Betty wanted to be in bed, pretending she was asleep when Hank got home. She didn't want to get into another fight about his drinking and wake the children. Steve and Anne were often caught in the crossfire and sometimes they got hit. Their father’s drinking had cost the family his job and respect in the community. Betty started working part time at the local grocery store to make ends meet. She hated not being there more for her kids.
Diane and Bill prayed each night with their children before bed. For David, the oldest, they prayed for him to love God and put him first in his life. For Jane, the middle child, they prayed for God’s love to continue to flow out of her through the gifts He had given her. And for Timothy, the youngest by 4 years, they prayed he would trust and obey God, and to learn to be obedient to them-he was their strong-willed child. Diane and Bill prayed everyday for their kids and for their future spouses.
Steve had moved out a couple of years ago and was working at a pizza parlor. Sometimes, Anne would go visit him, but he never came to see his parents. He couldn't forgive his father for how he had treated them growing up. He couldn't forgive his mother for not leaving. Anne was stuck with the raging alcoholic and what was left of her mother after years of abuse. Anne spent most of her time with her boyfriend, Johnny. They would go out drinking and occasionally do some drugs, nothing serious. Things were going to change now. Anne was pregnant and couldn't wait to tell Johnny the good news. They could get married and she could finally leave her parents’ house.
It had been 3 years since they lost Timothy to cancer. Some days were still hard for Bill and Diane, but they took solace in knowing that God loved Timothy more than they ever could and that He had a perfect plan. David was off studying to be a helicopter pilot. He wanted to work in the mission field flying people and supplies to remote areas. Susan, his wife of two years, was very supportive. They were expecting their first child in a couple of months. Jane was finishing her college degree in education. She was engaged to be married to a young man, named Brian, who loved God. Bill and Diane would soon be empty nesters, but they were heavily involved with their church and had plenty of support.
Many nights Anne would sit on her couch and get high. Her mood swings were getting worse. Heather, her 9 year old daughter, often had to bear the burden of her explosive episodes followed by promises never to do it again. They lived in a low-income apartment because that was all Anne could afford. Johnny hadn't been in the picture since Heather was 2. He never visited Heather and he certainly didn't pay any child support. Anne worked as a waitress at a local diner. Her salary wasn't quite enough to support Heather, herself and her habit. Steve was in prison.
David and Susan were living in a semi-remote area of Africa. They had 3 children and David continued to fly helicopters in the mission field. They made it home about once a year for a visit. Jane and Brian had 1 child and were trying for another. Jane taught 2nd grade at a nearby elementary school. Brian worked in the construction field. Both continued to be active in their church. Bill and Diane loved being grandparents.
Heather called Anne often asking for money, but Anne didn't have much to spare. Heather would probably just spend it on booze and drugs. Anne hadn't talked to her mother in years and didn't have a clue where her father was.
Bill died this year. The church was filled with friends and family celebrating his life. David and Jane spoke about their father’s legacy. The family mourned, but also rejoiced that Bill was with his Heavenly Father. Jane and Brian invited Diane to live with them and she accepted.
And on and on it goes…
“I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.” Exodus 20:5b (New Living Translation)
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