What I Owe My Father-in-law

The short answer: a bunch.

When I consulted with my 19-year-old self, I decided that one vital point I would look for in a potential husband was a guy who had a robust relationship with his dad. I craved children; even more, I wanted a man who would be a good father to those future children. Specifically, I wanted a man who had lived with an example of strong leadership, who knew firsthand what a good dad looked like; a man who wanted to be like his father.

[Disclaimer: I know that men who have had passive, indifferent, distant, or abusive fathers are capable of being good dads.]

Thus, when I talked to a guy who dissed his dad, I drew a mental X next to his name: Disqualified.

When Curt and I started going out, he was working summers with his dad. He came to take me to dinner in his dad’s brand new Triumph Spitfire. There was a confidence and respect that flowed between those two men. Curt introduced me to his parents very early in our relationship. When it came time to marry, Curt did not hesitate in choosing his Best Man: “my Dad“. After we had children, we moved nine hours to our current location (where Curt’s folks lived) in order for our kids to live close to their grandparents. Curt and his dad formed a partnership and worked together 12 years. Ever since Curt was old enough to hold a gun, they have hunted together.

“Dad” poured himself into Curt, and through the man his son became, my sons and I have reaped a boatload of benefits. What did Curt learn from his dad? Motivation to work; equilibrium expressed in the family motto: Let’s get the work done and then have fun!; a willingness to confront tough issues and pursue resolution; the courage to be unpopular; stubbornness; unflinching sacrifice; bluntness; the beauty of order; affection; fidelity; compassion; service; laughter.

He made an investment. He renewed that investment. He continues to invest. And I am the rich beneficiary.

Wooden Spoons That Make You Sing

 

My kids/grandsons gave me a set of wooden spoons for Mother’s Day.
Yay! I love wooden spoons.




  Spoons with style!




Drumsticks on the end!
Hooray!
Now you can stir your Puttanesca sauce,
flip the spoons, and lay down a cadence as
you merrily fling Puttanesca all over your ceiling.



I love my Fred Mix Stix.

Synchronicity, you make make heart beat!
My husband’s words matched the kids’ gift.

Your joy pushes us onward,
expecting and anticipating more blessings up ahead.
Keep singing your song
and telling your story.
We are honored to be included
in your harmony and script.

This Repeated Wedding Procession


Note: We mourned the passing of our neighbors’ mom/grandma this week.  After the service, Curt and I sat down and wrote out our thoughts.  And Grace Will Lead Me Home has my reflections. This is my husband Curt’s gift of words to our friends.

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,

Four which I do not understand:

The way of an eagle in the sky,

The way of a serpent on a rock,

The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,

And the way of a man with a maid.

Proverbs 30:18-19


When I was younger, and when my eyes seemed smarter, I concluded that a marriage was best represented by the wedding ceremony.  Beauty, strength, desire, hope, vows, laughter, celebration, romance, honeymoon; all of these became for me the defining picture of a rich marriage.

But over the years my vision of marriage has sharpened beyond the blur of my youthful folly.  My own marriage has taught me the value of sacrifice over time.  My wife’s sustained love for me through the years has re-sketched my picture of a rich marriage.

I have witnessed many marriages that are in it for the long run.  These marathon marches through difficulties and joys continue to grip my attention and cause me to refocus.  My parents’ journey speaks loudly here.  But there is a particular snapshot etched indelibly in my mind, a rich picture of marriage, crafted before me on many occasions over these recent past years.

From the privacy of my own home, I have spied what for me has become a masterful image of marriage bliss.  Sitting at my table, watching through my window, an elderly couple has often climbed their son’s driveway to attend various family get-togethers.  Slowly, carefully, stooped and leaning upon one another, arm in arm–this repeated wedding procession has captured my attention.  Their destination was always happily realized through their courageous determination, but not without the pain of old joints, grimacing faces, and off-balance missteps.

Bob and Averil scaled with difficulty what for them was a steep climb.  And they probably never knew I was watching them, sometimes praying them onward to a welcoming front door.  I’m sure they were studying the ground for the sake of a safe arrival.  But I was studying them, for the sake of my own marriage, which has not yet fully arrived.  And one day yet future, I hope someone younger will notice the masterpiece before them, when Carol and I cannot walk forward unless we are walking together, leaning in upon one another.  Thank-you Bob.  And thank-you Averil.

 

The Contest

 

“We’re having a contest,” he said, smiling.

One eyebrow arched, I mentally reviewed recent communications and asked, “We are?”

“Yep.” Still smiling.

Wow. I must have missed the memo. I cocked my head and smiled back, quizzical. What are you talking about?

Silence.

“We’re both trying to outlove each other.”

Well, then. 

Let the contest continue!

 

 

So What’s the Point of Christmas?

Once there was an older boy who was wondering to himself about Christmas: I wonder why we make such a big deal about the birth of Jesus when his birth really doesn’t save anyone?

The question was not going away, so he approached the theologian of his family, his father. Dad, since the birth of Jesus doesn’t really save anyone, why do we make such a big deal about it?

His father was very pleased with such a question, and he began to think of a helpful illustration. So he asked his son: Whenever you play a game of baseball, what do you need?

His son began listing all the components he could think of. A baseball, a bat, a glove, a playing field, four bases, 17 more players, and an umpire. He looked questioningly at his father.

You also need to know the history of the game, the rules, and baseball strategy. You need the skills to hit, throw, and field the ball. You need a scorekeeper, base coaches, a line-up, grandstands, a crowd, hot dogs, and coke. The father stopped there and looked at his son.

So, what’s your point? The boy asked. His father smiled–he loved that question most of all. If you only had a baseball, could you play the game?

