Category Archive: Family

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!

He Sets the Lonely in Families

I’ve never given birth. Never held a child of my flesh in my arms or watched him or her grow up.

Nevertheless, I am a daughter. I was blessed with a gracious, loving mother as you know if you’ve read my last few posts. And while Mom left us for heaven five weeks ago, her impact will always be a part of my life, my character, my memories, my heart.

My beautiful mother with about half of her great grandchildren!

I have three sisters-in-law, all mothers whom I love and appreciate.

One copied an entire book on grief that had been a help to her, and which was out of print at the time of my first husband’s death. I had the privilege of reading this and of seeing notes my sister-in-law had written in her copy when she needed it. That book, A TEARFUL CELEBRATION by James Means, is still the one I would recommend first to anyone grieving a significant loss. I just reordered it at https://www.amazon.com/Tearful-Celebration-Finding-Midst-Loss/dp/159052683X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=james+means+a+tearful+celebration&qid=1589240550&sr=8-1I

I’ve had meaningful conversations with my second sister-in-law, who lives out of State. She has been a model of sweet acceptance following the limitations of a stroke she had six years ago. Don and I have traveled with her and my brother and have enjoyed seeing different parts of our world together. We’ve also loved hosting them in our home, talking and playing table games in the evenings.

And the third, who lives near me, has been generous both in her love and service to Mom, and in encouraging me to spend as much time with her children as I wished. Never possessive, always protective, she invited me to invest in her children’s lives, never resenting time they were with me. What a gift!

These three women are mothers to some of the best nieces and nephews I could possibly want. Phone calls of love after Mom passed away, precious times spent together, sharing deeply of life, memories, hopes, challenges, and coping mechanisms, occur especially now that they are adults and raising their own children. And hugs (before they all became virtual). Did I say hugs?

So my hat’s off to you, Vicki, Carol Ann, and Sheila. Thank you for loving me enough to share your thoughts, conversations, and children with this auntie.

And when I married Don I inherited five adult stepchildren, whom I love. I treasure their children and our darling red-headed great-grandson.

I have girlfriends who are mothers of wonderful children. I have girlfriends who, like me, have not been biological or adoptive mothers. Some of us have the joy of mentoring younger women. Others are involved in their churches and communities in a variety of ways. But we’re all linked to family somehow–as a child, a parent, a sibling, an aunt, a niece, a grandchild, or a mentor.

During this pandemic, many of us have been reminded anew how much we need and value loving relationships, family and otherwise, closeness which is having to take different forms than in the past. But God had a purpose and a plan when He “…sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6a)

Blessings to all mothers, and to the families who birthed, love, encourage, uphold them!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

I John 3:1

What’s a special memory you have of your mother?

My Redeemer Liveth

Sadness has shrouded my spirit this past week. While I’ve been glad that my mother is free of the restrictions of age, while I am thankful for the hope we have in Christ, I’ve missed Mom deeply.

Quite a few years ago Mom put some of her recorded songs on a CD for the family. Among them are her solo of “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth”, along with trios and duets between Mom, my older brother Arnold, her sister Mary, her brother Irvin, and me.

Mom, Irvin and me

After a welcome nap this afternoon, Don put on that CD–the first time since Mom’s passing. We sat, held hands, Paigey between us, closed our eyes and let Mom’s beautiful voice flow over and around us. Memories flooded my mind. Mom, Mary and I around the piano at my parents’ home. Arnold, Mom and I singing together, Mom’s clear soprano, Arnold’s strong tenor and my alto. Irvin and Mom dueting.

I grew up listening to my mother sing, at home and in church. She taught my older brothers and me parts and as we drove across the country we would sing four-part harmonies.

So listening to her CD brought back wonderful memories. I realized that in her last years Mom had lost much of what she loved … Dad, her ability to sing, her hearing, her desire to sew. She so longed to be with her Savior, to see my father again, along with her parents, brother and others who have preceded her in death.

Listening to Mom today, I felt some healing inside. Oh, tears will continue and I will miss Mom every day. But I realized she is just where she wanted to be, free of any constraints and rejoicing in the presence of her God and Savior.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which we celebrated this weekend, we can be confident in His love for us. We can be forgiven and share in eternal life with Him. This is the truth Mom sang about in “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth”. It is the testimony of her life, and what gives me hope even as I grieve.

One of my mother’s favorite scriptures was Psalm 143:8.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.”

I’m feeling hopeful again tonight. May you be blessed as you put your trust in the God of the universe, the Redeemer who lives forever.

Togetherness

Two weeks until Super Bowl Sunday … and yesterday our 49’ers fought their way into the SB game. Some of you may be delighted that KC is the other team entering the fray for February 2nd.

