From Tents to Castles: Remembering Popop

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On March 22, 2014 my grandfather, Popop, left this earth to join Jesus in heaven. He was 82 years old–a devoted husband of 60 years, a loving father to my mother, an incredible grandpa to me, and a caring great-grandfather to my children. I already miss you so much, Popop, and I can’t wait for the day we are reunited again in our forever home.

Up until this year I had all four of my grandparents. I am very lucky. Three months ago, a week before Christmas, my Grandpa Chuck passed away. Then, last week, we got word that Popop was quite ill and that the end was likely nearing. He passed away yesterday at his home in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by family. He was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by all of us.

This whole week I’ve been thinking a lot about Popop–who he was as a man and what he meant to me. We shared lots of amazing moments together throughout my life, and I will always hold those memories dear. Memories of us walking through the deserts of Arizona and the beaches of California and the forests of Washington together. Memories of family gatherings. Memories of Christmases, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Feasters (a holiday that we created–perhaps the most wonderful holiday that ever was created). Memories of summers spent with my grandparents at the lighthouse in Brown’s Point. Memories of afternoons spent searching for tadpoles in the creek. Memories of Popop rooting on the Nebraska Corn Huskers and ASU football like it was his mission in life. Memories of him dancing at my wedding. Memories of him drinking Mountain Dew (perhaps the best beverage that ever was created). Memories of how he always knew how to make me laugh. And memories of him gently holding my newborn sons. Memories. Lots of beautiful, wonderful memories.

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As I’ve been thinking about Popop, I’ve also been praying for him. It’s been a week of ceaseless prayer, really. My mom called me a few days ago and shared with me a passage from 2 Corinthians that came up in her devotional this week and it really stuck with me. It reads:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

One of my favorite things to do in moments like this is to go for a “prayer run”–just go out in nature by myself, run, pray, and listen. I went on a prayer run on Saturday morning, just a few hours before I got the news that Popop had passed away.¬†As I was running and praying and meditating on this passage from 2 Corinthians, I rounded the corner and saw this: Blackrock Castle.

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A thought came to me. This earth and everything in it is fleeting. The Bible tells us that our body is merely a tent–not a permanent structure, but something that is intended to be set up, disassembled, and moved. But if our tent is destroyed–as Popop’s was this weekend–we are not to lose heart. We are not to be sad over a lost tent, because God has a building for us. His intention when He created us was not that we would spend eternity wandering around like transient nomads in tents, but that at some point we would come home to the unshakable building he is creating for us in heaven. He doesn’t want us living under canvas forever–his plans for us are better than that. No, God is creating a castle for us. Not a tent, a castle. A beautiful home that will last the test of time. So, even though I am mourning the loss of my dear Popop, I can be joyful that his tent–weathered and worn–has been cast aside for a heavenly castle. That eternity will be an extraoridnary place, even more so because of the addition of Popop’s castle.

I miss you, Popop, and I will always love you. From now until eternity.

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A Love Letter To My Baby On His First Birthday

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Today is my baby’s first birthday. How did that happen? I really can’t believe that it’s already been a year–turns out, time moves forward in warp speed when you have two young children. Each day is a balancing act of making memories and basic survival. I’ve mostly got the survival part down now, and I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job in the “making memories” department this year, as well.

When I was pregnant with my first child I started writing him letters. I didn’t know who this baby would be yet, but I already knew that I loved him. I wrote my first “baby love letter” the day I found out I was pregnant–and I continued writing to him throughout my pregnancy. I did the same thing with my second child, and I still write my boys letters periodically. Whenever something important happens I will write my son a letter to let him know what I was thinking and feeling in that moment. I want to capture the memories.

Maybe some day when my boys are much older and I give them these letters, they’ll enjoy seeing what was going on in their crazy mom’s mind as they were growing up. And, even if they don’t appreciate them, I know that I’ll be glad I wrote down my thoughts during this busy time in our life where I usually can’t even remember what I had for breakfast.

I always hand-write the letters–there’s something so much more personal and intimate about a hand-written letter. It shows that I took the time and the care to pull out some nice paper and get sore fingers from gripping the pen. I start by writing the date, location, and age of my son at the top of the page. The rest is just my un-edited thoughts–whatever first comes to my mind get’s put on the page.

So, on this most momentous of days, I had to write a letter to my dear little Jacob (transcription below). Happy birthday, little snuggle bear!

July 26, 2013
Cork, Ireland
You are 1 year old!

Dear Jacob,

Wow–I can’t believe you are already ONE! Where did this year go?! It seems like just yesterday that I met you and held your sweet, tiny body next to mine for the first time. And, yet, here we are a whole year later.

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This has been a truly remarkable year. You have grown and changed so much from that tiny bundle we brought home last July. Now you are crawling all over the place– gotta keep up with your big brother David! you pull up on furniture and even try to climb the stairs. For most of this year you’ve been content to stay where I put you, but now your adventurous side is starting to come out! I hope that as you grow older you are bold to take new risks–and that you learn from your journeys, no matter the outcome.

Ireland Allisons iPhone - 0251Speaking of journeys, this has been quite the year of journeys for you! At 12 months old you’ve already seen more of the world than many people get to see in their lives. We’ve taken you all around the great state of Washington, to Arizona, to California, and even 2 trips to Europe!

About 2 weeks ago we moved to Cork, Ireland. Your dad and I were just talking about how your first memories in life will take place here in Ireland. Your first steps, first conversations, and first friends will all begin in this beautiful place. We know that as you get older you probably won’t remember a lot about our years here in Ireland, but I hope that our time here will lay a strong foundation for your life.

On this very special day, Jacob, I am praying for you and your foundation. My greatest hope and prayer for you is that with each passing day and each passing year you will grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve got Jesus, you will be set for life. Don’t ever forget that!

I pray that you will always draw close to God–the same way that you draw close to me now whenever you are tired or scared or needing some extra love. God will give you rest, He will protect you, and–most importantly–He will always love you. He is the only one who could ever possible love you more than I do–and that’s a big, big love!

I love you, Jacob Daniel. I love your cuddles, I love your giggles, I love your little snarl nose, I love your laid-back approach to life (I’m learning a bit of this from you already!). I love the way you trill your tongue when you’re upset and the way you bubble your lips when you’re happy. I love your curly hair, your bright blue eyes and your chubby little thighs. I love the way you play with my hair ALL THE TIME (thanks to you, my new–and only–hairstyle is a tight bun). I love the way you watch to learn, the way you imitate those around you, and the way you tolerate–even enjoy–your brother’s antics. You are a very special boy, Jacob, and I love you very much.

Happy first birthday to my sweet little son. May this be just the beginning of many wonderful years to come! Thank you for letting me be your mommy!

Love,
Mama

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Note: If you enjoyed reading this post, check out my most recent letter to Jacob for his second birthday! Read the letter here.