anything.  No subject was off limits.  This lead to many conversations that could last for hours sometimes.  It was by intentional design. I want to pass on values that are important to me.  All children will form values. It becomes a question of where do they come from?

So did I do all I could as a dad over the last 26 years?  In a word, no.  I certainly could have done more.  Kids are resilient.  Often in our stumbling and bumbling way through mistakes, we all learn the most.

Would I change anything about how we parented them?  No.  Did we make mistakes?  Yes, many.  We did our best and our hearts were right.  It helped a whole lot that my wife is the best mom I have ever seen.  If there were a school called Mom U, she could be the Dean.

So to the parents out there, whether you need a two-slot toaster or four, remember the God of Heaven chose you to raise the children He gave you.  God gave parenting – the most important job – to amateurs.   Since he is our Father and He gave them to us, the best thing we can do is talk to Him about it.

Pastor Scott Harper
Clare Assembly of God

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