A Tribute To My Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad this week, because he died just before Thanksgiving, seventeen years ago. My old-fashioned Dutch dad was a stoic, hard-working farmer. I can’t remember my dad ever telling me in words that he loved me. Neither was hugging done in my family in those days. He had signature sayings like, “Life is for the living,” “If you don’t work you don’t eat,” “All I want is cooperation!” The Webster’s dictionary defines the word stoic as, “a person who can endure hardship or pain without showing emotion or complaining” The word fits him perfectly.

IMG_0675

My dad could often be a stubborn man. It was his way or the highway. He demanded that we work on the farm, and you never skipped church unless you were in the hospital. But I respect the qualities which made him so much more.

 

Love was shown in many ways other than words. One of the earliest remembrances I have of my dad, was of him pushing me in the swing. The tree which held the swing was on his way from the house to the barn. No matter how busy he was—if I was sitting in the swing it happened the same way. I just had to look at him. Being the youngest of six, and a girl too. . .  when he walked my way he took the time to give me a few pushes. I giggled and said, “Push me higher!” and he did.

Tree swing photo

The tree which had the swing

A very early memory. . .  when I was about four years old, I played with a neighbor boy, whose family rented a house from my dad. Ricky told me it would be fun to knock out the windows of a chicken coop as he handed me his extra stick. It seemed dangerous but exciting to hear the crash of dozens of square panes exploding on the concrete. Soon, the deed was told, as everything was in that country neighborhood. I stood in the back porch of our old farmhouse with my head down as my dad told me not to play with that boy again. I don’t remember my punishment, but I certainly obeyed him.

 

When riding with a girlfriend in high school, we got in a bad car accident. A farm implement scraped the entire side of the car, cutting out all the windows on my side, leaving most of us completely covered in fine shards of glass. My dad arrived at the hospital before we did. His presence spoke loudly.

 

My teenage girlfriends and I just had to go to the Easter Sunrise service way out in Bentheim, after a huge ice storm. Instead of allowing any of us to drive, my dad drove us on the thick ice at six o’clock in the morning. On the way up the hill in front of Randy Klingenberg’s family farm, the wheels just spun. He instructed us all to push the car, even in our new Easter dresses, nylons and heels. We had a lesson in determination.

 

When I was a young driver, backing out of the parking spot at home, I drove over one of my beloved farm cats. I ran inside crying to my dad. He calmly told me he would bury the cat. When he thought I wasn’t looking. . . he put the cat in an old feed sack and brought it way out in the field, making sure to bury it beyond where I ever walked so I wouldn’t see the spot.

 

I never had an official curfew time in high school, but one time I was extremely late as I tip-toed past his bedroom door. As I crossed that irritating creak in the floor that could not be avoided to get to my bedroom, my dad simply said, “it’s awfully late.” I always tried to get home earlier after that.

 

One of the few times I saw him show emotion was when my sister Audrey died at age eighteen. At one point during that first awful day, he took off in his old jalopy pickup that we called the “Sanford and Sons” truck. Gravel flew as he sped out the driveway and down the road. No one ever knew where he went to grieve the sudden unexplained loss of one of his daughters. It scared me. I never saw him drive fast or behave in that way. When we gathered in the living room a few weeks later, he announced what would be written on her gravestone. “In youth and love she sweetly rests.” Dad said so, and that was it.

 

In college, I dated a guy who I thought I could change and then we’d have a dreamy life together. One time, while I was home doing laundry on the weekend, dad came in and sat in the kitchen near me. He nonchalantly said that the boy was not a good influence on me and was a little “different.” I knew everything at that age, but thank the Lord my dad made me consider the cost.

 

Certain sayings of my dad are forever family keepsakes. Like, “Ya got that too yet then!” “If there’s food ya eat it, and if there’s not food ya don’t complain either!” My sisters and I still jokingly repeat them.

 

When I began dating my husband, he greatly approved of him, saying he was a reliable, hard worker. Dad sure was a good judge of character. When he stuck out his elbow to walk me down the aisle, it wasn’t a “tearful give away my daughter time.” He said something like, “OK, is this how I do it? Let’s go.” So funny, I loved him for that.

Myrna and Dad at wedding

Myrna with her dad

 

Grandpa K. always loved to sit and hold my babies. He didn’t talk to them but just wanted to hold them. Later he took my boys to the John Deere Days, or had them up on the roof shingling with him, so proud of those two little blondie-boys. I’m glad he lived long enough that they know who their grandpa was.

