Saturday, September 30, 2017

Remembering Grandpa

The following is an excerpt from the eulogy I shared on
Friday, September 22, 2017...

I sat down with Susie, Dawn and John and we talked about some of our memories of Dad.  We talked of his love of sports, photography and travel.  Of his love for and support of his grandkids in most any event.  He loved people. And he loved to have fun. He was a phenomenally strong man.

Susie recalled his last visit to the hospital and how upon getting out of the hospital and looking toward his 85th birthday he did not want a party.  Instead he had developed a bucket list.  On that bucket list were five things:
  • Watch grandson Isaac play his senior year of basketball
  • See his grandson Max get married
  • See granddaughter Joey get married
  • See granddaughter Sophie graduate and put on that white coat
  • And finally, to visit his family in LA again

He completed that list last month when he and Susie traveled to California, where his family includes his sisters Rachel Ortiz and Rosemary Aqurrie, his brother Ruben Lopez, and his sister-in-law Martha Lopez.

He loved photography, sports and travel and his beloved Susie.  Thank you, Susie. For loving him. For making him happy. For sharing your life together. We are so grateful.

He was born December 28, 1931 in Sylmar, California.  Manuel Arthur Lopez, Manuel, Arthur, Art, John, Johnny, Manny, Dad, Grandpa, and with Liam and Hugo now Great-Grandpa.  A man of many names.  Most recently we discovered that his nickname was Wimpy growing up.  John and I were considering the consequences if either of us had the nerve to call him that.

Dad never liked to talk about his youth.  From aunts and uncles we have heard stories of his athletic accomplishments.  Boxing, Football, Softball.  He was an amazing athlete.  But he never spoke of it.  It seemed the achievements of his youth were clouded with dark times as well.  Those stories were not something for him to share or for us to know. We know some things. Dad and his siblings had a difficult childhood. Foster homes. Fatherlessness. Among other things. But they fought and escaped to be with and support one another. He, his brothers and sisters truly loved being with one another. Even last month as Dad was blessed to make that final trip to California. The pictures of them sitting together look like the pictures from 35 years ago. Right down to the beers in their hands.

The early part of our Dad’s life had tragic turns. Possibly more tragic than we will ever know. Eventually he left California and began a journey across Mexico, where he met my grandparents and became smitten with their eldest daughter. Thanks to that Mom we are all here.

A favorite writer of mine is fond of saying that God likes to draw straight with crooked lines.

In 1972, Dad and Mom purchased a house on a lot, about half of an acre, outside of town. Actually, it wasn’t really a house; it was a basement. He and my mom moved out of the city with three children. It was a nice little piece of land with wooded fields beside it, cornfields across the street, and orchards behind it. He clearly had a dream. And he was working hard to make it a reality.

He moved his family in, and he and Mom made the basement livable. Then he, along with some of you in this room, framed in a house with plans to finish it slowly. That house was meant to be finished in a few years and provide his family with a three-bedroom raised ranch on a nice piece of land. I spent many days playing upstairs among the framed but unfinished walls, imagining what our home would be like when complete. I suspect Dad did the same.

Over the course of the last forty years that house would undergo a lot of change. A lot of stress and turmoil.

It would be left unfinished.

It would eventually be left abandoned.  

It would fall into ruin.

But God draws straight with crooked lines

Dad, anyone could look at that home as a failure. That a dream slipped away.

But God draws straight with crooked lines.

Dad wanted that home; that piece of land; that foundation for his family. To establish for them the foundation that he never had growing up. He wanted a he bought one.  

To the person who drives down Dickinson Road today the appearance of that house tells one story - but the reality is quite different.

Dad has three children. And in Wes, Karen, and Shelly we are blessed with wonderful marriages. Our children love one another and are so faithful to each other. We have exactly what Dad wanted for us. Dad was a fighter. I don’t know how he got us here. But here we are. Our families are built on what he gave us. Even if he wasn’t sure how to give it.

God has blessed our families.

A little property. A dilapidated home. Unfinished. Abandoned. Yet.

God draws straight with crooked lines.

Dad, thank you for what you did.  

Thank you for what you tried.  

We love you.

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lam. 3:21–32).

