Tag Archives: Joy LaPointe

My Valentines

Last night was a huge ministry night for me!  Oh, I don’t mean the size of the crowd.  As far as I was concerned, there were only two people in my audience—and I loved it!

It was Daddy-Daughter Dance night for two of my granddaughters, but their father (Greg LaPointe), firefighter-paramedic, could not get off work.  What an honor it was for Papa Pete to step up to the plate and be a “dad to two daughters” again, albeit for only a few hours.

Of course, the preparation began with the arrival of the first text message from my daughter Joy.  I made sure that I would be in town, and then cleared the calendar for that afternoon and evening.  Then there was the follow-up details that most of us dads aren’t all that great at tracking—what color dresses would Brooklyn and Emma be wearing, order their wrist corsages and a boutonniere for myself.

After picking up the flowers, I headed for the car wash.  No self-respecting guy would pick up his date (or in my case, dates) with a dirty Black vehicle covered in Michigan’s road salt.  Thankfully, it was still clean upon my arrival at their house.


By now, some reader is thinking, “What in the world does this stand-in-dad and his granddaughters have to do with ministry?!”  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!


The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home—so much of real ministry is with those who know us best.  For too many years, my own five children were at times left in the shadows while Pastor Dale gave their time to other people.  Maybe, just maybe, grandchildren are sort of a do-over for some omissions in bygone years.

For me, last night was about setting an example and sowing some seeds in two young girls’ lives.  I pointed out that a gentleman opens their doors, and whenever a boy fails to do so, or to treat them respectfully, that’s a warning flag.

They noted the clean truck, so I let them know that they were special, this night was special, and that was an important detail to remember—especially if a young man ever came to pick them up and hadn’t bothered to clean his vehicle.  They also heard that young men should never pull into their driveway and blow the horn, expecting them to come running.

At the restaurant, those two turned heads, let me tell you!  They walked elegantly behind the hostess to our table, as almost every mother in the place smiled broadly and commented to table mates.  Perhaps the girls were oblivious—but Papa Pete caught it.

As they glanced over the menu, it was time for another lesson—always order modestly, perhaps even asking their date if he could suggest something, noting that the young man may be on a strict budget—and that they would know this if they ordered a filet and baked potato, while their date timidly ordered water and a cup of soup!


Interestingly, this conversation prompted one of my dates to change her mind, leaving the adult menu and returning to the kids’ menu!  <grin>  After a rushed meal—not on the part of our server, but we were close on time when our food finally arrived—we headed back across the icy parking lot to the truck, where the girls waited for their doors to be opened for them.

After checking our coats upon arrival at the school, and against their mother’s instruction that “Pictures aren’t necessary, so don’t spend the money!” we got in line and had our photo taken anyway—because it was a special night, at least for Papa Pete!


Then the fun part … and I’m still not sure who enjoyed the next 1.5 hours more—the girls or me!  I have never been a dancer, but I do know that dances have names—waltz, the twist, hokey-pokey, or whatever.  After observing last night, I think the entire evening of dance might be called the spasm!

Well, let me clarify that somewhat.  After trying to keep up with those two granddaughters (ages 7 and 9), I think maybe it was me who had the spasms!  Thankfully, 27 songs into the evening, the DJ played a slow song—something with which I could keep pace!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, maybe this is a great time to ask ourselves as adults a few tough questions—like “Am I giving my time to the people and things that are most important in life?”  If you, like me, have ever struggled to balance priorities consistently, then you understand the difficulty of that—and hence, the need for prayer.

In the course of a lifetime, there will be many important relationships.  At times, we will struggle to find and maintain a proper balance of those relationships.  However, apart from your relationship with God Himself, there is no greater than family.  Let’s ask the Lord for His strength and wisdom.

I discovered all over again last night the importance of family—a lesson taught to me by two little Valentines!

I Still Miss My Boy!

Speeding south on Dequindre Road in the wee hours of the morning, I zigzagged my orange 1973 Corvette en route from Washington Township to Rochester, Michigan.  However, even the ‘Vette seemed too slow while racing a wife in labor to Crittenton Hospital—except perhaps for that one little hill, long since re-contoured, when we went airborne.   (I can still hear the groan from the passenger seat when we hit the ground again!)

After arriving—safely, I might add—I assumed my role as birthing coach and soon our son Justin was born.  Two-year-old Charity gained a baby brother!  More than four decades have flown by since that 30 September morning; yet, aspects of that day live vividly in my mind.

Charity and Justin circa 1976 Knoxville TN

It’s strange to me that I can recall details of decades ago, but can’t remember when I laid my truck keys or glasses five minutes ago!  But I digress …

It’s also amazing to me how, within a 48-hour template of time, life events can take us from the heights of celebration to the depths of bereavement.  However, and a strange as it may sound to some, I am thankful that 30 September and 01 October are joined together inseparably.

Today would have been Justin’s 41st birthday—a day of celebration, but tomorrow is a different story, although we will try to celebrate Justin’s life on what my other four children have dubbed as National Siblings Day (Hey!  If someone can dub a day as National Daughters Day—and thousands of Facebook users buy into it, why not a National Siblings Day?!) … but I digress … again!


I was saying, I’m thankful that, in the providence of God’s grace, the date of Justin’s birth and the date of his death are back to back.  Here’s why.  Parents remember their children’s birthdays, so when death has robbed us of that son or daughter, it makes for a tough celebration.  There are no parties.  There are no phone calls to say (or sing) “Happy Birthday, Bud!”

Then, if we had to endure (and thousands upon thousands do, I understand) a date of his death—say six months from now—it would seem to compound the intense emotional eruptions that are inherent to the loss of a child.  As weird as it may sound, I’m thankful that these two intense days are back-to-back.

As I have sat here, pondering, wiping my eyes, and blowing my nose, something else dawned on me.  Why am I using this occasion to write once again about something that our family and friends already know?  Then, it hit me!  Others may not need to read it, but I need to write it!  It’s a catharsis … and the good Lord knows …

Oh, BTW, do you pray?  If so, could I enlist you to pray for something that’s special to my heart, especially at this time of year?  Justin’s death in the sands of Anbar Province, Iraq did not impact only his mother, father, siblings, wife, and friends.  There were three children—two sons and a daughter—whose father was snatched from them.

If you would pray for Jared, Jayden, and Caitlin, this father and grandfather would consider it an honor.  Then, would you let me know that you prayed?  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just a brief sentence to let me know.  Then I can thank God for those who pray for us … as well as for readers who don’t have to read what I have to write!

Okay—no plane to catch today, but I really should empty this tissue-filled rubbish can and find a fresh box of Kleenex!