When the Internet is Down…

Times Digest Newspaper under the door at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac IslandI spent most of my day preparing a post on our stay at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel last weekend, but the internet’s been down since last night due to a horrendous electrical storm that knocked power out in much of our area. So, I splurged on a cup of hot chocolate at Panera, thinking I’d download my pictures here, but everyone in the neighborhood has also sought refuge in this lovely cafe, and the net is slower than molasses—too slow to download pictures, so I’m going to wait on that post until the internet is fixed and share a few historical “fun facts” on Michigan today, just to get you in the mood. Did you know that:
*From 1910 to 1920, Hamtramck, Michigan  grew from 3,589 to 45,615 residents, leading the nation in growth for that period.
*In 1936, Escanaba, Michigan harvested and processed 100,000 sq. ft. of birdseye maple to be used in the English Luxury Liner, the Queen Mary.
*When the territory of Michigan was created on Jan. 11, 1805, Detroit was chosen as its capital.
*The world’s only marble lighthouse is located on Belle Isle. (Livingston Lighthouse)
*There are over 11,500 lakes in Michigan.
The home offices of Life Savers Candy, Beech-Nut Gum, and Squirt soft drinks are in Holland Michigan.
*In 1870, Detroit became the nation’s first telephone customers to have phone numbers assigned to them.
*Charles A. Lindbergh was born in Detroit on Feb. 4, 1902.
*The Stars and Stripes first flew over Michigan soil on July 11, 1796.
*In 1942, the Davison Freeway in Detroit was completed and became the world’s first urban freeway.
*The first soft drink, (Vernor’s Ginger Ale) was introduced by a Detroit Pharmacist, James A. Vernor, in 1866. Note: There were several ‘elixirs’ on the market at that time, including what would later be called Coca Cola. These contained alcohol, whereas Vernor’s didn’t. Thus the name ‘soft’ drink.
*The intersection of Woodward Avenue and  Grand Avenue in  Detroit proudly displayed the world’s first traffic light in 1915, and leaders of 19 countries and 26 States came to check it out in the first six months.
*In 1688, Father Jacques Marquette founded the first permanent settlement in what would later become Michigan.
*The world’s first shopping mall (Northland Mall), opened in the Detroit suburb of Southfield in 1954. Newspapers from overseas as well as this country wrote that it would never catch on!
*The world’s first painted highway center lines were featured in Trenton, Michigan in 1911. They were used in other towns and that was how Center Line, Michigan got its name.
*Michigan ranks Number 1 nationally in the production of dog sleds.
*The nation’s largest indoor/outdoor museum complex is Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
*Opened in 1904, the nation’s oldest freshwater aquarium (was) the Belle Isle Aquarium.
*The onion is Michigan’s largest fresh-market vegetable crop. (I never would have guessed!)
*Michigan is the only state in the nation that was owned by four different countries.  U.S., England, France and Spain.

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Corinthians 13:8).


Rise Up, My Love (147): Four Aspects of Our Love Relationship

Blue Moon from the Grand HotelSong of Solomon 5:2 “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled…” The Lord appeals to us based on four aspects of our relationship with him: our kinship, our mutual affection, as conduits of grace, and in the experience of sanctuary. Let’s think about them together. First: “My sister”…the one belonging to me. My sister…the firstborn among many brethren. My sister…the one who is mine by right of birth because we have the same Father…the one of whom the bridegroom says later, “I raised thee up under the apple tree.” The one I have protected and blessed since youth, over whom I watched with such tender care…as only a big brother could do. I led you; I taught you; I took such pride in you! When you cried, I rocked you back to sleep in my arms. When bullies would have pushed you down, I stood with my hands on my hips between them and you, ready to defend you with my life! (And so, our Lord did!) When you were hungry, I fed you. When you were unhappy, I cheered you up.

Did you have a big brother who loved you? Do you have a son who broods over his little sister? I have always had a great affection and respect for men generally because of my two wonderful big brothers who were so tenderhearted and full of fun…as well as standing up for my loyally and taking good care of me when I needed help!

