Archive for the Family
Monday, December 15th, 2014
Nineteen years ago today, we were in the lounge outside the library in the old church building–sitting, standing, pacing, sitting again, standing again–waiting for the door to open for the entry of our daughter into our family.
That was a day that changed our lives. We can’t imagine life without our Talitha.
In the evening, I leaned over her crib and for the first of hundreds of times sang her hymn to her.
Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.
“God sets the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:6).
Thank you, Father.
The series that tells our adoption story begins here.
Thursday, November 27th, 2014
Thanksgiving Day is winding down. This year I’ve thought of Thanksgiving as the gateway thrown open to Advent, which is the pathway to our celebration of Jesus’ birth among us–Jesus, who through his life, death, and resurrection is for us the way the truth and the life–our greatest cause of thanksgiving.
This year, as is often true, the first day of Advent falls on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Then for the next four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means — coming. (Read the rest at Desiring God’s blog page, including some thoughts about Advent candles).
Monday, November 25th, 2013
If a driver on Washington Pike has a second to take his eyes off the narrow curving road, at the intersection with Childs Road, he’ll see acres of finely trimmed Christmas trees.
That’s just one of the rolling fields of House Mountain Christmas Tree Farm, begun in the early 1990s by my uncle and aunt, Zach and Norma Henry. This video and article from early November, when people were already starting to come to Childs Road to cut their own trees, give an idea of some of the connection and memories that make the farm so much more than just a business.
Some people even make 2-day journeys to get their trees. One year 2 families from the same county in Mississippi showed up in the same field, neither knowing the other was coming.
Beginning this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Aunt Norma will have free cookies, hot cider, and hot chocolate out for tree shoppers at:
6300 Childs Road, Corryton, Tennessee, 865-687-0324
(Note: Google maps is wacky on this one. On Google, you need to search 6280 Childs Road–that puts you at what’s really 6300. Other maps may be correct.) Childs road isn’t long; look for the big red mailbox on the north side of the road–or just follow the other cars to the most beautiful trees around.
If you’re in the neighborhood (or wanting an enjoyable drive), stop by and Aunt Norma will point you in the right direction for the tree you want. Pick up a saw, pick out a tree, cut it down, and come back to pay for it and enjoy the goodies. Tell her her favorite niece Noël sent you. Maybe that will get you a couple of extra cookies.
Weekends, just down the road, in the field near Washington Pike and Childs Road, there’ll be a tent where I’ll have out some items for sale: hand-knitted cotton dishcloths, decorative eyeglass chains, and Christmas star ornaments. Ask Aunt Norma how to get there.
Monday, November 11th, 2013
Our niece, Mary, works at the Bethel International School in Tacloban City on the Island of Leyte in the Philippines. Tacloban was at the point of Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall this past weekend.
We prayed and waited as the typhoon approached and then hit and swept its way through the city and across the island. Then we prayed and waited for word from or about Mary and her colleagues. (Photo: Mary on right, with some fellow teachers.)
In roundabout ways, Mary’s parents received the good news that Mary and her coworkers are safe. We are giving thanks for that. But all around them is destruction: ”All school buildings heavily damaged and most things used to make a school function lost. Hopes for miraculous reopening in January.”
News reports and pictures & pleas from survivors give us here some small idea of how bleak the devastation is and how vast the death toll–10,000 or more. That is Mary’s neighborhood, her city, her friends, her school children. I’m imagining Mary doing everything she can to help her neighbors, but with few resources.
There is a way we can help Mary and her coworkers be Jesus’ hands there. Bethel International School is part of Converge Philippines, an affiliate of Converge Worldwide, our denomination. Converge has created the Tacloban/Philippines Typhoon Fund.
I am thankful there are numerous excellent relief organizations. But I commend the Converge Typhoon Fund in particular this time, because “funds will be disbursed by our Philippines missionaries in consultation with Converge Philippines president Ildefonso Alfafara,” and “churches and pastors there are already delivering food, water and other vital supplies. Our co-laborers are well positioned to serve as relief centers and deliver a gospel message.” Mary is one of those co-laborers.
We continue to pray and wait, to hear how God is working.
Lord, please protect Mary’s emotions, her spirit, her health, her strength, and her faith.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Saturday, October 12th, 2013
As of yesterday, our last child who was a child crossed the line into official adulthood. I love you, my beautiful daughter.
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
When I posted the video of Noah’s story yesterday, I didn’t realize that today would be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.”
If you haven’t listened to Dr.King’s speech yet today–or even if you have–I hope you’ll take a minute to hear it from the mouths of hundreds of young people who are living and learning that a person’s character is not measured by the color of his or her skin. The video is especially moving to me because our Talitha attended Hope Academy for several years and here we see young men and women who were children with her then.
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Last weekend was a special time for me with family– in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren. Next weekend is the Labor Day holiday.
That means it’s time to turn my eyes to the fall. And that means Together for Adoption 2013 is just around the corner with 6 general sessions, 60 workshops, 50 exhibitors–all there because of One Story. That’s ”the story of God the Father forming his family from every tribe, language, people, and nation,” as young Noah’s wisdom reminds us in this video:
I’ll be in Louisville blogging the event Friday and Saturday, October 4-5. I’ll also be there for the Preconference events Thursday, October 3.
