The week was drawing to a close. But we had this one last day. Sitting in the last pew, ready for worship, we were all there, together. The prayers, music, scripture reading and liturgy began to unfold and surprisingly I found tears in my eyes. We sat together, as a family, waiting for God to speak, for us to hear. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me; bless his holy name."
"You're rich in love and You're slow to anger. Your name is great, and your heart is kind. For all your goodness I will keep on singing...ten thousand reasons for my heart to find..."
"We have set our hope on other saviors. Forgive us and unclutter our lives."
"Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art... I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart."
"O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast,unmeasured, boundless, free...all I need and trust..."
My thirsty soul soaked up these words, pondering them; each one settling like manna for the hungry. Our time together was almost over.
After being told that our kids wouldn't be coming home for Thanksgiving, Brian and I decided to go to Charleston to spend it quietly with our good friends, Rich and Carolyn. We made plans for the four of us to eat in a fun Charleston restaurant for Brian's birthday. At least that is what Brian thought. But when he walked into the private room, there sat our family...all of them...Jonathan, Joel, Rachel, Lucy, Charles, Hannah and Greg, smiling with shining faces having pulled off a complete surprise.
Brian's eyes opened wide, his hands came up to cover his face. What? But you are in Lincoln! You are in Oskaloosa! You are with your cousin!! I can't believe this! What are you doing here?
Everyone clapped with delight. It felt sacred somehow. Many months of planning came to this one moment. It blessed Brian. It filled me.
All the details of our scheme became clear while eating hors d'oeuvres and drinking sparkling wine. We continued through crab soup, spinach salad and the main entree: salmon or steak with green beans and mashed potatoes. We gloried in the presence of our family; those who would do this expensive thing to honor their dad. A delicious apple cobbler finished us up and we sat back, satisfied and happy.
But the party had just begun, the night was young. The Words had not yet been spoken. Our kids had things to say to their dad, words that had never been said. Joel handed his dad a bag with a framed picture of a bare old oak tree he had drawn.
A righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7
Happy Birthday Dad!
November 26, 2014
Around the room, a harvest of words, intended to honor, gently came forth.
- You gave us a global view of life through adoption, exchange students and trips.
- I always wanted to be like you, to be you.
- You gave me an amazing start in my business. I didn't have to make mistakes to learn.
- I thought my childhood was "normal" but now I know it was anything but normal. You gave us a great childhood.
- You told me to be the spiritual leader in my home.
- You showed me Christ by the way you lived your life.
- The way you love your wife has led me to know how to love my wife.
- When you pray aloud, it is like poetry.
- Getting to know you helped me to know more of what my husband would be like.
- When I come to you I know I will get solid advice. You know so much!
- You told me I could do anything I put my mind to. You believed in me.
- You are a man of mercy, justice and humility.
- You came to every cross country meet my senior year.
- After track meets you stood in the same spot, stop watch in hand. I walked over and we talked about my run.
- Your business sense has influenced me. I find myself making decisions like you would: carefully and with integrity.
- You think about political issues individually, not necessarily along party lines. I admire that.
- Your commitment to family has led us in how we are a family.
Rich and Carolyn, added their thoughts, remembering him as a good friend and a willing helper. After recalling the details and dates of his life , I reminisced about how he and I met, followed by how much I love and respect him. He really is an interesting person. No frill. No games. He is who he is. Very smart, wise, kind, generous, careful, curious, steady, caring, genuine and full of common sense.
It was a night of honor, to build, reflect and bless. We sat in the moment breathing in the beauty of the evening. We know it is unusual for adult-children to talk this way. They had opened themselves through their words. We hated to leave. We wanted to stay and feel and hug and keep the warmth.
But it was late and time to go home.The rest of the week was waiting to be experienced!
We celebrated Thanksgiving, toured historic homes in Charleston, visited forts and plantations, walked on the beach, ate more good food, took a horse drawn carriage through town, shopped and, at times, watched basketball/football on TV.
Sunday morning came and our time together was almost over. Two were leaving that afternoon, five the next morning. Having everyone together for worship was our last blessing. My tears should have been no surprise. They helped me process that this unique week was coming to an end.
The sermon was based on Psalm 100 and provided the perfect ending to a once in a life time week:
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
We are trusting in that beautiful promise.