Rick and Monique

Friday, February 27, 2009


We dug through junk today.  Our church holds a rummage sale every year and the annual sale occurs next weekend, but everyone delivers their unwanted stuff today and tomorrow.  We brought a bunch today.  It feels good to "lighten" up a little.  It feels good not to be so "thingy."  We've been purging stuff for years now, holding our own annual rummage every year for the last 6 years or so.  Today was kind of the last of it.  

Every penny that's made at the church's rummage goes to mission work around the city and around the world. We feel good about that too.  Our congregation is active and vibrant.  Our church is persistently, visibly and joyfully generous.  They relate to each other, they love each other, and they wear congregation's and the city's burdens, joys, concerns, needs, successes and prayers like precious jewelry.  

And so it was that as we purged, we found items and memories that we'll keep, probably forever.  The process of finding the things we could let go of, also revealed many forgotten things that we'll never let go of.  One of them was a poem Monique wrote when she was 10 or 11 years old, her first poem ever.  Monique said it was one of the first things she ever wrote.  Forget about talent, forget about the structure or the meter (does anyone care about Iambic Pentameter when they're ten years old?), forget about grades...she wrote something very personal to her at the time.  Maybe she'd struggled with a friend, maybe she really appreciated her friends.  Maybe she was hurt or betrayed by someone, or maybe someone was very special to her.  No matter what, today we found this little ditty... something she wrote that strikes the heart of where I am right now and where you and I will be in five years, ten years and thirty years from now...she wrote something true to time and age.  She wrote something that even mirrors what our congregation will enjoy doing next week.  At ten years old she wrote a piece that humbles even the most mature man or woman.  Today we thoroughly enjoy our friends.  Today she enjoys her very best friend more than she enjoys most things.  And when she was ten, she knew what that should look like. Glimpse a moment of a single day when a ten year old girl knew how to love the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength, and love her neighbor as herself.  On her poem hangs all the laws and the prophets.  Read, and understand the heart of a friend.

A Friend
by Monique Ingrid Huizinga (Elgersma)

A friend is someone special
a friend is someone new.
A friend is someone nice and kind,
especially to you.

A friend is someone who will help.
A friend can be near by.
A friend is always merciful
And their love will (and should) never die.

A friend will help you through your life,
In everything you do.
A friend is always to the best,
and helps you follow through.

A friend will do things for you,
and help and care for you.
A friend will never laugh at you,
when you fail at something new.

A friend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Warmth and Experience

The sun's rising beautifully this morning.  The sun rises like red fingers clasping blue skies. That's kind of different!  Yet, in kind, the sky opens like a soft blue stage curtain over the earth. 

The great outdoors seems warm to me.  I can sit right here on my couch and believe the air outside feeds warm air to the masses.  I'm ready for warmth--for Spring.  It's like I can smell wisps of Spring even if fleeting.  It's like when I drive past a bakery and smell fresh bread as I pass--the moment makes you hunger for fresh bread.  I can't wait until Spring is served.

I can see the sun rise from the East, I'm staring--wondering.  My window to my back yard stretches about ten and a half feet across so I've got a pretty good view from my perspective.

But I haven't gone outside.  My idea of what life outside is like this morning, what I expect and what I think life should be like, may not be. Of course I could simply sit here and be warmed by my expectations, to ride off into my proverbial beach front...and never go anywhere.  The opposite is also true.  If I expected the outdoors was frigid, I might be gilded by my expectations.  I'd never go anywhere that way either.  

It won't be long and I'll have to find out for myself.  It might be slightly colder than what I've fooled myself into hoping and it might be a lot colder.  So I'll step out and feel cold.  I won't exactly feel comfortable right away. But I can't really judge the cold from the very first moment because I've just stepped out from a warm couch and warm house, so the cold air seems even colder than it really is.  I have to give the experience a little time--time to mature really.  And besides, I can do a few things to make the cold bearable.  I could sip my coffee, zip my coat up or put a hat on my head.  

I've had the conversation several times this week from several people building the confidence to think and do new things.  Some already are. We'll all have to move from our expectations to experience and I'll most certainly admire you for that.

