Tag Archives: relatives

Aunt Bernice passed on

Aunt Bernice

My daughter, Rebekah (left), with Aunt Bernice and her son, Gary

When my brother and I were little and we heard Mom and Dad were going to Europe, we were ecstatic because Aunt Bernice was coming out from East Rochester to take care of us.

She was Swedish and as sweet as a Swedish candy fish. She made Swedish meatballs and taught us how to say smooooooorgausbooooord, which I’m fairly certain I’m better at eating than pronouncing even today.

Last night, this Christian lady jumped up into Heaven, and a little piece of my heart goes with her. (Unfortunately, the majority of my heart is still here in the midst of struggles.)

I’m glad we made the effort to see her summer before last. I hadn’t been “Back” East in about 50 kabillion years. Dianna and the kids had never met that side of the family.

Many years before, my mom drove to California like so many, on an impulse, seeking a dream. She starting teaching waltz with some dance shop and eventually found my dad, who didn’t dance. Dad was a consummate engineer, so dancing was not his thing. They went to a nifty little Methodist church, where I grew up bored and rebellious. When I found out at age 12 outside of the Methodist church that Jesus wanted to enter my heart, I was understandably miffed that no one had taken the time to explain this to me before inside the church. (What did they preach there anyway? I have vague recollections that sermons were about being good people. I distinctly remember one sermon application was to NOT cut your fingernails in church and dust them off onto the floor. I don’t know why this one stuck with me all these years.)

Mom got radically saved and started serving as a volunteer chaplain in the Sylmar juvenile hall facility, which I believe is still the biggest in the nation. I became a Christian and went off to college. After, I shipped out to the mission field. After almost 16 years, we were forced back when we got swept up in the growing hurricane of drug-traffic-whipped crime in Guatemala.

The preaching switch has been turned off for four years now, and I’m wondering why. Maybe part of the reason was to see Aunt Bernice. Because God has taken the blindfold off our eyes, Christians know that death is but a door to our final destination.

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Holy Cannoli! Prayer’s good!

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayer of faith
  • Bible prayers
purple berries

Cousin Dave with freshly picked raspberries and purple berries, not as tart at the black, rasp or boysenberries. They’re official unscientific name is Royalty Purple Raspberries.

I discovered relatives are wonderful.

Disconnected from my East Rochester relatives by 16 years of missionary work and lack of funds, I haven’t seen them essentially since 1988. Now I have children. I wanted to take my kids to see Niagara Falls.

Genesee Country Village and Museum Civil War reenactmentThey saw much more than just that. They saw a Civil War reenactment battle. They boated down the Erie Canal. They munched purple berries and raspberries fresh from the garden. They drove a John Deere lawn mower. They ate cannolies, Abbot’s frozen custards, and red hots. The list goes on.

Abbott's

Mmm! Abbott’s habit-forming custard ice cream cones

My definition of relative: someone who loves you for no apparent reason and showers blessings down on you. S/he hugs you without having met you before and includes you a wonderful thing called family.

Holy cannoli! Prayer's good!

In front of the American Falls at Niagara

God is our Father, or in New Testament lingo, abba, daddy. When we look up to Him, we are not addressing a bot which indexes unfeelingly our merits and flaws to rank us to see if we deserve an answer. We are not before the stern judge, the contract lawyer, the boss who’s trying to exploit us and intimidate us. We are not before the school teacher who humiliates us publicly, the fake Facebook friend who’s always happy but ultimately uninterested in us.

How do I pray?We are in front of a father. Recently, I found out about a dad who spent $2 million trying to clean up his daughter’s past so she can go on to a bright future. The job’s not done, and he’s still spending. No limits to what he will do for his girl.

God does even more than that for us. Much confusion about prayer can be dismissed simply if we remember that Jesus begins the model prayer: Our Father. The marrow of prayer is love — God’s love. When he doesn’t answer immediately, it’s because He loves us and the delay is better. How do I pray? Know to Whom you’re talking: a loving dad.