 

It was “my” Saturday to have dad, after his stroke. He was sitting in his wheelchair near me while I was doing my household chores. We began discussing my younger years. Usually, his speech was hard to understand, but he told me plainly, “Yes, those years weren’t good were they? I’m sorry they were tough on you,” with moisture clouding his view. On rare occasions, I could perceive what was behind those olive-colored eyes.

 

The last five years of his life were very difficult for him but I never heard any complaints. My dad lived a full life, traveled all over the nation by car, tirelessly worked on the farm, and loved to mix with people every chance he had. Abilities like driving, walking, dressing, bathing, and finally talking, faded. His dignity was stripped away from him in painful shreds.

 

Many years back, when my husband and I built our house in the country, my dad and stepmother gave us money to buy a special tree. We chose a Red Bud and it grew in tandem with my boys, for fifteen years. Every Spring we enjoyed bright purple buds right outside our living room window. First, the boys played under it with the dog, then mowed the lawn around it, and later it was the background for their prom pictures.

 

 

My dad had a series of strokes over a five-year period and went on to his reward in heaven when our boys were ten and thirteen years old. The Red Bud tree was a symbol of him, so it bothered me that we couldn’t take it along with us when we moved into town. One Spring day, my dear husband drove in with a Red Bud tree to plant in our new yard. As it changes through the seasons, it reminds me of my dad. It’s outside the living room window behind my mom’s piano.

Piano

The new Red Bud tree outside the window

 

Do you have a story about your dad or a special male mentor in your life? I’d like to hear about it.

Posted in Dad, Death, Family, Farming, Father loss, Grief and loss | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Listen: A Five Minute Friday post

Old Testament verses can be an encouragement from God, in our lives today. I like the well-known Jeremiah verse about the fact that he knows our life and plans. It’s a popular one to write on graduation cards or gifts for friends facing uncertain times. If you read farther along, the passage continues with a wonderful set of encouraging verses.

IMG_1481

Jerimiah 29:11-14
“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 a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD and will bring you back from captivity.”

When I am going through a difficult time, or see a friend struggling, these promises provide peace and hope.

These verses portray a picture of how much the LORD loves us, listens and answers our prayers. If we are feeling stressed out, tired, or sad, we can call out to our God and He’s there listening. If you are heartbroken, frustrated or lonely, seek Him. He promised to listen and guide us through the trials of life.

Posted in Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God's faithfulness, God's Love | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Face to Face

In earlier days, W was a robust man, full of life and energy. A talkative type who could make people laugh. He didn’t miss a beat. As a young man, he was a truck driver. When he delivered the produce to a store, there he met a pretty young lady and later they married. As the years went on, W and his wife had a son and a daughter. Their life was busy and joyful.

One day, the tides turned, experiencing great sorrow when their dear daughter died after a short stint with cancer. Part of W was forever severed. He was never the same after that dark time.

Later on, he was a car salesman. Work and life continued for many more years.

IMG_1996

Occasionally he and his son went fishing on a nearby lake. They shared the way men often do . . . sitting side by side, looking at the water. Chit-chat here and there, nothing too serious. Mostly business.

One day, W had relentless pain which intensified. It turned out to be a massive stroke. He didn’t remember the long days and nights in the hospital. Rehab was attempted for the relatively young man, at the age of 61. He laid for a few lonely years, his eyesight completely gone, one leg amputated because of earlier medical issues, both hands contorted into permanent fists. His family drifted away and he never received a visit.

W kept his faith in the Lord. Often a nurse would adjust the dial on his radio to the treasured tunes about Jesus. When a hospice volunteer came, he appreciated a psalm or prayer. Even when the words were very few and far between, he expressed his thankfulness for their visits.

W’s soul went on a journey home to the place he has longed for his entire life. Where is his soul? Where does it go when the body shuts down? The body remains, but the soul goes on an adventure to the presence of the Lord. Now he’s at peace. His hands are limber and whole, his body restored, he’s viewing the glorious colors of heaven. Today he sat with his daughter overlooking the glimmering sea.

W now enjoys the radiance of his Savior . . . face to face.

Posted in Death, faith, God's presence, heaven, hospice | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Legacy of Words

My great-great-grandfather Cornelis deBruyn wrote a summary about his family’s dangerous crossing from the Netherlands to America in 1889. My grandpa John Volkema compiled a journal during his military service in WWI. We have an auditory account of my uncle Art Volkema’s service in WWII, and his survival when his ship was bombed by Kamikazes. My mom kept thirty-three years of diaries about her daily life. They knew the importance of words and wanted to pass stories down to future generations.

