Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Releasing the Knot

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

My poor little daughter, Bis, slept in a wierd fashion on Dec. 23.  The next morning she had a stiff neck and couldn’t turn it.  Even if I gave it a little massage it wouldn’t get any better.  Poor little thing.  When she’d turn to look at something her whole upper body would have to turn – breaks your heart to see it.

Then, in the middle of the night her little voice would cut through the night.  She couldn’t move and needed help.  We didn’t sleep well on the 24th, 25th, 26th.  And in the middle of the night on what would technically would be the 27th I decided a trip to the doctor was in order…we needed to get this knot out…and…I knew what I would preach on for New Years Day.  God spoke to me.

This little girl slept between mom and dad, knotted up neck that kept her from being herself – kept her from exerting all her energies, all her power, all her joy, all of what makes her our Bis.  And in the glow of my alarm clock God made it clear that I am the same way.  I have a knot that has been keeping me from everything that God has made me to be, and it was time to get the knot out.

So I’m writing this on Wednesday afternoon after having written two letters addressed to different parts of the United States.  As I wrote them I found that my knot began to smooth out.  I released over 1,000 days of anger and resentment and rage and hurt that I’ve been harboring against a couple of people.  They will be surprised to receive a letter apologizing for sending three years of evil thoughts in their direction, I’m sure, but I felt I needed to say I was sorry.  No blame.  None of the words I dreamed up for them over the years – just one paragraph letting them know that I am now moving toward wishing them well.

Bis has been to the doctor a couple of times.  She’s turning her head both ways and starting to jump around the house and jump on the couch when she thinks I’m not looking.  She’s coming back.  I can already feel the same is true of me.

I’m hoping for some good sleep tonight.


Emotional Rollercoaster

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Hands in the air!  Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Oh!, Oh.  I think I’m going to be sick.  Nope, close, though…  Awww, I’m kind of sad.  That passed.  Weeeeeeeee!

This was my morning.  First day of school today.  Bis is now a Kindergartener and Alex is in 3rd grade.  I’m not going to lie to you.  The end of the summer was rough.  The kids were at each other’s throats and the fighting seemed non-stop.  I’m definitely a proponent of year-round schooling.

So, there you have it.  We’re not perfect parents.  Astonishing, I know.  And now, I will add to your disappointment by showing you a picture of how we felt when we realized that our kids were back in school:

Notice my nice hat.  Also, notice that my wife has a bit of a red nose.  That is because just before this picture was taken, I took this picture of her getting her last glimpse of Bis before she went in for her first day of Kindergarten:

Hanky, please.

She was fighting off tears.  I don’t have that problem, usually.  But today I got a little choked up myself.  It passed, though when I realized that my kids are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.  They are growing up, and they have new challenges to overcome and new things to learn and new things to create and new ways to think and live and be a part of the world: 5 years old and 8 years old.

What they are doing is perfect for where they are in life, and that gives me joy…they are right on target – no matter how I feel about it.  I can be scared of the unknown.  I can be excited for what I hope will come of their year.  I can be nervous of the obstacles they will encounter, but…it’s time.  It’s right.

This is the case with our church right now, too.  In two weeks we’ll go to two services, and I have all kinds of mixed emotions about that, too.  I’m scared of the unknown, excited for what I hope will come, nervous of the obstacles, but…it’s time.  It’s right.  We are exactly where we’re supposed to be, and the emotional roller coaster is moving.  Pray for us!

You Mean I’m Going To Look Like You?

Spring Break.  My kids were watching TV when I came downstairs this morning.  I was prepared for many questions like: what’s for breakfast? or when are we going to crazy-bounce? or will we see our friends this week? or can you help me in the bathroom?  But I wasn’t ready for the question that did come first.  The kids were watching the animated movie UP.  I could see that they were at the point of the movie where the old man was dealing with the loss of his wife after her death.

They heard my “Good morning” and Alex made his way into the kitchen to ask me, “What happens to us when we die?”

Ok.  Good morning.  “Well, Alex, the Bible tells us that when we die we live with God forever.”  “What about our bodies?”  Now, I’ve been struggling with teaching my children dualism.  It’s a struggle I’ve dealt with, but I just went ahead and embraced it for the moment until they are a little older and we can have a better conversation about the distinction or connectedness between the body and the soul.  “Our bodies go into the ground and our souls, our thoughts and who we are inside go to heaven to be with God…to keep living with Jesus forever…in fact the Bible tells us we’ll get a new body.”

“You mean I’m going to look like you?”

“Bad news for you kid.  The older you get the more you’ll look like me.  Take a look, buddy, because this is your future.”

Then it was back to the movie and breakfast and crazy-bounce prep.  I headed out the door to get ready for Easter and began thinking about the whole interaction.  Death lurks just beyond the next corner always, but because of Easter I don’t have to fear it, in fact the adventure only turns a page…but a preface to the rest of my time in God.

The real challenge is becoming the type of person I want my children to look like.  If they’re going to look like me, I better pay a little more attention to what they’re seeing, so that when they look in the mirror in 30 years they don’t mind passing along the type of person they’ve inherited.

