Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why do you love me?

It was the first weekend in May, 1997.  My brother, Dave and his wife Dianne, came with my dad and mom to Michigan for Acacia’s graduation from Hope College.  Dad wasn't driving long distances anymore; he was getting weaker.  He had been fighting type 2 diabetes for a long time, and his heart had sustained a lot of damage. 

The graduation was held outdoors and it was pretty cool, so mom and dad skipped the actual graduation ceremony, but were a part of the dinner celebration after it.  We had a great weekend of family time, playing cards and celebrating Acacia’s accomplishments.

As they were packing up and heading out the door to return to WI I hugged Dad and as always told him I loved him.  But this time he didn’t just receive my hug and declaration of love; instead as soon as I said it he responded with a one word question, “Why?”  I was taken back a bit, and said, “Why do I love you?” “Yeah, Why do you love me?”

I hugged him again and said, “Because you are my dad, and you are such a good one.”  It seemed to satisfy.  We continued on with the process of them getting into the van and leaving.

That was my last conversation with my dad.  A week later he died in his sleep on the night after Mother’s day. 

I have relived that brief conversation so many times.  It still brings me to tears today.  I’ve regretted that I didn’t say more, that I didn’t give him a long litany of all the reasons he had given me through 45 years of life to love him.  I’ve regretted I didn’t say more on a hundred other occasions.  But, I’m also thankful he asked, and I did get to say that much.

In my devotions today I read the story of Mary anointing Jesus feet at the home she shared with Martha and Lazarus.  As I read the familiar passage in John 12 I noticed:
            Martha served…and loved Jesus.
            Lazarus fellowshipped around the table…and loved Jesus.
            Mary worshipped…and loved Jesus.

In the chapter before, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so of course they loved him.  But, they loved him before that.  I wonder what their response would have been to Jesus if he had asked them, “Why do you love me?” 

Why do I(you) love Jesus?  How do we choose to demonstrate that love?  And, who else needs to know why we love them?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweet Fellowship

Charlie and Katie were in Michigan visiting Charlie's family between Christmas and New Years.  Charlie and Katie are young, in love, and Caleb and Sonja's friends.  I snagged them for a 9:30 brunch on Saturday morning, inviting Charlie's mom, Pat, to join us.

Acacia and kids were also visiting us.  Charlie was Caleb's best man and Katie stood up for Sonja, so we were all together a year ago for the wedding.  In fact, that was the beginning of "Charlie and Katie."  The reunion was great fun.

We sat around the dining room table sharing our stories, getting to know each other better and enjoying sweet fellowship.  The house was Christmasy, the music on, the food simple, but good.  I had imagined everyone would be busy and have other places to be, so I was thrilled as we lingered over food and memories of the year.

As time passed I realized I was practicing a new art of mine.  I was raised in a good Dutch home.  Normal for us was to finish the meal, women get up to clean the table and kitchen, men retire to the TV room to watch football.  I have been working for the past few years to change the mealtime culture to include more rest, more story telling, more sweet fellowship around the table.

On this particular morning I realized I didn't want to move for fear of breaking the spell of sweet fellowship.  Getting up to take dishes to the kitchen might signal the need to move on.  The grandkids were, by now, busy with the craft box making us things, the adults content to sip coffee and relax.  So we sat around those dirty dishes and the warming milk for two and a half hours.  When we finally moved Katie and Charlie washed the dishes, Al put things away, and I continued getting to know my new friend, Pat.

This was a morning kissed with the presence and peace of Christ.  A gift on Christmas Saturday.  And a success in my journey of making mealtimes sacred times of sharing and sweet fellowship.  God is good!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eyes to See

For ten days following Christmas our daughter Acacia, Diedrick(7) and Annika(5) were with us in Holland.  Joy!

One of the best times we had was going to Fredrick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.  This beautiful  garden was filled with Christmas trees decorated as they would be in  dozens of countries around the world.  There was also a desert garden, a tropical garden, and a garden through which a wonderful train runs around replicas of buildings in the GR area.

Oh the joy of watching children's faces, eyes and hands as they explored all of these treats.  The desert garden took us the longest time as they were amazed by such wonderful creations.  "Oh, look at this," and "See that, Grandma?"  So much to see, so much wonder!

They loved it so much we went back 3 days later to show Uncle Caleb and Papa, and they got to share the wonder.

The Grandparent membership was my Christmas gift from Al.  So on this first trip I received the gift of watching wonder happen.

I wonder how much joy it gives God when we have eyes to see the wonders God has wrought.  I wonder how many times each day we miss the beauty God has created for our benefit.  I wonder if we saw the newness of the coming of the Light this Christmas season, and if we had our eyes focused on the wonder of the Christ Child come into the world to reveal how much God loves us.

Lord, give us eyes to see and the discipline to seek all your have for us.  So be it!!