Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Because of Them, Part 1

My beautiful family - Christmas 2012, in one of our last family photos. From top left, clockwise, me, my sister Leah, my dad Fred, and my mom Bonnie.

Inevitably the question is asked, "What do your parents feel about you being in Uganda?"

I usually answer with a big smile and say, "My parents are my biggest cheerleaders!"

And, it is so true. Apart from God, I wholeheartedly believe I would not be in Uganda if not for the incredible love and support of my amazing parents.

I first met them when I exited the womb in July 1980 - 14 months after they married and a couple of years after they first met - in downtown Houston, Texas. I love telling the story of how God connected my dad, a reformed-hippie, transplanted from Oregon, to my mom - a city girl from Southern California on vacation to visit mutual friends. It's a long and interesting story of how God led them on their respective spiritual journeys to that point in time. But that's for another telling. :)

Three days after they met, my dad popped the marriage question. And their lives haven't been the same since, and mine hasn't either. :)

Married in a simple ceremony nearly 35 years ago, they began their wedded life - serving others. Lending a hand to the less fortunate - the homeless, jobless, destitute - giving a hand up and not a hand out, as they used to say. I was born into this family and into this focus on ministry and investing in people.

These three emphases - family, ministry and people - continued to be reinforced throughout my growing up. When I was two, we moved from Texas to Oregon - to be closer to my dad's family. And when I was almost 9, we made the best move ever - transferring from the big city (near Portland) to my amazing small town - Clatskanie - a place I am still proud to call home.

Mommy and Daddy made a lot of sacrifices to provide the best for Leah and I. My dad at times worked 2-3 jobs at a time, primarily so my mom could proudly fulfill the "mom" role God had given her. After moving to Clatskanie, they opted to home school, realizing that was the best choice for us, though neither had a background in education. Yet, my most valuable lessons went well beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

Yes, we can be crazy - it runs in the family. :)
I love that my parents still passionately love people. They are frequently the last ones at church or any gathering. Why? Because they find great delight in sharing life with the folks God has placed around them. I so admire their generosity and attentiveness to needs. One of my mom's ministries is sending out notes and cards to others. She has likely sent hundreds over the years - brightening many days for many people.

A visit to a new restaurant or a new town is not complete unless my parents have made new friends - with the waitress, a shop owner, or some lucky random person. :)

Though no longer involved in full-time ministry as at the start, reaching out to others remained an integral part of our family. Before we could walk, Leah and I were taken along on regular visits to the downtown rescue mission or to sing and share at nursing homes. These focuses continued as we grew - delivering food to low-income folks, serving lunch at the senior center, volunteering at the library. Once again, investing in others was a family priority - and it was something we did together. We persevered through challenges and setbacks (and the occasional family squabble! :) and rejoiced in victories, delighting in seeing change in those we served, as well as in ourselves.

Some favorite things we love to do as a family - eat and talk. :)
Our family remains close because that was fostered from long ago. I have great memories of working and playing together, sitting and talking for hours around the dining room table, taking amazing family vacations, attending church and being involved in other related activities. There were few things we didn't do as a foursome, which contributed to our incredible closeness, a trait that remains today, even across the miles.

My parents aren't perfect and they will be the first to tell you that, but they have been open, vulnerable, and honest about their mistakes. They have fully embraced and stressed reliance on the grace of God. They have lived out and believed fully in keeping your focus on Christ - in every aspect of life.

My dad has frequently emphasized the idea that "You don't fit ministry into life, life is ministry."

I have learned and benefited from this philosophy and now embrace it as my own.

My parents are amazing and incredible people and I love them very, very much.

I have more to share about their indelible impact and influence on my life, but that is for Part 2. :)

My amazing parents!


  1. Aw, this was very sweet, Ruthie! A wonderful tribute to your wonderful family. And I loved all the pictures. : )

    1. Thank you, Mikaela, for reading and commenting. :) I can say that my family has become more and more precious to me over the years.

  2. This is an awesome post! Every time I run into your parents in the store, it's like a wonderful reunion! I don't think I've ever heard the story about how they met, though...I'll have to hear that soon!

  3. Thanks, Lauren! The next time you run into my parents in a store, you should ask them for the story of how they met - I'm afraid I wouldn't do it justice. ;) Hearing their story and about the subsequent years always reminds me of our amazing, detail-focused, Sovereign God. He's awesome at putting the pieces of the puzzles of our lives together - for His glory!