Foundations & Generations 

We traveled to Los Angeles this weekend for an early Christmas with our son and daughter in law. It was a beautiful weekend with sun and palm trees, the warmer temperatures a welcome change from an arctic freeze. Our East coast cold can chill the bones and the soul. 

From eating our fill of great Mexican food to sharing an early Christmas, we made the most of our short time. 

As parents, we watch our kids exit our homes to create homes of their own with nostalgia and some tears. Memories of toddler kisses and bedtime stories will never completely fade.  Instead they remain, packed into the boxes our minds create for these things. But there is incomparable joy in watching our children “become.” That is what we now get in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

As I grow older and watch my children enter into adulthood, I ponder a recurring theme of foundations and generations. This circle of life depends on both to be successful. To function well as adults we need secure foundations; foundations of nutrition, of physical nurturing, of spiritual guidance. A healthy new generation will not grow without a solid foundation. 

Moments of connection with adult children are both hopeful and nostalgic, seeing a new generation ‘become’on the foundations of the past. 

When we are in the middle of building foundations, we make mistakes. There are times when we fail our kids and we fail ourselves; times when the foundations seem shaky, built on sand and not on rock. Still other times, by grace we get it right. We shake our heads in disbelief and amazement – it worked! The foundation is strong and secure, the next generation can build on what came before. But only a foolish parent takes full credit, refusing to see that this is all grace. 

We travel back on a lonely Sunday night flight, the plane full of weary travelers, perhaps others like us who have traveled to see a new generation springing from an older foundation. 

I look at the man by my side, and I am so grateful. We’ve navigated some rough waters together, some that threatened to drown us. But they didn’t. Instead we travel together, united in our prayers and love for this next generation. 

And so it is, foundations and generations–as old as the human race, reminding me that our journeys matter. 

On Birthdays and Aunts and Life

August is a big birthday month for us. Each date that we celebrate is set apart on the calendar and in the heart.

Last Thursday, August 9, our youngest turned 18- legal in the eyes of the law.

Nostalgia moves in like thick fog as I think about that day 18 years ago, an August day in Cairo, Egypt when I went into labor 2 weeks early. I gave birth five hours later to my youngest and my tallest. His older sister, on hearing it was a boy said: “oh dawn it — I wanted a sistuh! Now he’ll have a boy face”.

And he did, and he does. In the past year he has gone from boy to man physically and spiritually and it is a common sight to see him on the couch reading Kierkegaard’s A Sickness Unto Death or other literature that feeds his mind and moves his soul.

Just one day later my middle child, Micah, turned 25. He is married and lives in California with a lovely wife and a dog named Wilbur (who we affectionately term our “grand puppy”). He is thriving in the film industry in Hollywood, seeking to live a life of integrity in a cut throat industry and we are proud.

20130812-082525.jpgAnd this past weekend saw us at a family gathering to celebrate my Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth turned 90 years old this past April, and though belated, it was a perfect occasion to bring extended family together to celebrate a remarkable woman. Indeed, a remarkable family. We came to Rochester, New York from as far as Oregon and as close as Rochester. We came with a lot of life behind us: births, weddings, and deaths. My cousin Barbara, beloved by all who knew her, died just days before the gathering.

I wrote these words to my Aunt Ruth this past April, and I share them with you today:

Aunt Ruth

I am rarely out of words – but today, thinking of you and your birthday, I struggle to find the words to express my delight at having you in my life.

You are my dad’s last living sister and ever since I can remember you have been a part of my life. I remember your hospitality when we would come back to the United States and visit your family, always in great big Victorian houses with bay windows. While they must have been drafty in the winter, they were magical to this niece – missionary kid growing up in Pakistan.

You have always had a brilliant, inquiring mind that took in all around you, but it is coupled with a generosity and love for people. Those two don’t always go together but in you they met a brilliant match.

You raised smart, talented children and had to face the backwards and broken world we live in when you buried your beloved Kristine far too early.

You are one of my favorite feminists – smart, loving, fun, inquiring, and not giving in to the world’s warped definition of what it means to be a woman.

And today I celebrate your 90th birthday far from you – with great expectation of an in person celebration later on this year.

I love you Aunt Ruth – God surely looks in favor on you as you walk day by day in His Grace.

As families grow and spread their roots, it becomes more and more difficult to bring people together, to feel a part of each other’s lives and share the brilliant joy and the sometimes indescribable pain that makes up life.

Today as I reflect on family I realize how important it is to express love, to come together when possible, to support each other when life gets stormy and forgive each other when the inevitable conflicts of personalities and opinions start to choke out compassion and love.

But there’s more. For coming together is a chance to relay family history and stories, to look at generations past and remember that God is faithful. My cousin Bruce opened my Aunt’s celebration with words from Psalm 78 and though I’ve heard this Psalm before, the words felt fresh and strong, filled with promise:

I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. (verses 2b-5)

So we came together to celebrate an Aunt, and Life, and God’s faithfulness to generations. To celebrate with sacred and silly and definitely with cake.


Readers – today I’m excited to begin a new link specific to Mondays. Stacy Rushton, an expat, a journalist, and an amazing cook has become a blogging friend. She connects stories with food and provides her readers with amazing recipes. Stacy begins each week with Muffin Monday. So every week I will be linking you to a muffin recipe straight from the kitchen of Stacy through Food Lust, People Love. I know it’s late in the day but head over to see today’s recipe: Chocolate-Chip Zucchini Muffins.

Related articles