“Open to me, my sister!” Remember who I am. Remember how I’ve loved you and how I’ve gone out of my way for you countless times! Wake up and let me in. Now it is I who needs you. After all I’ve done for you, won’t you help me now? How could she refuse such an appeal?

But, the bridegroom does not wait for a response. Rather, he reminds her immediately of other, and even deeper, relationships. “My love.” She is not only the object of his affection and devotion, she is also the object of his singular attention and desire. She is the one to whom he comes home at night. She is the object of his passion. Would she not prefer sleeping with him to sleeping alone? Could she have grown so cold that she no longer desires his attention? Come, my love, if you truly love me, then open up to me!

Nowhere else does the bridegroom use so many terms of endearment or appeal to his wife on the basis of so many relationships. It is as if he is trying every avenue to arouse her to empathetic response. Next he calls her “my dove.” St. Augustine said, “Where there is love, there is trinity: a lover, a beloved, and a spirit of love.” The reference to his bride as “my dove” seems to confirm this beautiful tri-unity of love, for the dove speaks of the Holy Spirit. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). “My dove.” My tenderhearted one. The one infused with the love of God and endued with the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. Not only my sister and my love, but the one who is the minister of Christ to me. Surely this would have moved her heart, remembering an earlier time in the spring of their love when he called out to her, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and they countenance is comely.” How her heart must have yearned for him when she remembered those happy times! Could she resist such an appeal? Could she refuse to respond to him, knowing that she was as the hands and feet of the Holy Spirit himself to minister grace to her beloved?

“My undefiled.” My lamb cleansed, blameless, without blemish, and “perfect;” my treasure intact; my wife unravished by another; my lover with devotion of unwavering purity and brightness; my bride who has kept her lone vigil into the night, allowing no stranger to sully our marriage bed…the one in whom I’ve placed my trust and with whom I feel safe.

He appeals to his wife on the basis of four deeply intimate and evocative relationships: “my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.” Four times he expresses possession. Four times he appeals to her based on all she means to him. Will she open the door? Stop for a minute to reflect. Can you hear the Savior calling you? Will you open the door?


Bless Your Baby: Ideas for Baby’s 22nd Week (Sixth Month)

  1. Spatial Orientation PracticeTummy Time“Him with whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.” Psalm 89:21

PRAYER: Dear Father, Thank you for bringing us to spiritual birth through faith in your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank your for making us your inheritance…your “booty” and treasure. Amazing! May we always take joy in being so special to you! May you establish Baby’s hand and strengthen his tiny arms with your almighty arms! May he grow to be a man of God who struggles to see you, even as Baby will arch his back, crane his neck, and struggle to change his position or roll over so he can see us. Help us, as parents, learn to be imitators of you and model Christ so well that as Baby grows he will develop good habits simply by studying and reproducing our behaviors. May we always point Baby to the Way, the Truth, and the Life—to our beautiful Savior—who is the brightness of your glory and the express image of your person…and who will never pass away. Strengthen our arms, Lord, to do your will.

THOUGHT: The more Baby is able to move and reorient his position, the more games you can play that require him to initiate responses on his own.

ACTIVITY: When Baby’s awake and looking for fun, put him on a blanket on the floor and get right in front of his face. Smile and greet him with lots of enthusiasm. Then, get up on your hands and knees and move to the other side of him, so he has to turn his head or body in order to see you. If he doesn’t respond, make some kind of interesting, unusual sound, like a moo or a baa. Once he’s found you again, give him more enthusiastic greetings, and then scramble on your hands and knees to another position out of his line of sight. End the game with a final round of hugs and kisses!

  1. Giving Your Baby Gifts to GrowBaby float“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
    Romans 11:29

PRAYER: Dear glorious LORD, thank you for being a God who gives gifts unto men. Thank you for your greatest gift: Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thank you for telling us to “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” Thank you also for the precious gift you have given us in Baby. May he grow up to accept your covenant of forgiveness and love and receive the gift of eternal life.

