Exhausted, Michael lay in bed with his eyes wide open unable to sleep.  The plans for tomorrow and worries about the future were racing through his mind as they so often did late at night.  Sharon was sound asleep; she too was exhausted and hadn’t moved a muscle in the last hour.  Both had been pushing themselves hard for several years and were really beginning to feel the long-term effects.

Michael was an ambitious man and determined to make life for their family better than the one he had known.  They had purchased a nice home, established a pretty good life style, and their three teenagers were attending private school.  But now, in his middle forties, he was beginning to wonder if he had really counted the cost.

He was working long hours which often included weekends.  The pressure of making their house into a home, keeping up with three children, and working part time was taking a toll on Sharon as well.  It was obvious that their relationship was beginning to suffer.  And the kids, once models of obedience were exhibiting behavior that had him worried.

It feels like the dam is about to burst, he thought, how much longer are we going to be able to hold back this ever increasing pressure.  From the outside it appeared they had built a life to be envied.  But from the inside, he knew that real problems were creating cracks in the dam that could eventually end in a catastrophic failure.

A question that parents like Michael and Sharon should ask themselves on a regular basis is this; have we allowed ourselves to become so caught up in the pursuit of good things that we are sacrificing the essential things.

For example, helping your children take advantage of every opportunity can easily become a full time job in itself.  If you have two or three children and each is involved in two or three activities, your role is often reduced to transportation/activity director.  Their God given talents and skills may be developing beautifully, but what about their character.

Or perhaps you and your spouse both work long hours like Michael and Sharon. You want to provide a better home in a great neighborhood with good schools.  That could certainly be considered a good thing.  However, it often leaves you and your children with little energy or time for the essential thing, impacting their heart.

Opportunities that you provide and things that you give your children can not for one minute make up for your personal time and attention.  Recent findings of a new poll of young people ages 13-24 reveals some very surprising results.  The poll, conducted by

Associated Press/MTV, might seem an unlikely source for information until you realize they have the resources and the financial motivation to know the truth about their target market.

The young people interviewed in this poll were asked a series of questions stemming from one simple question; what makes you happy?  It’s important to note that this poll was not directed at Christians but taken from a cross section of the population.

So, what did they find you ask?  In a nut shell, they found that family really matters.  Young people were found to be the most happy when they spent time with their family and loved ones.  Parents were seen overwhelmingly as a positive influence in their lives.  Nearly half said that one of their parents was their hero.

Money and the things money can buy were almost never mentioned as a source of happiness.  Those for whom religion and spirituality play a bigger role tended to be happier.  Those who engaged in premarital sex were less happy than those who did not.  Those using drugs and alcohol were also less happy than those who did not.  Interestingly enough, over ninety percent still believe in marriage.  They believe that being married to one person for life and raising stable children of their own will make them happy.

Admittedly, these were questions about perception and feelings.  Nonetheless, they are a great indicator of the needs of our children.  As Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family wrote, “These findings quantify what we have long known in our hearts and seen in our experience; a nurturing family environment is the most important thing we can offer our kids.” 

A nurturing family environment is not measured in our ability to provide opportunity and things for our children.  It is measured by our interactions with them; the kind of interaction that will touch their heart.  God sees us as their teacher; the voice of His word, the example of His character and nature, the ones who lead them to Him.

Deut. 6:6-7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

This is the essential thing that Michael and Sharon were sacrificing to obtain the good.  In the end, only those things that have impacted the heart will remain.  Your children will live their lives based on what they believe in their heart, not the talents they have developed or the opportunities they have been given.  Your children need you!

God bless you,

Jim & Shirley Ertel

P.S.  If you want to fulfill Deut. 6:6-7, you’ll have to be there.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below!

They Walk With A Limp

Wrapped in a comfy robe, I leaned back in my favorite deck chair sipping a steaming caramel latte. The covered deck of my beachfront home extended beyond the second-floor family room with tall neatly aligned palm trees on both sides. A peaceful unfettered view of a...

