Category Archives: Family

Dad, A Keeper of Memories

Kamaole III, Kihei, Maui

Image result for Maui trees free images-Kamaole III

They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness. Psalm 145:7a

“Dad, it’s your 96th birthday and we celebrate YOU,” my sisters and husbands plus grandson proclaimed before we sang the birthday song last year. This year you are no longer with us for your October 6th birthday. Instead you left gifts for us and for  your oldest daughter, these are but a few…

It was you who pleaded with your church family to pray for this crippled, mentally handicapped newborn’s healing. In the three days determining whether I would die or be a vegetable for life, God healed me. Later, you introduced me to a Heavenly Father and saw me go forward in church at the age of five to give my life to Him.

Remembering life’s experiences, there is a nut from the tree pictured above that we found after your death tucked away among your possessions. You dubbed this , ‘The YumYum Tree’. Our family picnicked with you and mom there. It was where you went many mornings for your devotions with your Best Friend.

You and I shared the love for cardinals. When you saw them, you would say aloud, “Hi, Ruthie!” When I saw them, I would say, “Hi, Dad!” When you and mom traipsed to the car to attend the celebration of your 50th wedding anniversary on a cold blustery snowy day, a cardinal sang to you. You told me later you knew although I was in Hawaii, God intervened to let you know we were entwined. Much later, the only room in your nursing home with a bird feeder was the one you last occupied. A friend kept it supplied with seeds and cardinals comforted you for me.

There is a little momentous bundle you gave me with the instructions to not open them until after your heavenly departure. Grieving has consumed me but I shall keep this appointment through a glaze of tears on your birthday with your gifts for me.

My most precious memory is when you called me Jack Junior because we are very much alike in habits and feelings. However, I most want to emulate the beauty of your life well lived for God. I shall always miss and treasure you, Dad. This daughter loves and thinks of you every day.

Father God, Thy great goodness to me is the memory of also an earthly father. You both immensely blessed me with a beautiful life. Thank you!                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Love of Two Fathers

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it–we’re called children of God!”  1John 3:1a (MSG)

Those who knew my father, Jack, saw a remarkable young man who in his 20s found the love of a Heavenly Father. His alcoholic father disowned him as a result but later welcomed him back as son. His father also enjoyed his own Heavenly Father before he passed away.

During World War II, my father served in the Army as a tail gunner in a bomber aircraft in the Aleutian Islands. One incident that impacted his life occurred when his plane began plummeting to the ground. All on board knew their lives were to end. Remarkably,the plane leveled off, ascended and eventually landed. Later a prayer warrior asked my father what happened on such a date and time and he replied he was going to his death. Her reply startled him. “At that particular time I was doing my dishes and felt so impressed to immediately go to prayer for you. I travailed with an earnest intent until I felt the burden lifted!” They rejoiced in God’s protection.

With sorrow, my father was the first one who saw me after my breech birth with a deformed body and a vegetative mind. My mother greatly suffered with the delivery. The doctor feared seeing me would be too much of a shock. The doctor warned if I lived beyond three days, I would be a non-thinking cripple the remainder of my life. My father knew that only God could intervene in my behalf so he prayed and urged the church they attended to join  him for a healing. Intense prayer prevailed and by the third day, I was a normal infant completely healed by my Heavenly Father.

As I was the first child in the family and my father later a pastor; I felt the pressures of being perfect. I was taught the law of God and  felt a Heavenly Father also  demanded it. This feeling continued when I married my husband who became a pastor, too.

As I grew older, it was my father who reflected with poignancy, “Ruthie, I taught you the law of God but wish I had impacted you more with the grace of God. I made it hard for you to accept wholeheartedly  the finished work of Christ.” To this day, his favorite song by Frederick M. Lehman is the following:

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care God gave His Son to win. His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels’ song!

“Thank you to my Heavenly Father and my father, I live freely forgiven every day in every way! No human perfection needed!”

Monta and the Spirit of Adoption

Adoption-Heart

You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”          Romans 8:15b (NLT)

“How can a woman be pregnant with hope and give birth to a young lady?” I observed Lindsay, our daughter-in-law as she worshiped and raised her hands in adoration of her heavenly Father and watched this amazing event happen in a Christian women’s conference called Designed for Life!  Through an international organization three months later she, her husband Chris, and three daughters hosted over Christmas an eleven year old girl named Monta from Latvia.

It had taken a labor of faith and love in raising the funds for that to occur.  The following summer again with fund raisers such as baking multiple loaves of bread for sale with businesses assisting in fund raising as well, Lindsay and Chris accumulated enough funds to host Monta for six weeks.

During the following year, Chris studied hard to achieve a business master’s degree while working full time as an information technology specialist.  Lindsay is a homeschooling mom and a teacher with Classical Conversations once a week.  Yet the yearning to add another daughter/sister named Monta was embraced by the entire family.  In many hours of conversing with each other and separately, Katelyn, Elise and Alison, ages 8, 6 and 3 respectively were consulted and embraced the decision to enlarge their family.

