This man exemplified Christ more than anyone I know.
He was patient with me when I didn’t get it right the first time and he’d always wait for me and let the others go on ahead. He was never too busy or in too much of a hurry to stop and pray – over new cars, road trips, new houses, new babies – you name it, he took the time to pray. Papa was kind when my behavior didn’t merit kindness in return. He did not envy what others had, instead he knew that he was beyond blessed and was an amazing steward of what he was given – he was an honest businessman and an incredible husband, father, grandfather & great-grandfather.
He did not boast… well unless it was about Jesus or Anna Mae. He was not proud… except for of his Dutch heritage and the USA :) He was not rude – he always made space in his life for others and treated everyone he met with the respect they deserved as a child of God. He was not self-seeking – I don’t know anyone as selfless as Papa, from picking up hitch hikers and telling them about Jesus to always showing up when we needed him to be there and even in the last days, he was thanking nurses in the hospital for changing his iv. He was not easily-angered, in fact his nickname was “Papa No Biggie” because he didn’t let much get to him and would always bring a smile to our faces when we were upset about something.
Papa kept no record of wrongs against anyone, ever; everything was forgivable and his love was so unconditional; I’ve never felt more loved by someone than I do by him and Gramma. He gave second chances and never made anyone feel like an outsider. He did not delight in evil; in fact the scowl would cross his face when bad stories came on the news or when he heard of one of his grandkids doing something he didn’t approve of. He truly did his best to live like Jesus. He always rejoiced with the truth – Papa’s favorite thing was to hear about one of us following Jesus or doing ministry or singing in church or baptizing our kids. He sought after Truth with his whole life and that was his desire for each of us.
Papa always protected us, Gramma and his relationship with Jesus. I’ve never seen a more amazing model of someone who carved out time with the Lord and time with his family because he knew the value of those things. He always trusted in the Lord no matter what life brought – bouts of cancer, hard times with the business, challenges with family – his trust was 100% in the Lord and what he could do. He always hoped for the best and believed the best for us, even if we didn’t believe it for ourselves. When we were sad or upset, there was always hope in Papa’s smile, in his words, in his actions.
He always persevered through whatever life brought his way and he did so without complaining or grumbling, he just put on that grin, prayed, grabbed Anna Mae’s hand and walked through whatever challenge was next.
Papa will never fail to be someone who deeply influences my life. The life he lived and the legacy he leaves will be something that brings many more to Glory.
Much of who I am is because of who Papa was. There are days when being in full-time ministry is draining and you want to quit – I keep going because Papa always wanted a preacher and he taught me to never stop sharing the good news with people, even if it is daunting at times. There are days when I don’t believe in love anymore and then I look at his relationship with Gramma and remember that their marriage is reason enough to believe in love and to have hope for the future. There are days when I take my life too seriously and I look at Papa and remember that it’s “no biggie” and it will all work itself out.
And there are days when I will see that smile in the pictures I cherish and be reminded that life is beautiful and that God is so good to me. My life is changed for the better because I got 30 years with Papa. He has been one of the biggest spiritual influences on me and I will continue to pray for a man who loves me as much as Papa loves Gramma and who will continue to point me toward Jesus, come what may. “And we believe it!” Gramma, you are deeply loved by 49 of us and we will be here for you. You and Papa have had such an incredible impact on us and we consider it a gift to love and support you and honor his legacy... it’s the least we could do.
I love and miss you Papa, more than you'll ever know.