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Archive for November, 2008

Special Days–The Richness of Family, The Value of Children

Posted by MDViews on November 29, 2008

At this point in my life, 56 years and counting, I treasure special days. Days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, 4th of July, weddings and even funerals. It takes a day like that to bring together family and close friends, to slow the hectic work pace, to cause un-contemplative folks to comtemplate the meaning of life and to refocus on what’s important.

That has happened again this Thanksgiving. My wife and I rented a motor home and traveled to Kentucky to visit my oldest son, Nathan, and his family. (Wife, Sarah and children Hannah, Noah, Rebekah and Jeremiah). We traveled with my son, Micah, and his family, (Melissa, Blaine and Tyler) and our daughter, Abigail, and her family (Tom, Eliza, Seth and Elianna). 11 of us in a motor home for 12 1/2 hours. What a joy! Since arriving, it has been non-stop kids–running, playing, eating, falling, crying, napping, bumping and getting to know each other all over again. In the midst of that chaos, my son’s study became the Internet cafe. Last I counted, there were 6 or 7 laptops and at least two desktop computers, all being used. All this energy has been fueled by food, food and more food. Even as I type, there are potatoes and a roast in the crock pot, cream puffs in the freezer waiting to be thawed and fresh Toll House cookies on the counter. The kitchen has been in a constant state of being cleaned, preparing food, eating food and cleaning again. With a plethora of Nerf guns and Nerf bullets, someone is always shooting someone. Add a potato gun for adult explosive fun, and you’ve got a genuine Kentucky celebration. As darkness fell tonight, Ed, the other grandparent, started the fire pit and the grandchildren enjoyed S’mores.

This is as close to heaven on earth as I will ever get.

Not to idolize family. Clearly, our focus is to glorifying God over wife, children, grandchildren, in-laws or friends. We have to hold our earthly possessions, including family, loosely. We have no knowledge of the future. I don’t know what God may yet have in store for me, whether poverty, loneliness, illness, pain or suffering. But for now, I am ever so thankful He has provided such wonderful blessings.

I talk about days like this often. More often than you may think.

As an OB/GYN, I routinely deal with patients who have decided on a family with no children, or maybe one or two. Although there are variations, in general, women understand the gift of children more than men. It’s the boyfriend or husband who says one, maybe two is enough. I use my story of special days to emphasize that children are ultimately not a burden, but rather a true blessing with more joy than one can imagine. I explain that my encouragement to have a larger family is not based on a financial desire for more business. Far from it. It is just a plea for them to grab the joy that waits them if they have a larger family.

I’m not naive. We’ve raised four kids. It is no picnic. The “highs” are ever so high, but the “lows” can be lower than low. We’ve dealt with all the problems that go along with each age. But the joy of adult children and grandchildren is such a joy, such a comfort and such a fulfillment that it is difficult to describe.

And I don’t mean the saying I hear so often. “Yeah, it’s fun because you can spoil them and send them home.” God forbid!

First, the last thing I would want would be spoiled, disrespectful grandchildren. I feel invested in their lives and only want good for them. Second, although it can be a relief when they go home with their parents after a long, busy day, especially after a hard day at work, we rarely turn down the opportunity to have them spend the night. Bea, my wife, often has them all day. And she is the best grandmother I know. (No exaggeration.) It is a mystery to me how couples can move south for golf and warm weather and leave their children and grandchildren. What are they thinking? Golf? Warm weather? Compared to relationship with children and grandchildren? Give me a break!

So the real point of this post is the value of children and family. It is a blessing just waiting to happen. And I guess that’s a good fit for a pro-life OB/GYN.

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God, Family | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Memories of my Dad

Posted by MDViews on November 28, 2008

All of us come from somewhere and none of us are here by accident. The sins of the fathers and the righteousness of the fathers can have a great influence for generations. God chose to bless me with a Christian father, not a perfect one, but a solid Christian man. He passed away about 2 months ago, the victim of longstanding coronary artery disease, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). His funeral was a glorious affair attended by a large number of family, friends, work acquaintances. I said a few words at his funeral which I publish now to honor his memory. I hope you enjoy learning something about my dad.

MY MEMORIES OF MY DAD

Memories—they tend to be colored by our emotions and blurred by time. As such, memories are always unreliable representations of actual persons and events. Because of that, my recollections, although true to me, may not be true to you. So, forgive me if what I say about Dad doesn’t fit with your remembrances. It’s just my memories.

