Category Archive: Family

Seventy times Seven

Our granddaughter, Gabrielle and her boyfriend, Weston spent four days with us this week. What a delight. We cherish the time we spent together. This picture was taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Floating $2 bill

We learned to know Gabrielle again after not seeing her for a few years. Learned to love Weston. The four of us laughed and talked as we prepared three appetizers for a larger get-together, each one doing his or her part in seamless completion of a task that would have taken me several hours longer on my own. We went to the beach (one day, fog; the next sunshine), enjoyed a few magic tricks, talked through some issues, shared our faith journeys with them. These are precious memories we carry forward.

I could go on writing about the ways God answered prayer this week, about times of laughter, but life isn’t one-sided. It is filled with joy and with sorrow, as most of us have learned by now.

I felt the barbs this week … again. You’d think after years of passive hostility I’d be used to it. We don’t see each other often but when we do it’s like I don’t exist. She moves away as soon as I enter the space where she is.

“I want to hate her,” I told Don, “but I can’t. That would not be Christlike.” (And that’s a choice, not a feeling.) And I don’t. But how do you or I respond when a hurt feels repeated deliberately, year after year. Somehow I don’t think I’m alone in this.

jesus saves neon signage
Photo by Patricia McCarty on Pexels.com

Jesus tells us to forgive seventy times seven. But forgiveness isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come cheap. It costs the forgiver, requiring letting go of the right to hurt back, releasing the sense of self-righteousness that can come with unwarranted animosity.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. It may take a period of time, of praying and talking and working through the issue with God’s help. Forgiveness is also a choice, not a feeling. And the choice may need to be repeated until it becomes reality. For me, the process starts with the God who tells me to:

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many

Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT
gray trunk green leaf tree beside body of water
Photo by Daniel Watson on Pexels.com

Bitterness hurts me more than it does anyone else. It blocks the free-flowing channel of communication between God and me. And then it transmits to others around us, just as these roots are spreading out beyond the base of the tree.

I think of the man I read about whose wife was murdered in cold blood. He was later able to forgive the murderer, and even to share God’s love with him. That is possible only by the power of God!

And I know my Father wants me to let this go–again. He has forgiven me for the times I’ve walked my own way. We’re told to confess our sins and be healed, so I requested prayer after church this morning. My sin was holding onto the hurt and, in the process, hurting my beloved husband. I’m still working through this one, but by God’s grace it is coming. And I realize I may have misread some of her actions this week. I hope so.

Who’s a difficult person in your life and how do you deal with him or her?

So … a week with precious memories and some hurt. Which will I allow to rule my thoughts and life? Hmmm … Amazingly, while on the Cross, Jesus prayed for his persecutors. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NLT) I know what choice he wants me to make. And after almost a week of struggle, I choose to obey.

Tea, Breakfast, and a Falcon

I walked into Lisa’s Tea Treasures at 11:02 to see my sister-in-law, my niece, and two grandnieces I hadn’t seen in about two years. Makenna and Bailey, the two youngest, still wore their “tea” hats. Bailey jumped out of her chair and ran to hug me. Makenna, becoming a young lady, stood and hugged me.

We enjoyed fresh scones and Devonshire double cream, gingerbread cookies with lemon curd, cucumber sandwiches, and salad. Sandwiches were cut in squares, triangles, a heart shape. Crocheted tea cozies covered the pots of steeping tea. The wallpaper had pretty pink roses below the chair-rail. Our cups and saucers were of finest china. Sweet music played in the background as we caught up with each other, then said goodbye until a much-anticipated reunion in Yellowstone next month.

Janae, Sheila, Makenna, and Bailey
With my niece and grandnieces

The girls’ father came to our home for breakfast the next morning. A pastor in Virginia, he was in town to officiate at a wedding. Over Don’s delicious pancakes and fresh fruit, we also caught up. We talked about the church, families, and some difficult emotions we’ve both experienced in the past year–and what’s helped us through that. Counseling, support from a loving few, and medication were all helpful to both of us and we are again functioning as we’d like. Drew quoted someone (sorry, don’t recall the name) who said, “Medication doesn’t change who you are; it frees you to be who you are.” I’ve certainly found that to be true.

