Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grandpa Marner

Often, wisdom is taught more through silence rather than words. Such was the case with Grandpa. He was soft spoken and thought carefully on the words that came out of his mouth. He set an example for his grandchildren in every facet of his life. He and Grandma always said, if there is one thing we want for you it's that you love the Lord. And they lived this out.
When you stayed overnight and Grandma and Grandpa's you knew what to expect in the morning. Cream of Wheat. And Our Daily Bread. He would read from that every morning, it was part of his consistency. Something not fully appreciated at the time by a young boy who could give them all the energy they could handle.
Of the hundreds of words I could choose to describe Grandpa the one I would use to represent them all is patient. As a child, when Grandpa would pray for a meal, you thought it possible to starve before he was finished. As an adult, it only exemplified his patience and desire to serve God and to be that example to his family.
He had a work ethic foreign to this generation. But he knew how to take time to talk with a friend. He would teach you to drive the tractor or stack hay and he never thought you took too long. After digging post holes I couldn't understand why he spent 30 minutes scraping the dirt off the post hole digger and shovel with a knife. Aren't you going to use that again tomorrow? I'm quite certain he only ever owned one shovel. He had no problem doing the tedious work. You would never find a stray rock or dandelion in his yard.
He was a fighter. His silent strength kept him going long after his body wanted to quit and he pushed through. He loved Grandma, that was always clear to me even when I wasn't aware of it. Over 62 years they were married. That's 22,807 days. 547,368 hours. 32,842,080 minutes. And I can tell you as sure as I'm standing here he loved her more every day of his life.
Not long ago, they were at a doctor appointment for Grandma. Grandpa had to kneel down and tie her shoe. He said, with that smile we all know so well, "While I'm down here I may as well ask you, will you marry me?" Beaming, Grandma replied, "I'm sorry, I'm already married to a good man."
I am fortunate to have had such a man as my Grandfather in my life. He is one of the greatest men to have ever lived, and part of what makes that true is that if he were here he would disagree with me.
As Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians, "We know that when the tent which houses us here on earth is torn down, we have a permanent building from God, a building not made by human hands, to house us in heaven."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What is fair?

A few weeks ago I had the unfortunate opportunity to travel to Iowa for the funeral of Jason Marner. David (Jason's brother) was the one who called me on Thursday morning and told me of Jason's death. Sometimes there are no words, and sometimes that's okay. That overwhelming feeling of despair was instantly upon. Such things in life are not fair. They should not happen to one so young. I recall so many of my emotions from my 14th birthday when my cousin Shaun was killed in a car accident. We don't want to believe that this thing is actually taking place. It feels like a "cruel joke", our instant reaction disbelief.

When someone so young is taken from us we are left asking so many questions. So many questions that all point to the same big one, "Why?". It makes life seem all the more unfair. God, why was a life cut short?...Was it?

It is our instant reaction to proclaim such a tragedy, that someone at the young age of 22 (or 16) has been robbed of their life. I say, with the greatest compassion, that this is not so. They have only just began their life in Heaven with a wonderful God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians (5:1; 8) "We know that when the tent which houses us here on earth is torn down, we have a permanent building from God, a building not made by human hands, to house us in heaven. We are confident, then, and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and come to our home with he Lord." This does not take away the pain. It does not relieve the grieving in our hearts for those we love. But what joy and comfort we can find in knowing that our loved one is with God in Heaven. 

Life is more fair than we suppose. God has offered us a free gift of Salvation. A gift not without cost to Him, not without the pain so familiar to us. God sacrificed Jesus, His son, on our account. So life is not fair, not in the sense that bad things happen to good people, but rather that we are so filled with sin that we do not deserve the gift of Salvation, and yet it is ours. Jesus said, "And eternal life is this: to know you, the one true God, and him whom you sent, Yeshua the Messiah." (John 17:3) If nothing else, let the fact of eternal life drive you to share the gift of Salvation with everyone.

God knows our pain. God grieves with us. God is there to comfort us. God has made the fair, unfair. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Is this the first time you've been back in a while?

Yes, I don't remember when. So many emotions flood back to me. The stinging cold is not noticeable. To be here in the darkness almost makes it more real. As I think on the 11 years, 5 months and 13 days I can't help but wonder what would have been. I can't help but to think of that day. How I wanted to have Faith but I let it slip away while I buried the remains of Trust. "God has a plan." Oh how my heart believes these words that my mind rejects. I could stand here all night. The details that even this place still brings. I consider it an honor when called by this name. How can I write words that I don't fully understand? My mind races with wonder. Who knows but He? As I fight for the answers that may never come. The pain may never be replaced. What if this was to bring me to this place? Why does a place, when in reality is empty, hold so many things? How can I still hide from what I know I am? We must be called home. Some things can never be understood as humans. But we are promised all will be revealed. Somehow my patience is not helped. It screams out. The Trust I have is not the Faith I want. The culmination of my turmoil is before me. To say I have come out of it would be a lie. My weakness is shown to me. The desire draws near. This fear is what holds me. To be caught up again would only hinder. The Grace is overwhelming. The Love is clear. To be great means there is not fear. For a page can tell you almost nothing. But a book reveals the plan. To know the promises will mean the end.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Take Some Time

I had the recent privilege to spend Christmas with my family. I haven't been able to do so every year since I've lived in Texas, so I consider it a real privilege. In the more recent trips back to The Hawkeye State I have tried to make it a point to spend time with my grandparents as well as some extended family members. (I don't really like the term "extended family". I understand its point but my entire family has always been close and it's one of the many blessing I remember to count.) It probably doesn't help being so far away, but it seems like my grandparents have aged faster and their health deteriorated at a more rapid pace in my five and a half years in Texas. For this reason, among others, I consider it a blessing when I get to spend time with them.

This Christmas was the first time all of my cousins and myself were in the same place in at least 6 years! One day we got to have lunch with Grandma and Grandpa Gugel and spend some time talking with them and learning more about them. Grandpa Gugel is 90, he has said for several years now it was his goal to reach 90 and now that he has reached that milestone he has reevaluated that goal to an even 100. :) I would say 2009 was especially hard for him with some ongoing health issues and stays in the hospital as well as finally giving up his keys and drivers licence.

We sat and spoke with him about his life, his childhood and Grandma Orpha. (Grandma Orpha died in 1978 and therefore I never knew her and have always known Grandpa's second wife as Grandma Gugel) My Grandpa is a quiet person, often reserved in his feelings and emotions but not afraid to speak his mind. I have only seen him emotional twice in my life. The first being when his grandson, Shaun, died and the second being just this past Christmas as he told us the story of the day Grandma Orpha died. He told the story in vivid detail, even pointing out where he had been working that day. He is at the point now where he will repeat things without realizing it and Grandma is gracious enough to let him speak without correction. As he told the story of that day for the second time it held the same emotion in his voice and on his face, as well as the same detail within that made it so personal. It's something I will never forget, at that moment, he was more true to me than I ever remember.

We also asked some other questions of his life some of which he could answer easily and some of which he could not and therefore responded, "My brain is full. There's just so much stuff in there I can't pull some of it out anymore." It was funny the way he said it, anyone who knows him can imagine him saying this. He was, for the most part, serious so we chuckled to ourselves and laughed with each other via eye contact. All in all it was one of my most enjoyable days home and I thank my mother for all the times long (or not so long) ago she "reminded" me to spend time with my grandparents.

What are some things you have taken for granted and where do you need to Take Some Time?