What a joy to be with three of our children this last weekend! Although we missed our oldest son, we enjoyed the laughter moment by moment! The anticipation of this time created a sense of the joy of memories when our children were young.
Now the childhood memories are examined by our children in their middle years, tempered with the experiences of growing through many life experiences. How very special to see our second and third sons hug their sister with the tenderness that lurked just below the teasing of childhood. As I sat by Ed, he touched me, and said, “Isn't this enjoyable?” We let the joy of the moment swirl around us, carried by the words and laughter.
The deference that all the children and their spouses gave their father as he suffers from loss of short-term memory gave me a sense of joy and appreciation for each one. Love in a family erases rancor and criticism. Love in a family provides a shield of protection for the heart. Love in a family kisses the hurts of life away.
Our children gathered around us a year ago to help us move, we were enveloped in a blessed time of caring that was tinged with golden sparks of joy.
This weekend Paul reminisced about the tiny kittens that they brought into the house when Mom wasn’t home, and put on the piano keys to watch their reaction. The time when the wind in southwest Kansas blew at a speed of 40 mph and the boys climbed on the roof of the two story house to put up the ham radio antenna except for Dan who steadied the guy wires down below. One Halloween evening, Paul and Dan knelt at the back door and knocked, saying, “Trick or Treat!” Or the time Anna tried to retrieve the baby bunny from the house, and pulled off the tail, and ran screaming to her room. Her big brother Paul ran after her and comforted her, saying, “I think the tail will grow back.” (I just learned that story.)
Dan, preparing to leave to take his ham radio test, and when asked if he was excited, poured the glass of water he was drinking on the floor instead of the sink, and answered, “No!” Or when Brownie, the mongrel pet dog brought a dead rabbit to the kitchen window while we were having breakfast. Or the time I realized that our four children were not destined to be a performing vocal group one Sunday, as they sang, “Mansion on the Hilltop”. One by one their singing turned to crying and left their Dad and me singing a duet.
The evening meal together was a joyous time when we caught up on the day’s activities. One evening during our laughter, our teenaged boys began passing the jug of milk whispering to each other. The whispers and giggles grew in volume, until I heard, “Don’t drink it, it is spoiled!” (A la Spanky in “Our Gang”). Paul’s friend came over for lunch (we called it dinner) after church and Steve was perplexed as the boys called out a number and laughed uproariously. Then they laughed again at the expression on his face. Our sons had conspired to save time by numbering the jokes and then quickly get to the laughter.
Does this sense of joy in our family end with this life? No, for each of us had heard the message of the four words that changed our lives –
• Creation (Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.),
• The Fall (Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.)
• Redemption (John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.)
• Restoration. I Thessalonians 4:17 - “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Edith Schaeffer penned a book, ˆWhat is a Family”, that describes a family as a museum of memories, an indelible education for life, a shelter in the time of storm and the birthplace of creativity. To me a family is a unit of ever-changing, mobile of loving interaction.
The phrase, Elasticity of Love, describes the thrill of each added child, and their choices of mates, then twelve grandchildren and their additions of spouses and seven grandchildren, and counting. The numbers of diapers changed, meals made, the countless cleaning of houses or days worked cannot begin be measured, when a son asks, “Are you OK?” Or a grandchild writes a message on facebook. Then I find a quote that says what the bottom line of family is:
“God will not judge us according to how much we endured, but how much we loved.” Richard Wurmbrand
Where do I find the how of love? In these three verses I find God’s way to love and create a family of love.
“Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7