Yesterday I needed to prepare for our granddaughter and her boyfriend coming to visit for five days. We haven’t seen Gabrielle in several years and eagerly look forward to this time together.

Outside Petco I met a woman who is a licensed falconer! (She’s also a licensed hawk trainer.) The colorful American Kestrel Falcon on her gloved hand was only seven weeks old and at this point, goes everywhere with her. This is the smallest of the falcons. I learned a bit about training a falcon to hunt for its prey; how many falconers there are in the United States; and that women are becoming more prominent in the field than they used to be.

Wonderful gifts from God, each of these experiences, as well as the brief conversation we had with a homeless man on the side of the road. When my eyes are open to see the joy of interacting with others again–particularly family, but also strangers who have something to teach us–I recognize …

  • The goodness and glory of the God who has led our family in varying paths, to different locations, for His purposes.
  • The privilege of occasionally helping someone in need, and
  • The creativity of the God who holds all things in His hands, including this beautiful falcon.

I wish you and yours a celebratory, joyful Independence Day enjoying the goodness and grace of God!

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. …

Psalm 145:1-3

Dads’ Day

Happy Father’s Day!

What’s your favorite memory of your father?

I was blessed, through nothing but the grace of God, with a loving Father.

I have friends who had unhappy childhoods. Abuse, sexual trauma, fear. I can understand why they sometimes have difficulty trusting God as Father.

My father loved me unconditionally. Even when he corrected me, he did it with firmness, with strength, and with an explanation of what he wanted me to learn through this lesson. His discipline usually ended with a mutual hug.

He taught me about Jesus. He wakened early to spend time at his desk, designing homes he would build; spending time reading the Bible and praying. He focused on his relationship with God, modeling that for us children.

Dad had integrity. I don’t think he ever lied to anyone.

And when someone he cared about did something that was against God’s standard, I saw Dad’s pain. Not pain for an offense against him, but for an offense against God.

One of my favorite memories is when, as a child, I sat on my Daddy’s lap in Winnipeg, Canada. Together we watched the Northern Lights flicker across the sky. While the awesome power of those brilliant, floating colored lights terrified me, I felt safe in my father’s arms.

Dad with my two older brothers, Melvyn and Arnold

He also taught me to act like a lady, and my brothers as gentlemen. Once, walking along the street, one of my brothers walked on the inside of the sidewalk. I was on the outside. We may have been four and six at the time.

“Arnold,” Dad said quietly from behind us, “don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” And I felt ten feet tall.

Yes, some of those old manners are no longer in style and it’s ok – we’re not walking under windows where garbage might be tossed out onto the street at any time. But Dad modeled his love for Mom, and for us, clearly and openly. And I think at least partly because of that, I now have three adult brothers whom I love dearly. They’ve walked with me through a difficult move away from a legalistic ministry; through the death of one husband and into marriage to another; and continue to be a significant part of my life.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven almost 19 years already, Mom one.

When I broke an engagement, Mom stayed up ’til all hours while I cried and told her what had happened. The next day Dad took me to one of his job sites. He and I had a very different interaction. Calm, logical, no tears. I needed both a female and a male perspective. I felt supported having both of them listen and feed back regarding this major decision I’d made.

When I married at age 36, my father teased me about making up for lost time by having quintuplets (which I never did!). He loved going out to lunch with my first husband because Jerry encouraged him to enjoy desserts (which Mom didn’t always approve). And Jerry passed away three years after my father did. Both losses left enormous gaps in my life.

I wish Dad could have met Don, my second husband. Don shares many qualities with Dad.

  • His integrity
  • His love for God and his family
  • His graciousness.
  • His ability to fix anything around the house
  • His love of color and making the yard beautiful
  • Their mutual experiences in construction, and
  • Don’s great love for me.

You may not have been blessed with a good father. But God promises to be a “father to the fatherless, a husband to widows.” Perhaps you need to change the word “father” to “friend”, if “father” carries a negative connotation. But as we learn to know the Father better through his Word and prayer, we understand more of his love and correction in our lives, his Father-care.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,

    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Psalm 68:4-6, NIV

Thanks for listening to my memories. I’d love to hear some of yours.

post by carolnl | | 4

What’s Love Got to Do with It

My mother showed me unconditional love in so many ways.

