Holidays, Families and Breaking the Chains

Just got back from a four-day road trip that included an Easter visit with relatives in Chicago. One highlight for me was Friday night, when our immediate family got together for dinner: my husband and me, plus all four kids, our daughter-in-law and our daughter’s boyfriend. It’s so nice to have everyone together! I’m sure grateful that we had all those years of homeschooling. My memories are a comfort to me now that my adult kids live in other states and it takes planning to put us all around one table again, if only for a few hours.

If you’ve read The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling, you’re aware that I came from a pretty messed-up family. Lots of dysfunction there. In fact, when my husband and I were raising our own kids, I chose to maintain a certain distance from the chaos of my family, in an effort to keep the latest generation on an even keel.

My relatives can take the most innocent holiday plans and turn them into a fiasco, even before the holiday arrives. That happened again this year. While most of the fuss occurred before I arrived in town, and all of it happened without my participation, it did change some plans I had made.

When I tried to explain the dust-up to my kids, they didn’t get it. That’s a relief! That tells me that they’re still not used to the dysfunction, that it doesn’t make sense to them. We may not be a perfect family, but at least we don’t operate the way my birth family does.

Many years ago, I heard someone say that a person who’s been abused as a child has to “break the chains” of abuse by making sure they don’t abuse their own children. It really struck a chord with me, and it was only due to the grace of God that I was able to break those chains. I’m not a perfect parent by any means, but I do believe that God enabled me to keep from doing what my parents did. He did so by bringing people and books into my life that gave me a vision for what to do.

He’ll do that for you, too. Just ask Him! That’s what I tell the homeschooling parents I meet at conventions or who write me and ask how to break those patterns of the past, the ones you don’t want to repeat but somehow find yourself doing just the same. Ask for help. You can’t do it alone.

Not Ours

We live in a really nice house. It’s made of wood and stone. It’s got beautiful woodwork in it, and lots of storage. There’s a big backyard full of trees and plants, and down the street a few blocks is the beach.

But it’s not our house. We rent it from a nice lady in Minnesota who bought it as an investment. We know we won’t always live here. But for now, it’s a very nice place to live.

We used to own a house, but had to sell it because of some financial setbacks. We considered that house ours because we watched it being built, and we picked out everything in it, and we lived there nearly 20 years, so it’s where most of our family memories took place. But it’s not ours anymore, and it never really was.

Funny how that house became a burden to us. As much as we loved it, we couldn’t afford to keep it. During the long ten months it was up for sale, it became an albatross around our necks. We were greatly relieved when it sold.

From that experience, we learned that nothing on this earth is truly ours. After all, nothing on this earth is forever, and that’s a good thing, because this is a fallen place. Our home in heaven will be forever. Still, it’s easy to think that what we have on this earth is ours.

Both the house we sold and the house we live in now have been loaned to us by God. And I must admit that there’s a certain freedom in knowing that whenever it’s time for us to go somewhere else, we can just pick up and go (without calling a realtor) and find the next place God is going to loan to us to live in.

I’m writing this because I know that some of you are losing your homes. You can’t make your mortgage payments because of a job loss or sickness or the worsening economy, and you’re faced with moving to a smaller house or an apartment, and it scares you.

I know it’s scary, and it’s also very hard to leave a place that you love. But don’t forget that God is in control. He knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you, not harm you, as the Bible verse goes.

No matter where you end up living, as long as you have your family with you, you’ll be fine. We considered our old house our family home, and this one temporary. What we didn’t realize was that the old house was temporary, too. Our family home can be wherever we happen to be together.

So don’t fear the future. If you’re forced to move, make a conscious decision to bloom where you’re planted. Then you’ll learn firsthand that a place doesn’t have to be officially yours to be your home.

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today….

….I was given the privilege of becoming a mom! Sarah Marie arrived as a beautiful, bright-eyed and noisy little person who was not at all interested in sleep. When I called my grandma at 3 am to share the good news, she heard Sarah wailing in the background and said, “It sounds like music!”

Happy Birthday, Sarah! Have a wonderful day….wish we could be there!


Prayer requests: update and a new one

Many thanks to those who prayed for the medical mission team and our son as I mentioned the other day. They did get back in good shape over the weekend. Peter said there were 50 murders in Juarez last week while they were there. One morning they drove around a murder victim lying in a pool of blood on their way to their clinic site. Scary stuff. We thank God for keeping the team safe.

Peter also mentioned a young student of our ddil’s who had a stroke from an unknown cause a few weeks ago. Her name is Katie, and her family and friends have started a blog to update everyone about her progress. She’s still in the hospital. Please keep Katie and her family in her prayers.

A quick prayer request

Our son Peter is currently on a medical mission trip with the members of several churches, including the one we attended in IL. Today we received an email from the church secretary:

Please pray for the mission team now in Mexico. They have witnessed an increase in the crime in Juarez, which seems to be spreading past nightfall into the day. Please pray that all are protected while they continue to carry out God’s work; that their fears be comforted in knowing that their Savior is with them. Please also pray for the innocent residents of the area, that they, too, are free from the violence and know their Savior’s love.

If you have a minute, please pray for our son, his fellow team members and the people to whom they are ministering. Thanks—we appreciate it!