Your children are little souls that you have the power to mold in love or sorrow.

This past week, Dad came by the house and invited me and my five children to go with him and Mom to the Tennessee River to catch crawdads and have a picnic. School came to an abrupt stop as we rushed around like wild chickens, gathering swimming clothes and water bottles, and, of course, the hardest thing to keep track of for these country children—SHOES! Fifteen minutes later we were all climbing into Dad’s old red Ford diesel truck.

Life is sweet. We stopped at the grocery store on our way through town and Big Papa ran in to buy us some fried chicken. I was as excited as my children were about the fun outing. I remember vividly the thrill I had as a child going with Dad to this same place to fish. As we headed down the road to the Tennessee River, I began telling them a story of when I was a little girl and Papa took me fishing with my sister Shoshanna. The children sat quietly and listened, completely wrapped up in the story.

“One spring day, much like today, when I was a little older than you, Gracie, Big Papa took your Aunt Shoshanna and me to the river to fish. We were so excited to spend the day with Big Papa. When we got to the river, the big fish were jumping right out of the water! They were everywhere. We were so excited; we quickly put worms on our hooks and started fishing. We caught about fifteen or twenty fish in about five minutes. We were frantic to get the fish off our hooks and get baited up again as soon as possible. I was kneeling on the ground trying to thread a wiggly worm on my hook when your Aunt Shanna decided to move down to where Big Papa was fishing. As she swept by me her foot caught my fishing line and jerked the hook right into my finger—all the way in. That ended our fishing day; Big Papa had to take me to the doctor to get the hook removed, and I haven’t liked fishing since that day!”

By the time I finished my tale we were getting closer to the river and the children were getting more and more excited. When we got there we spread our blanket on the riverbank and tore into the fried chicken and all the goodies Mama Pearl had brought. Then we helped Big Papa look for crawdads. What fun we had! I felt like a little kid again myself, and not like a mom of five! The kids and I chased Big Papa around as he went from spot to spot, looking for crawdads. But it was not warm enough for the crawdads to be out, so Big Papa used his throw net to catch some shad for bait.

Soon it was time to head home. On the way home we stopped at the local store for some ice cream, which was the same thing we did when Papa took us as children. We were all enjoying the ice cream when I started telling another story. It seemed to be a good day for stories. But this time the story was for Big Papa.

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“This past week the kids and I were coming home from town, and we were having a great time talking about God and eternity. I was explaining to them that this life is short and eternity is long, and that God has given us this short time as an opportunity to lay up treasure in heaven, and that if we spend our time wisely, our reward in heaven will be great. They asked me, ‘What do you mean, Mom?’ So I explained that if I tell them to take out the trash, and they obey, then they are being faithful in their obedience to me, and God will reward them a hundredfold. Just as I was saying this, we passed a dumpster that was overflowing with trash. My daughter, with all her child-like wisdom, pointed and said, ‘The dumpster man is going to be the richest man in heaven!’” Big Papa roared with laughter, which made all of us break into wild giggles. Like I said, life is sweet.

This life is just a short moment of time compared to all eternity. Are you using it to lay up treasure for the eternal? Your children are little souls that you have the power to mold in love or sorrow. Live life to the fullest, knowing that this is your opportunity to impact those around you.

My parents put us children first. They used each opportunity that was given to them to mold us in love, and now with their faithful example I am striving to do the same. My prayer is that you will as well.