Category Archives: Family

Sarah Goes to College

When we first moved to this house in Lakewood, Sarah was two years old. I remember her curling up on one of the empty shelves on a bookshelf as we were moving in — a little nook just her size. Now she is 18, and my youngest daughter lives in a dormitory at a college some 2000 miles away.

Sarah always loved finding little 'nooks' in which to relax while we moved from the Duckabush to the 'big city'.

Sarah always loved finding little ‘nooks’ in which to relax while we moved from the Duckabush to the ‘big city’.

As the ‘baby’ of the family, Sarah has had ample opportunity to watch her older siblings leave the nest, and has grown in grace and in maturity far beyond her years. Just seventeen months younger than her brother Dave, she has always been his special ‘buddy’, but has also worked hard to forge and maintain deeper relationships with each of her brothers and with her sister. Like many teenagers, she has the capacity to sleep past noon. She loves coffee and creates colorful beauty wherever she goes. She fills our house with snarky comments, laughter, joy and singing. She listens to us carefully with a teachable spirit, while still not missing a chance to quote us in our silliness, like the time Kathy told me, “Tim, you’re the worst!” I can’t decide which I’ll miss most: the piano playing and singing, or perhaps the teasing and clever wit, now that she is away at school.

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Sarah chose Union University, a Baptist-affiliated Christian college in West Tennessee. She received a generous scholarship, and has been working hard to raise the additional money needed to cover tuition, books, room and board. On Friday, we moved her into her tiny dorm room, and attended ‘crying chapel’ with her as we committed her as a young adult into the hands of God. We are so excited for her, and look forward with great joy to see what God will do in her and through her in these next years.

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Rachel and Tim were able to join us in celebrating Sarah, driving 7 hours from Louisiana, and Daniel and David (who live there in Jackson, TN) were also very present in shopping and assembling dorm furniture, carrying suitcases, and generally making much of Sarah’s first day on campus. It seemed right and fitting, since Sarah has been there for many of her older siblings, as they have launched into their college years. Even cousin Rebecca and dear friends Karis and Jeremiah were able to join in the fun.

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It was especially sweet to gather in Sarah’s dorm room on Saturday night to pray for her and to say our goodbyes. We were supposed to have left campus on Friday, but gave ourselves an extra day since we live so far away. I’m sure she was both grieved and relieved to have us finally depart.

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Sarah is a deeply compassionate person, loyal and kind. She is also an excellent student, and very bright. I’m not very worried about her doing well in college because of the solid patterns of study and excellence she has laid down for herself as a home-schooler and in the Running Start program at a local community college. But she is also sometimes reserved and can take time to form deep friendships, so we are praying especially for her relationships with her roommates and classmates. She chose to join the Honors program, and we have high hopes that the Honors community will welcome and befriend her, in addition to the friends she makes through other classes and activities.

It is hard to believe Sarah is not my 'little muffin' anymore.

It is hard to believe Sarah is not my ‘little muffin’ anymore.

We are so proud of Sarah, and honor the godly young woman she has become. As she reinvents herself in these formative college years, we are confident that she will remain rooted in the tradition and legacy of our family and of the family of our God. Maybe she’ll call her old ‘Pa’ sometime this week and laughingly quote, “Dad, you’re the worst!”

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Sarah Passed!! Project 100 – Day 1

On Thursday Sarah passed her driver’s ed driving test – the last step of her driver’s education program. Wow! Such joy and relief!! Sarah is an incredibly careful and cautious driver, and she gave great attention and time to the work for her class, spending hours on her homework and logging drive time. Can NOT believe my youngest is 16 and can get her license in 6 months!!! Proud of you, Sarah!!

Beautiful driver-to-be

Beautiful driver-to-be

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‘Til Death Do Us Part

Last Sunday, our oldest daughter Rachel and her fiance Tim were married, in the sight of some 350 witnesses, and in the smiling presence of the Lord.

The beautiful couple!

The beautiful couple!

It was a beautiful, glorious and fun wedding, abounding in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Rachel and TJP (have to keep all the Tim’s straight) were gorgeous and handsome (you can figure out which was which) and their joy (and that of their friends and family) could be palpably felt throughout the ceremony and reception.