Vacation Package Review

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

OK, occasionally I do a review (a book, movie, place to walk in the woods, etc.).  I’m not going to review Disney, but I am going to review the agent we worked with and the idea of getting a vacation package verses doing all yourself.

Now, we’ve put together small vacations on our own before.  It’s kind of exciting.  But you have to think of stuff and pay attention to details.  Plus, what if you think of the wrong stuff and pay attention to the wrong details.  We decided to do Disney with the help of someone who has been there (multiple parks and cruises) literally dozens of times. 

His name is Brett, and he bleeds pixey dust.  I mean this guy and his family love Disney and go there frequently.  You would really like him: he’s fun and funny, his family is lively and creative.  But, he’s already married, so I’ll stop trying to get you to go on a date with him.  He went to high school with Dana in Rock Rapids, IA and now lives in Nebraska (original home of Arbor Day).  He has a day job, but on the side as a hobby and passion he helps other people enjoy Disney.

He has the inside scoop on when Disney gives out particular deals and when is a good or bad time to go.  So, apparently, if you know how and when to get signed up you can get a deal where there’s free food.  That’s what we did.  Saved us easily over a thousand dollars.  He knew how to get us in on it.  Plus, did you know that there are a bunch of great restaurants at Disney, but you can only get in if you have a reservation…and they go in a matter of hours from the moment the opportunity opens.  Brett knew which ones to get us into (perfect for our family) and when to do it.

We stayed at the right resort for us (any more formal would have been stressful.  There were great pools and a cafeteria for quick meals when we needed them.  He asked us if we wanted him to set up an itinerary for us so we could get the most out of our trip.  We said, “heck yah!”.  And he did.  He lined up a meal the very first night where we got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and more.  Then the First morning we ate breakfast at the big castle and met all the main princesses.  This way we had met all the main people and didn’t have to wait in line for HOURS to meet them. 

He gave us tips on all the parks and which lines to get into right away because they fill up fast.  He was available via email, phone, and text throughout the trip and we utilized him a couple of times when we had questions.  I could swear the guy knew everything.  The only thing I wish we would have done (which Brett told us was a good option) was to get a “park hopper” pass that allows you to go to multiple parks during the same day. 

Three summations:

1. Brett made our trip completely enjoyable and easy…we didn’t have to think about anything.

2. A trip for our family for 6 nights including all our food and entrances to 4 parks on various days cost us less than $3,000 (including airfare)!

3. We did this whole thing with another family and had adjoining rooms – so this can work for your family reunion or larger group.

OK, this was kind of a commercial for Disney, but that’s not my intention.  I wanted to review the idea of having someone help you plan your trip, and since this was my first time doing that, and since it was a totally great experience, I wanted to tell you about it.

If you’d like to contact Brett, you can do so at this email address:

Tick Tock

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

It feels as though the clock is going backwards.  Here are the main reasons for such a feeling in ascending order:

1. I’ve been sick this week and sitting around the house, while I’m skilled, is not fun when it’s your only option.

2. Kind of tired of snow.

3. On Sunday morning we will complete a 6 month waiting period and finally go on a family vacation to Disneyworld.

There, I finally said it.  I don’t think I’ve posted anything about that on here before now.  It’s killing me.  Dana and I have kept it from the kids for 6 months.  Yes, it’s a secret to them.  Maybe you know how hard it is to keep something like that from your kids when you are super geeked and they are inquisitive, intuitive, intelligent people.  It’s hard! 

I’ve wanted to say something just about every day for the last month.  I’ve caught myself almost saying something about every day for the last month.  Plus, I made the incredibly irresponsible mistake of mentioning it in a sermon (my kids weren’t in the room).  I added about 60 people to the list of those who know and can’t let on to my kids about the trip……….excruciating!

But Sunday morning we’ll get up, I’ll go to church like normal and set up chairs, sound system, powerpoint, etc. and then return home (which is out of the norm for me).  At that point we’ll tell them we’re going on a vacation.  We won’t tell them where.  They’ll have about 1 hour to get psyched, fed, dressed, packed (backpack of fun – we’ve completed their clothes packing already).  Then we’ll get in the car and head out.  We’ll answer all questions about where we’re going with, “You’ll see” or “You’ll have to wait to figure it out” or some non-committal answer.

We’ll drive to the Grand Rapids Airport – their first chance to guess we’re headed to Disney.  We’ll head to the gate for Orlando – by this time Alex will have it figured out.  Once they guess correctly we won’t deny it.  Then we’ll arrive in Orlando and hop on the Disney’s Magical Express bus that will take us to our resort hotel (Pop Century).  Here comes the best part, the biggest surprise, and the part I’m most excited about:

A knock will be heard on our hotel room door and I’ll ask the kids to open the door.  When they do, they’ll find their good friends from Pella, IA, Haley and Skylar Hanson who will be joining us for the entire week at Disney.  They are going to FREAK!  I’m freakin’ a little just thinking about their freakin’.