God bless all of you who's week has been much different than the last. Your part in the play will sure be interesting.  But for right now we can all start from the same square behind the same stage curtain. The sunrise sure is beautiful and the air seems warm and clear doesn't it?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Bucket List

Monique and I watched "The Bucket List" last night. We kept Valentine's Day low-key, opting to enjoy eachother's company from the comfort of our home. Yesterday was wintry, but provided its own beauty, dropping soft and white Valentine Pillows over everything. We'd experienced a warm, sun-filled, Spring-like week and, although we were busy, found time to walk, ride the motorcycle stand out on our deck and hope. We've not exactly been dormant this Winter, but look forward to days on a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, cars with open windows, walks by the river...

We enjoyed "The Bucket List." Two men on their death-bed decide to live well with the time they had left. Life had been the way it had always been for the both of them. One remembered a professor in his youth that had instructed the students to create a "bucket-list" made up of dreams and accomplishments they would seek throughout their lifetimes. Both had lost sight of dreams. One had a family, one did not. One couldn't remember true love after 45 years of marriage and after several kids had come and gone, the lights in their rooms...dormant. The other was wealthy beyond measure but had never known true happiness after four marriages and a daughter who wouldn't speak to him. He had done his best, so he thought, but something had gone terribly wrong. Now they were dying and so the family man began re-writing dreams he never thought he would see except to note a glimpse of them on paper. The other, curious about the scribbles, looked at the list and from that moment a dream was born. They made a list. After difficult moments with a wife barely remembered and a rich bachelor who had barely lived, off they went.

The list included things like "Laugh till you cry", "Go Skydiving", and "Gaze at something truly Beautiful", and "To kiss the most beautiful woman in the world." They didn't live...they found life. After scratching the list off one by one there were few left...but the one they had not written came true most of all--"To Live." They returned home, one to his wife and the other to his lonely home. Both had almost stopped dreaming, until they brought out the bucket...and the bucket was not yet full. One returned home to a loving wife and a grateful family. He kissed her...and placed "Kiss the most beautiful woman in the world" into the bucket. The other found the courage to find his long lost daughter and long last...she had her own daughter. He picked her up, held her in his arms and kissed her on the cheek...and put "Kiss the most beautiful woman in the world" into the bucket.

I wish the gift of wisdom had not come with so much grit in the same box. My bride traced the lines on my face last night, some of them worry lines, some of the laugh lines, and some of them made of terse, sad and gritty experience.

But I've got buckets and lists. I've travelled and loved. I've sang in raptured choirs and knew heaven. I've played and I've worked and I've won and I've lost. I know the echoes of family holidays and birthdays as if the walls that hold them are stashed away in my brain. I intend that when you come here you should feel like kings and queens and yet I've lived portions of my life with disdain. I love and experience my ministry, my work and my family and my friends. I love to mow the yard and I love to travel to exotic places.

Sometimes I miss college. I miss catechism. I miss donut runs and I miss the throngs of friends that would pile into Taco Johns. They're crossed off my list, and in the bucket. I miss late nights on the phone and I wish for the night I laid on my back in the snow near Ireton Iowa and watched the northern lights--that's in the bucket too. I wish I had not fallen into many temptations and I wish I had turned the T.V. off last week when my wife wanted to tell me about her day. Sometimes buckets are filled with things that shouldn't have made the list.

I love the freedom my wife and I experience, the capability we have to make quick decisions, to go anywhere at any time...they're in my bucket. We definitely live. To watch my wife's unbounded energy...that's on the list. But I would give it all away...rip up the entire list, to gain back the day before we lost our child, little Reyana Breen. We spent wonderful weeks dreaming about who she would be. There's a line on my face reserved for her.

So we have dreams. I have dreams. I take my list and my bucket with me everywhere because it seems I put a new one on the list every time I leave my house. I want to see the Eiffel Tower and visit Machu Pichu. I want to walk Via the Dolerosa and visit the Garden of Olives near Jerusalem. I want to listen to raging rivers and soft streams. I'm going to put the heart of Alaska in my bucket soon. I can't wait for that. I want to visit every major league baseball stadium. And on my list is "be content at home".

I'm going to publish poetry. Oscar Wilde said "At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets." I'll write.

Many jealous dreams may or may not go into the bucket, who knows? I don't need a bucket to live. I don't need a bucket to insure that anyone who comes to my home feels as if they've known what it's like to feel appreciated, to know love, and experience rest.