THOUGHT: Most games can be played over and over, day after day. Baby will love the attention, challenge, affirmation, and exercise. Keep rotating options, and keep helping him practice his balance and coordination. These are gifts you can give your baby!

ACTIVITY: Here are some ideas for helping Baby learn balance: 1. Lean him against a sofa back with a small pillow or rolled up baby blanket propped under each arm. (Make sure you’re there to steady him so he doesn’t roll off the sofa!) 2. Place him in a swing or 3. A Johnny Jump Up. 4. Situate him on a baby “crawligator” or skateboard (with baby lying on his tummy, using his arms and legs to “crawl” before he can actually crawl on his own). Use as much care as a parent trying to teach a child how to ride a bike. 6. Set Baby on the floor or in the water with a small plastic inner tube or two around his middle (the variety that are used in swimming pools) or 7. Boppy pillows. Give him many options to help keep him standing or sitting upright so he can practice his balancing act!

  1. Increasing PeaceSwaddling“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Psalm 91:5

PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive us for the times when we have failed to be as careful in caring for Baby as we should be. Help us to be vigilant and circumspect every day of our lives. Thank you for your mercy, too…for the times when there could have been an accident and there was not. Give us determination to always put safety before pleasure in all of our activities. May we always do our best, guided by our conscience, illuminated by your Holy Spirit, and resting on the remembrance of your loving kindness, so that we can bring up Baby with confidence and peace rather than anxiety about his safety.

THOUGHT: Seventy years ago, my father used to tuck my oldest brother into his crib when he was a baby and take my mother out for a walk around the block in the evening just to get her out of the house for a few minutes. Today I suspect the Children’s Protective Services would take your children away if you did that in America, although I’ve been in foreign countries within the last few years where children are left sleeping in prams outside stores while women shop! The disturbing reality is that even with the best of care, Baby could die while you’re sleeping peacefully in the room next to him. You certainly don’t want to take unnecessary risks, but you don’t want to be so paranoid that you can never leave Baby sleeping safely in her crib while you garden in the backyard for half an hour or scrub the basement floor. Today they have baby monitor systems, so that even if you’re in a different room you can hear Baby when he wakes up.

ACTIVITY: If you don’t have a baby monitor, consider saving up some money to buy one. It’s one of the most useful aids you’ll ever find to enhance Baby’s security while extending your freedom and peace of mind.

  1. Finger Play for ProfitPlaying with his hands“Bind them [God’s commandments] upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” Proverbs 7:3

PRAYER: Dear Father, how kind you are to give us your commandments, which teach us how to live lives filled with love, joy, peace, and contentment. Lord, may we keep your words and lay up your commandments in our hearts, so that we will obey them. May we keep your law as the apple of our eyes. May we bind your commandments on our fingers, and write them on the table of our heart. Bless Baby, dear Lord. Keep him as the apple of your eye, too. Write your commandments deep into the tender table of his heart. Turn his heart, hands, eyes, and ears from anything that would defile him. May his days be lived in peace and happiness because his eyes are stayed on you.

THOUGHT: My brother-in-law used to complain that his sister and I were feeding our children “puffed plastic,” but kids love cheerios, and I think they’re a reasonable snack choice for babies just learning how to eat finger foods.

ACTIVITY: If Baby is starting to eat “people food” and is reaching for things with his fingers, it may be time to let him practice nabbing a few bits of puffed rice or cheerios off his highchair tray while he waits for supper. Cheerios are easy to grab and dissolve so quickly that the risk of choking is minimal. A few cheerios go a long way toward keeping Baby entertained and busy when he’s hungry and you’re not quite prepared to feed him yet. I eventually started carrying a re-closeable plastic bag of cheerios in the diaper bag whenever we went out so I’d always have a little emergency store of something to keep Baby busy and hopeful about the prospects of food being in his future!

