Monday, April 6, 2015

Thanks For The Shadow!

“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers” Proverbs 17:6

As I think of my father today on his birthday, my mind goes to a snippet of my memory when, as a boy, I remember noticing his shadow on the ground. I remember noticing how long his shadow was and how that when I stepped into it, I disappeared. Today that memory makes me think of that shadow as a pattern, a model. Yes, a shadow isn’t the same as the real person; it is only a representation. Shadows easily hide the frailties and the blemishes of the real person. However, it depicts what the real person is like and gives us a starting point; a reference if you will.  More importantly, the shadow tells me the real person is there.

Then there is the spiritual representation in the shadow. As I think of my dad, these thoughts fit in his influence on me:

First, it speaks to me of the importance of walking in the light. One cannot possess a shadow if he is not near the light. Jesus is the Light of the world. I am thankful to know that my dad’s influence on me was based on his close relationship with Christ.

Secondly, in order for his shadow to be accessible to me, he had to be near me. Influence comes from the same root word as influenza. You catch influenza or the flu by being close to someone who has it. I am grateful for so many memories of my dad (and mom) BEING THERE. One of the greatest things I am thankful for is going to church as a family. I am so thankful for being brought up in church. I laugh at people when they say, “I used to go to church when I was a kid.” As if to say that now that they are grown up, they don’t need it. What a joke! No one ever outgrows going to church – no one ever outgrows the Bible! What an absurd concept! The truth is, it is a Godless concept. So I’m thankful for the spiritual guidance of my dad (of course my mom also)! And even though we are now separated geographically, his shadow still touches me!

So this year on my dad's birthday I center on the gratitude for a father who knew the importance of his shadow – physically, emotionally, and most of all spiritually!  Dad, your shadow (influence) has impacted what I will do and what I will not do, what I say and what I won’t say, where I go and where I won’t go, and basically, who I am – especially who I am for the glory of God.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! And thanks for the shadow!

Love you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Katie Graduating High School

Well, it is hard to believe, but the time has come that our daughter, Katie, is graduating from high school. It doesn’t seem that long ago, as we were renovating the church auditorium – fastening down the last few church pews to finish – that on the next Sunday morning, Sandra would give birth to our second child, a little girl we named Katelyn Nicole.
So many events have filled the time between that Sunday in 1996 and the Spring of 2014 – many great times, many fun times, many happy times, and a few hard times. I’m thankful that Katie has some great memories of big events as well as small ones.  Small things like the foam disc wars our family would have with those battery-operated shooters, the rubber band fights in the living room, running cars down the basement steps on the home-made ramps or the hot wheel tracks. She had just as much interest and just as much fun as her big brother, Michael. Of course none of us will ever forget the good times we had with Buddy, our Black Lab. 

And none of our family members will ever forget the development of a star softball pitcher or the lightening serve of a volleyball.

It was exciting to see an 8th grader pitch a 45 mph “drop ball” (equivalent to 60 mph in baseball) on the varsity team to help bring home the regional trophy...

then do it again the following year, only as a 9th grader, bringing the heat with a 55 mph pitch (80 mph in baseball).

  Our elation was equally matched with sadness for her high school career to be cut short due to having MDI (multi-directional instability) – a fancy name for a loose shoulder.  With hopes of diminishing the pain, she chose to try surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t help. A surgery that paled in comparison to what she experienced through her journey and God-given victory over a brain tumor at the age of 10 ( Thankfully, she doesn’t remember most of the details surrounding that event. However, she does know that the Lord worked a mighty miracle in her body and she gives Him the glory for that victory.
Now she has come to the end of this segment in her life’s journey, with the eagerness as well as the excitement of the unknown details of the segment to come. I pray that as she enters this portion of her life that she keeps in mind: #1-She is loved eternally by her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and that He has a perfect plan for her life. I pray that she will love Him with all her heart and soul and mind, and that she will serve Him with her whole heart her entire life. #2-The love her mom and dad have for her is second only to the love God has for her, and we are here for her to give her continued love, support, encouragement, and Biblical counsel.  We look forward to sharing in the joy of God’s future blessings. #3-Her big brother, setting aside the entire “big brother” nuance, loves her and will always be willing to step into the role of “body guard” and/or confidant. #4-We owe Katie much thanks for being a fantastic big sister to God’s extra gift to our family, Abbie.

And yes, Michael has been an awesome big brother. We know those two wanted another dog, but we have to admit, this was another one of those times that the Lord exceeded – WAY EXCEEDED our expectations! And the Lord used Katie’s experience with being a BIG help with Abbie to turn her to a desire to care for children. As soon as Katie graduates, she will begin working as a full time Nanny; caring for the children of a very nice family. I know she will do well.
Of course, Katie will continue to live here at home for as long as the Lord wills. In fact, her mother and I will be fine with her living at home until the Lord brings her to the place where she gets married.  Of course that will happen after her and her fiancĂ© receive a few years of pre-marital counseling. (JK) Well, after the Lord reveals who that fiancĂ© is, then a courting period, then the pre-marital counseling (really it only lasts a few months). In the mean time, she will continue to serve the Lord here in our church family at FRMBC through music and singing, as well as prayerfully developing other gifts and abilities the Lord has blessed her with.

Katie – we love you and we are so thankful for the young lady you have become. Keep growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our prayer and desire for you is found in two Scripture passages:
Proverbs 3:5-6 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Romans 12:1-2 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren [Katie], by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies [body] a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  (bold = my emphasis)

We love you Katie, and we are very proud of you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Update from the Hugans

Well, it has been a few months since I've posted on this blog, so I will try to summarize it all in this post.

