As a kid, I honestly thought I’d never pray when I grew up. There was no need, and I was already up to my eyeballs in prayers. After we lost Larry, Dad had a transformation. He accepted Jesus as his Savior, and just as suddenly, his, Mom’s and my life changed. Every facet of Dad’s life now included how to better serve the Lord. Reflecting back, it was quite amazing to witness how different Dad patterned his life after giving it to Jesus. Though I was only 8 years old, it was impossible not to notice.
|Dad taught Shannon how to pray by age 2, 1972…|
One of the most noticeable changes for me was at the supper table. We always ate together and talked about what happened throughout the day, but much of that stopped after Larry died. Small talk seemed unimportant. In their grief, Mom and Dad remained quiet during meals, and it was up to me to keep the conversation going while we ate. But it was the before and after meal time that really took a 180 in our house.
Dad prayed aloud before we ate. After we were through eating, he’d read us a chapter or 2 from the bible, then pray again. This after supper prayer was much like Oral Roberts prayers at one of his healing Revivals during the 60’s. Or the long prayer after the sermon at my Christian Reformed Church as a kid. And I do mean LONG. At our supper table my mind would wander until I heard the words, “this we ask in Jesus’ name, who taught us, Our Father who art in heaven.” And we’d recite the Lord’s prayer together. Back then we always said, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” like they did in church. The recent churches I’ve attended say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Still, doesn’t sound right to me.
I’ve not been a good sleeper for 20 years. If it’s a work day, my phone alarm is set to an oddball time. I like sequential numbers, so if I have to work at 7, the alarm is set for 4:56. If I have to be there at 6:30, I set it for 4:32. I’m weird, you already know that. The point is, my alarm goes off once about once a month. I’m almost always awake before it goes off. As I start rubbing my eyes, I thank God for letting me wake up for another day here on earth. He’s not done with me yet and I’m grateful. Ah, the legs are working fine, no pain in the knee and I gotta pee. More reasons to give thanks. I pad my way into the kitchen, flip on the coffeemaker, stop in the spare bedroom for my work clothes and bath towel. Cautiously move to our beautiful bathroom and close my eyes halfway. No, not prayers this time. My only mistake in our complete bathroom remodel. There’s a pretty light fixture above the medicine cabinet, plus a light/exhaust on the ceiling. Both lights go on with the flip of one switch, the exhaust fan is separate. I should have asked the contractor for separate switches for each light. It’s just way too bright at 5 a.m. It takes me a minute to adjust. My step in shower is awesome and I squeegy every square inch of the tile and shower doors I can reach when I’m done.
|Dad & me in our one trip camper, prayers included, 1962…|
I may think it’s keen to wake up before the crack of dawn, but I’m not completely sold on the idea of showering, getting dressed and heading out the door before it’s light. I like getting up, but not necessarily having to be anywhere that early. But I like my hours and prefer getting home by 1:30. A quick prayer (grant me patience Lord) before I walk in the infant room. Very little noise (so far), only 1 or 2 tiny tots. Basically, I ooze patience with the babies. Only time I get a little flustered occurs sometime around noon. Most everyone is hungry and hangry. The noise level is up a couple of notches, the 4 high chairs are full, the younger babies all want their bottles RIGHT NOW. Add a blow out diaper, spit up on the floor, a ding on someone’s head from a rattle, and for a couple minutes, the bottle babies have to wait. None of these little stinkers prayed for patience before Mommy lugged them in the door. I asked.
|Dad, Mom, me & pregnant Mona in Canton, SD, 1961…|
There’s a strange phenomenon that happens almost daily in the baby room. We call it ‘happy hour,’ though no margaritas are served. Bummer. Sometime during the day, when you least expect it, the room goes completely silent. The babies seem to realize this before we do. They glance around a bit befuddled, a tad anxious. Each one looks accusingly at the tot next to them with this, “what’s up with you? Isn’t it your turn to crank up the noise quotient? Hey you, time to take one for the team!” We’ve timed this over a month period and on average, our heavenly quiet time lasts about 28.3 seconds, (every stinking second, very precious), give or take a errant squawk. We never know when this is going to happen, there’s never any warning, and I find myself devastated if it’s after I’ve gone home. How could they betray me like this?
|Looking good Dad, 1973…|
Just as amazing is how much adult conversation can be squeezed into 28.3 seconds. You’d think we’d enjoy the silence, and we do, but even more rare is conversation that’s not above 3 babies crying. Those are a combination of written notes, sign language, and reading of lips. During happy hour one day last week, I was recalling the month of April last year. I could hardly walk, my left knee had a goose egg size lump, the cause had not been determined. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had pneumonia, a first for me. I believe it took 5 office visits, 4 prescriptions, breathing treatments, and 6 weeks to stop sounding like Myron Floren’s accordion on Lawrence Welk. The cough, even longer. That’s about the sickest I’ve ever been. So a quick prayer of thanks for my good health of late.
|Dad reading a story book to Shannon 2, 1972…|
We don’t wear street shoes in the infant room. Just not a good idea. Some of the gals go barefoot, most wear socks or slippers. I bought a pair of soft Sketchers and just leave them in the baby room. So my shoes are on the outside by the door, going into the hallway. After I punch out, slip off my room shoes, close the door, my prayer is one of many thanks for a great day with the babies. Nobody got hurt on my watch. A good day indeed.
|Dad, Joshua & Shannon in RV, 1976…|
We are a family of drivers. John and I not so much anymore, but the rest of the clan spend a good deal of time in their cars. On I 94. Busy, busy with gobs of semi’s. Thoughout the day, I’m asking God for traveling mercies. Next on my list of worries is someone getting seriously ill. Me, Hubs or a family member. Thankfully, we’ve been very blessed with good health. That prayer usually comes before I fall asleep. So this recent acknowledgement of my daily prayers. How often I talk to God. Really kind of blows me away. Pretty sure it has a lot to do with my age and increasing faith and acceptance of what comes next. I hope I’m not judged by the quantity and length of my prayers like Dad’s or I’m royally screwed. But rather, the frequency and sincerity of our short conversations together during the day. Then I’m in like Flint. Sorry God, I believe this might be considered ‘spuuting’ (Dutch slang for making light or fun of religion and God)…