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Tribute at Graduation

I would like to begin by taking a few minutes to explain what this afternoon is meant to be.  It, of course, is a celebration of what Isaac has accomplished.  It is also a celebration of what we have chosen to pursue.  We have homeschooled Isaac since the second grade, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the process and are more convinced than ever of our choice.  We are delighted with the young man he is today.  
But I would also like to take this moment to acknowledge that not everyone in this room has chosen to homeschool their children.  While we are celebrating our homeschool product today, we do not wish for anyone to hear our pride and our joy in how this has worked for us as an indictment upon any of your decisions to educate your children differently.  Though it should be noted that we thoroughly enjoy vigorous discussions on the subject.
Today we want you to join us in our celebration, and we believe you have reason to celebrate not only because of your affection for Isaac but because you have contributed to his education.
Education is much more than just the books you read, the papers you write and the equations you solve. Those things are of immense value, and Isaac has benefited greatly from his extensive reading lists each year.  But his education was made broader by his experiences and by those who invested in him with time and love and opportunity.  
In the first chapter of Romans, we read "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools..." Rom. 1:18-22
We have always desired to build a constant attitude of thankfulness into our children and what sort of parents would we be if we did not live that example for them.
Isaac, and in turn Shelly and I, have been greatly blessed by those who have given so much.  
In the last ten years we have moved all over the world from Hawaii to Germany, and everywhere we have gone we have been blessed by family.  Isaac has been blessed to have fine men model Godly manhood and invest time in him and care for him.  Men like Pastor Todd Capen, Major Mike Cookey, Major Britton Price and so many others.  
He has seen the love of so many wonderful families like the Capens, Burkhalters and Wischmeiers in Hawaii.  In Europe it was the Romos, Sponds, Pattersons and Motes among so many more.  The Johnsons and the Cookeys are among those families that seemed to love on us from the day we arrived until the day we left.  These were families that made us feel like we had family near when our biological families were oceans away.  With these families we prayed and worshipped, we laughed and cried, we sang and we danced.  We broke bread and we pursued wisdom.
Those were formative years for Isaac.  But before and after we travelled the world we had people helping to grow Isaac.
That begins with our family.  Uncle John and Aunt Karen always provided a warm and inviting home to visit, a farm to enjoy and sometimes to work, and came to Isaac’s games and took him to watch games.  Uncle Corey and Aunt Becky would gather for every major event, providing holiday meals, running races with him and talking sports endlessly.  Uncle Wes and Aunt Dawn always made sure all of our children felt so very important and so special whenever they were together.  We thank you.
Uncle Todd and Aunt Kristin have been there from the beginning. At some point the children found out you weren’t actually family, but there is no doubt you have earned those titles.  
To Grandma who has always been ready to give a hug or food to a growing boy, a trip to the park or just to lend an ear.  And Mimi who has literally made her house a home for our children and has given so much more than that and so much more than I can list.  Grandpa and Susie always have love and laughter to share and support every activity.  Grandpa, you gave us a scare this year but also gave us the opportunity to see prayers answered and to see what it means to have a family care for one another and pull together in dark times. What a blessing.
Yes, in our very short return to the Kansas City area in Isaac’s senior year, many unforeseen blessings have come.  A wonderful church family was discovered. Pastor Lindstrom has been a faithful shepherd as well as Entrepreneurial Business Instructor.  The Van Till Family has provided the first real jobs to Isaac and Abi as well as Constitution classes.  The Lindstroms, Morills and the congregation of Christ Our Redeemer have welcomed my wife and my children and loved them during a uniquely difficult time for our family.
And the Morrisons provided an incredible basketball opportunity with a strong program where they and families like the Burkharts and Daileys welcomed Isaac in and provided him friendship and a memory he will not soon forget.  Not to mention the experience that is Coach Lathrop.
Thank you all for being here.  By that, I mean more than thank you for occupying your seat this afternoon.  I am saying thank you for having been there for my family, for my children, for Isaac.  God has blessed Isaac through you, and we are grateful.

Of course, all thanks is to be given to the Giver of all good gifts.  It is by God’s hand that all of these things have been done.  So please stand, lift your glass and join with us in singing the Doxology.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In A Place Obscure

Listening to Christmas Carols alone allows you to hear them differently.
This year I am away from my family for the greatest celebration of the year.  Normally, we celebrate Advent weekly with feasts and gifts, building up to Christmas Eve and the climax of Christmas morning. The celebration continues through the following mornings leading up to Epiphany.   Not being there is hard. There is so much I am missing out on, but I am reliving fantastic memories every day with every song I hear. Those wonderful carols singing of our blessed Lord are a balm both in what they say and in what I recall in the sounds, tastes, and smells of past Christmases.
By His life He brings us gladness … Watching Abigail place the Dickens village pieces perfectly and uniquely each year.  Moving so often means the setup will never be the same, every year bringing a new creation.    
Haste, haste to bring Him laud… Working with Isaac to bring the tree home and to move all of the Christmas boxes out of storage and into the living room.  In recent years I have taken advantage of his height, delegating the uppermost decorating to him. 
Sing Choirs of Angels… Listening to Micaiah sing carols as she attempts to place each ornament and strand of lights perfectly on the tree.  
Joy of every longing heart… Observing Bear place the trains in perfect rows and yet be unable to stop himself from playing with them. 
Joyful and Triumphant… Dancing with Belle because she insists that I dance.   She dances and I am not allowed to stop spinning.  To me it seems more like a carnival ride and I am the equipment. 
Rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing… Sitting on the sofa holding Shelly’s hand in my left and a glass of wine in my right. Wanting to enjoy another treat she and the girls have prepared but unwilling to free either hand.  
When those Blue snowflakes start falling… Christmas 1992 was when this all got started.  This is our first one apart.     
Awake My Soul…While family is what I am missing so much, it is not the point of the season.  It is just something that we have always done together and love doing together.  The point is that the greatest event in history actually happened, and we celebrate it on this day and throughout this season.   The Child was born, and all has changed and all is being healed…Repeat the sounding joy        
This season we celebrate gives us a way to measure our year, our life. By this blessed moment.  Every year we begin Advent singing Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, and we are reminded on Christmas Day that He has come, bringing Joy to the World as far as the curse is found.
This leads us into the new year mindful that He is making all things new. This isn’t just a season that passes away; Our God is with us all year long. Christmas establishes our calendar.  It is the foundation for our year, and our entire year builds to it.  And our entire year must proclaim it.
O come thou Dayspring…cheer our spirits by thine advent here…As I am fighting sadness that I am not with my family, I am so grateful that they are able to be together.  I find myself dreaming of next year when we will do this season together again, when we can all travel to Idaho to visit the oldest two and hear a beautiful choral performance, when we will sing and dance and feast in a new home with a new twist.  I am reminded that while I dream of the future and what God has in store for our family, He has given us a King who rules now, and we are to sing praises to Him and work for His glory today.
In Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name… King forever, ceasing never.

