TIME WELL SPENT                                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 12-2-16

Sometimes the most glowing affirmation of what I do comes from my son. As a parent, along with all of the examples you have to set, the discipline you have to provide, explanations you have to come up with for the “why” questions that arise frequently, you sometimes just sit and wonder; “Is any thing I’m doing getting through?” Every once in a while you get one of those moments that make you stop and say; “Well, he did get it!” I was privileged to enjoy one of those moments yesterday. Tyler and I have delivered the H.O.P.E. Ministries shoebox gifts all week and he is always ready to go. He grew up in the front seat of a truck doing mission work. When he was a baby, we strapped his car seat into my dad’s cab-over Isuzu once a month going to Harlan, Kentucky with Operation Outreach of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Weaverville, NC. Tyler always looked around wherever he went and never slept. Being pretty much non-verbal till he was about seven years old due to his autism, I often wondered just what he might be thinking. By the time Hurricane Isabelle hit eastern NC he was in elementary school. He and his mom would go with me when I ran relief trips for Hearts With Hands in a tractor-trailer. He saw first hand the devastation left in Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina and the results of flooding in West Virginia and Kentucky a few years earlier. It was a normal thing to take off somewhere on the weekends and take food to somebody. Even when he didn’t go, he got used to me being gone on the weekends a lot because somebody needed help. We tried to tell him why we were doing the things we did and explain that when people needed help you did what you could to help them. He got used to going and assembling backpacks and shoeboxes and Easter baskets and delivering them and it became a normal part of his life. Still, in the back of your mind you wonder if it is just what he does because he has to go with us or if he really gets it. Yesterday, I believe I got my answer. I knew that, going to school and riding the bus with special needs and disabled kids all of his life, he had learned to be helpful. He is a really sweet guy even if I do say so myself. But yesterday he gave me a glimpse into his mind totally unprovoked. After delivering close to 100 boxes to a school where he had been stacking them on a hand truck, he grinned and shook his head and said “I love this stuff!” Just that simple statement gave confirmation to almost twenty years of parenting. I had often thought during those years when I was away from him and his mom that maybe I should cut back and not go so much. At times it seemed like I was just spending too much time away from my family even though they went with me often. I had the privilege during a lot of those years to do mission work with my dad and I cherish the time I got to spend with him. I only hoped that Tyler would treasure those times with his dad like I did with mine. Yesterday, I got my answer!

Back before Thanksgiving as we were setting up the tables for our ministry shoebox assembly, I got another blessing. As I was taping some boxes together I noticed that the teenage daughters of my one of my board members were arranging the items in perfect order on the tables just like their mom or I would have done. These girls have never known anything but ministry because their mom began helping us shortly after the oldest one was born. She was also involved in a lot of other mission projects with schools and other groups throughout their childhood. Their mom and dad and I have always joked that we were “training our replacements”. As I get older and more broke down, I think a lot about what I am leaving behind. I am not trying to take credit for anything but I am thankful that, not only my son but also the kids of all of my board members, have got it. They have seen the importance of helping others. They have seen the need to have compassion without judgement or partiality. As a ministry, our future looks bright! As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the kids I have seen grow up learning to help others. I have decided it is definitely “time well spent.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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