Family Gatherings

Our 1,750 square foot home didn’t feel very big when we gathered as a small clan for an extended time in mid wet winter.  There were a few days when 9 of us were together.  I am grateful for dear friends who let us use their “cabin”, which was bigger than our house, for those few days. Mix in a small dog with a toddler to liven things up and you can imagine the chaos at times. On the whole the 1,750 square feet were big enough, everyone had a bed or at least a mattress, enough bathrooms to share and room to cook in the kitchen to keep all of the above fed.


Compared to some parts of the world where we have traversed, our square footage is enormous. Many families in Hong Kong live in very small flats where gathering as a clan takes creativity. When we lived there, hospitality was often shared in a favorite restaurant. We were grateful for the rare opportunities to visit friends in their homes.  The refugees (boat people), who were our students, had one tier of a double sized bunk bed to call home. Yet, they still practiced hospitality and invited us to sit on low plastic stools to share a meal. Our Central Asian friends don’t worry about tables and chairs, they sit on colorful mats on the floor with a tablecloth spread out on the carpet for piles of food to share.  That way more people can squeeze into a room. Later they spread those same mats and more for sleeping.


I have been thinking this morning about how good it was to gather as a growing family.  It’s good to move our stuff and make room for each other. Our bonds were strengthened with each other. Our grandson will not remember the details of this visit in his long-term memory, but I believe he bonded with each of us in a special way that will continue through his life.  I’m smiling as I think of him singing “Teo, Teo, Teo”, (Uncle in Spanish) as he headed upstairs looking for his very fun Uncle. Or the report from his Mama that he woke up saying “Nana” a morning or two while he was here.


Another way it was good, was to see where love still needs to grow.  We don’t always know unless we are in a situation where it is challenged.  Say, tired and in need of a shower and both of the showers are in use.  O,r not quite enough of that fresh french pressed coffee to go around.  Or, whose on the dish duty, not me again? Or just trying to figure out what to do together. Things like that can help us see where our attitudes need adjusting.  If we live isolated lives we never really know where we need to grow. When the children were young and we all lived together,  there were daily lessons to be learned by all of us. Now I need my family to keep showing up for visits to keep that process going in my life. It’s not just knowing where I need to grow that is important, but also turning those needs into prayers and inviting the help of Heaven to bring about change on earth, in me.


I am tired and need to put my house back together again.  I need to get back into my regular schedule of writing and meeting with people, but above all I am so grateful for the sacrifices my kids and their spouses made to come home, from far away for the holidays.


Every Stage of a Child’s Life is a Gift

Every stage of a child’s life is a gift. There is something new to discover about my child and myself.  There is an opportunity to grow as a person along with my child. I can grow in love, patience, kindness, wisdom, or where ever I need to grow. Even the teenage years are a gift!  There are so many negative voices out there regarding raising children, especially about teenagers. Beware the rolling of the eyes and the horror stories that get passed along! There were definitely times when I was challenged and confused, desperate for answers, but I learned to love the challenges my teenagers brought to me, helping me to grow and think deeper about things I had taken for granted. I loved the joy and laughter they brought.  I learned to slow down and ask them questions. I learned to not just be upset by their behavior, but to find out what really was bothering them. I learned to be the first one to say sorry, when I had lost my temper out of frustration. This helped break the cycle and start the communication going again. We can find faith and find God in every stage. We can walk with him on this parenting journey.  Before you are ready to pull out your hair or worse go to God and ask for help.  His promise to us is to give us wisdom in our times of need when we ask.  Each child is unique.  So there won’t be a book or a person that can tell you just how to raise your child.  You can of course learn from books and other people, but read and listen prayerfully with discernment regarding your child.  Listen to your own heart because no one knows and loves your child like you do.


How is the stage your child is in now a gift to you?


Do you have a story to share how you discovered a new gift in your child that you had not noticed before?


Anyone have a story of wisdom coming at just the right time?