Sixth MonthContagious smile!153. Contentment with our Great God

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11

PRAYER: Dear Father, it is so true that we are happy when we endure testing. We acknowledge the fact that we have experienced your tender mercy and know that you are full of pity. Your forgiveness is marvelous and your love beyond anything we can understand. Help us to grow in our ability to love and forgive others as fully and freely as you do us. Bless Baby, dear Father. Grant her a patient and contented heart. Help her to trust us even as we trust you. Help her to rest in our care, and help us to rest in your care.

THOUGHT: We have so much to be thankful for; may we always reflect on God’s goodness and be grateful! Thank God for his tenderness and mercy. Be grateful for Baby’s growth, her smiles, the joy she is, how busy she is and all she’s learning…etc!

ACTIVITY: Here’s a great activity, but it must always be done with supervision so Baby doesn’t choke herself. Tie a balloon on a string and attach it to Baby’s arm so that it moves whenever she does. If you can, get a helium balloon. Later in the day (after that game has lost its appeal), try tying the balloon to Baby’s foot while she’s on her back and let her enjoy making it bob. She may get clever enough to pull on the string and get the balloon close to her mouth! Finally, the balloon on the string can be attached to her high chair while she waits for supper. At that point, if she hasn’t figured out how to pull on the string to get the balloon, you might show her how to wheel in her prize so she can pat it.

  1. Cleaning Fingernails and EarsHappy Baby!“Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2

PRAYER: Ah, Father, how good it is to be all clean and fresh! Thank you for warm water, showers and tubs, privacy, soft towels, and clean clothes. Thank you for washing machines and dryers. Some infants in third world countries are cleaned by a scrubbing with cold ashes left over from the household fire pit. What a privilege to be able to be clean and free from contagious skin diseases! Lord, please bless Baby, and as I wash him up, help me remember to pray for him to be cleansed and freed from the disease of sin in his soul as well. Keep our spiritual fingernails short so that we don’t scratch each other or injure ourselves! Give us clean, open ears to hear, and cleanse us—inside and out.

THOUGHT: One friend, Stephanie Johnson, clips her babies’ nails while they’re asleep. That’s probably the best idea yet if Baby is a sound sleeper!

ACTIVITY: Clipping nails and washing ears are important aspects of cleaning. They make special baby scissors with blunt tips, but it’s still hard to keep Baby’s fingers stable. If you press the finger pad down and out of the way a little as you cut, it helps, but be extremely careful and don’t trim anything but the white part of the nail, or you’ll draw blood. With the ears, it’s said that nothing smaller than a baseball should go into the ear canal. :) Ear canals are self-cleaning, and to put anything into the canal to clean it out could just force the wax in deeper or possibly damage the eardrum. Just wash the external ear with a warm washcloth and call it good. If Baby likes to pull on his ear but doesn’t seem to be in distress, don’t worry. He’s probably just exploring! While you work, tell him what you’re doing, saying, “ear” or “finger nail” and showing him that you have ears too!

  1. Focus on the FeetDancing on Table Top

“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” Joel 3:16

PRAYER: Dear mighty God who shakes the whole world and even the heavens above with your voice, whose voice is like the sound of a thundering waterfall and a roaring lion, thank you for your awesome power. Thank you that the most powerful force in the universe is good…it is the light side, not the dark side! You are light and love and good, and everything you do is perfect, true, and righteous altogether! Truly, you are our hope and our strength. Bless Baby! May he learn to walk and talk and run and play. May he grow up to be whole, healthy, happy…and most of all—to honor you in all he does!

THOUGHT: “They” say that toddlers learn to walk more quickly without shoes on, because they are able to feel sensation and learn balance better without having to negotiate the extra weight and clumsiness of shoes. Obviously, shoes are helpful when a child is walking a lot, particularly on uneven, rough, or public places (or during intemperate weather), but bare feet are great for the initial learning process.

ACTIVITY: Foot games: 1. Set Baby on your lap and take his little feet in your hands. Gently pat the soles of his feet together while you engage him with this little rhyme: “Shoe a little horsey, shoe a little mare; don’t let Baby’s feet go bare!” 2.“Target Practice.” When Baby’s on his back, take a tin pan and hold it close to his feet where he’ll accidentally kick it. When he hears the sound, he will probably try kicking harder in order to hear the sound again. You can also try this with a pillow or a teddy bear.

