"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and our grandchildren." Deuteronomy 4:9
The list of accomplishments is long for my Pake and Beppe (grandparents). My truth-speaking Pake is a proud Dutch immigrant and has been married to my tall, gracious, Dutch Beppe for 60 years. They have been missionaries in Nigeria. They have pastored numerous churches in various states. They started Acres of Diamonds; a home for mothers and children who need safety, training, and to be grounded in Christ. They mentored and ministered to business people, and counseled more than could ever be counted. Pake served as an Air Force chaplain and never hesitated to follow the call of God outside of comfort, outside of the "practical" and even outside of the country. Often in Lynden I meet people who vividly recall my Pake & Beppe from the short 3 years they pastored in the neighboring town, Everson. People talk like it was yesterday, using phrases like "revival", "huge impact", and "never-heard-someone-preach-like-that". It was in the early 1950s that they were here. The impact is still seen in the lives of that generation.
Pake & Beppe visited last weekend and although our kids have only met them a couple times, they were excited and quickly warmed up to them (I suppose since my parents are "Pake and Beppe" to them, they assumed "GREAT Pake" and "GREAT Beppe" must be extremely impressive.) In the years that most are slowing down, talking about their health problems, and telling stories about the past, my Pake and Beppe are pressing on to the future. Pake mentioned that they simply don't have time to die with all they have going on. Beppe has been busy painting and learning photoshop. She is selling artwork to raise money for Acres of Diamonds. Pake asked the Lord what the next phase of ministry would look like for him. He felt God tell him to use twitter to spread the Word of God. So as he enjoys his 80s he is mastering twitter, blogging, and facebook.
This summary only touches on the things my Pake and Beppe have poured their life into, all because they cling to Christ and willingly live the adventures He has for them. Yet in all of this, I don't believe their best legacy is a tribe in Africa. I don't believe their best legacy is in all they have written, preached, or accomplished.
I believe their best legacy is in their 8 children, 46 grandchildren, and nearly 40 great-grandchildren (and many yet to come, I'm sure). The purpose of Pake and Beppe's visit last weekend was more than just good coffee. They decided to make a home visit to each of their 46 grandkids. They want to see how the gospel is being shared and passed down to the next generation. They also take time at each home to pray a blessing over each member of the family. I pray Pake and Beppe see what I see; a family that has learned to love the Word. Pake and Beppe pray and read at every meal. They take Scripture very seriously and understand that we will never learn it all. My parents followed their example by family devotion time after dinner and now S. and I have implemented the same in our home.
Pake and Beppe built a family that knows Jesus personally. Spending any time at all hearing Beppe speak of her relationship with Jesus makes you crave that kind of intimacy. We all joke (but are actually quite serious) that, "Look out if Beppe prays. It'll happen- and usually quickly!" I used to think it was because she was God's favorite. She might be (she's certainly all of our favorite!) but I now know that her heart is aligned with Christ and His will. When she prays she often knows what He wants to accomplish.
They have taught us what is worth celebrating. Family reunions always have a day reserved for share/prayer time. Each family gets to share what God has done the previous year and what their prayer requests are. Then the extended family (multiple generations) gather around to lay hands on and pray for the family. The following year we get to hear how the prayers were answered. I have seen phenomenal answers to prayer through this; pregnancy when there was suspected infertility, physical healing, family members come back to the Lord and restored to the family. We celebrate weddings (with skits, songs, and everyone dances), births of babies (and more babies...and more babies), and other rites of passage. Above all, we celebrate when the Lord changes lives and family members submit to Him. Nothing is sweeter and nothing is valued more.
There are two ways people become Tademas. They are either born into the family or 'grafted in'. Pake and Beppe adopted two of their sons from Korea and the blessing of adoption multiplied in the next generation. Half of their grandkids are adopted and now some of those grandkids are looking into grafting great-grandkids into our family. We believe adoption is a powerful picture of the way God grafts us in to His family.
I am personally so thankful and blessed by the spiritual heritage of my family. My cousins and siblings are my best friends. I've never known any family reunions to rock like ours do. Yet what we are in Christ is stronger than what comes from the Netherlands, stronger than traditions at the holidays, and stronger than sharing blood (most of us don't even share that!)
Much of what the world values is individual accomplishments. How often do I hear people explain that they only want a couple kids so they can still do what they want to do and live for themselves? I find it laughable 1.) that people think investing in children slows them down 2.) That they believe their lives mean more if they are lived for themselves & their own accomplishments (noble as they may be). I am thankful Pake and Beppe chose to grow their family to 8 children so that those 8 children could have 46 children and so that those 46 could have...???(Still counting). Through them have come pastors (too many! Can I just say? How many pastors does one family need?!), teachers, exhorters, musicians, counselors, parents, cosmetologists, firefighters, construction workers, a pharmacist, philosophers, contractors, writers, missionaries, students, sales clerks, waitresses, and more. We are a variety of life-changers; in occupation, giftings, experiences, and color.
Recently both Pake and Beppe accomplished writing books about their lives. I treasure those not as individual accomplishments but as an account of a legacy; a work that God began in my family long before I was born. As I pour into my own children I don't want to focus on making them Taylors or Tademas. I'm not bent on our traditions or own stories. I want them to know the God we serve and why we serve Him. I want them to see the powerful examples of marriages that were committed when it wasn't the easy way. I want them to hear the testimonies of their aunts, uncles, and cousins. May it grow their faith and make it personal the way our heritage is a foundation for my own faith.
*I say 8 children but perhaps I should say 9? Pake & Beppe's Nigerian son, Moses, wasn't able to come to the U.S. when they moved back but have since re-united with him and his own family... which would also add to the number of grandchildren. On second thought, we'll save that story for another day.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...