Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Last week was Canada’s Victoria Day weekend. It is the long weekend that kick’s off the summer for Canadians. Rick and I took advantage of the time off and whisked our grown kids away to Nashville. Rick and I love Nashville and we were excited to have our kids experience it for the first time. We all love music, especially country music, and we appreciate the talent that goes into playing an instrument or hearing beautiful harmonies.
Let’s top up our coffees and I will share my thoughts on our time with our family…
Love your neighbour as yourself Matthew 22:39
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
We had a wonderful time together this past weekend in Nashville! There were seven of us altogether: four households worth of adults coming together to enjoy the experience that Music City had to offer us. For me, it was a time to be with the kids, to see them laugh together and tease each other, and time to see their faces light up like they did as children when something brought them joy. It was a time to make memories. But, as I watched and experienced the family dynamics, I realized that it was also a time for learning and growing, as God’s children, as well.
Was our time together perfect? No. Did we each have our moments of crankiness or being an annoyance? Pretty much, yup? Did everything go tickadeeboo? Not always. This side of heaven, being with people automatically puts a person in a position of tolerance, compromise, and self-sacrifice, and being with family is no different. In fact, being with family can make it even more difficult because family members are most comfortable to just say their unfiltered comments to their loved ones or, on the other hand, take innocent words and read hurtful things into them.
It was during these not so perfect times – complaints of having to walk so much, words said that felt hurtful, or the unfulfilled hopes of going to a desired destination- that I saw how each of us had the opportunity to display a fruit of the spirit, or to love and forgive when it may have be easier to hold a grudge and complain. I also became aware that, besides enjoying being with my children, I was parenting them and training them on how to create and enjoy these types of opportunities with their family and friends, despite the frustrations. (Organizing a trip and activities for a group of people is not the easiest thing.) However, I also noticed that they taught me. At different times and in different situations, each of the five young people made me stop, reflect and learn from them while they extended a characteristic quality of themselves to another, usually one that is not a strength of mine. It was in these moments I saw God working; I saw some fruits of our hard work of raising them up; and I saw how each of my babes have grown into such unique beautiful, fun, and caring people, and who have chosen partners with the same qualities.
Ultimately, our times away with the kids are precious and their memories always bring a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart, like nothing else this side of heaven. The memories of our time away this past weekend will be among those most precious family memories. Even those few moments, that were less than perfect, have become coloured with love as I remember them in light of the kids’ responses of grace and mercy. In fact, this little family get-a-way has been a paradigm in how I see and remember our family time, in all situations- positive and not so positive. In a way it reminds me of how Christ’s grace and mercy washes over our sin-filled dark moments and our Heavenly Father only sees us through Christ’s glorious reflection and remembers his love for us.
So, may I encourage you to take time to be with your loved ones. Enjoy them. Love them. Forgive them. Watch them as they react to and care for each other during the unwelcoming moments… and learn from them. Together may God strengthen your family in love towards him and towards one another.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for my family. Thank-you for the times we are able to be together. Help us to be sources of love and support, grace and mercy to each person, and not get caught up in the things that could ruin our time together and/or put a wedge in our relationships with them. Help us to treat our family members as the ultimate ‘neighbour’ where you command us to love them as we would love ourselves. Help me not to take them for granted, but help me to be your light to them as well. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection: What memories do you have of family vacations… happy, tense, etc? When was the last time you spent dedicated time with your family? If you haven’t been together in quite some time, perhaps consider arranging a little something. If you already have plans for a gathering, great! Take time during your get-together to watch them and learn from them. Be consciously watchful for ways satan and man’s sinful self is working to focus on the less than perfect moments. Provide an atmosphere of grace and mercy, to turn such situations into opportunities of love and care. Enjoy your family!