Trees Don’t Live That Long!

Today my dad turns 80!

And I just can’t resist the urge to say, “TREES don’t live that long!”

Don’t worry, he won’t be offended. We’ve said this to each other for many years. In fact, when he turned 60, I gave him a coffee mug with this sentiment and a cross section of a tree with his name on it. He still has it.

My dad is known for his great sense of humor. My sister once dated a college basketball player who unfortunately spent more time on the sidelines than on the court. A former collegiate “cager” himself, Dad just HAD to take a good-natured jab at her bench-sitting boyfriend. So he doctored an 8×10″ team photo of the poor guy, taping some broken toothpicks to his posterior. Splinters. From the bench.

His quick wit still keeps us in stitches. Two weeks ago our family gathered to celebrate Rachel’s college graduation. At lunch after church, he had us all laughing so hard that the entire restaurant turned around at one point to see what the commotion was about!

He stays active, and is an excellent golfer. He was an accomplished Air Force navigator during the Cold War years, and flew dangerous missions during a year-long tour in Vietnam. He always worked hard to provide for our family. And his stealth and generosity in picking up the tab at restaurants is legendary.

But what I admire most about him is his faith. He came to it late in life. Strong athletes and proud military men aren’t the first to admit their need for a Savior. I believe his finest moment occurred one night at the close of a Christian concert he attended with my mom. He humbled himself, got up out of his seat and went forward, with tears on his face, to accept Christ.

Tall trees don’t grow overnight. But in time that seedling began to sink its roots down deep into the Word of God. It soaked in the teaching of godly men, eventually offering its own shade in which other men could grow and learn biblical truth.

When I was going through a spiritually challenging season a few years ago, he got on the phone and shared a devotional passage that he thought might encourage me. It did. I found strength and shelter under the branches of that spreading tree.

So, Dad, on your 80th birthday, thank you. For being that sturdy tree for our family. For your service, generosity, and humor. But most of all, thank you for your faith in God and devotion to His Word.

We are so blessed that this tree has lived that long.

Tree-By-the-Water

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3, NAS)

Share on Facebook

Family Reunions

“What is the purpose of your visit?”

The U.S. customs official questioned each passenger upon their return to Port Angeles, WA. Eight family members had spent the day in Victoria, British Columbia, where we had shopped, eaten, and enjoyed the beauty of this Canadian seaport. After an hour-and-a-half ferry ride back across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we queued up to be cleared to reenter the U.S.

When it was her turn, my sister-in-law, in an unspoken plea for a hassle-free border crossing, made direct eye contact with the official. In answer to his question and as explanation for her “Do-not-mess-with-me” attitude, she offered just two words:

“Family. Reunion.”

Enough. Said.

‘Tis the season for family reunions. Thirty-five or so of us had gathered that week on the coast of Washington for a reunion with my mother’s side of the family. Time with family can be sweet. And it can also be, shall we say…stretching?

I savored the “sweet” moments…introductions (meeting our newest and cutest four-month-old family member, as well as my uncle’s wife for the first time) and reunions (reconnecting with cousins I haven’t seen in years…or decades!).

I encountered those “stretching” moments…traveling in a herd is never easy. Deciding where to eat? Next to impossible. I think most families can relate!

One evening during the reunion, however, I looked around the circle of lawn chairs as we ate dinner outside. I took in the lines of familiar faces, heard the pleasant hum of conversation, and was struck by this thought:

For better or for worse, this is my family. I belong here.

Whether by blood or by marriage, everyone partaking in that meal was related. Our stories intersect. We share common ancestors. I could see my beloved late cousin Laura in the faces of her two beautiful daughters. I could hear my grandfather’s low, baritone voice as I chatted with my uncle, his eldest son. How proud he would be to see the family which carries his name coming together.

A couple of days later, my daughter Laurel and I headed to Colorado Springs for the “Desperation” youth conference, an annual gathering of over 5,000 teens from all over the country. This was my third time attending; Laurel’s second. So it felt like a reunion of sorts.

As if to validate that feeling, one of the speakers greeted us like this:

“What’s up Desperation family? This is our yearly get-together!”

Yes, there were some “sweet” moments…soaking in the sight of my daughters (and my new son-in-law!) worshiping God together…catching up over meals with some of my favorite friends…witnessing the next generation rising up to take their place in God’s grand plan of redemption.

And there were also some “stretching” moments…bickering among the students…differences in doctrine and practice…tension from past unresolved hurts.

Just like a family.

We don’t always get along. We may not see eye to eye on every issue. Sometimes we don’t even like each other.

But we’re related, descendants of a common Ancestor.

We bear His name.

His blood flows through our veins.

If we look past our differences, we can see the family resemblance.

If we listen carefully, we can hear the familiar inflection of His voice.

We will be stretched.

It comes with the family territory.

But oh, the sweetness when we put our differences aside and come together to worship and fellowship in Him!

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

It’s a taste of that ultimate Family Reunion to come.

But until then, Church, a reminder…

For better or for worse, we are a family. We each belong here.

Let’s make our Father proud by the way we love and accept each other.

Fam Reunion

A few of the family members from our 2015 reunion.

Share on Facebook

Mother’s Day Confession

It’s time for a little confession.

My husband got me Godiva chocolates for Mother’s Day.

And I complained.

I know, I know.  It wasn’t pretty.  I told you this was a confession.  I admit the error of my ways.

But you see, I’m a Ghirardelli girl.  My husband knows this.  So when I pull a shiny package of foil-wrapped truffles beginning with the wrong letter ‘G’ out of the gift bag you can understand my confusion, right?

What was wrong was my reaction.

By focusing on the brand of chocolate in that bag I missed out on a beautiful truth:

I have a husband who brings me chocolate.

Better yet:

I have a husband.

Better still:

I have children.

Best of all:

I am loved.

At the end of Mother’s Day, or any day, aren’t those gifts more than enough?  The type of chocolate, the color of the flowers or the sentiment on the card doesn’t really matter.  It’s all too easy to miss the richness of our reality, the miracle of the moment, longing for what we think we lack.

I may not have it all.  What I have may not be perfect.

But I’ve heard it said that:

Happiness is wanting what you have.”

The truth is, I already have so much more than I could ever want.

Thank You, Lord.

Even the finest chocolates pale in comparison.

Godiva

…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… (Ephesians 5:20, ESV)

Share on Facebook