Next Generation Faith

Writing a book is an interesting proposition. It’s both thrilling to get a book deal but also frightening because one’s thoughts and ideas go public where they can be critiqued by any reader. Without our oldest daughter’s help and encouragement, we would have lacked the courage to write a book. It’s not second-nature to us like it is to Erin who was born a writer. (We still have a few of her first “books” written at 5 years of age) As a child, she wrote creatively about presents and friends and childlike adventures. Now as an adult, Erin openly shares her honest experiences as a young mom, and advocates for warm and understanding parent/child relationships as essential in the transfer of faith. We completely agree. If there is one thing we hope readers of our book will gain, it is that parents truly are more influential than they may realize. This was reinforced for us by Vern. L. Bengston,  a presenter at last week’s D6 conference in Dallas. Bengtson is the author of Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations in which he outlines the outcomes of an empirical study on religion and family that has been going on for 45 years. His study clearly demonstrates that parents, and even grandparents, have a greater influence than they think and that emotional bonds are the most important. While faith may waiver, especially in the ages between 18 and 24, many prodigals return once they become parents – especially if they were raised in a warm affirming environment. Here are Bengtson’s concluding tips, shared in his own words: How...

The Gift of Children

  We have a new 3 year old grandson: Isaac Emanda Schuknecht He officially became a part of our family this week when the court in Addis Ababa approved Troy and Stevi as his parents. Even watching the video of them meeting him is very emotional. I can’t imagine what it was like to be there in person. Isaac will soon move from the Ethiopian orphanage to Austin and to join his three siblings as well as his six-soon-to-be-seven cousins. Isaac is our second grandson who has entered our family via adoption, 2 1/2 year old Asa Peter Dusan being the first. With the birth of each of my biological grandchildren I am deeply touched. Each pregnancy is a journey of anticipation and hope for the yet-to-be-born child. Asa came to us suddenly. One morning, Peter and Alisa got a call, and in a few hours they were on there way to Temple to met their son, our grandson. Before Asa could come home however, they had to walk through a journey of anticipation because this tiny newborn boy first had to endure a lengthy NICU stay. Watching Asa endure pain and suffering week after week, bonded us to him in an intimate fashion. I believe Asa, whose name means healer, will grow up to profess the healing of God to many. Check out Ethiopia to Austin, the story of Isaac coming home to our family.  It has been a journey of anticipation as well. It’s been a long road with many obstacles for Troy and Stevi to work through. In this waiting process through much prayer, God has...

Generational Influence

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4 Next week, I will head to Finland, my mom’s birthplace and where many of my relatives still reside. This trip comes on the heels of a erratic year during which I bounced back and forth between Texas and Oregon – from delightfully crazy times with an ever growing number of grand kids to slow paced days with my elderly mom, during which I spent significant chunks of time merely helping her find the objects she has misplaced.  Flipping back and forth between generations causes me to reflect. I think back to my childhood years when my mom had the energy and wherewithal to care for five children and still have time to tend to her large gardens and orchards. Then I fast-forward and try to imagine what the future will be like for my grandchildren. What kind of parents will they become? How am I influencing them now? And will I still be alive when they have children of their own? Time is precious and the season during which we influence future generations is short.  I was 20 years old the last time I traveled to Finland. I still remember sitting across the table from my grandfather sipping coffee together. He spoke a blessing over me that day and it touched me deeply. His softly spoken prayer formed a connection with me and gave me hope in ways I cannot explain. It just did. I never saw Jussi Ojala again but I never forgot him either. I still picture his crooked smile and...