In October we celebrated Sandra's birthday on October 9th. I'm so thankful for her! (More on that later.) Then, we began going through a series of doctor appointments due to Katie’s shoulder pain. It turned out that she had injured her shoulder due to over-pitching during last year's softball season. Over the past several weeks Katie has gone through physical therapy, and is in the process of a return-to-throw rehabilitation. We are hoping that her shoulder will become stronger and that she will be pain-free.

November is always one of our favorite months. November 10th was our 21st wedding anniversary. I am so thankful for the godly wife that the Lord gave me. She is truly my “true north”. The Lord has been so good to us over these 21 years, and I look forward to many more years of serving Him with her.

Michael's 18th birthday was on November 15th. It has been an amazing experience, and a great blessing to have raised Michael thus far. As we pray for the Lord’s direction and purpose for Michael, we are seeing the Lord bless him in many ways, day after day. He just recently finished his first semester at the University of Michigan, in Dearborn. Meanwhile, he has a good job working for a very stable company. His is remaining very active in church ministry; especially in the music ministry. He is also a great help in many aspects of the church, many of which are behind-the-scenes. I am thankful to the Lord for his willingness to not only serve in areas that are noticeable to others, but also in ways that only he, I, and the Lord know about. I am looking forward to seeing how the Lord develops him and guides him in the direction of his God-given destiny.

December was, as always, an enjoyable month, despite the busyness of the season. We were able to spend some family time during the holidays with my parents and Sandra's mom, and we are still currently enjoying time with the kids during the holiday break. Although Michael is off of school, he is working every day through the week; he really likes that - especially the paycheck!

That should get us up to date for now. Hope everyone has a happy new year!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Katie!

Today is Katie's 15th Birthday.

Words cannot express our thankfulness for our little girl, turned beautiful young lady. The Lord has blessed in so many ways in regard to Katie. As I look at pictures from the past, it is evident why years ago I began to call her my "Sunshine".
With all the experiences that have come in her life, the Lord has blessed her beyond description. We're so happy for her for how the Lord has and is continuing to work in her life. We are so proud of her!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Goodbye To Our Beloved Buddy

In late August we took Buddy to the vet because he kept having ear troubles. When the doctor checked him out, he found some of the lymph nodes swollen. The doctor prescribed some antibiotics. Well, over the next couple of weeks, the nodes kept getting bigger. We took Buddy to another vet on the 6th of September and they did a test that came back positive for lymphoma. We were given a different antibiotic, but it didn't help. Over the the next two and a half weeks we watched Buddy get worse. We were slowly coming to the realization that Buddy wouldn't be with us much longer.

September, 2010

During the last two weeks of Buddy's life our family spent some great quality time with him. Michael and Katie each took their final turns at having Buddy sleep in their rooms. For nine years and nine months Michael and Katie took weekly turns with Buddy sleeping in their rooms on his floor bed. Sometimes they would sleep on the floor with him. Needless to say the kids, as well and Sandra and I became very close to Buddy.
With Michael / 2006

With Katie / 2004


I made sure to get some pictures of Buddy doing some of the fun things he's always done; some of them he had stopped doing because they took too much energy out of him. He wasn't too interested in playing ball much anymore. He used to be great at playing catch; sometimes with his U of M football, and other times with a tennis ball we would hit out in the yard to him. He was awesome at jumping up and catching those balls! He truly was our own "Air Bud", and he loved playing that role. A few times I played "dot" with him (from the laser level we keep in the cupboard). Any time we would get out the "dot" he went crazy; he loved trying to catch that little red dot. It was so fun watching him play that game! All the games we would play with him added so much enjoyment, for him and for us!

Now that he didn't feel good enough to play because of the discomfort (he never displayed that he was in any pain), we got to where we would just take him outside for a walk around the church property. He loved to go outside and walk the perimeter of the property. As a puppy we trained him where the boundaries of the property were, and he was very good at staying within them. Every once in a while a squirrel or a rabbit would get his attention and sometimes we would have to go out and call him to keep him from chasing them too far - I'm gonna miss that... "Buddy, come home!"

(I'll add more memories over time)

This past Saturday, September 24th was going to be a busy day with our youth ministry Fall Festival in the morning and the church Fall Cookout at night. Earlier in the week Sandra and I contemplated how to work the timing out with relieving Buddy of the pain and suffering he undoubtedly was going through. We talked to the kids and decided, with our busy schedule, that Saturday was going to be the best day. I won't even try to describe the pain the four of us were experiencing, especially beginning in the early morning hours on Saturday. The short version (the long version being too painful to describe): we took Buddy to the vet and spent some very quality time (mainly for us) with him. The doctor and his assistant were very gracious and kind. They gave us all the time we needed. As he lay on my lap, we each gave very heart-felt hugs to our dear Buddy and said goodbye to, in our minds, the best dog on the planet.

We are all very, very sad that we had to let Buddy go. We will always hold the memories, some of which I plan to put on a blog about Buddy. Even though the conversations keep coming up about whether or not there is another dog in our family's future, all four of us unanimously agree - we will never find another Buddy.

We thank the Lord for the wonderful 9 years, 9 months He allowed Buddy to be a part of our lives. As Christians we know there is no "doggy heaven" and that Buddy is no more, but we do believe that the joy that Buddy brought into our family was truly a gift from the Lord to season our time here on this earth as we serve Him and look forward to being forever in His presence in Heaven. Still, there is the pain of the loss of a good friend, a great friend - certainly our favorite four-legged friend.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Good Year In Softball!

Katie and the Inter-City Varsity Girls Softball team had another "banner" year. And by that I mean they actually won the regional championship - for the second consecutive year!