This gigantic leap of faith involved Chris and Lindsay traveling half a world away to meet with the adoption agency there and then to meet Monta and live with them there for a month as the challenging process began.  In the meantime, both sets of grandparents took care of the girls at home.  Two shorter trips were also necessary to travel there.   Monta is now adopted into a new family who love her dearly.  Amazingly although now fourteen, she looks just like her sisters!

Monta also became part of a bigger family, This past summer at church youth camp, Monta became aware of God’s great love for her.  Later, her new mom and dad had the privilege of discussing this more deeply.  She responded by receiving Christ as her personal savior, the Spirit adopted her and now she calls Abba Father her Dad!  What a tremendous joy to know she is an integral part of two families forevermore!

God, what an awesome way you lead families and all the surprises you have in store for us.  You truly design us for life here and your heavenly realm.  How can I ever thank you enough for this beauty?

 

 

 

Jessica, Our First Grand Gal

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Grandchildren are the crowning glory and ultimate delight of old age, and parents are the pride of their children. (VOICE)

Jessica means ‘the Lord’s gift’ and we, too, were overjoyed she was coming into our family!  Our church in Kihei, Maui celebrated the excitement, too, in throwing a baby shower for this Grammy to send gifts to our first grandchild.  I opened them while sharing the excitement with the expectant Mommy by phone.  A flight attendant in our church later took the boxed items with her and mailed them from her destination on the Mainland.

We finally saw beautiful Jessica when she was a month old. What joy! Sadly, though, Jessi’s Mommy and Daddy divorced when she was five years old.  We  then had little contact with her but earnest prayer continued.

One year I was a teacher component of a team of educators chosen to represent the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.  At the private school we visited, seniors were required to make a public speech before graduating. I was amazed to listen to a young lady saying,  “My parents were divorced when I was young and I have not had the opportunity to establish a relationship with my Dad.  After graduation, my biggest desire is to find my Dad and to get to know him in a deep and meaningful way!”  She was designed by God to speak on that particular day on this particular subject that instilled hope.

Years later, that speech still resounded in my heart.  Last summer after high school, Jessi reconnected with us all and we celebrated our first Thanksgiving together.  This summer she moved here to be with her Dad, step-mom and family.

We often have entrenched, negative events in our lives that weigh us down.  At times we  wonder if God really is at work in these situations.  Does He care about these heavy burdens we carry? Yes, He is at work when He seems so distant.  This may take travail and intercession.  He does delight in giving us answers.  “…We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good!” Romans 8:28 (MSG)

Remind me, God, of the saying ‘tears are a language You understand’. Your perfect will in all of life’s situations are designed with your ultimate goals at work.  Therefore I will praise and trust You!

 

God’s Family Provision

God Delights in Providing for Our Needs

So she did as she was told.  Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another.  Soon every container was full to the brim. 2 Kings 4:5,6 (NLT)

Her prophet husband had died and this widow woman was in a quandary.  Her creditor had come threatening to take her two sons as slaves. All she had left in her home was a small flask of olive oil. Elisha’s direction was strange–she was to send her two sons to borrow all her friends’ and neighbors’ empty vessels. She concurred and then witnessed a miracle that from her little flask of oil, she filled all the larger vessels gathered.  She sold  the oil and thus her bill was paid in full to all her creditors.  Amazingly, she and her sons had enough left to live debt free.

It was a bitter, freezing winter in Bradford, Pennsylvania, often temps the coldest in the  contiguous United States.  We had just moved into a new, small pastorate with two small boys.  Events began to take a nosedive.  Larry also held a full-time job with Case Cutlery but sadly, it was there one day that he cut off the tip of his finger.

Right at the end of November, I noticed that Jeff, our four-year old had a big lump under his ear that prompted a visit to the physician.  The diagnosis: mononucleosis with the worst case he had ever seen in a child. Jeff was put into a hospital  isolation room. Shortly, a  child with Chicken Pox was placed in another room and Jeff contracted this, too.  On Jeff’s release, his spleen was enlarged and could rupture so diligence was needed to restrict rough playing. We were now concerned for his brother, Chris, as well.

One day Larry called me from work and said that God had given him a promise in Revelations 3:7b (NLT) He (God) opens doors, and no one can shut them; he shuts doors, and no one can open them. We were to be encouraged by our Protector.

Money was now an issue and I had applied to the new school district with no success.  Right before Christmas, substitute jobs opened up with sometimes up to five calls.  The night before Christmas Larry went to a large store where with inventory looming, all toys were drastically reduced.  A blessed Christmas morning with toys arrayed and designed by God appeared for the boys.  (And yes, Jeff recuperated and Chris to this day has never had Chicken Pox!)

Arriving home on a snowy, blustery night, we gazed, amazed, that each step up to our second story apartment was arrayed with groceries from ministers in our section.  God had opened up the bounty of heaven to pour us out a blessing of a Christmas we’ve never forgotten by our Heavenly Father, wrapped in bows of love.

Lord when times get tough, Your care is exquisite.  You actually provided the oil of Your presence to the Biblical woman  and You will provide the oil of the Holy Spirit to be poured out for my concerns, as well. Our Heavenly Father provides for His own and I am incredibly grateful!