Dad worked hard. All his life, he worked hard. I’ve joked that if you looked up ‘work-a-holic’ in the dictionary, you would find his picture. But, it’s hard to imagine being so young with so many children, as was his lot. Dad started work at Terrace Park Dairy in the plant as a milk bottle washer, the lowest job there. He worked his way up until he finally got a milk route, the worst one they had. He grew it to the biggest—they cut it in half. He grew it again, they cut it again. He kept doing that until they made him a supervisor. As a guy, I know he must have felt tremendous pressure to put food on our table and a roof over our heads. But he met the challenge by working hard. In fact, working hard was probably Dad’s defining feature. He never apologized for it. He didn’t have to; it was the right thing to do. I remember him saying to me on more than one occasion that his goal was to teach his boys how to work hard. From chores on the farm by Tea, feeding chickens, picking eggs and general helping, the message was clear—hard work was a virtue and real men worked hard. When Larry and I reached the teen years, Dad was always finding work for us, (much to my disappointment, I might add, as I would have rather watched TV). But we worked. We mowed lawns, swept the entire Terrace Park Dairy parking lot by hand many times and even tore down houses. He was so proud to have volunteered us for any work, any where, anytime. Manhood and hard work were synonyms to Dad. Proverbs says, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and poverty will overtake you like a bandit and want like an armed man. Dad was never rich, but we never faced poverty or want, a testimony to the truth of the Bible. Dad worked and provided—no small task.

Dad was never lazy. He took pride in showing up early to work, especially when delivering milk. He was often there, loading his truck at 3:30am. That was back when the work week was six days long, not five days. He would tell me how much he like his job and would talked about the importance of loving your work. He found a work home at the dairy, for 31 years. He was so disappointed when Terrace Park sold out to Land ‘O Lakes. My dad, the quintessential conservative, even helped form a union to try to save his job but he lost it anyway. I know little about his work at the Lutheran church or the school system since I was grown and on my own. I just know he always landed on his feet working. I knew that retirement for Dad would just mean different work. With retirement, he concentrated more on small engine repair. When mowers became harder for him to fix, he went to work at HyVee. What a surprise that he lobbied for the job starting at 3:00 in the morning. He worked until the end, to the very day he passed on. He finish well and with honor.

Dad was an athlete. I don’t know where Dad got his love for baseball and softball, but love it he did. The Twins were always on the radio at home. Church league softball was his love. He pitched and was pretty good at it. One summer days, he would get home from work and start throwing to me or Larry. For hours, it seemed. He worked on his fastball and curve. He was a good hitter and fast on the base paths. He had a level swing and hit line drive base hits with regularity. His arms were strong from lifting milk all day. Dad even coached our teener ball team.

Dad was generous to a fault. I’m sure he was taught that from his youth. He taught me to never borrow something without returning it in as good or better condition than I received it. If I borrowed a vehicle, I should always return it clean with a full tank of gas. If someone needed help, go help, no questions asked. I was so blessed last night as person after person told me how my Dad had help them in a time of need.

Dad was a salesman. He was a great salesman. But he wasn’t a great salesman because of some artificial desire to sell. He was just friendly, whether selling or not. He always made friends easily. He was genuinely interested in people and not afraid to introduce himself and and strike up a conversation. He could gain peoples trust because he was trustworthy. He was real and genuine and cared. And those qualities showed.

Dad was smart—way smarter than I was or am. He could remember names and faces. He was quick with numbers. His memory and ability to work with numbers was the stuff of legend. I was interested to read the letter he wrote to Ross when Ross was in second grade. He told Ross that in his one room grade school, he read all 80 books in the small library there. Dad never went to college, but I’ve no doubt he could have mastered any topic.

Dad loved to sing. Singing was part of our lives. When we were little and all in the car, Dad would often sing while driving. He loved choir and he really loved the quartet. He was the glue that held it together.

God, in his wisdom and grace, visits upon us all calamity and struggles. I had already left home when Dad’s failed relationships and untreated depression were nearly his undoing. By God’s grace, he was somehow able to survive the next many years. Then, 25 years ago he married Lois. Even looking from a distance, Bea and I could see that Lois was the best thing that happened to Dad. She had a concept of family and pushed him to the family gatherings. She became as much a twins fan as he was, which must have provided for hours of lively conversation. She loved him dearly and it was easy to see that he shared that emotion with her. Lois, for your influence on Dad and your many years of love for him, we will always be grateful.