My wife and I touch each other. I've got many buckets reserved for that alone. I hold her at night, sometimes all night. Sometimes I turn over and she holds me and sometimes we lay back to back...but we're still pressed together. A new bucket lies beside our bed to be filled in darkness and re-lived at morning light. On my list is to smell the flowers when I exit my front door. I'm going to look at the veins within a leaf and I'm going to catch a snowflake on my tongue. I'm going to marvel at rain and feel thunder. I'm going to splash warm water on my face and taste icicles. RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) was added to the list and we accomplished the 2007 RAGBRAI. We added a bullet point to that record before we placed it into the bucket that said, "We ride together or not at all." We're going to ride another 500 miles in one week on our bicycles. The bullet point has now been added to the "For All Time" list--Together, or not at all.

I'm going to walk around my block. I'm going to hold my nephews and nieces and pray for a child of my own. And I'm going to be thankful even when God says "no." I'm going to breathe cool air and I'm going to hold my breath simply to appreciate every breath after.

I'm going to start a business and enjoy a part-time job. I'm going to rent apartments or sell houses. I'm going to sell things just to get by and I'm going to live lavishly in wealth. I'd like to enjoy a new snow-blower, But I am thankful for the exercise gained from scooping snow. I'm going to ride motorcycles and enjoy good cigars. I'm going to rent movies only to get lost in a good book. I'm going to hold my wife's hand, fingers intertwined with mine. On my list is "never forget to kiss Monique goodnight."

I'm not going to be afraid to tell you about God. For I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. Come thou fount of every blessing! Tune my heart to sing Thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

We've got buckets for dreams--but I have already lived. I've already kissed the most beautiful woman in the world. Some fein to love their wives on this particular day. I get to love her every day.

And on my last day, the last line traced upon my face, I hope you know what it is to appreciate. And when my eyes close you will check one last item off my bucket list for me--"My hand will be in hers, and her heart will be in mine."

And I'll wait for you in Heaven.

picture courtesy of our dog, who in her frolics had no idea she'd provided us a beautiful Valentine's gift...thanks Dutchie!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Grand Mess

They left a grand mess.  We cleaned for a week.  Five minutes after my family's arrival, the house was turned back into the swiss cheese we'd begun with last Monday.  Toys were scattered about, dirt traded places with Mr. Clean, sheets twisted like they'd visited tornado alley...I'm still finding marshmallows torpedoed from my favorite new Christmas present, a marshmallow shooter...a grand mess.  They left the lights on.  My beautiful wood floor reveals the footprints left by them.  Water stains tell the story of where three dogs drank their fill.  They left a grand mess.  Empty wine and beer bottles fill my closet and we filled my garbage can completely.  They left a grand mess.

And I mean GRAND...the echoes of their laughter still spill from my walls.  I hesitated at each room a moment, before turning off the lights, remembering them.  The kids screamed and laughed and played...and sometimes got into a little trouble.  Uncles and Aunts laughed at their shenanigans even as their parents did not.  We couldn't help it actually.  The kids were everything they were supposed to be and the parents were everything they were supposed to be.  We enjoyed brilliant, private time with the children.  Monique and I were allowed to love them well this weekend. 

The Elgersma clan (made up of Elgersmas, Hostetlers, and Beaumonts - also referred to as the Elgerbeaustetlers) visited for Christmas...334 days early--well maybe we met 30-something days late.  When can't one remember the Savior?  Whatever one can say, it was grand.  We played games, gobbled up amazing meals in every...health group (fantastic beef and ham Sandwiches, yummy Chili, Pork Roasts, and the most amazing Krispy Cream-Carmel Santa-Clausifying breakfast in my memory), enjoyed time swimming, playing outside and watching movies.  I played my guitar and we sang together.  We goofed around with hair pins, balls and the like.  We enjoyed a little dutch cookie Sinterklaas treat (pepernootjes) and downed a few M & M's.  We ate Sunday breakfast at Church and enjoyed each other's company there.  We listened to a loving sermon and shared communion together, sang by guitar (Rob played this time), and finally that afternoon, said our goodbyes.  

We were delighted they were here.  We enjoyed the celebration.  And we made a grand mess.  No mess means they weren't here.  We can't have that.  

Homes should reveal where they've been, where they are, and reflect the things that happen and the ways that make them 'homes.'  Mine does.  The mess was - and is - so grand.  I don't mind picking up after us this week.  Each piece carries a memory and I'm good with that.  Neat and tidy is okay too, but one should live somewhere.  God doesn't expect a sterile lifestyle from His people...  

They're our family.  This weekend came with the marvelous, the amazing, the good, bad and ugly.  A grand mess it was.  We left a Grand, Marvelous, Happy and Holy mess--so very Grand.