 

God’s Breath of Life

BreathofLifeLogo    ‘HA’ IN HAWAIIAN

And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (KJV)

“I am just so frustrated!” Jeff lamented in a couple of months after starting Maui High School. “Former courses required now I didn’t take in Pennsylvania and courses taken there have no follow-up here.  P-l-e-a-s-e  allow me to go back to finish my education!”  God was expecting our family to be divided after moving half way around the world together? Where was God now? I wailed, but God reminded me that Jeff was his son first and ours second.

A beautiful family from our former pastorate- Mary Kay, Doug and their children-Jason, Heather and Holly-graciously opened the door of their home and their hearts to our son to become part of their family. We were very happy for Jeff, but devastated to see him leave our own family unit!

A couple of days later still in shock and sorrow, I discussed this with Ulu, my teacher’s aide.  We hardly knew each other but that day she breathed comfort and astounding wisdom into me.  She replied, “We call that hanai in Hawaii and have practiced this from ancient times.  If families were large or children were orphaned or needing fostered, other families would take a child and raise them as their own.  I did that myself of having others help me raise my children.  Jeff, too, is a hanai child and being cared for by another family.”

That first Christmas, Jeff’s hanai family and we celebrated together. Exquisite was Mary Kay’s gift to us–a journal she’d written of “our son together,” glimpsing his life each day in her family’s care.

‘Ha’, in many Hawaiian words, means breath of life. God breathed life into Adam and essentially, then, into all of us. Families, too, have life breathed into them either biologically or by design. Little did we know the beauty our sons would find in their own families, designed by God, with some biological, adopted and fostered today.

You invite and adopt us into your own family, God, to live forever with you. I trust you to implant your own spiritual breath into remaining family members who need to know you as Abba, Father!

 

Daughters-In-Law and Rubies

Adoption-Heart

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her so he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV

Rubies: They are the most rarest and precious gemstones in the world! To find a twenty-caret ruby is unusual and brings the much higher price per carat than diamonds!

God exquisitely designed two multifaceted young ladies for our sons. Jeff met his wife, Nikki at Branson Tourism where both were employed.  Her pleasant personality emanated from God within to her fellow workers and guests, putting all at ease. Working as a teacher in a Christian preschool, previously, endeared her to children of all ages.  Her stepdaughter, Jessi, became a welcomed member of their wedding party.  After hearing of a homeless couple with two children, she and Jeff adopted their one year old daughter. Now fostering her two-year old brother,  hopes are high also for his adoption.   Nikki is also a nanny to another little guy the same age. Christ through her is illuminated in all she does.

Chris met his wife, Lindsay, at Evangel University where she graduated  as an English major. She became a world traveler to Russia during this time, as well, where she taught English to a group of young people one summer.  After teaching high school, she became a homeschooling Mom for their three daughters. Birthed within Lindsay and shared with Chris, was a desire to host a young lady through New Horizons for Children over Christmas.  After three trips to Latvia as prospective parents, this sweet, young teenage girl became theirs in adoption.  Beautifully prepared while waiting for their new sister with little anxiety, were three younger sisters who enthusiastically welcomed her into the Hill family. Lindsay emanated with the love of God at home and abroad.

Both sons treasure these wives. designed by God, for them. Priceless is their value!

 

Christopher, Carrier of Christ

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Footprints are visible signs of God’s beauty of design outwardly.  “I have a special birthday gift for you,” Larry remarked to my mother as he handed her a card.  There was the tiniest footprint of love manifested–Christopher’s, who had just been born minutes before on her birthday.  His name means carrier of Christ and as a receiver, his grandmother exuded the joy.

At two years old, Chris one morning faltered in his toddler steps with head movement weaving in circular patterns.  “This little guy may have a brain tumor.  Get him to the Cleveland Clinic as soon as possible!” said the  ER doctor.  Just the day before, a pilot friend of a board member had flown to Pennsylvania from Florida and generously, he transported us to Ohio.  Divine direction had orchestrated events and thankfully, Chris fully recovered.

Getting older, Chris carefully planned on broadening his interest in computer science that led him to Evangel University.  At the Assemblies of God Headquarters he is now employed as an information technologist. God directs his steps in helping to translate the love of God through social media at home and abroad.

Chris never projects himself but quietly illuminates Christ. Recently I learned of a godly impulse he had standing at the checkout counter. “Get cash back and plan to give it away.” Minutes later while exiting his car, a woman approached asking, “Can you give me some money?” “Just what would you do with the money?” he responded. She satisfactorily replied with her needs. He proceeded, “You are cared for and loved by God.  Just a short while ago, I withdrew cash knowing I’d give it away. You are the lady God wants to bless. Use it wisely.”

Family life is enhanced when God-influenced steps are taken such as Chris having daddy-daughter dates with each of his four girls,  designing a surprise anniversary date each year for his wife, Lindsay… or finding a home and furnishing it as a surprise for his parents who are retiring and moving back from half a world away.

Love extended through Chris refreshes and sustains each of us. Watching the Lord poignantly leading him allows us to be the recipients of a life well lived and directed by the Lord.