9

These dear relatives left a rich heritage to treasure. I will pass them on to my children and future grandchildren and beyond. It’s important we don’t forget the lessons of the past and they enrich our lives for the future. The most important thing about these accounts is the clear commitment to our Lord Jesus, and the faithfulness of God.

 
The written word was so important to God, that he gave us the Bible. It was recorded by over 40 authors who wrote during a 1,500-year period, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is regarded as a highly reliable book by Christians and historians alike.

 

God used words to create.

 

Genesis 1 – All God had to do was speak, and light was created, then countless other things formed at the sound of His voice.

 

Each author of the Bible wrote at the direction of the Holy Spirit who “breathed out” Scripture to him. Peter explains this process:

 

2 Peter 1:21 – “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

 

2 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

IMG_1748

There are many references to writing, words, speaking and relaying messages in the Bible. It is amazing that the Holy Scriptures are God’s actual words for us to read. Many words were first passed on by way of songs, poetry and spoken word. He didn’t rely on speaking alone, which could evolve over years of repeating. God loves us so much that He revealed Himself to us in the Bible so we can have unchangeable written words to know Him intimately.

 

There are several places in the Bible where God talks about speaking and writing “it” out for future generations. Here’s a few. . .

 

Exodus 17:14 – “. . .Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write on this scroll as something to be remembered’. . .” God instructed Moses to write the account of the Israelite’s journeys for future generations to remember.

 

We can have complete faith in God’s word because He has proven Himself trustworthy. When Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled many prophecies from the Old Testament.

 

Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel. . .”

 

God shows his concern for accurate speaking and writing to make things clear to people.

 

Habakkuk 2:2 – “Write down the revelation, and make it plain on tablets, so that a herald may run with it.”

 

God is the very essence of the words.

 

John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

 

He writes on the tablets of our hearts.

 

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 – . . . “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

 

The apostle John was told to write his visions.

 

Revelation 19:9 – “the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. . . these are true words that come from God.’”

 

God is interested in what we speak and write. We need to let Him infuse His Holy Spirit through us so that we are conveying what He desires. We must be careful, because words can uplift, or they can tear down. Our words today are not the inspired word of God. The Bible is finished. But they are words given to us by the Spirit of God which can be used to inspire and encourage others to dig deeper into the Bible.

 

I am blessed with a legacy of faith and writing from relatives, and from God.

110

Posted in ancestors, Ancestry, Bible, faith, Family, God, God's faithfulness, God's Holy Word, Holy Spirit, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Great News!

In a few months, Lord willing, I will be able to unveil something very exciting! I have worked on a book for the last several years. After the loss of my mother as a young girl, for many years I carried around the “call” to write about it. The book will give hope to those who go through the loss of their mothers, or the loss of any loved one. It is part memoir, and contains stories based on interviews with brave women telling their mother-loss stories.

 

God has been faithful and helped me to form and finish the book. There have been many twists and turns, disappointments, trials and joys during this process. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit led me through all these to accomplish the task. I’m working with a publisher to polish and refine all the details.

 

IMG_2634 (2)

 

The question in my mind is whether it is ready. Is it as good as I can make it, or is there something more which needs to be done? Is it finally the right time?

 

 

I’m thankful to my blog and devotional readers, my friends, my husband, prayer warriors, interviewees, and mentors, as they each cheered me on and supported me. They encouraged me to press on toward the goal of the upward calling of Jesus Christ.

 

Many more details will be coming! All glory to God!

 

IMG_6620

 

 

 

Posted in Family, God's faithfulness, Grief and loss, Holy Spirit, Hope, Mom, Mom's legacy/diaries, mother loss, mother-child connections, Motherless Daughters, Mothers and daughters, New Book 2019, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Doors of Motherhood

(Six years ago, I wrote a similar blog story. I revised and improved it for Mother’s Day week, 2019. I’m amazed how much I’ve changed in my life, and in my writing. This is somewhat of a free verse poem or story. These are some situations I’ve experienced being a mother of two sons. Maybe you can relate to some of them.)

 

Moms walk through many doors during motherhood.

 

One day the evidence is conclusive. You run through that door to exclaim your joy. Yellows and greens. Hopes and dreams.

 

The door of your doctor’s office. The ultrasound room a delightful threshold. Anticipation. Waiting. Faith.

 

The door of the birthing room. Sharp pains forgotten. His first cry. Staring at him counting fingers and toes. Sleepless nights. Blue bibs and blankets.