It was an exciting day, with my mother, brother and sister-in-law and one of their sons’ families here.

As we watched and cheered and sidelined the plays, we also visited. I enjoyed some conversation with Mom and saw her reading to her great-granddaughter on the couch.

Kyle, Don and I enjoyed time together before the others arrived. Sheila, Heather and I talked about how life might change for Heather once her Cadence starts kindergarten this Fall, and some of what Don and I have been discussing regarding priorities.

I am grateful for events that bring family and friends together … whether it’s a bi-weekly Family Night, as we generally celebrate with those of our family who are still in the area; a football game, or Super Bowl; or a special holiday; or even when someone is ill and others draw alongside to comfort, encourage and help. And I recognize that in our world we have many opportunities for such gatherings to which individuals in other countries and cultures may not be privy.

God has given us the family as a wonderful system of support, encouragement, accountability, training and love. Because of evil in the world, the family often breaks down into abuse, dysfunction, greed. But when family members love and care for one another, the relationships are a tremendous gift.

And there’s another Family God has given us.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure.

I John 1:1-3

Amazing to think that when we trust Christ we are called children of God, and are therefore brothers and sisters with each other. This family, too, can become dysfunctional. Selfishness, greed, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, all enter at times. Despite the forgiveness and grace of God, we are still sinful persons in process of becoming like Christ. And we are challenged to forgive and receive forgiveness, to restore relationships because of God’s great love and sacrifice for us. To be freed of the guilt of sin, the shame of hurtful actions, is an amazing gift.

Last Wednesday and Thursday I enjoyed an overnight get-together with six delightful women with whom I was in a Bible study for several years. Half of the group has moved away from our area, so this was a rich and fun time to be together. We laughed and commented on fashions and interactions as we watched the Downton Abbey movie; as five of us converged on one bed Thursday morning to chat; and as we opened our hearts to share a rich time of sharing and praying for each other. Another wonderful gift!

So today I’m thankful for both my families–the relations by blood and by marriage, and those I received by entering the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I pray that I will be willing to ask for, and to give, forgive-ness in both; and to humbly receive forgiveness offered in love. And that I will rejoice in any opportunity to be with either or both families for the purpose of encouraging, strengthening, and loving each other.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

What’s a special tradition you celebrate with family or friends?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2019 has been a year of contrasts, from the horrific fires and losses in California to the joy of seeing massive, snow-bathed peaks of the Canadian Rockies. From turmoil within our government, from persecution of people of faith around the world, to the joy of family love and care.

We’ve experienced the joys of first birthdays of a great grandson and a grandnephew, graduations, visits with family and friends.

We’ve experienced loss and concern for loved ones. My ninety-year old aunt fell and is in hospital in Canada–how I wish I could visit her! And I just got a message that my sister-in-law passed away.

We’ve visited family and friends across the country and traveled through the Canadian Rockies, built part of a school in Mexico, worked with third grade children in Kids’ Club, and enjoyed relaxation at the beach. I delighted in a girlfriends’ weekend as well as a meaningful reunion with women I hadn’t seen in 38 years.

Beautiful Botanical Gardens in Virginia
Columbia Ice Fields, British Columbia, Canada

We’ve had the privilege of having Mom with us for another Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, despite her significant loss of hearing and reduced mobility.

Mom with my brother Arnold

I’ve struggled with weight, losing, then regaining some (not all, thankfully!). My Don has remained strong and healthy although he tires more easily than before.

Through it all, God has been faithful to His promise never to leave nor forsake us; and to give us the hope of heaven, as well as a future while we are still on this earth.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

He has promised to finish the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6) and so, even when I stumble or fall, I am grateful for this assurance. I am His, now and for eternity.

I’m grateful for you who read and encourage me in my musings, for the privilege of writing, for the research that makes me more and more thankful for God’s faithfulness to my family through several generations as my grandfather took his family, including my father, out of the Ukraine at the end of the Bolshevik Revolution. It was 1929, and about 15,000 Mennonites (conscientious objectors and people of faith, both anathema to the Communist machine) waited in Moscow, praying for exit visas to leave the country and retain their freedom of conscience. Of those, about 5,000, including Dad’s family, were granted visas. The rest? Sent back to their villages, executed, sent to labor camps in Siberia, families broken and separated, never to hear from or see each other again in this life.

So my wish for you is a healthy, meaningful, productive year in 2020, one in which you enjoy and rely on the promises of God; and that you and I will both deepen our walk with Him.

“… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Philippians 1:6

Happy New Year! God bless us, every one!