Old pictures and fond memories

My dad with me and my brothers, Tim and Jim, in Bowen, Ill., sometime in the early 1960s.

Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and if you are his child, then you are also an heir through God. (Gal. 4: 6-7, Common English Bible)

I’ve been scanning old family photos and it’s been an entertaining experience. Besides coming across such classic 1960s images as my brothers and I in Indian headdresses (not sure why we had those) or me wearing my light blue cat-eye glasses, I’ve found some sweet photos of my parents as young parents themselves. There’s one from the early 1960s of my dad with the three of us out in our yard on a sunny Sunday morning. It might have been Easter, judging by the rather pristine quality of my brother Tim’s suit and my dress. Jim looks like he’s about 2, so Tim must be about 4 and I would be 5 ½. Dad is looking at the camera, but he’s also got his fingers on Jim’s shoulders to keep him from wandering off. (Jim seldom stayed still for long.) It’s a cute picture, but it also reminds me of how much my family’s life revolved around the church. Dad was a minister, so I suppose that was natural. But we grew up understanding that even if Dad had been a carpenter or a farmer, we would have been in church every time the doors were open. While I may have resented it at times, I’m thankful now that my parents modeled a life of faith for us. They loved and served God and taught us to do the same. I know not everyone has had a father that modeled the Christian life, but we all have a heavenly father who has chosen us as his sons and daughters. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can know true freedom. I hope on this Father’s Day you’ll remember that God offers healing and hope no matter kind of family we come from.

Can a kitten and a Christmas tree peacefully coexist?

Tiger in the Christmas tree

Tiger liked the Christmas tree.

Well, the kitten thought so. Me? Not so much.

Perhaps I was overly optimistic. I thought that if I left the tree up for a little bit, the novelty would wear off and Tiger (our three-month-old kitten) would get used to it. It quickly became apparent that the novelty would not wear off. Tiger batted at the branches, grabbed the light string and then climbed the tree. This would be a source of endless amusement and a disaster once I started putting ornaments on the tree. So, this year, we will not have a Christmas tree. I put out other decorations (out of Tiger’s reach) and we’ll just leave it at that.

Where have I been?

My daughter, grandson and dad, with me, as we celebrate Dad's 80th birthday.

My daughter, grandson and dad, with me, as we celebrate Dad's 80th birthday.

As you can probably guess from the picture above, we had a great time celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday in May. Most of my immediate family (siblings, kids, etc.) were able to come and we had a lot of fun. It was chaos at times, but my parents were so glad we all came and I know we were all glad to be there, too. Dad got lots of nice cards from people, too, and he still enjoys them, I think.  It’s a memory we’ll all treasure.

Earlier this month, I got to spend a week in beautiful downtown Des Moines, Iowa (and that’s only a tiny bit of sarcasm you here). I was at a conference for work and it went well, other me forgetting my poster and having to recreate it. Fortunately, the FedEx/Kinko’s downtown was very helpful and I was able to do an acceptable job. I completed the ACE Leadership Institute, too, and I think it will help me in a lot of areas, as well as my job.

Now I think I’m home for the forseeable future. So maybe I’ll do a little more blogging. I know I’m going to do a couple of blog tours this summer for Robin Parrish’s new book, Off World. It sounds good, so stay tuned.

I’m finishing up the layout for Relief 3.1, and I can tell you it’s a good issue. A little edgy, but that’s OK. And I’m working on a time-travel story of my own, so maybe I’ll be able to finish that. But in the meantime, I’m trying to stay cool.

Remembering God’s Faithfulness

(This is my May 2009 column)
Psalm 77

In the early 1970s my father preached at a church in Linton, Indiana. I was just entering my teens and it was a good place for me. My brothers and I had friends in our neighborhood and there were a lot of kids in our church. What I was not aware of though, was that it wasn’t such a good place for my dad. There were good people there, but it just wasn’t a good fit and after a couple of years he resigned. I think it was the only time my father resigned before he’d been called by another church. I’ll never forget our parents telling us that we were going to be moving, but we didn’t know where or even if we would be serving another church. I think we were all a little scared, but our parents told us that God was with us and we could trust him.

My parents understood, better than my brothers and I, what the psalmist is talking about in Psalm 77. Sometimes God seems far away, sometimes we enter a desert time in our lives when the path is rocky and hard to follow. Those are the times, though, that we can say:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
(Psalm 77:11-12)

By remembering what God has done throughout history, and in our lives, we’re reminded of what a great God we serve and can be comforted. We know we can trust him because he’s never failed us.

And all those years ago, when we wondered what God had in mind for our family, he proved himself faithful once again. Within a month, my Dad had been called to another church in southern Indiana, where he would have a fruitful ministry and our family would be at home once more. And ever since, when the path seems uncertain, that time in my life reminds me of God’s faithfulness and I know I can trust him.

Happy 80th birthday, Daddy

Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. God gave me such a great dad and I’m glad I still have him in this world. He changed my diapers, let me comb his hair, baptized me, walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and then finished the wedding ceremony, and all along the way he has modeled what a Godly father should be.

He served small churches in small towns, but I’m not surprised at how many birthday wishes he’s received all over. He’s touched a lot of lives, either in churches or at church camp or in the communities where he and my mom lived. So happy birthday Dad!