Friday, March 15, 2013

MOM  (in the above photo she's the little cutie on the far left)

My mom begins her 10th decade of life today as she turns 90. There are no words for trying to explain her impact on me as a result of the depth of her love. I am attempting to merely scratch the surface of giving her the honor that she is due on this milestone birthday.

Greta (Drenth) Vail is the eight child of ten, born to Jacob and Bessie Drenth on March 15, 1923. In her years she has experienced much pain and sadness as she has outlived her parents, her siblings, her husband, a daughter-in-law and a grand child. Despite these losses, she lives her life in joy, thankful for the many blessings that God has, indeed, sent her way. She has continues to model a “Christ like” life even as she has so gracefully aged.

How can we quantify the impact that her life has had on this world? The totality of this impact is known only by her heavenly Father. For a humble woman who rarely left the general area of her home, her impact on the world is/will continue to be amazing. My sisters and I are lucky enough to be her offspring, but her life has impacted so many more lives and will for generations to come. She remains a genuine model of faithfulness to her Lord, her husband, her children, her grandchildren, nieces, nephews and her friends. Everyday she continues to teach those of us who know her lessons of love, faith, humility, servant hood, charity, humor, hope, family, devotion, gentleness, conviction, optimism, wholesomeness, kindness and so much more. These lessons, as she has taught them, will continue for generations. It is said that ones “reputation” in life becomes your “legacy” in death. I believe my mothers “legacy” will be one that is impossible to live up to but held as an example to strive for.

Following are a few “random memories” that I have from my life time with Mom:
• How easily she faints
• Cherry picking
• Ordering school clothes from the Spiegel catalog
• Bare butt spankings when I was especially naughty
• Getting us all up during thunderstorms
• Playing caroms + rook + yahtzee + dominoes + . . .
• All her other somewhat strange games
• Home made ice cream
• Home made pajamas for Christmas
• Hamburgers or barb-b-ques every Saturday night
• Her support of me playing basketball
• Cleaning the Hawley’s and Saultenstall’s houses
• Volunteering at church and Christian school activities all the time
• Loving and helping with Julie when she was so small and weak
• Helping us do homework
• Canning veggies and fruit
• Driving to Atwood in “low” gear in our first car with an automatic tranny
• Admitting to me, after I had admitted to her that I snuck out to a movie, that she had done that also in her youth.
• Her devotion to Marcie while she was in the hospital with a broken neck
• Her being such a great grandmother to our children
• Her being there for me to cry on and with when Carol died
• Her screaming nightmares
• Her intentional hospitality
• Knit hangers
• Importance of family
• Having garage sales
• Trying to get us out of bed on school mornings
• Making doughnuts on Saturday afternoons
• Staining and varnishing her new cabinets when Carol was “newly” pregnant with Amy
• A car accident or two
• On and on and on . . .

Thank you Mom, for being there for me so completely all my years!

following is a poem i found . . .

Her Hands

© Maggie Pittman
Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.

Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn't always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise when I captured them at length.

Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harms way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.

Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,
Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.

Source: Her Hands, Mother Poem

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Does God's Positive Voice Say About You?
It seems that in this life put downs come easily. Whether intended or not, we are often made to feel small by those around us, even our “loved ones”. Most often this occurs unintentionally, I’m sure, but many times it is done with a hurtful intent.

"It's a dog eat dog world, Woody and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear”, as this quote from Norm Peterson in the TV show “Cheers” puts it, people seem to be out to make our lives more difficult. Others, for the most part, really don’t care that much about us or our feelings. Some seem to have evil intent but some, I suppose, are merely too tied up in their own problems to consider the effects on others. Many days it seems like the only one we can count on for support and encouragement is ourselves. Unfortunately, after existing like that for awhile the ability to lift ourselves out of the pits becomes less and less effective. Depression, self esteem issues, hopelessness, etc are the result. This is not a pleasant picture, I know.

Some time ago, I came across this particular grouping of scripture texts under the heading of:

“What Does God's Positive Voice Say About You?”