Typically, every wedding has at least some minor disaster, but if there were setbacks, they were easily conquered. The enjoyment of the guests was only rivaled by the smiles on the faces of the wedding party, as each vied with the other to be the most gracious. Our own Pastor Jim conducted the service, and Kelsie (Josh’s beloved wife), Ray (father of the groom), Lizzie and Tarah (sisters of the groom) all sang, with James (the son I never had, but always wanted) accompanying on the piano. Benaiah (sweetest grandson ever) was the ceremonial ring bearer, and Deborah and Anna (two of Tim’s cousins) stole the show as flower girls in their own miniature wedding gowns.

It is perhaps not surprising that Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding reception, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb is the name given for our eternal celebration, when we at last can live with God, enjoying His presence forever. If there is one thing that God approves, it is the permanent joining of a godly man and a godly woman in Holy Matrimony.

"I do!"

“I do!”

We had intended to have the wedding at our own church, but the renovation project of our sanctuary didn’t finish on time. So we cast about and found a nearby church that was willing to let us use their building. We sort of expected for them to be difficult to work with, since we weren’t members at their church, but instead they bent over backwards for us, helping us to coordinate the wedding, letting us have early access to the gym, and providing volunteer servers to help with our reception. Truly, it is good to be part of the family of God.

It is a difficult thing to give a daughter in marriage. Rachel is hardworking and frugal, so the expenses were less than I expected, and several relatives and friends helped considerably with the costs. No, the difficulty comes in handing over the care and protection of your little girl to another man. Even though I have known TJP for much of his childhood and young adulthood, there is still a terrifying moment when one stands on the precipice and looks over, wondering if this man (about to marry your daughter) will cherish her enough to make her happy.

And away they go.

And away they go.

At the end of the day, I had a few moments to reflect on the whirlwind sequence of events, and I remembered that the same God, who has walked Rachel down the aisle of her life, continues to walk with her as a grown woman and a wife. Although my stumbling role in her life has diminished considerably, God will continue to work in and through both Rachel and Tim, and will present them to Himself as radiant offerings of praise. I think I can live with that.

As a Papa, I do want to remark on a few things that made me very proud:

  • I was deeply impressed with Tim’s groomsmen. As the Japanese proverb says, “When the character of a man is not clear, look at his friends.” They were obviously solid, godly men, and they represented phases of his adult life beyond what I had observed. Knowing that Tim’s integrity and character were consistent over the past ten years really made me less worried about giving him my daughter’s hand.
  • I was so proud of how Rachel and Tim conducted themselves toward their guests. Some brides are so intent on being the focus of the event, that they treat their guests as second class citizens, but Rachel and Tim took every opportunity to give glory to God by making our friends and family the focus of their own efforts. They took nearly all their pictures in advance, so the guests didn’t have to wait before the reception. They released the ceremony attendees by rows (while sitting) so they didn’t have to stand in line to pay their respects. Even during the reception, Tim and Rachel played a fun shoe game that focused on the entertainment of the guests, rather than a self-serving activity.
  • If the shoe fits...

    If the shoe fits…

  • After the reception, Tim and Rachel snuck back to our house and spent a little more time with their groomsmen and bridesmaids, giving our family a final chance to say goodbye. It really helped me to have peace about them driving off into the sunset, as a married couple.
  • One of the best parts of the weekend (and indeed, two of the best days of my life) was listening to the toasts at the rehearsal luncheon. Several of my children spoke (along with most of the groomsmen and many of the bridesmaids) and each of them had memorable and profound things to say about how God has worked in Rachel and Tim’s lives. Then the next day, Joshua, Karis and Jenny each touched our hearts again with their speeches at the reception. As the Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

But how can we let our little girl go? How can my little Gingersnap be all grown-up, swooped thousands of miles away, starting her own life with TJP? Who will serve as our “riot leader”, watch Mega Mind with David, and giggle with Sarah late into the night? Who will talk fashion with Daniel and push him in making good choices, or provide Kathy with a shopping buddy and a steady supply of coffee beans? Rachel has often been the hub of activity and relationship in our home, and her bright love and ready laughter will be sorely missed.

My little girl...all grown up.

My little girl…all grown up.

Now they are in Florida, where TJP will soon graduate from his Air Force training; then on to Barksdale Air Force Base, near Shreveport, Louisiana. Having Rachel home for the summer was pure gold, but now we’ll have to scheme and plan for time with the newlyweds, as they establish their new identity as a family of their own.

A toast to the bride and groom!

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A Golden Birthday

According to the interweb, a ‘Golden Anniversary’ is when a couple celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary. My parents celebrated theirs five years ago, to much fanfare and family enjoyment.

But according to my beloved wife, a ‘Golden Birthday’ occurs when your age in years coincides with the day of the month you were born. So, for example, my ‘Golden Birthday’ was the year I turned 8, since my birthday is on the 8th of the month.

