Family

Familiarity can breed contempt, but it can also give birth to the level of affection we are created to experience. The difference is whether I let fear or love lead the way. 1 John 4:18 says it best.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (NASB)

Families fall apart when fear forces them to fuse together. They connect beautifully when love allows them to be who they are. God created us to connect, and our hearts cannot survive without those connections. The most valuable thing the homeless have lost is not their addresses; it is their family connections.

The family systems theory concerning differentiation of self makes a great deal of sense, and I believe God is the ultimate example of how it works. He makes it clear that He is the Great I AM. That isn’t as much about being all powerful as it is about being exactly Who He Is. I believe He wants each of us to be the amazing individual He created us to be, so we can  connect and live in community as He desires.

The Bowen Center has this to say about the negative effects of unhealthy interdependence:

“The more intense the interdependence, the less the group’s capacity to adapt to potentially stressful events without a marked escalation of chronic anxiety. Everyone is subject to problems in his work and personal life, but less differentiated people and families are vulnerable to periods of heightened chronic anxiety which contributes to their having a disproportionate share of society’s most serious problems.”

You can read more at https://www.thebowencenter.org/theory/eight-concepts/differentiation-of-self/

Family brings a sense of belonging, and Christ made it very clear that His family is open to all. That doesn’t mean He sanctions abusive behavior. Abuse is the worst form of fusion, and it breaks God’s heart to see His children hurting. Parents and children alike understand the pain of such breaking. Society suffers alongside broken families. God has the power to make us love any way or any one He wants, but He knows better than to force love upon His children.

Family isn’t an easy word to define; but like love, I know it when I feel it. God has helped me see myself as He sees me, and I am so very thankful for a birth family who loves me just as I am. I can’t imagine life with my three sweet sisters and their families, my son and his wife, or my three adorable little grand daughters; but I also thank God for brothers and sisters who are related beautifully by the common thread of love. I am thankful for connections that surround me like a warm, cozy blanket and melt my heart into a sweet, still pool of peace.

Reaching out isn’t easy; it is much simpler to fuse into small groups who share a common love. It is easier still to form groups with a common hatred, and we all know examples of how that destroys families, churches, communities, and countries. It is easiest to simply stay out of sight and not connect at all. That lets you off the hook when it comes to grieving over the loss of a loved one, but it also leaves you with a deep sense of longing that is the worst pain of all.

God loved us enough to send His only Son. I haven’t reached that level of love and doubt I will understand it until I am with Him, but I have learned that God will provide connections that are good for my heart when I relax into faith and trust Him to know what is best for my heart.

Jesus was born into a beautiful family, but I’m sure His earthly family was filled with individuals who were far from perfect. This morning, I was imagining what a large family gathering might look like when He was a young boy. I bet He had a crazy aunt or uncle who made Him smile, and I’m sure there were squabbles and even a feud or two. That didn’t stop Him from loving them, and it doesn’t stop Him from loving us. I also know with all my heart, that He must have looked around when all were gathered in one accord, smiled, and said to Himself, “This reminds me of Home.”

The Deeper the Darkness, the Brighter the Light

It is in the darkest night that stars shine the brightest, but the light of those stars is diminished by the light pollution of the world. When I move away from the lights of this world and my own attempts to produce light, I am able to look up and see the stars as they are meant to be seen. The same is true for Christ’s light in me. In the darkness of the desert, I appreciate the brilliance of His love.

I resist darkness, and my nature is such that I love to be around others. Community is so very important, and nothing makes me appreciate company more than time in solitude. Just as silence helps me hear, solitude enhances community. The absence of light begs for light; the absence of connection cries out for connectedness. The opposite is true, as well. Bright lights make me want to shade my eyes, and crowds can leave me looking for a getaway.

The light of Christ’s resurrection attracts me as nothing else, and sharing His light brings me closer to God and allows sweet, honest communion with others. That level of connection helps me shed light on the darkness in my heart so I can love in God’s kingdom now. It’s easy to get confused when it comes to light, but Jesus gives His Holy Spirit to help with discernment. When I ask Him to guide me nearer to Christ’s light, He is delighted to be of assistance. He waits for me to ask and lets me grope and hope to find God without Him. When my knees and heart are bruised and broken, I turn to Him for help.

Christ lights the way and leaves me in the capable, loving hands of His Holy Spirit, but I have to be ready to give up my own search and put my matches away before He can get me out of the dark desert and into Christ’s beautiful light. It’s hard to give up the need for independence and even harder to face the fears that keep me in the dark, and no one knows that better than Jesus. It’s why He promises that He will never leave me. If I would just stop wandering off and learn to trust Him, things would be so much easier:)

Sweet Settling:)

As I’m getting settled in to my new home, it’s becoming a very sweet space. I love the openness and the light. Everywhere I look, I’m overwhelmed by the views. God is at every window, and I love watching Him show off.

I never imagined myself living in a house this size, and I figured I’d be very old before I lived with my son’s family. What a beautiful surprise this home has been for all of us. There is nothing sweeter than hearing the house come to life as the girls wake up or come home. They took a stroller ride over to Meme and Pepe’s earlier, so I’m alone with Matza. The sweet bulldog is whining and wishing they and Cookie would come back. I knew just how she felt and started to join in:)

There is a sense of peace in this place, and it has a lot to do with love. God designed us for community, and I’m beginning to see why. Honesty is the key when it comes to loving and living together, and I thank God for the honest communion that surrounds me here.

Life and love are meant to be shared, and God has given me the opportunity to share as I never imagined. I’ve spent a lifetime striving, driving, and doing when I should have been being:) His Spirit needs emptiness. I used to think that meant wearing myself out. It may mean getting wrung out, but it’s a wringing that feels wonderful when I relax and stop struggling and striving:)

The settling this week has been sweet as I’ve done just that. I haven’t sweated the little stuff, and that’s made a world of difference. The most important thing about the settling this week has been the company. Everything else is just icing on the cake:)

Moving On:)

With all the moving preparations, I find myself between two homes. Both are bare and crying out for those things which make a house a home. The new house feels like home and is a beautifully blank canvas. I noticed a few sweet, pink strokes in the hallway downstairs yesterday, and they reminded me of my new little housemates. I smiled as I thought of Lillyann and Mylah running and squealing through the house.

The girls love the house and so do I. It’s filled with light, and I wonder each time I’m there which light I’ve left on. The skylights and windows bring in so much natural sunlight that you don’t need anything else on a sunny day.  The girls will take care of the sunshine on cloudy days:) They are, without a doubt, the best part of my new home.

Since I left my husband a decade ago, I’ve lived alone. The solitude provided a safe place and the necessary space for me to grow. I’m ready to live in the sweet community God has so graciously placed in my life. I’m sure there will be challenges for all of us, but I’m also sure that love will add to the glow that God has already provided in the beautiful home.

Being between the two homes is a little unnerving, and I find myself waking with thoughts of how, when, what, and where. I settle back down when I remember that the most important feature that makes this beautiful house a sweet home is who. I know who is going to be there, and that is all that matters.

The girls are coming over today while mommy and daddy move boxes and clean the carpet. I know they are wondering about the changes taking place at their house and at Gigi’s, so I decided to fill the empty spaces in my apartment with their toys. I’m sure they will like the new decor:)

Transitions are part of the transformation God has in mind, and I know He has wonderful plans when it comes to lessons in love. Love is about living together, and I’m ready to move on and love as God desires. We are designed for community, and I’m excited about the company I’ll be keeping because nobody teaches lessons in love more effectively than children. God knows that better than anyone. He knew a baby would satisfy the world’s longing to be loved.