Friday, June 29, 2018

The Gift of My Oldest Son

“I have a gift for you.” Ping-Hwei often says this to me, and it is always true. More than that, he is a gift from God.

If Ping-Hwei tells me, “Open your mouth,” I always trust that he will give me something yummy to eat. Other times when he tells me he has a gift, it always is, maybe the cat to hold, a toy or candy he or Murray has bought for me; it’s always something good.

Ping-Hwei was fourteen when he joined our family. He was homeless before he came to the children’s home in Taiwan, The Home Of God’s Love, which gave us all our sons. He was about ten at that time, had been living in the streets, and would never tell them anything about his family or anything else about his life before that.

He spoke very little English when he came to us, but in a few months’ time, he would no longer speak Chinese. This may be because of his disability; we’re not sure.

Although in many ways, he is childlike, in other ways he is quite capable. Murray says God has given Ping-Hwei the gift of finding things. When something is lost to everyone else in our home, Ping-Hwei is often able to locate it. We call him “the finding man.”

He insists on having a newspaper in our house; in fact he purchases it for us. He loves to check sports scores and is quick about finding ads for sales for things we need.

Ping-Hwei is a capable user of his smart phone, Kindle, and computer. He loves photographs and will often tell Murray, “Take a picture,” whether it is of a family member, cat or dog, a special dish we’re having for dinner, or something we’ve discovered on a TRIP.

He is a joker. He loves to hide things from people, especially Murray.

Once we were visiting my mother, and Murray left the dinner table for a couple of minutes. Ping-Hwei grabbed Murray’s plate and hid it in the refrigerator.

My mom said, “Don’t hide your dad’s food,” but I said, “No, no, this is a fun thing.”

Recently, Ping-Hwei said our cat Eli scratched him. He picked Eli up the next evening and said, “Kitty, don’t scratch me. Next time I’ll cook you for dinner.”

I’ll tell you how I know Ping-Hwei loves me.

Murray was out of town for a couple of days not long ago. One morning I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to make coffee the night before. When I got downstairs, I found that Ping-Hwei had the coffee all ready for me to turn on.

And he doesn’t drink coffee.

Ping-Hwei loves church, and he’s made many friends at church over the years with his huge smile and love of jokes.

He also enjoys his birthday. He will be 36 on July 1, and he has been planning his celebration for months.

I thank God for the 22 years of joy he has given me so far with my son Ping-Hwei.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Father's Day Memory

We had a gentle Father’s Day celebration this year. Murray picked take-out from taco bell for his lunch choice. He received a variety of gifts—movies, books, snacks. Ping-Hwei gave him three piggy banks. Murray calls them his hog farm.

At church our pastor reminded us of several things.

Let’s have joy, because God is our tender, compassionate father.

He encouraged fathers to bring their children to Jesus.

And he reminded all of us to be thankful for our fathers and what they did for us.

I thought about my father, Darwin Henry Fritz Brinkmann, who has been gone now for almost ten years.

As a child and teenager, I had plenty of struggles with my father, as many people have. Looking back now, a parent of many years myself, I have a better understanding of him. A greater appreciation.

As a young Christian, I found it easy to look down my nose at my father’s faith. But, this is what I know for sure. Along with my mother, my father made sure we attended church every week. I can still hear his clear sweet voice singing hymns on the pew to my right.

Dad lost most of the strength in his left arm, due to polio. But he never let that stop him from performing the daily, hard work necessary as a farmer.

Farming was a strenuous job, but he loved it. We would drive to look at crops newly sprung up, and I remember him saying, “Isn’t that pretty?”

He’d watch young animals in their first frisky movements and say, “Cute isn’t it?”

My daughter Rebecca told me one of her best memories of her Grandpa was his big smile. I laugh when I remember him doting over one of my babies, looking up, and saying, “Cute, isn’t it?”

My dad’s been dead for almost ten years, and for quite a few years before that, his health, physical and mental, had diminished. But I thank God for the lovely memories I have of my daddy.

When I was a young girl, and he and I were alone in the car, he would sing with me. He taught me songs such as “Liza Jane,” “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah,” “mare-zee-dotes,” and “You get a line and I’ll get a pole, Honey.”

As a little girl Daddy found me crying because I’d broken the head off one of my dolls. Comforting me in the best way he knew he said, “Mom can fix it.” (Poor Mom)

Two days after Murray and I eloped, my parents came to visit us. Daddy told Murray he wanted to come see me, because, he reminded Murray, I was his daughter.

I didn’t get to visit my dad on his 80th birthday—February 29, 2008—but my mom and brothers did, and Mom told me about it.

Keeping up with the jokes that went around every time he had an actual birthday, Daddy told staff at the nursing home, “I’m only twenty; I’m younger than you.”