• You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

• You are a child of God (John 1:12)

• You are part of the true vine, a channel of Christ's
love (John 15:1,5)

• You are Christ's friend (John 15:15)

• You are reconciled to God and a minister of his
reconciliation (2Corinthians 5:18-19)

• You are a saint (1Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1;
Philippians 1:1)

• You are chosen of God, holy and dearly loved
(Colossians 3:12; 1Thessalonians 1:4)

These words are such a joy to me. These words are like receiving life giving water in middle of a journey through Death Valley. I keep them at my finger tips and refer back to them time and time again for reassurance. This is what God, the creator and sustainer of this world, thinks about me - I am His child; I am valued by the only one who really knows the true value of everything. I cannot be loved any more or any less by God based on what others think of me or think that I am. God knows me and has chosen me. I love that about my God, sure He admonishes me, but he is a God of Love, of encouragement, of reconciliation, of glory. His is the only opinion that matters, and His voice, in scripture, says I’m chosen. Grace!

My prayer is that you know this God of grace and that you can believe with me that what these texts say is what is said of you.

“You are . . . .”

Sunday, August 05, 2012


OK, I don’t think many of you humans know what it’s like to be a dog, particularly a very small dog.  We dogs don’t get much respect as a rule.  There are a lot of references to dogs in our culture and not many of them are complementary, there are even biblical references to dogs and most are not nice at all.  Other than from the “dog lovers” out there, as a species we don’t get much respect (and as for me specifically, you could say I’m the “Rodney Dangerfield” of dogs - and not just because I resemble him - which I kind of do). So I thought it might be good to write a little exposition of sorts of my life to this point. I guess you could call this my tail, er’-tale (you humans and your homonyms, so confusing)
As you may have noticed, one thing you will have to get used to when reading anything I write, is that I have many random thoughts, sometimes related to what I’m talking about and sometimes not so much (but you have to understand my brain is about the size of a marshmallow and my attention span is about as long as it would take me to eat one of them).  They say that in spite of my somewhat limited brain size that I’m pretty smart (but we’re talking “dog smart” here so I’m not letting my head get too big with all that “smart” talk - and my head can’t get too big anyway cause I’m a really small dog and I would fall over frontward).
So what kind of dog am I?  Who knows? All I know is I’m small and kind of funny looking.  People think I’m some kind of Chihuahua (which when you see it all spelled out like that, is kind of a cool name.  I kind of like it).  Some have said there are “apple head” Chihuahuas (long or short haired) and “deer head” Chihuahuas (mostly short haired).  If I am one, I’m definitely the “deer” head variety.  It is said that when I curl up to lie down, I closely resemble a very small fawn.  I have a long, skinny nose, very large (compared to the rest of me) ears and eyes, and my tail has been referred to as much like a rats.  I’m pretty scrawny (about 6 pounds-and some people still think I’m fat).  Oh well, what are you going to do when your parents are a couple of dogs? I have to play the cards I was dealt in this life.  Speaking of my parents, I have no idea what the heck kind of dogs they were.  I’m guessing one of them (probably my birth mother, whom I refer to as “the b - - - -“, was the Chihuahua. As for my birth father, I’m guessing he was some no account drifter, probably a migrant worker (sorry for not being politically correct).  FYI, another thing we of Chihuahuan ancestry have to put up with is a lot of racial innuendo; reference my given name, Taco.  Rumor has it that as if “Taco” isn’t bad enough (yo quiero Taco Bell and all that) my humans (who I actually do like-ok, maybe even love) were contemplating calling me “Pedro”.  Anyway, I’m thinking my birth father blew into town (maybe with the circus – you know those dogs with the tutus and such) some Saturday night looking for some action, and Lord knows on the SE side of town (not too far from where I was eventually found and claimed) there is plenty of action to be had.  Well, my father (and I use the term loosely) did what he had the urges to do and then skedaddled back to wherever he came from.  I never saw him and I’m pretty sure he never stuck around to even know I existed.