Dad was committed Christian, as long as I remember, a tribute to the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness his own mom and dad and the generations before which was populated with pastors. He loved God. He worshiped God. He served God. He lived his life for God. He encouraged his children, all of us, to seek out a Bible-believing church and make worship and service a regular part of our lives. For that commitment I am so very thankful. Being a father and grandfather myself, I know that getting the family to church and providing for their spiritual training is no small task. But Dad did it. Growing up, we were in church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening and every Wednesday night prayer meeting. I know that my walk with Christ would not be where it is today without that discipline. I never got to see the end of the Wonderful World of Disney or the Wizard of Oz until I was an adult because they were always shown on Sunday night. But Dad’s dedication to my Christian upbringing was a blessing that I cannot overstate. His commitment to Christ was a gift of immeasurable worth and one I have tried to pass on to my children and grandchildren. So, thank you Dad for your commitment, your dedication, your faithfulness and your love for God. You ran the race. You fought the good fight. You persevered to the end. Now, by God’s grace, you will receive your reward and enjoy the glory and majesty of the God you served so faithfully.

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God, Family | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Thanksgiving

Posted by MDViews on November 28, 2008

In 1620, the separatist group of Puritans, called the Pilgrims, made their way ashore at Plymouth Rock starting one of the most famous adventures into the new world. Of course, modern understanding misses the most important aspects of that period of time, just like modern society misses the mark on Christmas and Easter.

The Pilgrims made such a voyage to escape religious persecution in Holland (that’s right–they had already escaped England). They faced a hostile land, in that the first winter saw so many die. But spring brought a productive association with the Indians leading to a large harvest in the fall. So they invited their new friends and for 3 days celebrated God’s providence giving thanks to Him.

They were quite politically incorrect. They gave thanks to God, not the Indians, because they knew God was in control and it was Him who brought the Indians into their lives. They preached the gospel to the Indians as they viewed them as pagans (which they were). They started out with a communal-type society, but soon realized they would fail without change, and so instituted the policy of no food for those who did not work. Also, they allowed private property and allowed those with private property to keep or sell the produce from it. No safety net for those who chose not to work. The church provided for widows, orphans and the infirm. No environmental studies before raising livestock or planting crops on their own ground.

From those radical ideas started the economic engine of America and our freedom from government interference with religion. The rest is history.

It is hard for me to imagine the struggle they faced. It was not romantic. It was dirty, hard, cold work from sun up to sun down. People then died from ailments we easily treat today. Yet, they recognized that God provided for them and to Him belonged praise and honor and thanks and glory.

I pray God will give my a thankful heart–for breath, for family, for His saving grace, for His call on my life. And I pray that the true spirit of thanksgiving will pervade our gathering this year.

I pray God will give me a heart of thanksgiving every day of the year.

Posted in Holidays | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Back again

Posted by MDViews on November 16, 2008

After being absent for more than two years, I’ve returned to blogging.

I hope.

I suffer from depression and have for many years now. I never know how long I’ll feel well enough to do anything extra. Mostly, my life is work, family and church. Those activities take all my energy, and often more energy than I have. Depression is like that. It takes your drive, your energy, your motivation, your desires and leaves hopelessness, despair, fatigue and joylessness. When that happens, I find myself hunkering down to do what I must, and only what I must. Blogging is an activity that takes energy I don’t usually have.

In fact, I have about ten posts in my “drafts” list that I’ve started and not finished.

These last two weeks, God has granted me a burst of energy, motivation and drive. I’m just thankful for it. I know from experience it probably won’t last, but I’m reveling in each and every minute.

Now, one of my beautiful, intelligent daughters has her own blog at http://abigailsleftovers.blogspot.com/. So the blogging thought is back in my head and I’ve decided to give it a try again.

What was it I heard the other day? Blogging. Never have so many, written so much, said so little, read by so few.

Truly, my blog is in that category. Few have been here. Fewer have read. I’ve no delusions of acquiring an audience.

But I’m back now. I hope to post next on the right of conscience. It’s a big deal in OB/GYN right now and may be for everyone before long.

Posted in Personal | Leave a Comment »