Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Blessings of Family

I love coming home from a trip. The whole enchilada, if you will. I love unpacking the suitcase and seeing our clothes neatly hung in straight rows or placed in careful piles in the drawers. As much as I dislike doing laundry, there is something gratifying about pulling the clean clothes out of the dryer and feeling the finality that all physical remnants of the trip are washed away. I love sleeping in my own bed with the familiar weight of my quilt and the comforting nighttime sounds associated with our house. Each load of laundry and rustle of the quilt whispers, "We're home, we're home!"

Having said that, we had a wonderful time with my family this past week. I can't remember the last time we able to stay for longer than a long weekend, and the extra days were such a blessing.

If you have seen the photo show from my post Friday, then some of what I blog about will seem familiar because you will have a photo to go along with the story. We left our house at 5 am Saturday, and arrived at Mama and Daddy's house around 10 am. I was amazed at how much Benjamin (my nephew, aka BB) had grown since January!! He was walking (running) around the house and is probably the most obedient child I have ever seen.

Patrick and Ronna approach discipline and correction from a biblical standpoint, and the results are astounding. I am sorry to say that Trevor and I used more secular, mainstream methods with Nathan and Grace until about a year and a half ago when we really started to understand what it meant to raise our children in a biblical way. It's amazing the way a child responds to authority (all authority and not just mom and dad), and to direction when they are taught biblical obedience from the very beginning.

Benjamin has moments like any other almost 2 year old, but the vast majority of the time he is happy, engaging and obedient. Any adult can ask him to "give" whatever he is holding, and he will immediately hand it to them. He responds to verbal instruction immediately, and he is one of the happiest babies I have ever come across.

When BB is asked, "Who loves Xanzie (or Nannie, or Daddy, etc)?" he thrusts his little hand in the air as though he is answering a question in class and yells, "I do!!" It is the sweetest thing I have ever seen and I wish that I had been able to capture it on film.

We spent most of our time lounging around and catching up with one another. The first night, Patrick, Ronna, Trevor and I stayed up until almost midnight discussing and debating theology. This is one of the main reasons that I enjoy my time so much with them...all the questions that I have had about my bible studies and personal reading that I have not been able to find satisfactory answers to, are fodder for discussion and teaching. I know that if I am having an issue with some area of my spiritual life, Patrick and Ronna are willing and able to help me discern the truth and to pray for me. Having a Christian family is quite possibly one the greatest blessings in this life.

The trip was filled with activity: Trevor and Patrick built a potting bench for my grandmother, Ronna and I worked on pages for a scrapbook that contained pictures of our family in Louisiana for BB, so that he would not forget us (they live in DC), and of course all of the cooking that went on. There is always cooking when we go home. I made chicken and dumplings one evening and a pork loin the next. Mix in the baking of cookies and cakes, and you have my mom's kitchen.

I was finally ready to go out the my uncle's house this trip. He passed away in January, and I have been home several times, but physically unable to go out to his house to see my aunt and cousin. It's not just the's the property. It belonged to my great-grandfather and I have been going there my entire life. We climbed trees, played in the garden and had family reunions at Christmas. It seems as though my history as a human being is somehow tied up in that the very cradle of my existence. I don't really know how to express such a feeling in words, but suffice it to say that I have had a serious issue with going back since Uncle Tellius' death.

When we turned down the road, I cried a few preemptive tears but when the house and property came into view, it looked just the same as it always had. I don't know why I was surprised by the normalcy of it all...maybe I was expecting it to look different because it felt different. But when I went inside, it looked just as it always had minus the greeting of "Hey baby!" from Uncle Tellius. I never realized until that moment how much that simple greeting made the experience of visiting them complete.

So, we are home and have just enough time to catch our breath before school starts Monday and our schedules change again. I laughed out loud at Karen's post about the first day of school and I too embrace the change in the fall. I am not a SAHM, but the kids are just more "into" things during the summer, and school brings with it a sense of calm that is not present during high summer! I look forward to the coming evenings at the kitchen table with Nathan, helping him with his homework and being a part of his educational growth.
Gracie in the pool!
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