I came home from kindergarten in Winnipeg, Canada one day. “Mommy, I missed you. I don’t like being away from you so long.” She looked at me, gave me a hug and said, “I’m not quite ready for you to be gone so much yet either.” So I’m a kindergarten dropout–and I think I turned out ok!

Another time when I was even younger, I spilled milk on my highchair. I expected a scolding, but instead Mom grabbed a damp towel and said, “Oh well, that can be cleaned up.” I’ve never forgotten that incident although I was only two or three at the time. Mistakes were ok, they could be fixed. (However, I’m still a recovering perfectionist!)

When I made some choices in college that differed from the way I’d been raised, I was able to explain my thought process to Mom and Dad and they didn’t question my choices.

When I broke off an engagement and went home to grieve, Mom stayed up ’til the wee hours listening to me, crying with me.

We had disagreements, sure. But after my father died twenty years ago, Mom and I took several out of town trips together. Our conversations ran the gamut, from faith to family to food to movies to sex (yes!) to hopes and dreams for the future. These relaxed times together were some of our most precious.

She loved both of my husbands. She enjoyed Jerry’s humor; and treasured Don’s hugs and kisses, freely given, as well as his help hanging pictures, building shallower steps up to her door, helping move her into Assisted Living, and pushing her wheelchair when we took her out on occasion.

Mom had a beautiful, classically trained first soprano voice. She often sang solos in church, songs I remember as being part of Mom’s signature. I loved singing next to her in the church choir because her voice always challenged me, pulled mine out stronger and more controlled.

My mother is in heaven now, singing with that heavenly chorus. And I’ll bet she can hit that ‘high C’ again with clarity! She left us shortly before Mother’s Day last year. I’ve written about her before because she has been and continues to be such an impact on my life. And I miss her. Our family has been together on Mother’s Day for years. Two years ago Mom joined in the fun when we followed nephew Kyle’s example and balanced spoons on our noses! She was able to laugh at herself, and with us.

And she modeled love for Jesus Christ. Her deepest desire was to know him better day by day. To search out truths from the Bible. To see him face to face in eternity!

I’m so thankful for my mother’s presence, love and impact in my life.

blue jeans
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

I’m also thankful for many other mothers. My three sisters-in-love, Vicki, Carol Ann, and Sheila. My stepdaughters-in-law. My nieces and granddaughters, by DNA and by marriage, who are embedding core values into their own children’s lives. Some homeschool. Some support their children in private or in public schools. Some have adult children already. I love watching the interactions between some of my nieces and their children as they love well, discipline wisely, and direct the interests of their children into positive outlets. And I hurt with them when they go through difficult challenges with their children.

two woman chatting
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There are also many wise women other than my mother, who have impacted me over the years, too numerous to name. I’m grateful for you–Sunday school teachers, friends of my parents’, youth group, work and writing mentors.

And I’m grateful for the women who have become like daughters to me as I’ve mentored them in faith and life. If you’re not a biological or adoptive mother, you can still love and mentor a younger woman.

Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.

Titus 2:3-5, NET

If your mother is still alive, love her in actions and deeds, not just with words. And when her frailty provides new challenges to you in terms of time and energy, be grateful she is still with you. One day she will not be.

And if she is no longer with you, remember the precious times, the conversations, the laughter, the tears, and be thankful.

…in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:18, NET

So Moms, my hat’s off to you! Your task is a great one with ramifications that will reach to eternity. So what’s love got to do with it? Just everything!

Happy Mother’s Day!

How Do We Start the Conversation?

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there – and especially to mine in heaven, John Froese. I love you Dad!

So in this video Dad’s grandson, Drew Froese, starts a conversation with his friend Chris. Both are pastors. I love that during this time when we are very focused on racial reconciliation, the Church is starting these dialogues which I hope will continue long past the current protests.

https://youtu.be/o3yWfn4TAkc

It’s a conversation worth listening to. (And there are others found at tlc.org/reconcile, then click on “Conversations”.) When Jesus taught us to pray, He started with “Our Father …” and He’s a good good Father! But the “our” suggests that, while we pray individually, we also pray corporately – with all our brothers and sisters of every race and nationality and tribe.

He adopted you as his own children … now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ …

Romans 8:15, 17a

Let’s continue the conversation. I’d love to hear your response.

Blessings!