I visited my parents this year for a few days after Thanksgiving.
They are in a new home, right next door to my brother Aaron and his wife Jenna and their family.
It was fun to stay with my parents and feel the continuing influence of their presence in my life.
Some things do not change. Like this:
The sight of my Dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading his scriptures, sometimes looking out the window over the fields while he pondered, met me almost every morning of my life…if I was up early enough to catch him at it.
I am grateful for the continuity of Dad.
For his strength of character in the face of loss, disappointment, tragedy, and triumph. Sometimes our abundance can weigh just as heavily on our spirits as our want. He has weathered them both beautifully.
Other things don’t change, like this:
This uncommonly ugly fruit bowl has had a place of honor on my Mom’s kitchen counter since I was about 7 years old.
I think Aaron gave it to her. It was a gift found at our little school’s “Santa’s Workshop” for 10 cents, including custom wrapping.
It really wasn’t any prettier in 1980 than it is now, but my Mom loved it. She still loves it and evidenced by the bananas and oranges in the photo she still uses it.
We gave Mom lots of ugly presents over the years, which could be depressing, particularly for a woman who really does love pretty things.
But she never saw the ugly. She only saw what was precious.
It’s a trait my parents have in common with one another. They are two seekers, each one well acquainted with the pain, frustration, and hopelessness that accompanies life.
But it does not define them.
My Dad doesn’t search the scriptures because he is looking for false hope to alleviate his burdens, or because he is afraid of a cruel God who will punish him if he doesn’t. He searches the scriptures because he treasures precious things. Precious truths, tender reminders that he is a child of God, that there is much he can do to lift another’s burden, to share truth, and to bear testimony of the Divinity of Christ.
My Mom doesn’t keep an ugly fruit bowl on her counter out of some kind of contest to win the “Mother of the Century” award. She keeps it there because she also treasures precious things. Her sons heart, in giving that gift to her so it could hold the apples she grew in her orchard, was more precious than beauty and a greater treasure than fine china or crystal.
There are things more precious than gold in this life. Words that breathe with the Spirit of God, homes that swell with the love of God, and families that are bound by love for one another and the God that gave them to one another as a gift.
I am who I am today because of my parents and the things they taught me. And one of the most important lessons I learned from them is this:
God sees precious things in us. Sometimes our meager efforts must look just like a chipped, faux-gold painted, plaster bowl. But he takes them anyway, He loves them because he loves us.
We are imperfect beings loved perfectly by a perfect God. And because of that, we aren’t hopeless, helpless, or lost.
And just this morning I can’t think of anything more precious than that to share with my own children.
I won’t always be here to treasure their gifts, to read scriptures with them, to help them find their paths. Just as my parents will not always be in the little farmhouse on the prairie. I will not always be able to go home and find my Dad sitting at the kitchen table pondering the things of God and sharing his wisdom with me.
But God is always present, in His word, in the Spirit, and in the love we show to one another. That knowledge is my parents finest gift to me. As Job said “His eye seeth every precious thing.” (Job 28:10) and it does not matter to Him if our gifts are made of porcelain or plaster they are treasures in the Lord’s house.