I often wake up between four and five o'clock in the morning,
just as the birds are beginning their mad welcome of the day.
Somewhere high in the treetops,
fragile choristers gather in the dark,
and upon mutual agreement,
burst into song.
"Spring's a feast!
Come and see!
You won't believe!"
Up and down the high scale,
from the farthest reaches of the poplar loft,
they give voice to the new day,
as if green glowing leaves
and scudding clouds
finally decided to pour forth praise.
This week, we had a little birthday party for my dad.
It turned out to be a fantastic day,
where the family and the weather and the guest of honor
and the tales and the songs and the food
all cooperated in a lovely harmony.
My dad is famous for his stories and jokes.
Here's one story.
He had just met his future father-in-law, my Grampa Ericson.
Grampa was Swedish, a gifted engineer and carpenter,
known for taking great care of his possessions.
"See that car?" my dad asked my Grampa.
"That's my fourteenth car."
My Grampa got a sick look on his face.
At the time he had owned maybe three cars in his entire life.
To get ready for my dad's party,
I needed a lot of help.
Isaac washed the windows, with Malachi assisting.
Malachi absolutely loved the entire window-washing operation.
At one point, while Isaac was painstakingly cleaning our French doors,
his baby brother took the squeegee and, using the same motions,
attempted to clean the dishwasher.
It's what he could reach.
Caleb changed the dressing on his father's knee,
since I'm a wimp about things like that.
My girls helped with yard work and with Malachi.
All the kids worked out a skit about my dad's life,
with Anna Kate on piano and Julia narrating.
The girls practiced to time the music with the script,
but didn't account for the howls of laughter from their appreciative audience.
The first "actor" was Malachi, representing Baby Jim.
He even wore the same tiny jacket my dad wore as a toddler.
The next two actors were Caleb and Krista,
portraying Jim and Carole at the University of Minnesota.
(cue music: The Minnesota Rouser)
Finally, as Julia narrated the storyline about my dad and mom serving in the jungles of Peru,
Isaac bounded onto the lawn, wielding a machete.
Since Isaac is the grandson who most resembles my dad,
he made a convincing and appropriately epic "Jim."
When I was in college, my roommates used to sometimes find me in a "Peru" frame of mind.
"Uh-oh," they would say. "It's a Peru day."
(The glaring clue: I would be sitting on my llama rug, looking at old pictures).
Well, this entire week has been one long "Peru day."
From hearing about how my parents decided to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators,
to seeing old pictures of them on the river and with me and my sisters,
to reading two jungle-themed books back-to-back,
I am awash in gratitude,
replete with memories,
thankful to the brim that I had a mom and dad who willingly left the beaten path.
My dad's life verse:
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (I Cor. 15:58)
What I just read:
When I Fell From the Sky by Juliane Koepcke, a memoir from the only survivor of the LANSA crash.
What I'm reading now:
Into the Glory by Jamie Buckingham, true stories of jungle aviation.