How to Keep Your Sandcastles from Crumbling

D B+SThis has been one of the greenest, most glorious summers I can remember Moms and babies playing along Lake Michigan Shoreline in Michigan, although that’s certainly in stark contrast to much of America, Enjoying Lake Michigan Shoreline and it resulted in Lake Michigan remaining cool well past Stephen’s birthday, Hoffmaster State Parkwhen we traditionally take a trip to Hoffmaster State Park. Testing the water with toes at Lake Michigan Shoreline So, we tested the water Ready to swim at Hoffmaster State Park but didn’t really swim this time, Playing on beach at Hoffmaster State Park although it was pretty much the perfect day Hiking the Lake Michigan Shoreline to hike along their 3-mile shoreline Kiting at Hoffmaster State Park until we found a quiet spot for kiting Barrier Wall for sandcastle at Hoffmaster State Park and building sand castles. Baby Sam checking out the sand at Hoffmaster State Park I love that even if you don’t always get to do what you think you’re going to do, Lounging at Hoffmaster State Park if you’re with people you love, whatever you end up doing is still tons of fun. Joel at the helm flying a kite at Hoffmaster State Park It’s really about love and companionship Talking at the beach at Hoffmaster State Park…talking, sharing, and experiencing the simple pleasures of life together, isn’t it? Baby playing in sand at Hoffmaster State Park Praise God for loved ones, big and small! Baby checking out sand at Hoffmaster State Park We don’t have to swim in a big lake; Wading pool at Hoffmaster State Parkwe can still have fun stomping in a pool! Watching Daddy Build Sandcastle Hoffmaster State Park We don’t need to live in a castle; Family Fun at Hoffmaster State Park it’s plenty of fun just working together building one in the sand! Plane flying by beach Family Fun at Hoffmaster State Park We don’t really need to fly off into the wild, blue yonder;Flying a kite at Hoffmaster State Park we can have a wonderful time flying a kite together instead! Building sandcastles along Lake Michigan ShorelineSo, it occurred to me that if you want to keep your sandcastles from crumbling, Daddy's Little Helper building a sandcastle at Hoffmaster State Parkit’s not so much in protecting your dreams There goes the kite at Hoffmaster State Park as it is in keeping your eyes on the real dream of life! Sandcastle at Hoffmaster State ParkAnd now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