Of course not, said the boy.

The father’s anticipation grew as he asked the clincher. If you had everything else, but no baseball, could you play the game?

The father stared at his son. He wanted him to figure this one out on his own. The boy was thinking hard.

Oh, I get it. If you had the whole plan of salvation without the birth of the Savior, you would not have any salvation!

Shazam! the father exclaimed.

Just like you need a baseball to play the game, the birth of Jesus is required for the salvation of the world.

So, when you look at the baseball sitting on your shelf, you automatically make connections–you hear the count, you see base hits, stolen bases, and strike outs, and you smell the snack shack.

When you see a nativity scene sitting on the coffee table, you should automatically hear Isaiah’s predictions of the Messiah, you should see Jesus living a sinless life, dying as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, rising from the dead in complete victory, and ascending to the right hand of the throne of God, ruling over the nations until all his enemies are made his footstool.

Christmas is therefore a crucial part of salvation’s story. Without Christmas there would be no salvation. Just like without a baseball there can be no game.

Cool!

No, the father said, it’s better than cool. The Incarnation is part of a perfect, no-hitter, shut-out game. It’s one inning of an absolute blowout. And we get to stand in the 7th inning stretch and sing the Doxology.

~ Curt Bakker, December 18, 2005

Tidings of Almonds and Joy (God Rest Ye Merry Musketeers)

 


God rest ye merry Musketeers Yule time is your Payday.

Remember Christ our Savior redeemed the Milky Way.

Oh Henry’s Baby Ruth rejoiced with Christmas on its way.

Singing, Tidings of Almonds and Joy, Almonds and Joy.

Singing, Tidings of Almonds and Joy.

 

From God our heavenly Father, Goodbar the angel came.

The shepherds stopped their Snickering, Kit Kats and Doves were tamed.

Big Hunks of earth and Clifs of rock shook loose in Jesus’ name.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy, Almonds and Joy.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy.

 

100 Grand angelic voices Thundered all around.

Nestlè, the strongest shepherd Crunched his staff upon the ground.

Hershey, his Bar-friend was be-Twixt, Butter-Fingered at the sound.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy, Almonds and Joy.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy.

 

The shepherds went Nutrageous, they climbed o’er hills and Mounds.

And Fast Breaked up 5Th Avenue through Bethlehem the town.

A fire Krackeled near the barn, Messiah they had found.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy, Almonds and Joy.

Oh, tidings of Almonds and Joy.


(my husband entered a contest at work to make a Christmas Carol with Candy Bars.  He won People’s Choice.  He also made the wooden letters in the picture this year.  One side says Believe!; the other Rejoice!)

Lift Up Your Hearts

 

 


Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants,

and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.

Let our garners be full, furnishing every kind of produce.

And our flocks bring forth thousands and ten-thousands in our fields.

Let our cattle bear, without mishap and without loss.

Let there be no outcry in our streets.

How blessed are the people who are so situated.

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Psalm 144:12-15

 

 

 

The holiday season is upon us.

And along with our many celebrations comes a higher concentration of human beings in limited spaces. Homes that usually house one family, will receive extra visitors.

Grandparents will join their children and grandchildren for meals and games. Uncles and aunts and cousins will arrive from far-away places.

Bedrooms will swell with overnight guests. Showers will require more hot water than is available.

Dishes will pile up.

Toilets will plug.

Diapers will stink.

Toddlers will make watching a good movie almost impossible.

Glasses will break.

Toys will become tug-of-war victims.

Along with all the laughter, memories, jokes, conversations, and good food, offenses will come.

Patience will run short.

Fatigue will settle in.

Someone will most likely get sick. Loud crying will echo throughout the house.

There will be spankings and rumors of spankings.

And then the end will come.

We tend to anticipate the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas, without remembering the tensions that accompany sinners wherever we go.

Our celebrations always bring with them difficulties, because we by nature are difficult to get along with.

So, how shall we then live, given our own weaknesses and failures?

 
 

By faith.

By faith we must trust that our mixed-bag celebrations are the context God is using to grow strong sons and grandsons.

By faith we must trust that these sorts of tensions are fashioning our daughters and granddaughters into beautiful palatial pillars.

By faith we must believe God is re-making us into his own image through our flawed efforts to please him.

And that is exactly what we are endeavoring to do here this morning.

We are trusting he will change us as we seek to please him.

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.

Let us therefore worship the Triune God.

guest post from my husband,  Curt Bakker

It Is a Privilege

 


 

I called my cousin Rebecca when her husband died of cancer.  Her quiet words, spoken ten years ago, are barnacled to my soul: It was a privilege to be his wife.

That’s exactly how I feel after 32 years of marriage.  It is, it was, it continues to be a privilege to be his wife.  Happy Anniversary, my love!




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Why I Love My Sons’ Father

I’ve mentioned before my husband’s excellence at note writing and his blessings.  Never sappy, never sentimental, sometimes funny, but always thoroughly wonderful.  While I was helping my son cook his own birthday dinner (Bolognese sauce, pasta, focaccia and green salad) Curt sat down and wrote a card.  With permission from both the giver and the recipient, here it is:

Your birthday is always a good day to take some time
   and reflect back over the years.
Remember the blunders and the blessings,
   the sins and obediences, the consequences and mercies.
In all of it, I pray you will see God’s gracious hand and relentless patience.
May you learn to be always thankful and forever fearful.
Actually, the order must go the other way.
Fear God, for He does as He pleases with you.
And thank Him, for He is pleased to do good to you.
Master these two attitudes toward God, and no other idol will master you.
I am privileged to be your father, and I am proud to have you as my son.

Always,

Dad