Anyway, so now my poor mom (“the b - - - - “) is “you know what” with a belly full of me and however many others there were of us in there.  Of course I don’t remember being born, when or where or any of those details, but I can imagine we were about the ugliest little slimy, hairless, squeakers ever.  Some (like my sweet human mom) would probably say we were “so cute” but they only would be saying that to be nice, or it would be like “they’re so ugly they’re cute” (I’ve heard that plenty my whole life-but as they say it’s the personality that counts and they say I’ve got a great one of those).  So somehow we survived, mom, my sibs and me.  But as, I suppose, is natural for “dogs”, we all got separated (which I’m alright with because whatever I could find to eat I didn’t have to share-come to think of it I’m still not real great at sharing, every dog for himself is my motto). 
 I kicked around a little bit, a little here, a little there, a while here, a while there . . . not a great life, but I survived.  I can’t tell you how many times I felt alone, like nobody cared whether I lived or died, how many times I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from.  Many nights I never knew if I would be able to find a warm or soft place to lay this hungry bag of bones.  And talk about scarry, yipes!  People say I’m ugly, but you would cringe if you saw some of the gruesome critters that were almost always chasing me.  Again, I’m about the littlest version of a canine there is and almost anything, from rats to humans, are bigger than me and, I guess, figured I would be a tasty (all be it somewhat hairy and scrawny) morsel.  So when people call me “street dog” (which happens pretty frequently) I take no offense.  I’m proud of my survival during those days. I consider being called “street dog” a badge of courage!
Then my fortunes, my very life, changed forever.  Who says that life stinks?  Who says that nothing good ever happens to us?  Who says there’s no God, no Grace?  If you ever hear people say that, tell them about me. . . A little over 5 years ago (wow, time flies when you’re a dog and you sleep 80 percent of your life-but I’m cool with that), I’m thinking it was springish of 2007, I was found by the sweetest, dog lovingest, prettiest, awesomest (working on my good doggy points here, bear with me) lady I’ve ever seen. She happened to be driving around and I happened to be walking around and she spotted me.  I was a flea ridden, undernourished bag of bones, at that time just trying to stay alive.  She stopped her big old car/truck kind of thing she was driving (I later heard them refer to it as her “Suburban”, which was kind of strange because she lived in the “city”) and started coming after me.  Of course I had been chased by all kinds of creatures my whole life so my instinct was to get away, but she was persistent (which was amazing because she didn’t know me from any other “slumdog” (no millionaire here) up and down the street.  She cornered me, but there was something different about her and her approach.  It kind of paralyzed me, kind of neutralized my fear.  She really seemed like she wanted to help me and not hurt me like I was so used to.  I decided to give up (best decision I ever made).  I remember she picked me up (I probably peed on her as I seemed to do a lot of that back then) but she treated me very well.  I remember she went to a bunch of the houses around there and asked if I belonged to anybody or if anybody knew who I did belong to.  I could have told her I had nobody, nobody seemed to want a “stick dog” like me around for long.  She eventually took me to her home.  
“Home”, what a great word!  It implies belonging. Not sure I’d ever experienced that before, not that I remember anyway, but I sure liked it.  Four walls, a roof, comfy furniture, warm blankets and FOOD and WATER. Oh sooo good (did I mention FOOD?).  While these new humans were really good to me, I was in for a bit of a surprise.  There were already two other dogs occupying this home, never good when you’re the new guy.  Well as you can imagine I got busy right away “marking” my territory in this place (that didn’t seem to make these normally good natured humans too happy??).  Of these two other dogs, they called one of them “Sammy” and the other “Rosie”.  Based on their names and some (not so) stealth sniffing, I determined they were b - - - -s (sorry I’m in a nice home now and I have to clean up my act) er’ girls (although the small one really did fit the b-word pretty well).  That “Sammy” (about my size but a lot furrier) was pretty old and extremely ornery.  She was not at all thrilled that I was around and helping myself to “her” food (no worries, I’ve dealt with her type before).  The big one (about ten times bigger than me and also a lot furrier) didn’t seem to mind at all (I’m not sure she noticed I was even there, she’s pretty laid back).  She’s actually still around and we are good buddies to this day (even though she’s now like 100 years old, shed’s her hair all over the place, fart’s all the time, has bad breath and breathes so hard all night long nobody can get any sleep and don’t even get me started on if it’s storming outside, sheesh!).  Anyway this new, super sweet human lady was having a hard time (though I know she gave it the old college try) finding where I really belonged.  I, of course, knew I belonged right here with her and her (super good looking) daughter, so I turned on the old “Latin” charm.  You know what they say about Chihuahuas, we’re 50% fighters and 50% lovers.  I dialed up that lover part because I really wanted to stay.  It must have worked because, despite all the freakish looks they would send my way, I think they really got attached to me too.  Now, a good five years later, I’m (what I’d like to think) a huge (funny word to describe a small dog like me) part of this family.
