I can still remember the week I graduated from primary. My dad was invited to my last sharing and singing time. I remember him sitting with me and I can still remember what he said when they called on him to speak. He shared the words to a familiar primary song- “Give said the Little Stream”. He said there was a part of the song that reminded him of me- “I’m small I know, but wherever I go, the fields grow greener still”. He said that though I am small, I make every place I go a little better. I think about that often and I try really hard to live up to that sweet compliment from my dad.
Fast forward a few years and I’m student teaching at the Cedar High Seminary. Brother Banks, the seminary principal, came in my classroom after class one day and said, “if I close my eyes and imagine your voice a little lower, I hear Greg Townsend teaching in this room”. That was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received.
The past few weeks have been special. Jake and my dad have both received new teaching assignments. Jake will be moving to the Parowan seminary and my dad will be joining me at the Cedar City institute. It has been sweet to help my dad pack up his office and help Jake to unpack. The Parowan seminary is a sacred place for all of us! My dad graduated from seminary in Parowan and started his student teaching there. Jake and I both graduated from that seminary.
Parowan is home.
It was amazing to me to see my dad’s incredible career so far packed in small Home Depot boxes. Amidst all the pictures, gifts, and thank you notes, there was one box that seemed to hold the most weight. It held my dad’s journals filled with his every day life for the last 30 years. What an incredible feat. Those journals are inspiring to me.
As we chatted my dad opened one up to April 26th, 2014. He read about my first
date with Jake. My dad and I both got emotional as he read about the kid who was “one of his favorite boys in Parowan” who came to pick me up for a date. He wrote that he was more excited than I was.
Look at us now.
Hank said “dad” first. In fact, he says it about 1,000 times a day. This little boy loves his dad.
I was pregnant in 2020 so I spent most of our prenatal appointments in the doctor’s office alone. Covid-19 caused some restrictions on hospital visitors. Jake drove me to each appointment and waited in the parking lot so he could be the first to hear how our little boy was doing. I recorded ultrasounds on my phone and we watched them in the car. I mostly watched him. He was smiling so big.
I spend a lot of my time just watching Jake. So does Hank. I see those big brown eyes follow Jake’s every move. I can think of no one better for him to watch.
I’m grateful for these two fathers. I owe a lot of who I am today to who these men are. They remind me of Heavenly Father. They make me happy.
When I was young I collected little things. The seemingly ordinary in miniscule form always had a spot in the Ziploc bags I carried around. Marbles, bobby pins, and loose change were my treasured companions. My mom said I called them, "shreasures".
I like to believe I came by the habit honestly. My mom saved those tiny things for me.
She taught me how special they were.
When I was old enough, my mom would let me play with her button jar. We kept it on a tall shelf and it was only out when the little kids were otherwise occupied. My mom would let me dump out the jar and sort the buttons. I would spend hours sorting by size, color, or shape wondering where each button came from. In the midst of the buttons my mom would add pennies for me to find.
I made sure every button made it back inside before I was done playing. I didn't want any to feel left out.
The prophet Joshua led the children of Israel to the bank of the Jordan river. He carried the prophetic mantle after the prophet Moses. I can't imagine what that would be like. The Lord knew, and He promised Joshua that He would "magnify" him just like He did Moses.
So the Lord parted the Jordan River like He parted the Red Sea and they crossed on dry ground. (Joshua 3)
The Lord gave them another commandment as they crossed. They were to grab a rock from the now dry river bottom.
"That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?" He said. (Joshua 4:6)
I wonder how they answered their children. I wonder what those rocks meant to them. I wonder what God it reminded them of.
Last night I looked through some of the buttons in the jar. Some are new, but I recognized most of them. There are even a few pennies still.
I washed a baby food jar and put in a few buttons and pennies to start a jar for Hank. I find myself remembering sweet things from childhood and wanting Hank to have them too.
I handed him the jar with the lid tightly closed and he shook it, enjoying the sound it made. I hope as he grows he'll want to know their stories. I hope he'll see pennies planted there by parents who love him. I hope he’ll find God there. I hope he'll find the seemingly ordinary extraordinary. I hope he'll be happy.
My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!