~written by Patrick

Friday, October 2, 2015


My Love,
Just over 22 years ago I took you to this restaurant to officially ask you to marry me. Of course, we both knew the answer beforehand so I was taking very little risk that night. It did make things official though and a few months later we married in an old stone church in Brookside. It was a beautiful fall day; I was blessed with a beautiful bride and you with a very lucky man.

Ten years later I surprised you, my charming mother of three, with a trip to Prince Edward Island and the north Atlantic. While you got to visit a childhood dream location, you also had to endure my endless stops to take photographs of every lighthouse and covered bridge along the eastern seaboard. It was a beautiful fall week and my love for you only grew.

For our twentieth anniversary I took my lovely wife to Greece, with more than a little help from the Department of Defense, as a little getaway from the duties of a family of seven. There you were able to walk on the same ground that Paul walked and see the ruins of Thessoloniki and Athens. And you also climbed up cliff and mountain so I could explore my childhood remembrance of tales of Alexander the Great and visit the Monasteries of Meteora because of a story that still tries to write itself from deep inside my head. The sun was bright, most of the week, and you were radiant.

But not every anniversary has been a dream vacation. This year, you will get a call from me as I sit on the other side of the world. We will pray that the connection is good. And after a short conversation we will go on about our days separately. You will teach Belle the alphabet, help Bear with his math and reading, instruct Abi and Isaac with their coursework. You will probably have already taken Silas for a walk. You will continue to manage our home flawlessly even while protesting that you could do better. Your humble service to our home is a wonderful example to our children and a blessing to us all. It makes me love you all the more.

This will not be our most romantic anniversary. But every year with you is better than the year before. God deepens my ability to love you far beyond what I thought was possible. I am always amazed at the depth of your love for me. Thank you for your love, your respect and your encouragement. You make me a better man. As always, you will give me the best end of this deal. 

You are my glory. Every day I thank God for you.

Happy Anniversary, My Love.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Apart of the Story

Over the course of nine months, the lopezfamilyfieldtrip has experienced three houses in three different cities on two different continents. Fieldtrip Extraordinaire.

While our adventure began in beautiful Bavaria
and then continued through desert canyons and mountains,

nothing brings you back to the beginning quite as quickly as preparing for a garage sale.  A garage sale in your childhood home.  39 years in 1 house...this is my mom's story...our keeper of stories.

Sift.   Sort.   Save.   Sell.

Yearbooks...4th grade art projects...framed evidence of the knee-high tube socks and short shorts era...Holly Hobby lunch pail with matching thermos...letters from war.  WWI.  Back beyond our beginnings.  Introductions to your people through almost-forgotten treasures draw you in and remind you of the bigger story.  

As we prepare for a stretch of time when we will celebrate the HolyDays as well as the day-to-day victories on separate continents, I am thankful for every opportunity to hear your voice, to hear your story. 
Happy Father's Day to my sweetheart.
Would love to meet you here ... soon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

4 Belle

After a wonderful time of worship with Christ the King family, 
our family jumped out of the van, 
hurried into the house to change into park-playing clothes, 
grabbed the cooler and cookie cake, 
and then piled back into the van.  
Destination:  a return trip to Biggs Park ... but this time, 
we were celebrating four years of 
Adele Cristabel Lopez.

Through the years...can't believe there have been four already!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Belle!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Southwest Surprises

Just a few days ago, 
we experienced the spinny, sunny fun of Biggs Park...

Today we experienced snow, 
blowing snow, 
measurable snow...

Now, for the test... 
Sand OR Snow??

Celebrating New Year's Day
at White Sands National Monument

Celebrating first snow in our backyard

White Sands National Monument