So, though sometimes my memories seem dim, I thank God for the privilege of the father I had, and I thank him for these sweet memories.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Psalm 119:33-40, He

I’m not sure why, but this part brought tears to my eyes. The writer asked God to teach him and help him obey God’s ways—to give him delight, to spare him selfishness and disgrace, so he’d make it to the end.

Father God, I make this request too.

ה He

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sweet Memories, Fresh Laughter after Over Twenty Years

February 9, 1996: David (our exchange student from Germany) is leaving today, and he was just taking all his suitcases out to the van. Sarah asked, "How are we going to drive over the ocean?" I said that we weren't taking him to Germany, just to the airport. She said, "Oh, I'm so silly!"

(I don’t have this written down, but I definitely remember, when we were saying farewell to David at the airport, Sarah said, “Sad-bye.”)

February 14, 1996: Last night Sarah was playing in her bedroom. When Rebecca went out of the room, Sarah told her, "Close the door all the way so Rhoda doesn't come in, because she's crazy, and I don't want her to scare me."

February 16, 1996: The other day Sarah asked me what color my forehead was. I said white. She said, no it was yellow. Then she touched my chin and said that that was yellow. Then she said, "All your fur is yellow."

Last night at bedtime, Rebecca asked, "Why did God make nighttime so long?"

February 18, 1996: Our neighbor Gordon brought us a bunch of paper from cleaning out his garage this afternoon for the kids to draw on. When Sarah came downstairs, Murray showed it to her, and said, "Look what Gordon brought for you." He meant for all the kids. When I came down, Sarah and Rebecca were playing with the paper and Sarah told me, "I'm sharing some of my paper with Rebecca because Gordon brought me too much." She's very literal.

February 19, 1996: Tonight Murray was reading the Bible to the kids, and Sarah said, "If we're outside playing when Jesus comes, the real Jesus Who we can see, you know what I want to do to Him?" “What?” we asked. "Tickle Him," she replied.

February 22, 1996: The other night Caleb was laying on top of his bed. Murray told him to get under the cover. Caleb said no, he wanted to leave his bed made so he didn't have to make it the next day.

This morning Murray told Rebecca that tomorrow was my birthday, and she asked, "Does she know?"

March 4, 1996: Yesterday at lunch Caleb asked, "Mommy, do kitties turn into frisbees?"

This morning Sarah crossed her arms to hold my hand while we were praying. She said, "My arms are Xed."

March 5, 1996: Tonight Rebecca was reading stories to the other kids, and she was getting ready to read them The Three Little Pigs, and she said, "I'm scared of the wolf, but since there's lots of guys around here, I can read it." (We were all five in the dining room and kitchen.)

March 6, 1996: This morning I came upstairs panting after riding my exercise bike. Rebecca asked, "Mommy, what took your breath?" I said, "There are three kids in this house that I love; what are their names?" Rebecca answered, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." (The three Jews that Nebuchadnezzar threw into the fiery furnace because they wanted to worship the Lord rather than him.)

March 7, 1996: Yesterday we were talking about different seasons in the year. Then Rebecca asked, "When God created the world, what kind of weather was it?"

March 8, 1996: This morning when I turned on the light and woke the girls up Sarah said, "Mommy, you scared my eyes with the light."

March 13, 1996: Sarah wore a ponytailer in her hair today to school. It was still in when she got home. She told me, "I didn't mess with my ponytailer AT ALL!" But then she added, "But if I had, I wouldn't have told you, because I didn't want you to be mad."

March 14, 1996: Last night in the car, Sarah said, "Ow, ow." I asked what was wrong, and she said, "I'm stepping on my fingers. Ow, ow."

March 14, 1996: Tonight at supper, Caleb told us that, "A kid at school broke his nose off."

March 15, 1996: Yesterday afternoon, we had the first thunder storm of the year. Sarah asked, "What was that big noise?" (I clearly remember this. Her voice was so quiet and maybe filled with awe.)

The kids are playing a game right now that their kids were being bad, so they made scrambled eggs out of them and they're going to eat them. I told them that was yucky, that people don't eat other people. Rebecca said reasonably, "Well, we do in this game."

Friday, June 1, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:1-15:

This is a well-known passage, but I am thankful for the new ideas God gives me from reading it again.

Jesus was always concerned about many things.

He wanted to meet the physical needs of these thousands of people by giving them food, by showing them he is God, by showing them he cared for them.

He was also training his disciples, to believe in him, to take care of people’s needs.

And he always had to keep his mission in mind, slipping away so the people wouldn’t capture him and mess up the timing.

He was god, but he was also a man who got tired and discouraged.

Thank you, Lord, for your continuous love.

John 6:1-15:
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.