Volume 14, Number 2, November-December 2010
by Norman Edwards & others
The following is a true account of a long-time Church of God family. The parents are a half-generation ahead of me, but I had gotten to know them in my 20s. I found their family to be a mixture of peace, patience and practicality, in what is often a difficult world. For several years, I worked either directly for or along side of the father, Carson, a gifted systems programmer at the Worldwide Church of God computer department. Later on, his wife, Verna worked for me in computer applications.
I remember playing with some of their children and holding their babies when I was a young single man—getting advice on this mysterious thing called child-rearing, that I hoped to do someday. Later, after I was married, I remember Verna holding our babies—glad to do so because hers were grown, but no grandchildren yet. I remember learning things about the advantages of midwives, home schooling, vaccine avoidance—and praying about difficulties when there seemed to be no answer.
Even with a large family, God was at the center of their lives. Not only did they frequently attend Bible studies and church activities, they lived Deuteronomy 6:7. The children knew when and where Dad and Mom prayed and not only left them alone to do so, but also learned by their example. As a result, their children were well behaved, respectful to adults, yet creative and fun—a difficult balance to achieve in the art of childrearing.
Theirs is not a storybook yarn where everything always goes right. Some of the children struggled with long-term health problems. Their father also struggled with health problems, and died at the age of 46, leaving Verna with 5 children: Ruth, age 21; Anne, age 19; Lynn, age 15; David, age 11; and Karen, age 6. Nevertheless, all of them avoided the rebellious teen stage that so many go through. And today, they are all married to their first and only spouse, with families of their own. Verna married Frank and moved the two children still at home to southwestern Missouri. Frank is also suffering with health difficulties, but she continues to work and they continue to take care of each other, observing the Sabbath and Feast days with Church of the Great God.
So here, in a combination of Norm Edwards’, Verna’s and her children’s words, are their stories. All of the children have migrated east, and Ruth’s house has become the hub for family get-togethers. When the 14 grandchildren get together, you can see the effect of the years Carson and Verna spent leading them in God’s way—by example. The individual families still pray together regularly, and talk often of God (Deut 6:6-7). Each family also has taken this gift and tried to extend it outward in service of others
Ruth met Harvey at the beginning of their sophomore years at Ambassador College and were married right before his senior year, so he was a married student his last year of college. They now have two children which were both home-schooled. Kirstin will be 22 in November and Julie is 17. Both of them take God’s Way of Life very seriously. Kirstin is a sophomore in college. Harvey and Ruth attend with Church of God, an International Community, and at one time hosted a congregation in their home. Harvey has his own portable sawmill business and Ruth works for an upscale plant nursery.
Anne met Darryl at the WCG’s Summer Educational Program and they married two years later. Anne was always more of an independent, think-for-herself personality and Darryl is certainly her equal in that regard. He obtained a doctorate and began teaching university classes, but later switched to on-line teaching so that he and Anne could raise their four children on a 57-acre homestead. His parents live next door, and a long-time friend also lives nearby, making it easy to share manpower.
They have a large garden, raise several cows and other animals, make hay, build mountains of compost, have an off-grid solar system, heat with wood, cook on a wood cook-stove and can and dry food. They home school their children while he works on building a house (http://cedar-ridge-farm.blogspot.com/). They have made the choice to forego the traditional American pursuit of things in favor of emphasizing family relationships and both parents being home instead of being gone to work somewhere else. They love that life and the beauty of its simplicity (being simple doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve a lot of hard work, but it’s good, honest, sweat-producing work). Their oldest child is now 14. As you might have guessed, they are independent believers, but still observe the Sabbath and Feast days with other like-minded brethren. They have even received Servants’ News since it began in 1995.
