We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Friday, July 26, 2013

On Family: It Seems To Me . . .

. . . that family is important. Parents, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws all shape our lives directly and indirectly. We belong to each other—and we need each other.

Thirty-four years ago my husband and I spoke our vows surrounded by flowers and a community of family and friends. In time three wonderful daughters entered our household. Two young men have also joined the Phillips family in recent years. And a year ago last November we welcomed an adorable grandbaby named Ty. When my parents join us, we have ten around the table (plus Eva, the dog!). I savor the times when we’re “all together.”

And boy, are we different!

Different personalities, skill sets, opinions, political views, preferences, tastes, incomes, spending habits, etc. . . . I love it that we’re a diverse unit—often reflected in our conversations over coffee and dessert. Sometimes we laugh with (and at) each other; it just can’t be helped!

What makes a family work? How can we nurture a feeling of belonging in the midst of diversity?

Three words come to mind. I think about them often and hope and pray they will consistently characterize our family:

Grace      Acceptance     Respect

I want our home to be a safe place for every family member when they walk through the door. No one is exempt from making mistakes; we all need grace. We may not all agree, but we still need to feel accepted. We hold to a variety of values and beliefs, yet we all need to sense respect. It all works for the best when each of us gives grace, acceptance, and respect in the same way we would like to receive it.

It seems to me . . . that family is important. My husband and I are blessed. Our “kids” (all seven of them now) mean everything to us. Our family’s storyline isn’t perfect but, near or far, we belong to each other. Isn’t that what family is about?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vacation . . . More Than a Good Time?

Nearly thirty hours and 1900 miles on the road this past week . . . vacation, they call it. A break in the story. A digression from the plot.

Barry, Elisabeth, and I navigated our way to Covington, KY where we stepped back in time to witness the first eleven chapters of Genesis at the Creation Museum. We learned how the Flood has impacted the world of today and how the Tower of Babel scattered the population to the ends of the earth. We found ourselves flung into space among the stars of the Milky Way and beyond. We pondered the past, snapped photos, and dodged dinosaurs. Time well spent, we decided.

Next we meandered "up north" to Michigan, the favorite gathering place each summer for Barry's side of the family. Here we found a warm welcome and a pink dusky sky awaiting our arrival. Over twenty adults and children came and went over several days, savoring not only the sun-kissed beach but abundant comfortable laughter and conversation . .  the feeling of belonging, all centered in memories built over a lifetime.

We played together, ate together, worked together. Some hiked the dunes; others poked around the Main Street shops. The brave splashed in the frigid lake water while others preferred a walk on the pier to the lighthouse. On the fourth, we all climbed the hill to see the parade and stayed up late to watch fireworks on the beach. A diverse bunch in every way, yet bonded together by blood . . .  and a commitment to connect, miles notwithstanding.

Late Saturday afternoon we pulled into our driveway, home once again, back to our usual schedules and calling commitments. But we carry the memories with us, memories tucked into our hearts. Perhaps what we call "vacation" is more than a pause in our routines, more than thirty hours and 1900 miles on the road, more than a good time. These experiences add color and texture to our story lines and depth to our souls. Our small worlds suddenly expand with sun and sky, sea and sand. We hear the stories of those we love, and they nudge us to see broader and with deeper awareness and appreciation for all that comes our way. 

And a deeper appreciation for life itself.