In the five years I’ve been here we’ve had some great times (there’s been some rotten times too, like the time I got nailed by this stinky looking cat-like creature with a stripe down it’s back, who knew they could send that foul smelling pee such a distance so accurately.  That really smarted.  The human parental units were not too happy about that either but they scrubbed me up pretty well).  Over time, I actually moved with my new family into three different houses, but you know what, they all seemed like “home” because we were all together.  They say “home is where the mom is” and I had one (a mom) that I really loved.  
Sadly, after a while, that ornery little furry dog they called Sammy went to the big doggie blanket (I say blanket because my favorite thing in the whole world is to cuddle up in a warm blanket-particularly if my human mom is cuddled up in the same blanket) in the sky. (I understand Sammy was really not so bad when she was younger and that she had some ”condition” that made living not such a pleasant thing for her anymore).  She was missed by the whole family (well, not so much by me).
I remember meeting lots of other dogs through the years (like Dozer, the big black one across the street).  For some reason, I always think I have to yell at them so they will leave us alone.  Once in a while they’ll yell back (and most of them have a much louder, deeper voice than me and that’s kind of scary and embarrassing).  Sometimes my humans talk about me being small and having this “Napoleon Complex”, not sure what that is but it sounds kind of serious (I hope it’s not fatal). 
Everybody treats me pretty well now, but there’s this one guy, he looks something like a younger version of the big one I’m supposed to call dad.  Everybody calls him Matt.  He’s tall too and he seems to enjoy annoying me (dad does this sometimes too-but not like this guy).  He would stick me in places I couldn’t get out of, he would stick me up on high shelves, chase me around, and all kinds of not so fun stuff. But it’s not so bad, I know he was just playing.  I have to say he is the one I can thank for getting me the most treats I’ve ever had (never enough treats though, just saying).  He worked with me and trained me to do some stuff that always gets a pretty happy reaction from human types and then they hand me a treat of some sort (Rosie’s never impressed though, she just wants the treats without doing anything). So now if a human is holding even a particle of food in their hands and kind of waving it at me, I will do practically anything.  I will sit, lay, roll over and play dead (hey, it’s degrading but the treats the thing man-it’s all about the food).  All in all I’ve got no complaints.  
Along the way I’ve even had the chance to do some traveling.  If there’s one thing I hate almost as much as getting nailed by a skunk, it is being left home when mom and dad (pretty much it’s only mom I miss, but don’t tell dad about that part-let him think I miss him too) go traveling somewhere.  Lately, though, they’ve taken me along quite often.  Last year we had a swell trip to some place they called “out west”.  We spent some really cold nights in a “Kanpin Kabin” (ok, that’s not me just being a dumb dog speller, that’s really the way they spelled it-even a donut hole sized brain dog like me knows that’s spelled wrong).  It was cold at night but we had great times during the day.  I even got to “french kiss” with a jack ass (no not dad-although I have done that on Saturday mornings when we’re all sleeping in) er’ donkey at Custer State Park.  Whoa that was a little freaky.  I think those ugly things want food even more than I do (doesn’t sound possible I know) but mom started feeding them some chips (hey, come to think of it she didn’t give me any) or something and they stuck their heads right in the car windows looking for more.  Well, being the brave family protector I am, I had to yell a little bit to try to get them out of there.  One of them licked me, eeeouww, not sure what I think about that.  He probably thought I was some kind of fruit or something (hey, I’ve been neutered but I’m not a fruit).  Anyway, we had a good time and I’m glad they take me (and leave Rosie home - ha ha sucka) on some of their trips.  I think we are going to have more fun trips together in the future.
There are many other mad cap adventures I’ve had over the years, but this story is already getting kind of long (not like me to be long).