Parenthetically, it really was a ‘Golden’ day. It happened to fall on Columbus Day, which (at the time) was celebrated as a holiday in the city where I lived. School was cancelled, and we spent the day touring the many attractions of the city. Although I knew, intellectually, that it was the holiday that gave everyone an excuse to celebrate, I couldn’t help feel that, if they really knew, the people of New York City were celebrating my birthday.

So, if you were so fortunate as to be born on the same day as the number of your month, then I imagine you could have a ‘Platinum Birthday’. For example: someone who turned 11 on the 11th of November.

And I suppose if the years and the time of your birth lined up such that you turned 9 on September 9, 2009, then you’d really have it made. Maybe you’d call that your ‘Californium 252 Birthday’, since that is the rarest and most valuable metal?

Fascinating as this study of precious metals may be, today we studied (and enjoyed) a very precious person, more valuable to God and to us than his weight in Californium 252. Today, my youngest son David turned 16.

It was a pretty good day. Due to some late-night work last night, I was able to work from home (usually I am in the office on this particular weekday) and so I was able to take David to take his ‘Road Test’ at the 911 driving school. Passing with flying colors, David and I celebrated with a tasty lunch at Subway. We ordered his driver’s license online, opened presents, and celebrated David as much as we could, considering he has a cold and a difficult Algebra II exam that he had to take and submit today.

Scoring an impressive 96%, David may have outdone us all in driving prowess.

Scoring an impressive 96%, David may have outdone us all in driving prowess.

This evening, Sarah and David drove to Albertson’s to buy Kathy some grocery items. To some parents, such an errand may not seem to have any significance, but Kathy and I have been through this a few times already — we know what happens when a teenager gets their driver’s license. Suddenly, the world is their oyster, and they find many opportunities to enjoy the freedom of the road. It can be a very poignant time for a parent who is already reeling from the abrupt departure of three older children.

But who knows? David is, in many ways, a very unique young man — he makes his own way and doesn’t follow the usual rules of being a teenager. Maybe he’ll drive when he needs to, but will still find ways to hang out with Kathy and me and Sarah. Time will tell.

Tim

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My Sons, the Comedians

For one reason or another, we like to laugh a lot in our family. Kathy and I have always keenly enjoyed each other’s sense of humor, and we’ve tried to incorporate a love for laughter into our children.

It may be that we have succeeded a little too well.

On Monday, I made some hard-boiled eggs in Kathy’s swanky Insta-Pot. We generally mark the eggs with a Sharpie so that people don’t try to scramble them for breakfast. Sometimes, if Kathy is feeling particularly cheerful, she’ll put little hearts on them, or even write messages like “I love Tim” on a few of the eggs. This can be a bit disconcerting for guests, so we try to pre-shell the eggs if we offer them in a salad to lunch visitors.

But Kathy was busy working on her computer, so she asked David to mark the eggs. It is possible that he resented the job — a fact I discovered the next day when I opened my lunch.

I'm not sure which is worse, that I ate the egg without hesitation, or that I was vaguely proud that my homeschooled child could spell 'poisoned' correctly.

I’m not sure which is worse, that I ate the egg without hesitation, or that I was vaguely proud that my home-schooled child could spell ‘poisoned’ correctly.

Recently, Daniel’s computer video card died. For several days, the computer would not display anything at all, until we figured out how to revert to the integrated video card on the motherboard. Since Daniel mostly uses his computer to play high-graphics video games, you can imagine how distressed he was.

Unbeknownst to Daniel, I recently ordered two new computers for my parents, but had them delivered to my house so I could install some additional hardware and software. Dan happened to be home when the computers were delivered, and he quickly made some alterations to the labels on the packages. Kathy sent me this sequence of pictures at work, to let me know my packages had been delivered, and were greatly appreciated:

Daniel spots the packages by the front door ...

Daniel spots the packages by the front door …

His heart leaps in hope ...

His heart leaps in hope …

Daniel can't believe his eyes, when he reads the address label ...

Daniel can’t believe his eyes, when he reads the address label …

A close-up of the professionally-printed address label ...

A close-up of the professionally-printed address label …

I’d like to think that God is honored by the fun that we have in our house … that the joy we take in each other brings joy to His heart as well. I guess we’ll find out in Heaven, if Jesus plays practical jokes — He’s had more than 2000 years to be working on some of them. If that doesn’t worry you at least a little, then you have no imagination …

Tim

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