buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Beach Life”

Plaque on the Wall

Every year for the last thirty years, my family has gathered at the beach for a week. It’s a time to rest, relax and renew relationships. It’s a time of fun for the kids and time of laughter and enjoyment for the adults (with a little golf thrown in). When the tradition first started, my nephews were young. Now, they have kids of their own. And we all gather. It’s a great time.

But looking back when it all began, no one knew we would continue this tradition for thirty years. Each year, we would decide if we were going again and the answer was always yes. It was hard on my parents in the beginning because the nephew’s didn’t always “toe the line.” They had a bit of rebellion against making beds and cleaning their room to the satisfaction of my Mom. My Mom had girls not boys so she was used to the way girls handled themselves. But over the years, Mom adjusted and we had some of the most blessed times as a family while we were at the beach; precious memories that will (hopefully) never be forgotten.

As I wrote my newsletter this month about Joshua’s commitment to serving the Lord, it was a reminder how my family has been blessed by God because of my parent’s commitment to serve the Lord. The passage found in Joshua 24:15 was engraved on a plaque that hung in the living area of my childhood home. The plaque read But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” It wasn’t much of a plaque but the statement has spoken volumes to the last three generations because of my parent’s commitment.

My parents chose a path for us which has endured many hardships but has brought significant blessings. My parents did well to instill values in the daughters which has passed to the sons and now into the sons and daughters. This generation didn’t know their great-grandparents. They didn’t know about the plaque on the wall. But they have the blessing of the commitment taken years before them. My parents did everything they could to help us as their children to love the Lord.

We were at church whenever the doors were open. It was the thing we did, but it was also a product of the time. However, it has lasted for us as a family. We haven’t always gotten it perfectly. Lord knows, I have had my own difficulties. But God has been faithful even when we have not. God still allowed the hardships to draw us back to Him or draw Him more closely during those times.

Recently, I was reminded that faith, hope and love were the greatest blessings of the Holy Spirit. However, love is the only thing that remains in heaven. First Corinthians 13:13 states: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Faith becomes sight when we see Jesus face to face. Hope becomes reality when we dwell in our heavenly place. But love is everlasting and has been and ever will be the theme of heaven. And it’s the one God commanded us to practice each and every day here on earth – to love God and to love others.

My parents are reaping the rewards of a job well done. I miss them every day. We remember their sacrifices to bring us to where we are today. We wouldn’t be in this place without them. And I thank God for them today and for all the blessings of this week – good weather, good fun and good food. But the real blessing is to know Jesus is loved and taught to the next generation in this place. We gather because of Him. We gather as a family because of Him.

God instills a sense of family in us all because of Jesus dying on a cross so that we would be adopted into His family on our belief in Him. Family is important to God the Father. It’s His way of teaching us about Himself. He is a good, good Father. God loves us like my Dad loved his daughters, although my Dad did it imperfectly, he was a good representation of my Father in heaven.

It’s no wonder our enemy is trying to destroy families. And he seems to be doing a really good job at it right now. Satan hates everything God has put into place to glorify Himself. Family has been in place since the beginning of time. It was the way God created relationships through family. It was the way we were to love one another from the beginning. It’s the atmosphere of the Church Body. Family.

It’s no wonder that Joshua spoke to the Israelites on the verge of conquering the Promised Land to proclaim his allegiance to serve God and not idols. It’s no wonder why my parents chose to hang the plaque on the wall as a reminder – that’s the commitment for our family to do the same. And now, the next generation is being taught this commitment as well. May the blessing continue…

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Feeling Full

Many years ago after a large meal with the family, I asked my grand nephew who was about three years old at the time if he was full. He turned to me and asked what’s full? Hum. I never thought about how to define “full” especially when it comes to a full belly. I couldn’t ask him that today because he is big fella now and full doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary. He always seems to be hungry.

Last week, my family gathered at the beach for our annual beach trip. I think this was our twenty-ninth year of gathering at the same place, mostly in the same house. This year, we had to get a duplex because of the number of family members getting together. We started the tradition with ten family members but we were up to nineteen at the house this year. My parents are gone now, but the nephews have grown, married and have kids of their own.

I once thought our family was built around my Mom. I thought she was our rock that held us together. When she passed almost eleven years ago, I thought we wouldn’t be the same. In reality, we are not the same. I think we are stronger and better equipped because of the foundation she and my Dad laid for us. Yes, both she and Dad are gone now, but the family did not fall apart because of it.

I have come to realize it wasn’t Mom who was our center – our family was (and still is) centered on Jesus. He is the foundation Mom and Dad laid for us. He was the center from the beginning and is continuing in that tradition as my nephews are building their foundations with their families. I love seeing my nephews with their kids and I love seeing how much they love their wives.

When we started this tradition twenty-nine years ago, I had no hope for those boys! They were a hot mess. Mom was not a boy’s mom. She had girls and wasn’t accustomed to the boy’s way of life. It was hard for Mom to cope with the messiness that comes with boys. She was a bit on edge whenever we were at the beach with those young boys. But as they grew up, she mellowed. She loved those boys dearly and wanted the best for them.

