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Just dropping by ... God’s family plan

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 06 February 2017

For many in our world today, morals and family values have become a giant abstract painting where the paint is haphazardly slapped on the canvas without planning or purpose. Sexual intimacy is the guiding star, while children, families and continuance of the human family is only a brief afterthought and at best, an inconvenience.

Clearly, if you put stock in the scriptures, that is not what God intended when He created the world:

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26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

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31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
—Genesis 1:26-31

God had a plan for his children who were to be created in His image. He expected families to be fashioned for a single purpose. “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” He expected His most monumental creation to take care of His other creations until the end of time, and He called His plan “very good.”

In March, my parents will have been married 75 years. From their six children, they have a posterity of over 200 grandchildren, great- grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren. They have certainly done their part in multiplying and replenishing the earth, but they have done more than that.

They have enriched the world by the way they raised their family and set a tradition for their children to follow. They are leaving a legacy that will be perpetuated from one generation to another. They left a pattern of faith, prayer, work and wholesome recreational activities.

I learned to pray kneeling in a family circle. We took turns praying over the crops and the animals. We prayed often for rain to bless the land because we depended on the rain to make pasture for our cattle and to water our gardens.

Dryland farming in Arizona is always a matter of faith and prayer. Drought could have destroyed everything. Our prayers, perhaps, were partly selfish because we prayed for what we needed, but to my parents’ credit, we prayed daily for the sick and the downhearted. Our faith grew as we realized that our prayers were tied to faith.

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My parents were not the kind to just pray for blessings; they became a blessing to many people. When the garden was in full bloom, my mother made sure that her bounty was carried away in the arms of any visitor. She made quilts for hundreds of newlyweds.

She shared her produce of bottled goods with the stipulation that they return the bottles so she could fill them again. Dad never passed a stranger on the road who was not given a ride. I remember many a ride in the backseat of the car scrunched between two strangers. Dad would get up in the middle of the night to a knock on the door to answer a traveler’s need to be taken into town.

My dad was a trader, but the trades he made were always to benefit the other person. Two prime cows for a broken-down pickup that he had to fix was his style. My parents lived by the law, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

My parents grew up on the dusty roads of the Depression. Work was their watchword. They learned the rules of “make your own, use it up, wear it out and be grateful that you have it.” They learned how to live in the school of experience, not in the halls of higher learning.

Mom didn’t graduate from high school, and Dad finished high school after he had served in World War II and after he had been married for several years.

In fact, almost all of his children were born by the time he walked the stage to receive his diploma. His commitment to education opened the door to his children. A high school education was paramount for all his children but one. A college education and the master’s program was a premium for two of his children and a multitude of his grandchildren.

Among my parent’s posterity are doctors, lawyers, teachers, college professors, accountants, politicians and computer technicians. There are many productive blue-collar workers who contribute to society: truck drivers, contractors, real-estate agents, grocery clerks and sales representatives.

The work ethic of my parents was passed like a baton from father to son and mother to daughter, and continues to be passed to the next generation. Replenishing and subduing the earth is the legacy of my parents.

Recreation and work seemed to intertwine in our family. Wood-getting projects in the fall, which involved the extended family, were always hard work. You, your parents, uncles, aunts and cousins drove through the dense forest looking for a snag or a burned-out tree. When you found it, you sawed it down, chopped it into small pieces and loaded it on the truck.

Moms, dads, uncles, aunts and cousins, even to the smallest child, helped to load the wood. We laughed and made a game of tossing wood in an assembly line. We worked from early in the morning until lunch. We ate a picnic lunch and then back to work until sunset. We didn’t dread the work. We were having fun, and we looked forward to it every fall.

The caring for the cattle was another project that was work-play. We came to work as a family and extended family. We rode horses to gather the cattle and move them from one pasture to the next. We all participated in the branding. Some of my fondest memories are working with my mother when she was a midwife to several heifers.

She knew what to do when a calf was coming breach and how to help a cow that was down and too weak to give birth. I loved bouncing over the range in an old red truck looking for newborn calves and checking the watering holes after a rainstorm.

My parents cared for their cattle, but I don’t think they realized how much they were building relationships with their children as they worked alongside them.

My family went camping, attended rodeos, went to drive-in movies and had family reunions. There was no place I would rather be than with my family. Family reunions were such fun. We had horseless rodeos where we used stick horses to do the events.

We had real family rodeos with real horse races, calf roping, wild bull riding and barrel racing! We had family carnivals, family competitions and baseball games. It was such a blessing to have a big close family.

Now that we are grown with our own families, you would think we would become more reclusive and not have reunions, but no! We still have the Despain reunion, the Crandell reunion, the Tenney reunion and the Brimhall reunion. Summer is full of reunions!

We celebrate birthdays and Christmas as extended families and individual families because we know that having fun is just as important as teaching a child to pray, to have faith and to work. Those principles are part of having a successful family and that is what God intended when He gave the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. He wants His children to be raised in families because He wants them to have joy!  end mark

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