Views of the Zoo Through Child Eyes

The John Ball Zoo as Seen Through the Eyes of a ChildThere may be nothing more compelling to me than watching my grandchildren Lunch. Waiting for at John Ball Zoo(and our beloved children who interact with them) filled with delight  Asking about Great Apes at John Ball Zoo and puzzlement as they experience new things
and try to understand what’s happening. Penguins at John Ball ZooOne of the places that seems to provoke unending excitement and curiosity John Ball Statue at John Ball Zoois our very own menagerie, the John Ball Zoo. Fish at John Ball Zoo I used to be the one trying to educate my own kids, Fish. Watching fish at John Ball Zoo but now I just love hearing my kids explain things to their children: Chimps Kissing “The chimps are kissing each other! Isn’t that sweet?”  Wallaby John Ball Zoo. That’s a wallaby. He’s a little cousin to the kangaroos. They live in Australia. BongoThat’s a bongo! They’re the biggest sort of antelope and live in Africa,
like where Mama lived when she was a little girl.  Bears at John Ball ZooDo you suppose the bears are telling stories? What do you think they’re saying?Otters at John Ball ZooThe otters are just playing. Sometimes they like a bit of rough and tumble.Boys riding can zt John Ball Zoo.That’s probably not too different from the way little boys like it sometimes, too! Map of John Ball ZooI also love to watch the kids trying to share what they learn as they grow up a bit. Beetle ChartAaron’s boys are really into bugs, so they recognize some types of beetles now. Lions at John Ball ZooIt’s great to watch the kids teaching their younger siblings what they know, too! Lions go Roar at John Ball Zoo“Lions go RRRROARRRR!” (Note that Sophie refuses to be intimidated!)  :)  Clubhouse at John Ball Zoo  At the John Ball Zoo, there are spaces for fun depending on how old you are Lunch. Pizza at John Ball Zoo…and places for fun no matter how old you are! Train Play John Ball Zoo. Because the zoo is constantly growing, there’s always something old to enjoy, Train at John Ball Zoo as well as something new to explore. Train down to entrance at John Ball Zoo Jon (my train lover) and his family had never ridden the tram before! Playing Drums at at John Ball Zoo There are certain “rights of passage” at the zoo, too! Camel Ride at John Ball Zoo Last time Amélie visited, she was too little to ride the camel,
but this year she was finally big enough…Petting the camel Playing Drums at at John Ball Zoo although Sophie still isn’t. She was only big enough to pet the camel! Goats. Petting at John Ball Zoo Thankfully, even the littlest folks can interact with the goats at the petting zoo Sheep being combed at the John Ball Zoo or brush the sheep’s fur. Budgies feeding at John Ball Zoo Probably one of the most exhilarating activities is  feeding the budgies. Budgie Feeding with Daddy at John Ball Zoo With a little help from parents to entice the budgies on to a stick of seeds, Budgies. Feeding a budgie nature lovers of all ages find it inexplicably pleasurable to interact so closely Feeding a budgie with some of God’s beautiful, unpredictable, wild and wonderful creations. Budgie on head! at John Ball Zoo Of course, it’s even more of a curiosity and marvel when they fly down Budgie in hair and try to decide if your head would make a good nesting site!Tiger at John Ball Zoo copyNobody who’s very big wants to get up and personal with the tigers, however!Tiger Exhibit No matter how young or old you are, some exhibits are always super impressive! Tiger. A Little Scary! Tigers don’t have to roar to be scary…all they have to do is walk up to you. Tiger at John Ball ZooI love seeing the differing reactions based on age and experience: innocent curiosity (Sophie),  boy bravado (age 5, trying to scold the tiger), tense assessment (age 7, ), and studied sobriety (age 9). Otters at John Ball Zoo copyEvery time I’m at the zoo, I’m reminded of how patient God is in teaching me. Pelicans. Baby watching at John Ball ZooThere are so many ways in which I’m still like a very small child spiritually! Goat fascination+15  7.8.15This universe is full of things I really don’t understand at all! Bear at John Ball ZooThere are dangers that I don’t fully recognize. Goats. Sharing the brush at John Ball ZooI am so thankful for those who are older and wiser and willing to share with me!

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Among the Lilies: Brianna’s Baby

Dan and BriannaYesterday I mentioned that Brianna (and my son, Daniel) served as photographers for a wedding last weekend, but today I want to share a precious story that Brianna wrote last week. Mother with Baby at Meijer Garden Those of you who know our family well have heard many stories about Samuel, their little miracle baby who was born at 27.5 weeks and had a huge struggle for survival. Dan and Brianna with Baby Sam He is now so round and sturdy that he reminds me of a little Winston Churchill (only immeasurably sweeter in disposition). But, without further ado, I’ll share what she wrote: Brianna with their Baby “364 days ago, I was eagerly anticipating/anxiously awaiting my first ‘normal’ pregnancy appointment ever… hoping to hear our baby’s heartbeat at the 10 week check-up, but scared that there wouldn’t be one. That same week, I watched the lilies fade in my backyard and wondered what would happen to the lone one that lay fallen over on the ground, unopened. The morning of my appointment, it blossomed in the dirt. My very favorite flower in the whole world- a stargazer. Daniel and I were delighted.  Baby with Star-gazer lilyI sometimes struggle with trusting that the Lord’s plan is good, even when it’s hard. What a sweet reminder from our Creator.  This morning the stargazer gave us this year’s bloom.

