This is a more personal post than most of what we write here; I hope you don’t mind. You see, I’ve been sorting through our “May” photos of this year, and I came across one I’d really like to share. This is one of my favorite pictures of Ryan:
Every year at Tulip Time here in Pella, Ryan gamely puts on his Dutch costume, and takes our children street scrubbing. I like this picture, even though it’s a bit out of focus, and the lighting is weird, and Ryan’s not even looking up – I like it because it almost looks like he’s about to soak the girls’ feet. I like to think of it as washing their feet. I love this picture because it shows Ryan doing what he does best: serving. This is just a small example, but a good one: it might be really hot at Tulip Time, or really cold, and always kind of tiring, but he’ll take them anyway. Tulip Time and all the time, he’s been putting his kids first for well over 14 years, and he never complains. He actually finds quite a bit of joy in doing so.
I was thinking of sharing this picture yesterday, which was Father’s Day (here in North America at least). But I saved it for today, for a couple of reasons. One is that over the past several years, specified “days” like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day have become very poignant for our family. Oh, we celebrate on them, and we rejoice in every one of the children that have made us a father and a mother, yet we mourn on them, too, for the children that wait for us in heaven are no less loved than the ones here with us now. Sometimes, the sorrow makes days of joy all the sweeter. Sometimes it makes us have to look hard for the light. We feel very keenly, on these days especially, that as believers in Jesus, and in His promise to wipe away every tear, we live in the already-but-not-yet of this earth. Oh, hold our tiny precious babies close, Heavenly Father, and hold us close too. It makes us feel like heaven is not so far away for a minute, when we picture all 11 of us being held in His hands.
Another thing I wanted to share, sort of in honor of Father’s Day, is this beautiful piece, full of truth and pain and love, by Eric Schumacher: Dads Hurt Too. It rings very true for our family, and maybe a father you know would be encouraged or comforted by it too. The grief of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss is not reserved for mothers. As Ryan and I have grieved, together and separately, for our children, we have drawn comfort from the strength of love we see in each other for those children. Burying our tiny son together, and then leaving him in Kenya, is the hardest thing we have ever had to do, and yet we found grace in not having to weep alone. I sure didn’t see that picture in my head when I was 24 and reciting wedding vows that included “mourn when you mourn,” but when it happened to us, how grateful I was, and am more all the time, for a husband that lives those vows out, even in fatherhood.