I wish she could see them today. I wish she had witnessed what the boys have become and the families they are now raising. Dad got to see it. Before his death, Dad got to see all these great-grandkids. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the capacity to know what was going on. He didn’t really know who all these little kids running around were. But Dad knew my nephews and remembered they were married to those young women. But the kids, he didn’t know they were his children as well. But he loved them just the same.

After last week, I remembered all we had been through; the good times and there were many, and the bad times when the rain didn’t stop for days. The special times with Mom and Dad and houses we occupied for a week – making it our home for that week. The times with Mom and the games we played. The one time she kept winning while our attention was diverted. We laughingly accused her of cheating. We got one of the best belly laughs out of her that I can remember.

The boys told us at Dad’s funeral how he used to talk with them on the crow’s nest about – well, I’m not sure what they talked about since they didn’t go into any detail of those conversations – but the boys all remembered those times with Dad up on that roof top as one of the greatest times with Dad. Year after year, memories are made. Even today as we look back at this past week, there will be memories we can all look to as one of the best times we had at the beach.

After the last four months of being alone, I was feeling a bit empty. Today I am full. I still don’t have a good definition for “full” that I could tell a young child. I just know today my heart and my emotional wellbeing is full. No matter what happens next, I have a memory bank full of hearty laughter, good food, putt-putt games and unending joy, but the best part is that it is all centered on Jesus. Jesus is the reason our family time is sincerely one of the best weeks of our lives.

This annual beach trip wasn’t originally started as a tradition. But I believe it was a God-given idea for the family to be strong through the start of this tradition. Year after year, we decided to do it again. God made it happen and I am so thankful today because of His love for us and for His love of family. It was His idea for the family to be the lifeline in a chaotic world. It is our safe harbor when things go astray. In this craziness we have experienced over the last four months, I truly needed this time of refreshment with my family. Thank you family for loving so well this week!

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV)

Sharing Spaces

Last week, my family went on our annual pilgrimage to the beach. We have been doing this for the last twenty-four years. It’s become a special time for me and my family. Each year, the adults considered dropping the trip as my nephews got older, but they would have nothing of it. As we have added members to the family through marriage, the new members have had to learn to adjust to these family dynamics. The transitions have been smooth – since the boys have all chosen well! Now, their children are beginning to experience this annual trip as well. We rent one house with enough beds to accommodate all of us, but the sleeping arrangements can be a bit of a challenge with spouses sharing space with in-laws. As older adults have aged, this too has led to some sleeping arrangement difficulties (especially for those of us who are light sleepers).

We have all had to learn how to live together (even if it’s just for one week) in harmony. During the first years, my Mom had a few difficulties dealing with “boy” issues; like unmade beds with clothes on the floor. Mom was used to having “girl” issues since she raised three girls. I had a few moments too with having stubborn teenagers who wouldn’t listen to my instructions (aka orders) to get out of bed or clean the house before departure. Can you say control issues? But those were just bumps in the road. We have had many memories that are seared into each of our hearts that we will never forget.

One of the last times with my Mom remains priceless to each of us. We used to play games a couple of times during the week. One of those times, my Mom won every hand. And each hand she won, we began to wonder how she was doing it. It seemed we would all get distracted by the conversation or something going on outside; except Mom. After awhile, we began to comment that Mom was cheating. By the time the card game was finished, we were all laughing so hard tears were rolling down our cheeks. One of my nephews spoke about that memory this past week. This family week is now bittersweet since she is no longer with us enjoying these precious memories.

Transitions between events can be quite challenging. Loss, either through divorce, death or even family members moving to another part of the world can be difficult when we want the dynamics to stay the same. It never does. Change is inevitable. Each year is different. The house may stay the same; the family members may stay the same, but we are all growing and changing every year (at least I hope so!). Thankfully we aren’t who we once were and we are still in process of becoming who we’re going to be. Living in close spaces with family members brings constant struggles; each wanting to do things their own way (loading the dishwasher for example – not that there is a right or wrong way). Different isn’t bad – it’s just different. My little nephew learned this phrase when he took his missionary training last year.

Meshing families into a functioning harmonious space is challenging. But those harmonious spaces are always under girded with love. We can forgive slights when we know that love is present. The challenge is to love even when hurt; to walk away and forgive the words that cut deeply; to offer grace even when it would be easier to lash back. Close knit families have their own struggles to deal with. I am always reminded that when actions or words are misinterpreted, God knows our hearts. He knows our actions associated with the overflow of our hearts. We have to give the benefit of the doubt to keep the peace. I cannot judge what someone else is dealing with. When we are sharing space with someone else, we have to give them the space in grace. We are responsible for our own actions and reactions. A few sharp words will not change the harmonious nature of our family because we love one another. If we make the trip next year, I know the dynamics will change again. I cherish the way it was and look forward to the way God will make the transitions for next year.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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