Lynn was introduced to Stephen, her husband-to-be, by brother-in-law Harvey’s family. Harvey and his family had attended the WCG with Stephen in North Carolina before Harvey went to Ambassador College. Beginning in their teen years, Lynn and Stephen corresponded for several years before they actually met. They were married eight years after they began corresponding and now have four children ages 3 through 14. They attended with WCG until a couple of years ago. Stephen now pastors a small independent church in central North Carolina, and is also heavily involved in youth summer camp ministry. They are well loved there as they serve the people there with generosity and loving care and concern.
David met Mikele while he was a student at University of Missouri, Rolla and she was a student at Xavier. Her family was nominally Catholic, from Southern Illinois. How they met and conducted their court ship is an amazing story. David was living in a frat house, one for high scholastic standards. It was hosting, along with a sister sorority, a Saturday night Halloween party for children of the community. David had been to Sabbath services in St. Louis and “sneaked” back into the house after sunset, not wanting to be part of a Halloween Party. He went to his study room. The door was closed and there was a note on the door which said, “Girl crashed inside.”
David went into the dark room very quietly and made his way around the edge of the room to his desk. In the dim light he could barely make out the form of a body, lying on his floor. He sat there thinking, “Now what am I going to do?” He had planned to study, but turning on the light did not appear to be an option.
Apparently, his activity awakened this girl and they started talking, without turning on the lights. She was a student at Xavier University, St Louis, and was visiting Rolla because her best friend was a student there, and was in the sister sorority. She was tired from the trip to Rolla and did not want to be involved in a Halloween party either. They talked for about three hours before they turned on the light. By then, the connection between them was well established. David was convicted that he would never marry someone who was not converted, so their friendship could not develop into anything more.
After knowing each other a couple of years, Mikele decided to do some research so that she could prove David’s beliefs wrong. Instead, she became convicted of the truth of Scripture and became baptized. Understanding that marriage can be full of surprises, they worked through various books to try to be as prepared as possible. They married five years after their meeting. Verna feels that God has blessed them greatly because of David’s attitude and approach in this matter.
David works for Church of the Great God as the Information Systems Manager and he also writes for the Forerunner magazine. He has struggled with type-1 diabetes for 25 years, but knows that God is also using that for good. David and Mikele now have three children, the oldest being 8.
Karen, Verna’s youngest, met her husband-to-be online when he, Joseph, was using his sister’s Instant Messenger. Joseph’s family has been part of the COG for several generations in Oregon. One of Verna’s closest friends knew Joseph’s dad and his family back in the early 1960s. Karen and Joseph met at a Feast of Tabernacles in 1995, but Karen did not notice Joseph because he was almost seven years younger than she. Later, they became friends and were married in 2009, she at age 27 and he 21. They attend with the Great Lakes Church of God. They have a child, age 6 months.
All of the children attend with a different group. As people and church groups go, some groups may divide or combine, and some of these young people may change to another group—just like most of the older Servants’ News readers have done. But Verna feels “thankful, humbled, and blessed” that all of her adult children are still largely practicing what they have been taught. None have been involved in drugs, alcohol abuse or premarital sex. They all have worked hard and put their lives into their families, and their families have all stayed together. If the measure of a child’s honoring his mother and father is how they end up living their own lives, Verna is greatly honored. Each of her children’s families serve congregations/ministries and live their beliefs wholeheartedly.
Today, Verna and Frank have 15 grandchildren, 14 of Verna’s and one of Frank’s. All but one were delivered by midwives (in the case of independent Darryl and Anne, delivered by themselves) and were home schooled. Karen’s baby was born in a hospital because of complications, and is still too young for any sort of school. All of their children know that they were loved and wanted to become parents themselves. Church groups come and go—they never receive eternal life. But people do. To this writer, that is the true success of a parent. After all, the first commandment in the Scripture is to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:22). Even though such thinking is considered archaic by our modern society, it is not to God. And it is more important to God than a lot of other doctrine. In the last book of the Old Testament, God reminds us
But did He not make them [spouses] one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth (Mal 2:15). &
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