Tag Archives: Le Mars

Simple Habits Simply Exemplified

You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NRSV)

I remember as a child going to spend a week with my grandparents in Le Mars. Mom would take me to the Greyhound bus station in Des Moines and put me on a bus, telling me to sit right behind the driver (where he could keep an eye on me, no doubt) and I would make the long bus ride to Sioux City where my grandparents would be waiting to shuttle me back to their house.

Staying with grandpa and grandma in the small town of Le Mars was a treat. I got to walk “uptown” to explore the shops on Central Avenue. I would be grandpa’s guest at Lion’s Club and we would play Canasta for hours on end.

Once a day, after we ate our meal, Grandpa would get out his Bible and a devotional called The Upper Room. He would read the Bible verse for the day and then read the short devotional thought for that day before offering a short prayer. It did not take long, and to this day I can’t recall any of the actual words or thoughts that were shared. Nevertheless, the simple act of doing it made an indelible impression on me.

Today, I’m thinking about God’s command through Moses not only to ingest and embody His words but also to pass them along to your children. I remember Grandpa reading the upper room after lunch. I recall the daily experience of waking for school and descending the stairs to find my father sitting in his chair, Bible open on his lap as he read and prayed. These things weren’t rigid religious disciplines demanded of us like some kind of cruel and inhuman punishments. They were simple habits simply exemplified which made an indelible impression on a child’s impressionable heart.

I pray that I have been faithful in carrying on the example for our children. I hope for the day when our grandchildren come for the week to the small town of Pella to explore the square and to be Grandpa and Grandma’s special guest so that I may continue to make an impression passed through the generations.

TBT: Grandma’s Photography

Vander Well family in front of Grandpa (Herman) and Grandma (Everdina) Vander Well's house in LeMars, IA. Photo processed June 1974
Vander Well family in front of Grandpa and Grandma Vander Well’s house in LeMars, IA. Photo processed June 1974

I’ve been slowly taking up the task of scanning my family’s archive of old photos. I came across this little gem from 1974 of my family standing in front of my grandparents’ house. There were two things that this photo brought to mind:

  1. Grandma insisting we must take a family photo before we would be allowed to leave for home (notice our shared excitement).
  2. Grandma, bless her, couldn’t frame a photo to save her life.

“Coffee Time” with God

coffee and tee
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 55

Morning, noon, and night
    I cry out in my distress,
    and the Lord hears my voice.
Psalm 55:17 (NLT)

“Coffee time” is a long held tradition in the Dutch culture which is my heritage. When I was a kid, I thought it was just something that my Grandpa and Grandma Vander Well did when I visited them at their home in Le Mars, Iowa. About 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. and then again in the mid-afternoon about 3:00, Grandpa and Grandma V would stop whatever it was they were doing and sit down at the kitchen table for a cup of coffee or tea.

Years later, I spent three years living in a very small rural town that was largely of Dutch heritage. I quickly learned that at 9:00 a.m. and again about 3:00 p.m. the local coffee shop was packed for “coffee time.” Local residents, businessmen, and farmers congregated for a cup of coffee and a serving of current events or local gossip. I came to love the routine break in the day. I looked forward to it.

A few years ago, I first read about “praying the hours.” It’s an ancient practice that I believe was largely lost in the protest that made many of us Protest-ants. Also known as “fixed hour prayer,” the concept is pretty simple. At set times of the day, you stop whatever you are doing and have a conversation with God.

The practice of fixed hour prayer actually has its roots in Christianity’s Judaic roots. As you read through the book of Acts and the stories of the beginning of the early church you’ll find hints of the apostles’ dedication to praying at specific hours of the day, often going to the temple to do so. You also find references throughout David’s lyrics, like the verse I pulled from today’s chapter, of his praying at specific times throughout the day.

After studying a bit of the history of the practice (click here for a great article about it if you’re curious), I’ve spent the past few years trying to incorporate what I like to think of as “coffee time with God” into my daily routine. While I’m far from perfect in my discipline, I’ve found it to be an enjoyable practice. I purposefully take a break from whatever I am doing at specific hours of the day to have a brief conversation with God. It provides much needed breaks to my day. It keeps me connected relationally with God throughout the day instead of the sense of leaving God behind after my morning quiet time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have coffee time scheduled with a Friend.