Happy Birthday, Poppa

It’s hard to believe that Jan’s dad will turn 87 next week.

16142784_1232329153523504_8453402464626224770_nWe decided to celebrate a week early – since they have plans to drive Florida and will be gone on the actual day.

Yes – he is driving to Florida at age 87.


All of our kids were there to feast on Poppa’s favorite oyster soup (and a cheesy potato soup for those poor souls who don’t yet appreciate the warm milk and fishiness of oyster soup.)

Then we played games –

15977573_1232332460189840_3939402318156689418_nA mild game of Ticket to Ride that included lipstick and selfies and lots of belly laughter.

Steven and Laura won – again.

Yes – they beat Poppa on his birthday.

But he and Matt took second place.

And then – after German chocolate cake and ice cream and presents – we had a wild round of Pie In the Face.

16003168_1232333073523112_1770078695099218374_nA crazy game of Russian roulette that involves a giant hand covered with whipped cream and lots of laughter!

Anything to entertain Poppa on his birthday.

16114599_1232333066856446_5722873145077238127_nAnd boy was he entertained!

That was a birthday party to remember!

Here’s to many, many more!

Happy birthday, Poppa!

Christmas Program Memory

‘Tis the season for Christmas programs! My nieces and nephews had theirs last week, ours is this Sunday, and one Facebook friend had three on consecutive nights recently. So, in honor of nervous children, Christmas carols, and frazzled directors everywhere, here is a true Christmas Program memory to put a smile on your face!

Young PoppaThe year was 1940.

Jan’s dad, or Poppa as the kids call him, was ten years old and growing up in tiny Kensington, Minnesota.

The school children were in state of great excitement as Christmas approached. Poppa was no exception.

Part of their excitement was the upcoming Christmas pageant. This was back in the days when shepherds,  angels and baby Jesus were an integral part of the school program, and Poppa had been chosen to read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke.

It was quite an honor.

To add to the excitement, the pageant was to be held downtown at Kensington Hall. The hall was large and boasted a real stage and two sets of curtains – the plush red velvet and an inner curtain of mesh that the angel choir stood behind – all adding to the drama.

For weeks the students practiced and prepared during school hours, as the excitement mounted for the big event!

Finally the evening had come for the performance.

The students all came dressed in their Christmas finery. Poppa was wearing his best suit and his hair was slicked back just right.

The program began on time and seemed to go without a hitch. The angel choir looked angelic behind their mesh curtain as one by one the students performed, building up to the climax – the reading of Luke 2.

Poppa stood in the wings nervously waiting his turn. He opened his Bible to look at the passage one more time and suddenly realized that it was pitch black!

They had only practiced during  school hours – when the sunlight streamed in the large auditorium windows.  With all the house lights off, he couldn’t read a word!

He frantically told the nearby teacher, who frantically told the next one, who frantically wrung her hands in panic.

Finally, the primary teacher, Miss Bovem,  suggested a flashlight. She said she would stand on the other side of the curtain and hold it through the crack so that Poppa could read.

A flashlight was found.

Poppa nervously stepped between the velvet curtains, cleared his voice, opened his Bible and waited for Miss Bovem to turn the flashlight on, reach her arm through the curtains and illuminate the passage.

The light appeared and he started to read the familiar words, growing more confident with each verse.

Meanwhile, behind that heavy velvet curtain, Miss Bovem’s arm was getting tired. She supported it with her other arm and leaned slightly into the curtain.

Still Poppa read.

Then suddenly – without warning – the flashlight flew across the stage as a very startled Miss Bovem crashed through the curtain, landing in a heap on the floor!

The startled audience gasped – and then a few seconds later – a titter of laughter was heard. Soon, the entire hall was doubled over in laughter!

Poppa’s big part was a smashing success!

By the way – Miss Bovem was uninjured in the fall, and later married Corkie Windell and lived a long and happy life. But I’m sure she never again volunteered for the Christmas program!



Earlier this fall, Jan and I saw this beauty sitting on the curb with a free sign on it.

Except it didn’t look quite like this. Actually, parts of it were falling off.

Which is why most people had driven right by.

Desk2But not us.

We knew a treasure when we saw it – even if it was in rough shape.

And we knew just who to call to bring it back to life – Jan’s dad – otherwise known as Poppa.

Poppa is a retired Air Force Colonel who loves to tinker in his shop restoring things.  His daughters-in-law keep him busy with our finds and he has never told us that something was too far gone to be saved – at least not yet. 🙂

I knew that this was just the sort of project he would love.

And he did!

He carefully cleaned, glued, replaced, nailed and polished until our curbside find was once again a treasure.

Restored and sitting in my sun room, it’s scratches, stains and other imperfections are now part of it’s beauty, almost a badge of honor.

It reminds me of another restoration – the one done in our hearts.

Stained and scarred by sin and left on the curbside as trash – the Master Restorer carefully cleans, replaces the broken parts, and restores us to a place of honor at His feet.

No life so far gone that His loving hands can’t put it back together, our scars and imperfections now a thing of beauty.

Psalm 23:3 “He restoreth my soul..”