I guess you could say my human family is kind of religious (thus Rosie and I can always be found home alone on Sunday mornings, but that’s a good day to sleep in-come to think of it every day is a good day to sleep in).  There’s an expression I hear fairly often around the house.  They say “it’s a God thing”.   I think they say that when something turns out unexpectedly well in a random sort of way.  I’ve actually heard them say that’s what it is for me to be here with this family.  You see, this family has been through a lot.  Just a year or so before I came around this was actually two families, each with a mom, dad and three kids.  Then something unthinkable happened.  Mom’s family, unexpectedly, lost their husband/father and I know they loved him very much.  Shortly after that dad’s family lost, also unexpectedly, their wife/mother and they, too, loved her very much.  Both families were devastated and changed forever.  They were working hard to put the pieces of their lives back together when mom found me.  About that same time, these two families were starting to get to know each other (also a “God thing”) and soon after that we all became one big happy, blended family.  It has been said that because I was found about the same time as they found each other, I am looked at as a sort of family “mascot” as it were.  Like God (note that dog is God spelled backwards, so I know we dogs hold a special place in God’s creation) brought me to this new blended family as a sort of common thread that helps to tie us together into a tighter bond.  
I know this God is good. I know he is a God that works at redemption, and is constantly in the process of redeeming this world.  The greatest thing I can think of is that He has used me, a geeky, small, otherwise pretty insignificant creature to somehow give this family some additional joy.  Really, isn’t that what we dogs really want (well, right after food) is to see our humans happy and their tails wagging?  It has been said that it’s a “God thing” that I am here with this family.  I think they’re right, and my tails wagging too.