Changing Perspective

It has been said that time heals all things. As a 70-year-old father and grandfather, I disagree. Time alone cannot heal; not the grief of losing a loved one, the heartache of a broken relationship, or the regret of a horribly wrong decision. Only God, through Jesus...

A Changed Heart – A Changed Mind

Tuesdays were counseling day. My receptionist knocked on the door rather early, 8:30 am, and ushered in a middle-aged woman. We’ll call her Judith. Business dress, classy with just the right balance of jewelry and makeup. Appeared to be a very successful and...

The Heart is a Canvas

Raising children is neither a science or a mathematical equation to be solved, it’s an art.   When your children are born, think of their hearts like a canvas, awaiting the brush strokes of an artist.  And God made no mistake when he chose you to be the artist of your...

Is Consequence a Good Teacher?

Have you ever heard a parent say, “Well, I guess he will just have to learn his lesson the hard way.”  I have, and it always makes me cringe because the hard way can be far more than you bargained for. Should children learn that the gas flames on the stove are hot by...

Reflections in the Mirror

As April looked intently into the foggy mirror above the bathroom sink; she could not imagine how God could possibly love the woman whose image she saw in the reflection. The replay button of her mind seemed stuck in the on position; constantly reminding her of...

Adolescence – Fact or Fiction?

Educators, psychologists and other proponents of adolescence have managed to convince the world that teenagers are unable to make good decisions and if not closely supervised would live irresponsible undisciplined lives.  Sigmund Freud wrote this in an essay he...

I must be Schizophrenic

“I must be Schizophrenic,” you say.  “What other explanation could there be?” “II Cor. 5:17 says that when a person is in Christ, he or she becomes a new creation; that old things pass away and everything becomes new.  If that’s true, then why haven’t I changed, why...

Free Man or Slave?

Who’s your task master?  Who brings the whip down when you fail to perform? For the children of Israel it became the Egyptians.  They certainly didn’t start out as slaves.  In fact, God delivered them from a severe famine through Joseph.  Now living in Egypt, with...

A Bridge of Love Rebuilt

“Great Grandma,” he said as he reached to wrap his arms around her neck for a big hug. “You know what?”  “What Justin?”  “This has been the best Christmas ever.”  She leaned forward in her arm chair and with the biggest grandma squeeze she could muster, said. “Well, I...


Goose bumps quickly formed on my arms and legs from the water.  How the water could be so cold in such a hot country was beyond me, but it did serve as inspiration to soap up as fast as possible.  And then, as if on cue, the water pressure suddenly dropped and reduced...

It Was Easier for Your Parents, Right?

If you were to ask a young parent, do you think raising your children is more difficult today than it was for your parents, most would answer yes.  They would immediately point to the conditions of our society and the many temptations facing their children.  But,...

Father to Son

I watched you struggling to stay on all fours when you were learning to crawl.  I reached out to catch you when you took your first steps and ran alongside as you rode your bike for the first time without training wheels. Your first base hit, winning the grueling 800...

Don’t Wait Any Longer

The male nurse lifted him from the reclined chair and laid him in the hospital bed with little effort.  This once proud man often boasted of his six foot, 180 pound physic which had been reduced to 102 pounds of skin and bones.  The colostomy bag and catheter had...

“Why, Grandpa?” Sandy Hook Elementary

“Why would someone do that Grandpa?”  That was the question my grandson asked me the evening of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s a question that myriads of experts will attempt to answer in the weeks and months to come.  I answered this way, “there’s...

Help Wanted – Father with Shepherd’s Heart

No experience necessary - must be willing to learn - on call 24/7 - only those willing to give their life need apply – not for the faint of heart Most jobs require some experience or at least an apprenticeship under the watchful eye of a journeyman.  However, when it...

Parent or Grandparent!
Grandpa Jimmy has a gift for you.