It’s a good time to register. I hope you’ll be there and look me up.
Sunday, May 12th, 2013
A few years ago, I wrote several posts about our adoption story. (They start here.) So you’ve heard from me, and I hope you’ve realized our gratitude to God for bringing Talitha to us and us to Talitha.
What you might not have heard yet is Talitha’s own heart.
This morning, she got tired of waiting for me to finish sleeping late and slipped onto the bed beside me with a kiss and a perfectly chosen card, and even better, her own thoughtful note written inside.
Later this afternoon, she sat on the living room floor leaning against the sofa where her daddy was sitting. She was intent on something she was writing on her computer.
Only later, when I opened my own computer, did I realize what she’d done. I went straight up to her room to hug her and thank her.
I suspect that some of you are birth mothers whose children are in another family now. This has been a hard day for you. I pray you might receive Talitha’s words of love and thanks as if they had been written directly to you.
Dear Birth Mother,
I have no idea what you are doing right now or even where you are. But know, you are on my heart, especially today. Today I celebrate not just one mother, but two. Two mothers who have been there for me in different ways. One has nurtured and taken care of me since I was 2 months and the other is you. . . .
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
I suppose none of us ever grasps all that God works in our lives through our mothers. I believe that is true even when growing up is hard. I’m thankful that so much blessing has come from my mother in the midst of our normal family–in other words, we are all very imperfect.
And so on this Mothers Day, with thanks to God for Mother, I share this classic post with you again.
Months before the celebration of Mother and Daddy’s 40th wedding, my sister Pamela dreamed of a quilt to honor Daddy and Mother and to express thanks for the years God had given them together.
Pamela recruited squares from each of the sisters and sisters-in-law. . . . Then Pamela assembled, quilted, and stenciled the gift for Daddy and Mother.
As I look over the squares of this quilt, from oldest child to youngest of us 10 children of George and Pam Henry, I’m reminded of a few of the things I’ve learned by being my mother’s daughter. . . .
Read and/or listen to the rest of “What I Learned by Being My Mother’s Daughter”. You’ll also find photos of all the family quilt blocks, the illustrations for my thoughts.
Happy Mothers Day, dear Mother! I love you.
Monday, April 15th, 2013
Our Bethlehem family blessed us last night with a grand recommissioning service and celebration marking the end of our 33 years as a pastor’s family and the beginning of our next chapter.
My words to our brothers and sisters there touched on the parallels between Bethlehem’s growth and our family’s.
In 1980, Bethlehem’s Sunday congregation fit well in the old Sanctuary, with elbow room to spare. That summer, we Pipers arrived as a family of 5—2 parents and 3 sons.
You who were part of Bethlehem then, I thank you for making this an easy place to become a pastor’s wife. I don’t recall any times when someone expected me to be or do some certain thing because that’s what a pastor’s wife does.
Instead, you offered me options for ministry and were willing to let me pray and talk it over with my husband and then tell you yes or no. You gave me freedom to be wife and mother and to be involved as I felt God leading me, both within the church and elsewhere. I hope that all of you now will bless Cara in the same way.
As Bethlehem grew to multiple services and built a new sanctuary, our family grew too. We added another son and a daughter and so we were a family of 7—2 parents and 5 children. The same year we adopted our youngest child, we also gained our first daughter-in-law—the beginning of the years of sending our sons one by one to their own homes with their brides. And Bethlehem was sending more of its sons and daughters to their new homes, all around the world to spread a passion for the supremacy of God through Jesus Christ.
When Talitha was a first grader, Bethlehem’s old sanctuary came down. That year while the new education building was going up, there was no Sunday school. So we used the Children Desiring God 1st grade curriculum at home—the ABC’s of God. Talitha still remembers rearranging the letters of one long word until she got incomprehensible—however much we learn about God and no matter how well we know him, there is always much more.
That education building completed the downtown campus as we see it now. And Bethlehem has multiplied from that one campus to three. Our family has multiplied too, from 5 of us at the beginning of our time at Bethlehem to 23 now—we 2 are rich with 21 sons and daughter, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
Bethlehem’s building with its changes is a symbol that touches just the surface of how much our lives have been interwoven with you brothers and sisters for these 33 years.
I have a gift for you, Johnny. We know that the best gift a person can give often is one that person would also like to have. So this gift to you is to go over our fireplace so that we both can have before us reminders of our life here.
Dear friends, no one but God knows what a treasure your prayers for us have been all these years. Now I ask you to pray that we will be—as Mary Schmuland said to me a few weeks ago—“Retired? No—refired.”
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
I’ve been in Orlando for The Gospel Coalition 2013. I led a breakout session in the pre-conference, which had a missions focus.
My session was “My Missionary Call: Missed or Misunderstood?”
One of the resources I recommended is an article I wrote in 2002: Home Grown World Christians. Since then, our children have become adults, but the encouragements and ideas haven’t really aged.
I hope this will be helpful as you pray for and spend time with children you love, whether they are yours or part of your larger life circle.
What other suggestions would you add?
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Who was Theseus? How did the Aegean Sea get its name?
If you can’t remember, perhaps our 8-year-old grandson can remind you.