 

Bright colored doors . . . the first step he takes. Blocks and trains. Lego airplanes hang. Songs and prayers. Sitting in the steamy room while he chokes out his cough.

 

IMG_8078

 

Welcoming children into your home. Applauding each stage. Books and Bibles. Trikes and sidewalk chalk. Diapers and laundry, your days are filled.

 

The Kindergarten door . . . Crayons, swings. Be kind. Bible School and summer camp. Scraped knees and playing catch. Bicycles.

 

The door of the sporting event . . . the camera charged up. Shoes squeak across the floor. Knee boards near Lake Michigan. Shivering under beach towels. Skateboards and monster trucks.

 

Your slider door. Laughter and hollering of school boys in your backyard pool. Pizza and soccer. Smelly socks and dirty dishes. Smiles and arguments.

 

Slamming doors. You hope to get through the stressful days.

 

Now the bikes have motors. Homework and girls. Snowmobiles roar. You pray like never before.

 

Pushing the hospital door open. Your heart can barely stay in your chest with thankfulness. The car demolished. He’s walking beside you without a scratch.

 

The door of the high school gymnasium . . . on graduation day. Tears of happiness and bewilderment how fast the years have flown. Fear, wondering if you’ve done a good enough job.

 

The door of the first dorm room. Building the loft with power tools. The ride back home in tears and silence. They tell you, “You brought them up to let them fly!”

 

 

Guilt, not feeling the way you think you’re supposed to feel. The heavy blanket holds you down.

 

The front door of the condo. The first home he buys. You’re proud of him but you know this is the most definitive door you’ve ever passed through. The end of an era. Your heart feels tangled.

 

Thankful and deeply sad at once. You know other moms have had much more pain in their lives. You know the expectations. Part of you wants time to go backwards.

 

The door of his car closes. He’s drawn to the mountains out west. He waves and has to go.

 

You’re told the empty nest is grand and wonderful. Adjustments and time necessary, no matter how solid the marriage.

 

A mother for many years, you learned what to do. The end of the care-taking season in mothering. How to climb from summer to fall. Not sure of your identity now.

 

The door of a downsized home. Hobbies and vacations. Roles evolve. Experimenting with purposes in your life.

 

Finding new ways to glorify Him, doing what you can for the Kingdom. Discovering a new season. A quiet home.

 

Now a support role, prayer warrior, letters, texts and phone calls, holiday meals simmer. Still cheering them on. You look up and see a child in the grown man’s eyes.

 

Shades and hues of your doors are different but similar to mothers world-wide.
The kindergarten door, the dorm room door, the condo door . . . all strangely alike.

 

IMG_8067

You lift your eyes. Older mothers are waving you on through.

 

“See that bright point? Here’s a walking stick to borrow!”

 

There are more doors ahead . . .

 

 

 

 

What are some doors of motherhood you’ve walked through?

Posted in bringing up men, Family, love your sons, Memories, Mother's Day, mother-child connections, young men | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

LACK: A Five-Minute Friday Post

Lack.

 

This word reminded me of the first verse in Psalm 23, I will not lack anything. But I have some verses from childhood days of old, packed away in my head. In those olden days, we usually used the King James edition of the Bible. I have Psalm 23 basically memorized, (with some occasional confusion), with the words, “I shall not want.” You know, I always used to think that verse meant, I “shouldn’t want,” or something like that. Actually, it means that the Lord will take care of me so well, that I will not be lacking anything that’s needed. He knows my requirements and watches over me.

 

No matter where I go, what I do, or how bad things look, He will always provide for me. Certainly He won’t always give me what I want! But I will have my needs met. Sometimes the world and my situations look awfully dark and scary, but He is sure to provide His presence if I ask. He has all the hairs on my head numbered, he turns the darkness into light as He upholds me with His righteous right hand.

 

God will do the same for you. Trust Him. He loves you and you will always have everything you need. No, I’m not speaking about a prosperity gospel – you are promised in the Bible that you will have trouble in this world, but when you pass through the waters or walk through the fire, He promises to be with you.

 

IMG_3641

 

***

 

Here’s Psalm 23 in the King James version of the Bible. I never use it anymore, but sometimes it’s pleasant to look back. Maybe this sounds familiar, or maybe you’d like to memorize it. It’s only six verses.

 

Psalm 23. A Psalm of David.

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

***

If you’d like to read other Five-Minute Friday stories from some awesome authors, click here.

 

Posted in Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God's faithfulness, God's presence, trust, trust in God | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments