Category Archives: Our Children
I know it’s hard to believe by looking at Marci and me, but we now have five grandchildren. Our oldest is 14, our youngest was born last month. All five of them are beautiful, brilliant kids who will excel at whatever they choose to do in life. If you don’t believe us, you are obviously not one of their other grandparents.
In August we had the opportunity to lead a Summer Seminar on grandparenting and in the process of doing so, we learned a lot about how special grandparents really are. For example, we learned that there are key roles that grandparents play in the lives of their grandkids.
- Teller of Stories. Grandparents are family historians. Today’s kids have been called the “cut flower generation” because they have no roots. Every child needs a connection to their past and if you’re a grandparent, then you’re it! In Joshua 4, the Lord commanded stones to be set up so that when future generations asked “What do these stones mean?” they would hear stories about the faithfulness and power of God. We too set up stones by telling stories to our grandchildren about the faithfulness of God to our family down through the years. Parents give their children wings, but grandparents give them roots.
- Giver of Blessings. It has been said that the best thing about being a grandparent is that we get to spoil our grandchildren … and then send them home to their parents! Well, we also get to bless our grandchildren, not with money or things, but with our acceptance, our words of encouragement, and our prayers on their behalf. As grandparents, we want to spend as much time with our grandchildren as possible so that they will hear often how much we love them and how much God loves them too.
- Maker of Memories. I have vivid memories of time I spent with my grandfather in Tennessee, learning how to whittle a hickory stick into a slingshot, or learning how to fish with a cane pole, or watching him make watermelon rind false teeth. Mostly I remember how my grandparents would put their hands on my head and pray with loud voices as if God were hard of hearing. Those are unforgettable, life-changing memories. Likewise, the time we spend with our grandkids today can become memories that last a lifetime and make a powerful impression.
- Example to Follow. As grandparents, we pray that our grandkids will grow up to become people of great faith and character. While parents tend to worry about their children’s behavior, their schoolwork, their achievement in sports and academics, we don’t worry so much about things like that. We just want our grandkids to grow up to become good people—people who love God and love others. Researchers tell us that the influence of grandparents on their grandchildren is second only to the influence of their parents. With this in mind, we pray we will be good examples of the kind of people we want our grandkids to become.
At our Summer Seminar we learned lots of great ideas from the grandparents who attended, but mostly we gained a whole new appreciation for what an awesome privilege and responsibility being a grandparent really is. As the Word of God says: “Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your hearts wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.” (Deut. 4:6b MSG) No doubt about it. Grandparents leave for their grandkids a legacy of faith they can’t get any other way.
Today I am celebrating ten years since my wife Marci’s brain surgery. It was in 2001 that she was diagnosed with a meningioma tumor in her brain which thankfully was operable. You can read the whole story about her surgery and recovery here which I posted on the web ten years ago this week.
Here’s what I posted on December 11, 2001:
Tuesday, December 11
After sending an e-mail to everyone I could think of, I headed for the hospital around 9:00. They wouldn’t let me in the CCU when I got there, so I had to wait a while until they allowed visitors in at 11:00. When I saw Marci, she still had all those tubes in her, including the respirator going down her throat, so she couldn’t talk, but when she heard my voice, her eyes opened and I saw a little smile under all those tubes. My heart leapt. When I held her hand, she squeezed mine hard. The nurse told me not to get her too excited because they were testing to make sure she could breathe on her own. They wanted to take the respirator out soon. So I just stood and watched for a while, feeling really good that she recognized me and was trying to communicate. I left the room while they finished up their testing on her.
When I came back in about an hour later, the respirator was out of her throat and she opened her eyes when I spoke again and tried to talk. It was real raspy but I heard her “Hi babe” which is what we usually call each other. I started crying again (I’ve been crying all week) but this time they were tears of joy. I said something that must have been funny because she laughed and then started coughing. Praise God for that laugh! That’s what I’ve been praying for … I just couldn’t bear not hearing her laugh again. Marci’s sister Dixie came in and cracked a joke or two and Marci laughed some more. The intensive care nurse asked in amazement, “Is she always like this?” I answered “Yes!”
I stayed with her for a good part of the afternoon, just looking at her while she slept, thinking to myself that even though her eyes are almost swollen shut, her face is all puffy, her hair is gone, she’s wrapped in bandages and has tubes galore coming out of her … she looks so beautiful to me. I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but I think I’m falling in love with my wife all over again. I’m just so happy that she’s doing well and that I’ll get her back.
Corey also got a chance to see her in the CCU, but Amber was not feeling well and running a slight fever, so she couldn’t go in. Amber went on home today. I have really appreciated having her here during this time.
I went home later in the afternoon, and we (Dixie, Corey and me) went out and got a little Chinese food. After being home a while, I wanted to go back down to the hospital and see Marci again. While I was there, Dr. Hardy came by to check up on her and he said she’s doing good. He checked her vision by holding up fingers and making her count. She got all the answers right, so he was pleased with that. He told her that her eyes would probably continue to swell until she couldn’t open them at all, and they would turn black. He said, “Remember what I told you … in another couple of days, you’ll look like you’ve been in a prize fight.” She laughed again. I told him that he was my new hero. What an amazing thing to be able to do … to go in and take a tumor out of somebody’s head, sew it back up, and have the person laughing the next day. Incredible.
I slept better tonight.
I am so thankful to God for the gift that he gave to me and our family of these ten years with my wife. She is still laughing and brings joy to everyone who knows her.
Ten years ago, just a day or two before Marci’s surgery, our granddaughter Maddie was born at a hospital in Orange County. We took Marci to the hospital to see Maddie the day before her surgery because we knew that it might be her only chance to see her, given the serious nature of the surgery. Our neurosurgeon had warned us that blindness, brain disabilities of various kinds, even death were possible outcomes.
Well, today as I type this, Marci and Maddie are seeing a matinee performance of “The Nutcracker” together–just the two of them. I know they are having a ball and I am so grateful
Last week I accompanied the middle-school group from our church to summer camp at Forest Home. I really can’t remember the last time I spent a week with a group of junior high boys as a cabin counselor, but the sounds, the smells (especially the smells), the cabin discussions … they all felt strangely familiar to me.
It was a good week. The kids really had a blast and I enjoyed very much watching my son Nate (who directs the junior high camps at Forest Home) at work. Later this year, he and I are going to do a seminar on camping at the YS National Youth Workers Convention, so it was helpful for me to observe and be part of an actual summer camp program at least once this year. I used to do quite a few camps, either leading them or speaking at them … but that was a long time ago.
I was very proud of Nate … he was the camp speaker and did a great job. I know my presence there made him a bit uncomfortable but he persevered and from all I heard, the kids responded well to his messages. I was also impressed with the team of leaders Nate assembled to run all the activities and programs. By my count there were more than a dozen staff. It amazes me that we used to run those camps with a staff of four. Times have definitely changed.
Meanwhile … back at home … we are still living in a hotel room, now into our fourth month. The restoration company has held our stuff hostage waiting for insurance money. This has been the most difficult experience I’ve gone through since my wife’s brain tumor almost ten years ago. We are praying that maybe this week we will be able to return home.
Let me introduce you to our fourth grandchild, second granddaughter and first child of our son Corey and his wife Janna … Layla OraBelle Rice, born Saturday night June 5. She’s beautiful of course, weighing in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Can’t wait to spend some quality time with her! Click on the picture to enlarge.
Our daughter-in-law Tamara was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, had successful surgery and was subsequently laid off from her job. She was denied unemployment benefits, putting a real strain on family finances. So many of us have been praying for her and for our son Nathan as they try to keep their heads above water financially.
Does God answer prayer? On Friday, Tamara was called by a producer at CNN to appear on Larry King Live for a special program they were doing on unemployment.
Here’s a video clip of the interview:
Who knows what the final outcome of this will be, but we are praising God for graciously providing this opportunity for Tamara. God is good.