To Elora Liann, On Your First Birthday

Dear Elora Liann,

Today we celebrate your first birthday. What a joy! It’s funny to realize that all the cliches apply, but that it has no effect at all on how amazingly joyful I feel because of it. I could start by saying that I still 3075316262_0c72721e082remember the evening of your birth like it was yesterday, but I can actually still remember as well when your mom said that you were in her belly. Wow! Tears came to my eyes realizing that I would become a daddy. Your daddy! I can still remember when your grandma Sawyer said to me, even before you were born: ‘Marc, you are a father already, and now it’s your task to become a daddy. ‘ Profound words indeed, because being a daddy is so much more than just being a father. I will always be your father, but I have to work always to become and stay your daddy. A lifelong task I eagerly accept with much joy and anticipation.

But let’s get back to the evening you were born. It was a rainy evening, and I just got back from a quick visit to some friends who ensured me that the chances were high that you would not be born yet that night. But, I didn’t even have time to take off my coat when you let me and your mom know that it definitely time. With much eagerness, speed, and force did you make your grand entrance into this world. Into our world. Into our home, at home. In a single second you made us into a family. In a single second everything changed forever. A girl. My girl. I choked. I was speechless. Beyond words. The nurse asked us for your name, and your mom and I said in unison: “Elora Liann.” A name we derived from the Hebrew name Eleora, which means “God is my light,” for we sure pray that you will see God as your light, and Liann, which could mean “God has answered” or “to bind darkness,” but is actually a combination of the names of both your grandmas, Linda and Anna.

And then, I held you for the first time. Something I will never forget for the rest of my life. To hold your delicate, fragile, lively body, smaller than my lower arm, was amazing. You sometimes opened your eyes, you sighed, you yawned. Cute as can be. I fell in love with you instantly, and every day since I love you more. To be the daddy of a girl is already a blessing, but to be your daddy is such an amazing honor and blessing that I can do nothing else than thank God each day for you.

3075325936_1d160bca731Yet now, here we are, one year later to the day. And what a beautiful girl you are. I have cherished every single moment of your growing up so far. Your first smile, your first giggle, how you manage to fall asleep in your bed in these crazy funny positions, how your face looks when tasting something unfamiliar, how you start laughing when I toss you on the bed, your crawling that would make any Navy Seal jealous, and so many more. You are such a joy to have around. Your smile makes me all warm inside. And I love your character. You are friendly, warm-hearted, a people person, relaxed, eager, determined, and curious. I love you, Elora. You are my girl! And this is only the beginning. Year two has officially started. And I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see you stand on your own. I can’t wait to see you wiggle around the house. I can’t wait hearing you say your first words. I can’t wait to see you eating your own food by yourself. I am ready for it. Are you?

Elora, I love you so much, and I am proud and blessed to be your daddy.
Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today my dad turns 76. I can’t believe already a year has past since we had a small and intimate family gathering to celebrate his 75th birthday. An indication for me at least that the older I get the faster the years seem to flash by. Or maybe it’s because it’s been a crazy year with some very highs and some very lows. I don’t know. Fact remains that my dad is 76 now, and I pray that he will stay with us for a very long time still, because he is an awesome dad and I want to have many conversations with him still and take him out for walks in “his” city of Amsterdam and let him ramble on about the goold old days when everything was still great (as opposed to now, of course). Come to think of it, a lot, if not all, of the reasons for wanting to keep him here are selfish. They are what I want. But I think the main reason why I want to keep him here still is because I long for him to (re)embrace the gospel. And so I pray that there will enough time for him to do this, realizing fully that I am (or may be) the one that actually needs to step up and actually share the gospel with him, and I don’t. Why? Because I am weak! Now of course I could come up with some Scripture like “And they took offense at Him But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:57-58), but this would be taking it out of context as a few verses before it is said, “He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue” (Matthew 13:54). And so hiding behind the fact that it is more difficult to share the good news of Jesus Christ in your home town, your family, your circle of friends, is nonsense, as I am still commanded to actually share it before I can make any claim (if I can that is), that it was not accepted, right! So I better get to work, knowing fully that it is not by anyone’s merit but God’s, to claim the outcome.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today my mom turns 70. Quite an achievement I must say. And so it will be a day of festivities, lots of food and good times. As a sort of tradition I wrote her a poem, and although it is in Dutch I will post it here. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you.

Lieve Mam,

Er zijn soms van die momenten, van die momenten die uitstekend zijn
Uistekend zijn om wat te vertellen, wat te delen, wat te verkondigen
Wat normaal niet gezegd wordt, of althans niet vaak genoeg; onbesproken blijft
Van die momenten van reflectie, van vooruit kijken, van in het moment kijken
En zo’n moment is nu
Want waarom zo’n moment te laten passeren over zeventig jaren vrouw zijn
Daar kunnen we natuurlijk niet aan beginnen
Daar valt best wel wat over te zeggen
Want wat voor een vrouw!
En wat voor een moeder!
En wat voor een oma!

Mam, je bent een echte moeder!
Hoe goed je voor ons alle zorgt; tot in de puntjes
Wekker gezet, je ontwaakt
Ontbijtje staat klaar, de lunch gemaakt
En altijd iets lekker voor diner
Dag in dag uit, zonder te verzaken weet jij alles tot een feest te maken
Zoveel gezelligheid en warmte
Huis is thuis, ook als je er niet woont
En ik weet één ding heel zeker: daar word jij lang niet genoeg voor beloond
We nemen het allemaal maar op de koop toe
Het is gewoon deel van het geheel
Zoals de zon die schijnt of maandag vanzelf dinsdag wordt
Dus, laat deze dag het begin zijn
Het begin van meer waardering (of, nou ja, het uiten ervan dan)
Waarderen doen we je natuurlijk al
Want hoewel je pas op de helft bent
Tussen waar het leven schijnbaar écht begint
En waar het als eeuwig wordt gezien
Beginnen de jaren natuurlijk wel te tellen
Maar niet in uiterlijke zin, want je ziet er geen dag ouder uit dan 69

Echter niet alles is zoals het was
Zuur en zoet zijn tegenwoordig flink gemengd
En daar waar de definitie van oma nu ook op jouw betrekking heeft
Tot grote blijdschap van ons allen!
Is de definitie van vrouw aangescherpt; moeten soms alle zeilen worden bijgezet
En terwijl dat niet makkelijk is, wordt ook dat met zoveel liefde gedaan
Op eigen kracht wel te verstaan
Waar wellicht verder gekeken moet worden voor volharding in hoop en liefde
Maar beschouw je omringd door liefde, en alles wat je hebt gegeven komt terug
Gevraagd of ongevraagd, gewoon voor niets
Dus, laat deze dag het begin zijn; het begin van meer waardering
Want mam, je bent een echte moeder!
En hoe goed je voor ons alle zorgt zo moeten wij ook voor jou zorgen
Je er geen dag ouder dan 69 uit laten zien, ook al ben je straks 80
Maar of dat weer zo’n moment is voor reflectie?
Elora is dan 10 jaar, en ik heb goede hoop dat zij hier dan staat en zegt:
“Oma, je bent een echte oma!”