New Year's heralds new decade

By WYATT EMMERICH,

This New Year’s brings a new decade. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years. It goes by fast.

Ten years ago, Ginny and I were the parents of three young children aged seven, 11 and 12. Now Ruth is 17, Lawrence is 21 and John is 23. For me, it’s really hard to grasp this.

We were blessed to have them all at home this holiday season. Everybody is healthy, so we have no cause for complaint.

Being a parent in this day and age is a challenging experience. The world is changing so fast. My children were the first generation to grow up with the smartphone – and entire world at their fingertips.

We will be debating what this means for humanity for decades to come. To expose such young minds to such a profound amount of information is a new phenomenon, one we don’t fully understand.

It puts a great burden on young children to learn quickly what is real and what is fake, especially in these early days of the smartphone when safeguards are not fully developed.

And then there is social media. More than ever, young children are exposed to a difficult forum of exposure where judgement and social criticism can be overwhelming. It was simpler growing up in the past.

The old maxim is true: “They don’t come with instructions.” And even if they did, each child is unique. Good parenting techniques for one child may not be appropriate for another.

Children don’t all age on the same timeline. The maturation process is an art, not a science. Parenting takes a huge amount of patience and understanding. As adults, parents struggle to relate to the challenges of youth, especially since the world has changed so dramatically.

Fortunately, the Emmerichs have made it through fairly well. We all still love each other greatly. And we are all still believers in Christ. These are the important things. Although we had our moments of raised voices and frustrations, they were always followed by numerous “I love you’s” and hugs.

Daughter Ruth is precious. She’s a junior at Jackson Prep. She works hard, makes good grades and is socially adjusted. She has tons of friends and never seems to lose her equilibrium. Like her mother, she is sweetness personified. When I am troubled, she leaves me inspirational Bible passages to cheer me up and give me strength. What more can a father ask?

Red-headed Lawrence was back from Austin where he has been earning college credits at Austin Community College and working. Living by himself has matured him enormously. The adolescent rebellion is a distant memory. He often apologizes for those stressful days. He is constantly telling me how much he loves and admires me. He is as energetic, personable and vivacious as ever, but this is now being tempered with the wisdom that comes with age. He is on his way and hopes to attend Texas State next year.

My older son John is halfway through Belhaven. His grades are good and he continues to make progress with his social skills. He has a brilliant and inquisitive mind combined with uncanny memorization skills. Like Ruth and Lawrence, he is full of love and kindness. He will often help homeless people he encounters on the streets. He knows the Bible inside out and desires greatly to be a good Christian.

Ginny really outdid herself with the decorations this year, both inside and outside the house. I must admit, her taste in Christmas decorations is as elegant as mine is garish. In the future, I will always defer to her on this. We had a big tree and a smaller one and both were as beautiful as they could be. Dozens of times throughout the holidays I stood quietly, standing alone, just contemplating their beauty and the beauty of our savior.

Christmas Day the whole family watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” reminding us to never forget the preciousness of each moment even in the face of life’s adversities. Then we opened a modest amount of presents. Everyone seemed delighted by their gifts. It was a simple, lovely time.

Christmas dinner was at my mother-in-law’s place. Dottie did a magnificent job with the meals. How lucky I am to have such a wonderful mother-in-law!

Ginny’s brother Terrell Knight was there, along with his wife Donna and son Curt and girlfriend Ellen. We talked and laughed and drank and ate. The night was full of love and friendship.

And now we face a new decade. The world is hurtling into the future. The pace of change is more rapid than ever. Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a rocky ride.

Trust and obey God. It will turn out right.

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