Posts Tagged ‘Ray’

To My Dear Father
1 August 2016
Hi Dad,
I wanted to take the time to wish you a happy 76th birthday.  I recently had the opportunity to go through some old photos and I was reminded of how grateful I am to have had you and mom as parents and the good home and upbringing you both made for us girls.  First and foremost, I’m so grateful for the value of love for God which you both gave us.  It must have been difficult to meld your two denominations, especially in a time when those things were more strictly divided. But I always knew that Saturday night we’d be settling into our preparations for the next day and that Sunday morning, without fail, we’d all be going to church.  That rhythm you set, despite going to two different churches, let me know that our time set apart to reverence our Lord was not going to be negotiated and it established a pattern in our hearts from an early age.
Although Holly was too young to remember, Heide and I have warm memories of living in town.  But I want to thank you, too, for all the opportunities you made for us when we moved out into the country (hard to believe that was “the country” once, isn’t it?) You instilled in us an ethic of work (with the morning to-do lists you’d leave us girls) and of doing a job well.  You gave us opportunities to enjoy the fruits of our labors by allowing us to earn money with the gardening and our chickens or pigs.  And you gave us the privilege of knowing that we were contributing in our small way to the family good, whether it was helping to set fence poles or harvesting vegetables or taking care of the animals or hoeing the shelter belt.  I (we) didn’t always like those jobs, but amazingly we all look back now with fond, funny stories of those tasks and we’re so glad they were a part of our childhood.  Work wasn’t the only opportunities you provided for us, but it’s surprising how warm and fuzzy that forced labor seems to us now.  I also thank you for things like your work at our lake cabin, 4H, a playhouse, time with our larger family and cousins, vacations, as well as showing us how to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, etc.
Lastly, thank you by leading us in good character.  As a man of routine, we watched you go off to work each day (even when office politics must have made things difficult at times) and come home on time.  You’d enjoy a very s-l-o-w-l-y eaten supper (while we cleaned up dishes around you) and then you’d have a bit of a rest on the couch before heading outside to do your “putzing and tinkering” (often with Jim, a.k.a “Elmer Fudd”).  Your willingness to help others in need, your honest work, moderation in everything, and your steady approach to almost everything you’ve ever done, really defines you.  Thank you for letting us grow up seeing that played out in your life.
So, on this, your 76th birthday, I pray you will know that we hold you very close in our hearts… as we do each day.  Thank you for everything.
Lots of love,


Dad and Kim - snip


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Dad and Kim

With Valentine’s Day approaching a couple of weeks ago, I picked up my dad to go out with him to look for a gift for his wife. It’s probably safe to say that gift-giving is not one of my dad’s love languages, probably because material goods mean so little to him, personally. Although an exceedingly generous man at heart, his generosity would likely be expressed in gifts of his time and help; say, help in moving into a new home, or in putting the heart pine flooring in said home, or in moving all your basement possessions to a higher floor and sandbagging around, you guessed it, said home when floodwaters threatened, etc.

I remember while I was working at Sears during college, my dad would come in on Christmas Eve day needing advice and help on picking out some gifts for my mom. [In fairness to dad, the store was primarily visited by men on that day… and I don’t mean just a few.] My dad is twice a widower and has been blessed to find a godly third wife who brings a richness to their union and Dad is a better person for her in his life.  So, although admittedly challenged in the gift-giving department myself, I have been glad to revive our old shopping relationship, helping him look for that just-right gift for their special occasions. Thankfully for both of us, we are usually helped by advice from my two distant sisters, who must have received my mom’s genes in this area – ha.

In the past few years the family has begun to notice some difficulties my dad has been having with his memory. I know this bothers him and I regret that he cannot always recall the history we both share. Here’s what I’ve observed, though, on our hunting trips. Although shopping for a woman is still foreign territory (“I don’t know what they like”) and Dad is more likely than ever to second guess his judgment these days, even in little things; when given the time to make his own selection (with a little of my input), he still proves himself to be the kind-hearted person I’ve always known him to be, taking in his choices and doing his best to give sober consideration for the person for whom he’s shopping. He may not always remember later what gift he purchased or where he put it, but in the moment, in the day he made the purchase, his thoughts are toward the person and toward expressing as much care as he can in getting them something they will like.

I am reminded of a true love story I read of Ian and Larissa. This couple met and fell in love in college. Both loved the Lord and each other and were making plans to be married when Ian suffered a major head injury from a car accident which left him sick and disabled. After waiting four years, Ian and Larissa renewed their plans and were married with eyes wide open. It’s definitely a story worth reading.

In a follow-up to their life, I remember Larissa talked about all the lessons she learns from living with her disabled husband. One lesson had to do with the fact that Ian struggles with his long-term memory. She said that as much as she would wish for a husband who remembered along with her, she has learned from Ian to live in the present and to be mindful in the present. Ian never holds a grudge or nurses a grievance.  It is impossible for him to keep a record of wrongs. This reality has taught Larissa to live more in the moment, to enjoy the pleasures at hand when they come, to take what Ian can offer in the moment, etc.

I am grateful for the example my dad is setting for me through his losses and struggles, whether he realizes it or not.  More and more, when we are together, we may only have the present to share and, really, isn’t that all any of us are promised?  But even though things have changed, I am grateful for the many presents that we are still able to enjoy (and yes, there is a double meaning in that).

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My dad was married yesterday.

We lost my mom in 2004 to cancer and later my dad lost his 2nd wife to a stroke. His new wife, Judy, lost her own husband over a decade ago to a heart attack.  Yet in finding each other, both have been willing to open their hearts and to love again.   It is a sobering thing to watch two souls pledge “until death parts us” when both know first hand what a vow like that actually means.

Both my dad, Ray, and Judy love the Lord and their wedding was a reflection of that love.  At their reception many kind words were expressed, of course, but two of particular note.  Judy’s son-in-law got up to let us know that he never had much good things to say about mother-in-laws, but in marrying Judy’s daughter, he did not gain the proverbial mother-in-law; but instead he gained a mom.

In turn, my dad’s brother and best man, Ronnie, gave the kindest salute of my dad that I’ve ever heard and one I will always think of when I read 1 Corinthians 13.  This familiar passage was one of the texts used in the wedding earlier that day.  My dear uncle turned to my dad and said that his brother, Ray, exemplifies this passage in every way…

“Ray is patient and Ray is kind.  He does not envy or boast.  Ray is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way. Ray is not irritable or resentful and he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but Ray rejoices with the truth.  He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

Those of us who know him well would have to agree.

God’s blessings to you, Dad and Judy.  I wish you everything good in your life together and I know that God’s grace will be provided in your future days as it has been in your uniting.

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Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy 72nd birthday, Dad!  I can only hope to resemble you in so many, many ways.  I love you!

[This picture was taken the same day (same couch) as Mom’s photo; see 07-31-2012 post.  Dad (Ray) was probably 27 years old and Mom 25.]

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You have kindly gifted your family with your sense of humor, your sense of integrity, and your sense of industry.

You love the Lord and love your family (as your genealogy room attests).

I love that you collect state highway maps, Bossons heads, bottle openers, and Schlitz memorabilia; and I love that you are still a farm boy at heart.

You have lost two wives and have shown what it is to suffer, but not lose faith.

You are a kind, humorous, hard-working, low-tech, easy-going, generous man.

I thank our heavenly Father for you dad.  God has been gracious to me through you!

I love you a lot.  Happy Father’s Day.

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