Friday, May 26, 2017

Grace and Truth, John 2:13-25

I’ve often read about the times that Jesus cleared the temple.

There were those who were trying to get rich by selling to people who came to the temple from far away, wanting to make offerings. Jesus did not approve of the way this was done.

I’ve heard it said this is an example of righteous anger. This is true, but that’s not the thought this passage is bringing into my head today.

Jesus was angry about how they were using his Father’s house. And I believe he was also angry because they were cheating people who had come long distances to make offerings at the temple. They had no choice but to buy what these sellers and money changers had to offer, and I believe Jesus was angry because people who wanted to worship at the temple were being cheated.

However, I think a lot of what he was doing at this time was teaching the disciples. In verse 17 it says his disciples remembered that Psalm 69 had predicted that Jesus would do this.

Later, when Jesus predicts his resurrection, it also says that the disciples remembered this after he rose, and they believed him.

Jesus had only a short time to teach his disciples, those who would be in charge of starting the church and finishing the Bible, which had to survived centuries to come to us today. I think he was power teaching.

I have such a crusty heart. Often when I read the Bible, it’s easier for me to see God as harsh and not notice his gentleness. I’m glad as I read this passage today, it makes me smile when I think about him “power-teaching” his disciples, trying to get in as much as possible in the short time he had with them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Family Trip

My mom turned 80 on the 4th of May. To celebrate this and Mother’s Day, Murray, all five kids, and I went to Missouri to visit her last weekend.

This included two day-long trips with six of us in a van. (Rebecca drove down from Iowa to meet us.)

Six people together twice in a van for about twelve hours. Plus all our stuff. And all our personalities.

Actually, there was a lot less bickering and squabbling than I’d feared. On the way there Saturday, I said, “I’m really having fun going on a trip with you guys.”

Sarah always encourages Murray to keep up with his “reading the bible through in a year” program. She read to him in the car to help him stay caught up.

Mom’s doing pretty well health wise for 80, but there was no way she could have seven adults crashing her house for three nights. The kids stayed at a hotel for the nights (Ping-Hwei was delighted), which just meant Murray and me crashing at Mom’s. Certainly strain enough for her.

Truly, it was a lovely time.

Mom told me about the birthday and Mother’s Day cards she got from my brothers and said, “But I didn’t get either one from you.”

I laughed and said, “I thought just getting a visit from all of us would be enough.” I knew there was still more to come.

On Sunday night, besides the bag of gifts I had for Mom, Murray and the kids had many more lovely gifts for Mom and me.

Mom’s favorite was probably the photo album with a variety of pictures of us all over the last couple of years which Sarah captioned. This has become kind of a tradition.

After Mom had finished opening everything she said to me, “You should just spank me for saying that about not getting any cards.”

We went to church with Mom, and they had flower gifts for special moms—the oldest mom, the mom with the youngest child, the mom who’d been a Christian the longest. I got one for the mom who’d come the farthest, and Mom got one for the mom with the most children and grandchildren present. I think she enjoyed taking a large bunch of family visitors to church.

Mom is going to have a new floor put in her kitchen, so she’s been packing up all her dishes to move out for a while. She figured she’d downsize some while she does that, so she sent us all home with a ton of dishes and knickknacks, some antiques.

I love Mom’s dog, Flash. He comes to me when I call. He’s twelve now, and Sarah said it was fun to play with him, “Especially since he doesn’t jump all over us anymore.”

It was good to see two of my brothers. Rodney patted me on the back when he left the house, and Mom made Jim give me a hug.

I was a little sentimental this weekend for some reason. It had been at least six years since all seven of us had been to visit Mom, and I kept wondering if we ever would again—with the kids spreading out and having different commitments.

Mom is having the new floor put on her kitchen, so she’s staying on the farm for now, but she talks sometimes about maybe moving to town someday. I got a little bit teary thinking about that.

I walked around, listening to all the familiar sounds from the home where I grew up—a calf bawling, chickens squawking, the dog barking, roosters crowing. And somehow the birdsong sounded better than in Lakewood.

Being with Rebecca tugged at my heart strings. I kept wishing I could see her more than two or three times a year. Then I remembered Mom only sees me twice a year.

On the drive home, we got to talking about the last trips the kids had come on with us. Benjamin remembered the trip for my dad’s funeral, when we got the stomach flu, and I threw up in the car.

Benjamin and Caleb then went into great detail about memories of that family sickness until Sarah started moaning.

I do love them all so.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sweet Memories

In November of 1992, I unknowingly started a tradition in our family which all seven of us have grown to love.

Murray was gone for the weekend for a work meeting, and I was home with Rebecca, two years old, and Sarah, ten months. The girls said and did so many cute things I was afraid I’d forget to tell Murray about, so I wrote them down.

We now have a notebook filled with more than 200 pages of things the kids have said over the years.

They have been such a joy to Murray and me, reminding us of things we otherwise would have forgotten. To our surprise, the kids love looking at them too.

Knowing how much young parents long for advice from older parents, we always recommend that people with small children do this as well.

I thought for fun, I’d start looking through them and picking out a few to share. If you come to visit us, we’ll be happy to show you the book itself and let you enjoy it as much as you like. We shamelessly have no doubt you will find great enjoyment in it.

November 6, 1992:

“I was holding Rebecca earlier, and she patted me and said, ‘Daddy.’  I said, ‘I'm Mommy.’  She said, ‘You're Daddy.  You're Daddy, Mommy.’"

November 7, 1992:

“This morning, I told Rebecca that I loved her.  I asked her who else loved her.  She said that Daddy did, and Sarah, and Caleb.  (This was a month before Caleb came to live with us.) I said, ‘I love you.’  She said, ‘I love Garrison.’” (Garrison was a little boy from church. Often Rebecca either said she loved Garrison, or he loved her. Murray and I kept telling each other, “We’ve got to talk to that boy’s parents.”)

“Later, I was taking a shower.  When I was done I heard Sarah crying in her playpen.  Rebecca was singing ‘Jesus loves me.’” (Trying to cheer her crying sister up.)

“I came into the dining room and sat down with Rebecca.  Sarah was in the living room, playing with some blocks.  Rebecca started stuffing chips into my mouth.  She said, ‘Look, Sarah, I'm feeding Mommy.’ When she'd fed me the last chip, she said, ‘I'm all done.’"

“A couple times in the last couple days I've asked Rebecca if she could tell me where Sarah's bottle has fallen in the kitchen.  (Rebecca would have been in the dining room, looking at me over the baby gate.) She's said that it's ‘by’ this or that.  And as I get down and feel around for it, she's said, ‘Right--right--right—‘  And this afternoon, as I obviously didn't move the way she wanted me toward the bottle, she said, ‘Right--Mommy!’ obviously frustrated.”

I do hope you find this fun, but I promise, it definitely made me smile.