Grace to all . . . 
Taco  (aka - Toc, Tikity Toc, What’s Up Toc, Big Guy, Buster, Tacos, Butthead, My Man, Taco Va, Rat Dog, Killer, Buddy - you know, I guess I’ll answer to just about anything - if there’s food)

Friday, February 10, 2012


I love my mom. My family and I are extremely blest to have mom, now nearly 89 years old, still with us. Some other time I intend to write a nice tribute to mom and how much she’s meant to all of us for so many years but today I just have one simple thought (basically all my thoughts are simple). That is how much I take being able to talk to my mom for granted. I try to call her at least once a week and we try to get to see her two or three times a month but heaven knows I should call her more often. I know that when she hears from any of us it brightens her day immensely. My excuse often is that by the time I can call it’s too late in the day, or it’s been so busy that the week day/nights fly by, etc. The thing that I think I’m missing in all of this is how much I need to talk to mom too. After talking to her I feel better too. She’s still my mom and I’m still her little Freddy.
So here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. My children don’t have this opportunity any more. They can’t call their mom and talk. Every time I think of this fact I get angry, sad, depressed and so on. With two of our three children living out of town now, and with two out of three having, or just having had, there first baby, I know they would be staying in closer contact with us if their mom were still here. I know there would be weekly, if not daily conversations between Carol and our kids. The kids have lost so much and this, I feel, is one thing that they, in particular, lose out on every day. Others in our lives have been wonderful and have helped to “stand in the gap” but no one can take the place of mom, even dad.
I’ve often had the thought that they, others, the whole world would be better off if she could have lived and I had died instead. Maybe that’s wallowing but I still have those feelings from time to time. I really feel Carol would have more to contribute relationship wise now than I have. More what ifs, I guess. . . I pray that I can somehow be the best dad/grandpa I can be for them at least. I pray that the Lord will show me how best to let them know they are not alone and I pray that He will keep showing them that they are loved and held and thought about even when they feel alone.
If you still have your mom, give her a call, often. Make sure she knows how much you love her.