Time is ticking by slowly, and it’s all I can think of.  Perhaps I should be looking forward with even more anticipation the Great Day when we shall with unveiled face behold the One who has blessed us and has made us to be a blessing.  It’s more than just wishing upon a star!

Distance Token

January 7, 2011 1 comment

Dana’s birthday was the other day.  January 5.  On the day, as is the custom of her father, a package arrived with a gift.  In the box was a small plastic ring with a princess on it.  He meant to drop it in her Christmas stocking while he was at our place, but must have missed it in the confusion of wrapping paper.  Christmas was great and the kids adored having their “Papa” with them.  750 miles is about 12 hours in the car and $300 on the plane, so we don’t see him (or any of our distance family) nearly enough.  We cherish the time we can get.

The kids especially.  Alex and Bis count down the days.  Bis kept saying, “I’m going to be five and Papa’s coming for five days!”  When he was here, she would wake him up early and played his shadow all day long.  He read to them and wrestled and napped (with snoring of incredible decible levels) on the couch while they played nearby.  Something about being his his presence that made them happy and contented.  Something about the tangible love he showed that gave them a more full sense of family and well-being.

The ring was found in the box yesterday and presented to Bis.  She hasn’t taken it off so far.  In the van this morning as we were on our way she dropped it and had to reeeeaaaach for it from her seat.  When she finally got ahold of it, she said, “I love this ring.  When I wear it I feel like I’m holding Papa’s hand.”

As a pastor I am often thinking about the flavor of worship on Sunday morning.  One of my largest desires is that people would feel the tangible presence of God.  Something about being int he presence of God that makes us happy and contented…or at least gives us the opportunity to be near God intentionally.  And there’s a more full sense of family and well-being.  When we walk out the door to be the very presence of Christ in the world I hope what they take from Sunday morning will become like Papa’s ring.  Where they say, “I feel like I”m holding Papa’s hand.”


January 6, 2011 1 comment

I’m sitting at Lemonjello’s, a local coffee shop with free wi-fi and a hip feel.  I am always afraid I won’t fit in here, but I look around and see that they’ve done a good job of making everyone feel at home.  Next to me is a mom and her two little girls (hot chocolate and cinnamon roll).  In front of me is a guy in a rough leather jacket and short hair.  He’s reading philosophy.  A grandfather type guy is a bit away.  He looks like he’s reading some history book about WW2.  Across from him…looks like a mentoring relationship going.  Then there’s a couch with a coffee table.  At the couch a young couple.  No doubt Hope College Students.

He looks like my brother, Patrick, and she looks like my sister-in-law, Katharine.  But they’re different.  My brother’s been married for a number of years and when you are around them they’re affectionate, but not like this.  These two are cuddly and overly dramatic.  This girl, 20 maybe, owns this guy.  He just doesn’t know it.  He’s wrapped around her finger.  She gives a fake pout and he crumbles with dramatic flair.  They hold hands and giggle.  She runs her hands through his hair and his chest puffs out a bit; he’s a bit scrawny, so it looks a little funny, but it must work for him because her other hand goes to his chest.  They get up to leave and he goes out of his way to carry her trash.  As he’s away you can see her smile at the two little girls.  It’s the smile that’s in between “I wish I could babysit them” and “I could see myself with these little girls given by my chest-puffing, trash-carrying boyfriend.”  He comes back and they cuddle closer while the girls dance nearby.  It’s picturesque.

I’m sure near Seattle, my brother’s life is different.  He has a great marriage, but he carries trash full of diapers and broken lamps.  His life is not lived in a coffeeshop with children dancing.  He’s got a job, and sometimes it means he has to travel for a few days away from his family.  He’s got responsibilities, and while he and Katharine love their kids, I’m guessing she doesn’t sit at a coffeeshop and see other children and daydream about babysitting them.  When they’re together they hold hands and sit close on the couch, but the chest-puffing is done and while she may run her fingers through his hair…chances are that it’s to tame it on his way out the door.

At some point the bubble pops.  And that’s OK.  It doesn’t mean the love is lost, just replaced by a deeper commitment to grace and forgiveness.  You see the pin that popped the bubble is probably a mixture of bad breath and bad hair, extra pounds and less spending money.  It’s seeing your partner in a position where they don’t puff their chest or giggle at a joke.  It’s watching your partner make a baaaaad mistake and then, after a looooong discussion running your fingers through their hair or placing your hand on their knee with a look that says, “I love you still.”  It’s seeing the dirtiest, ugliest, most secret and disgusting part of their soul and pointing to it and saying, “I love you there, too.”

And that’s what God is willing to do for us.  The bubble never existed for God.  Once the goldilocks bubble we look through to see God pops and we can honestly say, “I don’t know if I like this or that about God” then God is able to say, “OK, I understand that.  Guess what?  I love you in that dirty, ugly, most secret and disgusting part of your forgiven soul.”  And our relationship with God starts to get really good.  Really real.

Like Patrick and Katharine, but into the even deeper places where the sweetness of the water is soul-nourishing.

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