Baby and star-gazer lily “‘And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…’
‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?’
                                                        – Matthew 6:27-30″

Happy Family; Happy Wedding in the Woods

Father and Bride 2Yesterday I was pondering the probability that parents who devoted themselves to their family, worked tirelessly, and lived joyfully might bring out the best in their children, Parents and friends of bride and groom and today I want to tell you about one family who—at least from my perspective over the past 30 years—has really been living out that reality! Our family at the weddingLast Saturday, the GR contingent of our family headed over to the Detroit area Bride and Groomto attend Melanie and Daniel’s wedding. BridesmaidsOur daughter was among the “sisters” who served as Melanie’s bridesmaids. Christmas ProgramThey’ve been great buddies since as long as any of them can remember.
(The two blonde girls with pigtails are Melanie and her sister, Jennifer; Kathy is between them, and my son Daniel is the baby in blue in front of Kathy.) Tea Party When Melanie’s little brother was born, the girls spent several days playing at our home, & tea parties always garnered a lot of attention from da brodders.Christmas Program at SBCBut, our friendship was extra special, because both families attended the same church…a little country church that felt like one big, happy family. Hunting Easter EggsWe celebrated all our holidays together: Christmas pageants,  Easter egg hunts, Picnic and a swim summer picnics and winter skating parties.Pig RoastEvery Fourth of July, there was a church-wide pig roast with fireworks and fun.Easter egg HuntNo matter what we were doing, Melanie’s parents were in the middle of the action, working really hard to make things super special and fun! Dinner at our homeI don’t think anything’s ever really changed in over 30 years…they’ve just kept on loving their kids and working their hearts out, being super parents! Father and BrideMelanie wanted her wedding in the woods. Wedding Chapel in Woods Dave told us he’s spent over 4 years working to clear out their woods, Back row Baptistsand I can’t begin to imagine how much time he spent building the venue! Wedding in the WoodsAs is typical of their family, everything was planned down to the last detail, Parking lot for weddingcomplete with chalk lines drawn in the grass for the parking lot Comic book wedding invitationsand incredibly  detailed, eight-page “comic book” programs!  Photographers eating a biteAt the dinner party afterward, Dona (Melanie’s mom) said to me, Scrumptious desserts “Kathy, you’d be so proud of me!  After the rehearsal dinner last night I went home and made all sorts of pies!” (And that’s not all; the meal was amazing!) Mother and brother of brideWell, Dona, I’m always proud of you, but now I stand in awe of you!
What an example to me you’ve been of unending, sacrificial love! Wedding PhotographerThe wedding was just great!  Brianna Brianna and Dan served as photographers (and my son Daniel) served as photographers. Wedding in the Woods. Exchanging VowsTheir wedding will always be memorable to me, partly because it truly was
one of the shortest…but also because it was also one of the sweetest!” Joel keeping Baby happyBaby Samuel was the only child in attendance (because Brianna’s still nursing), Grandpa keeping baby happy during weddingbut he was as good as gold and never made a peep! Cutting the cakeAfter the service, there was a wonderful dinner reception with all the usual excitement, like introducing the wedding party, cutting the cake, Maid of Honor's speech and the delivery of touching speeches about the wonderful couple (and they are)! Enjoying Speech of bride's fatherAfter the father’s speech, my sons commented on how playful Melanie’s father is, and how he makes everything fun. Decorating the carI think that’s been true for as long as I’ve known their family! Pig Roast. Roasted Pig!Their lawn games and pig roast brought back happy memories of “the good old days” when the kids were little. Baby reaching for cotton candy Life was always happy and full of joy…and they’re keeping that tradition going! :) Presenting the bridal partyIt reminded me of the symphony from the previous day. Loving, working hard, keeping engaged, having fun…it’s all so important…for the entire family! Father of the bride speechKudos to Dave and Dona for a life spent loving their kids, Bride feeding cake to groom and congratulations to Melanie and Daniel,
who are still loving the Lord and serving him with all their hearts.Baby Riding piggy backYou’re an inspiration to me and everybody who knows you!Piggyback ride on Dad“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9)