I hadn’t said it in so long. When death takes your mother, it steals that word forever.”
- Mitch Albom for one more day

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello Everybody

We are hoping this letter finds you well and feeling safely held in the hands of our Heavenly Father. Sorry that our “holiday” newsletter is arriving more like mid-January. 2011 was a very eventful year for us and December certainly continued the trend. Maybe this will start a new January tradition. . .
The year that was 2011 was indeed a full year, full of many blessings. It is hard to believe that this year already marked the five year anniversary of both Lisa and Fred becoming widowed. We are thankful everyday for the way our redemptive God has brought us together and continues to work to blend our families and the hearts of us all to be one big happy family.
2011 will always be memorable to us because of all the major events that took place throughout the year. Among other things, we’ve had kids graduate, get “big boy” jobs, get married, move away and have a baby; except for that moving away part, all very good things. As for Lisa and Fred, there have been no major changes in status. Our health seems to remain good, for which we are thankful. Lisa is still working a few days a week for and has just wrapped up a very busy holiday season with them. She continues to volunteer as a Kid’s Hope mentor impacting a little boy named Konnor in innumerable positive ways. She also finds the time to manage our household amazingly, while still cutting hair part time. Fred continues to work for Monsma Marketing. He was acknowledged at the recent company Christmas party for having been there for 20 years and counting. He volunteers at church as a sound tech and spent many hours this past year helping daughter Amy and son in law Pete gut and remodel their house. One memorable moment from the year for Fred was catching a “good sized” bass on our lake while trolling with his remote controlled boat. Fortunately, the boat eventually won the ensuing tug of war with the fish, but it was quite the epic struggle.
After a quiet January, February started with Kevin moving out of the nest and heading to Boulder, Co where he now lives. He is an avid climber and outdoor enthusiast and finds the mountains there irresistible. We think he finds his girlfriend Beth equally irresistible and with that combination he is absolutely thriving in Colorado. He is working for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and other part time jobs while continuing to look for a full time teaching position. We were happy to spend time with Kevin and Beth over the holidays as they took some time off to head back home for a week or so.
In February Lisa and Fred took a very enjoyable trip to Georgia to visit Fred’s daughter Sara and son in law Josh. Sara is a nurse in the Army Nurse Corp. She is currently an operating room nurse at Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning. Josh works as a salesman and gunsmith at a retail gun store/firing range there in Columbus. While there we got a chance to explore Fort Benning and enjoyed day trips to Atlanta and some Civil War battlefields. We had a great time. The other exciting news from Sara and Josh is that they are expecting their first child in July of 2012. We get to be grand parents again, what a blessing! They were not able to join us for the holidays but we look forward to visiting them again in the warm(er) south this February and definitely again when the baby arrives.
Also in Feb. Fred’s son Matt was offered a fulltime position with Jimmy Johns (yes the freaky fast sandwich place) corporate office. He is a business coach/consultant for them. The job came at a great time for him and we are thankful for it but it did require him to move to the Chicago area. So of our six, Kev, Sara (and Josh), and Matt (and TJ) are the out of towners.
May was a milestone month for two more of our “clan”. Raidel Leon, Fred’s Cuban son, after much hard work and dedication, graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary. We were so very proud of him for completing his goal after moving to this country from Cuba in 2002. Raidel was then eligible for a call to any of the CRC denomination’s churches. Toward the end of the summer a call from Chandler CRC in Chandler MN was extended. Raidel and Marcy visited there and felt the Holy Spirit leading them to accept that call. On Labor Day weekend they packed up all their belongings and their precious, little cutie pie, 10 month old daughter, Celia, and moved to south west Minnesota. The Chandler church will learn how blest they are to have Radel and Marcy be a part of them. Along with Raidel and Marcy we were excited to learn that they are expecting their second child in May.
Bryan, Lisa’s middle child, also graduated in May. He received a BA degree in business from Calvin College. After working for a time at a marina in Holland, he was offered a paid internship at Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids. He moved from one position there to another as it became obvious that they liked him and were trying to keep him until a full time position became available. In mid December his patience paid off as he was indeed offered such a position and began it at the start of Jan 2012. Bryan lived with us at Shore Way for much of the summer before joining some friends in renting a nice home in the city of Grand Rapids. He still enjoys basketball and plays any chance he gets.
Summers remain our favorite time of year. Since moving to Shore Way, we have enjoyed lakefront living. Almost every weekend we can be found hanging out on our beach with family and friends. Fishing, kayaking, swimming, campfires, fireworks, it’s all good. This summer also included the, once every three year, VanHarn reunion. For a week in July the VanHarns all gathered at a beautiful log cabin lodge on the Pine River. Great fishing, great food, great conversation, great times were had by all.
In September Fred and Lisa took another amazing trip. This time we went west. We were able to stop at Raidel and Marcy’s new home in Chandler. We went to church with them and met nearly everyone from their church. We then went on to the Black Hills area of S.D. and stayed in a KOA Kamping Kabin. It was kind of chilly but fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the area. Lisa particularly enjoyed all the up close encounters with the wildlife in Custer State Park. We then moved on to Boulder where we could see Kev’s apartment and meet his friends. We did some hiking and rock climbing with him and Beth and had an absolutely wonderful time. One of the emotional highlights was being there for a birthday party thrown for Kev by his CO friends. What a joy to see how he is so loved and how much he has become an integral part of people’s lives in the short time that he has been there.
Also in September Lisa’s youngest, Kelli, defined her future a little more clearly. She began as a student at Excel Academies of Cosmetology. She has taken to it with gusto. We are convinced she is a natural (of course she comes by it naturally). She has also taken to something (one) else with gusto. She and her boyfriend have been going together for nearly a year and seem to make a wonderful young couple. Kelli lives at home and so we see her and Alex a fair amount and that is a blessing.
November started out with another huge family event. Matt and TJ’s were married on Nov 5. They had been going together for some time so after Matt took his “big boy” job with JJs it didn’t take long before he popped the big question to TJ. Their wedding was great and we love TJ. It is a blessing to see who God brings into our circle through the relationships of our children. Matt and TJ live in Aurora Il so not too far from home but we still miss them. TJ works full time for a day care facility in their area.
Okay just so we can say December was the frosting on the cake; on December 21 we became grand parents!! Fred’s oldest, Amy and her hubby Pete had their peanut. Benjamin James was 9lb 15oz, 22 1/2 inches long and one of God’s most precious gifts. Mommy and Daddy are doing well and trying to take it all in along with the business of the holidays. Benjamin can enjoy his new bedroom because of all the hard work his mom and dad did on their house in 2011. In late 2010 Pete and Amy bought a “gut it, treat it for mold, and start over” type house in Cutlerville. They, with the help of others, worked on it for months and where able to move into it in the spring. We are very proud of them for the hard work they did. Amy is planning to be a stay at home mom and we are planning to be “spoil the grandkids” type grandparents.
Thank you for sticking with this long letter. I told you up front it was a full year. Hopefully you’ve noticed a theme. We feel extremely blessed. To have such great kids, to have such great relationships, to have each other, and to be held so dearly by our Father, we are blessed.
Our wish for you is that 2012 brings you much happiness and joy. May you see, in new ways, that we serve a God of Love and that His grace is sufficient for any thing that may come our way.

Fred and Lisa

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is it human nature or is it just me, why do I dwell so much on what I wish I had instead of what I have and on what I've lost instead of what I've gained?

Thank You Lord for what you've so graciously given me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A little schmaltzy perhaps but this song from the early 70’s keeps coming to mind this week. . .

For Those Tears I Died

Words and Music by Marsha Stevens

You said You’d come and share all my sorrows,You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows;I came so close to sending You away,But just like You promised You came there to stay;I just had to pray!
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.”
Your goodness so great I can’t understand,And, dear Lord, I know that all this was planned;I know You’re here now, and always will be,Your love loosed my chains and in You I’m free;But Jesus, why me?
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.”
Jesus, I give You my heart and my soul,I know that without God I’d never be whole;Savior, You opened all the right doors,And I thank You and praise You from earth’s humble shores;Take me, I’m Yours.
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died"