Posts Tagged ‘family’


Would You Like a Family Like This?

family vacation

When I look back on the major decisions I made in the first half of my life, many seem really bone-headed now. But one that most decidedly didn’t fall into that category was marrying into my husband’s family. They are a wonderful conglomerate of diverse Christians and somehow we manage to get along well. Unfortunately, as the years progress, we often fail to see each other due to living further and further away from each other.


Back in the early 2000s we decided that we needed another reason to gather together besides weddings, funerals, graduations, and holidays. The Reunion Vacation was born. We have been to Branson, Virginia Beach, Hilton Head, Nashville, IN, and now Estes Park. We do them every few years whenever we think the majority of us have been able to save up the necessary money to do such a destination vacation. We started renting out one large vacation home and despite renting out one the same size this time, we now don’t fit, because of grandchild marriages and subsequent great-grandchildren. So, now we rent two large-sized homes, hopefully close to each other.


Yes, four generations come together and we actually raise the eyebrows of the local residents, not because we’re the typical tourists tearing up nice vacation homes and not because we are usually fighting to the death with each other by the end of the vacation week. No, we raise eyebrows because we actually get along and actually enjoy each other’s company and do our best to leave the homes in even better shape than we found them. The first generation, aka Gram and PaPa, raised their kids right! And that has been passed down through the generations.


Now, it’s not all wonderful. We are human. For one thing, there are few shrinking violets in this group and so we can wind up with too many “Indian Chiefs”. And those few family members who aren’t as Type A often have to seek seclusion outside for mere survival’s sake from time to time. I, too, had to learn this skill since my own family was quite small.  Many of us are in our 50s and thus, none of us hear the way we once heard. Thus, all of these vacations feature excessive loudness! Again, a brief respite outside can often help.


And we do screw up, sometimes in a major way. Few of us can reasonably say we don’t have a few pounds to lose. Few of us are flexible (We breed stubbornness!) about some situations we passionately pursue. Few of us know how to quit working and thus, a feast with my husband’s family is likely to ensue at every meal and spreadsheets for all vacation logistics will often hilariously collide. (Yes, actual agendas, maps, handouts and spreadsheets abound. The Battle of Iwo Jima took less planning.) Individually, we all struggle with some internal mess at one point or another probably like any other family in America.


So, how do we cope with all of that? Grace.


Yes, we say grace, but I’m talking about the kind that comes from above. Because He loved us and forgave us, we choose to love each other and forgive each other as we congregate. Is that always easy? Nope. But this is perhaps the best part of marrying into a large family: if we get disgusted and lose our patience with one member of the family, there’s always another member we can hang with! Once I practice this little strategy, I seldom lose my patience for long and after reconnecting with those who remind me what patience looks like, I can regain some patience with the person who was driving me nuts a short time before.

Would you believe that there are 9 married ends of this family now and none of us have divorced? That love and forgiveness thing works, in more ways than one!


I hope all of you have such a family when everyday life seems joyless and pointless. But, if not, perhaps a few of the Points to Ponder below will help you begin to create such a family, even if you have to become “Gram & PaPa” and start with your current immediate family to create the next 4 generations of wonderful togetherness.


Point to Ponder 1: Name the 1 issue that seems to escalate tensions at your extended family gatherings. May I suggest that you ask for a banishment of that issue from the next “reunion”? While I firmly believe in talking things out, there are some subjects that are just too painful for some families to bear. If someone forgets that the topic is off-limits, agree beforehand to use a code word to stop that person from going any further with it. I suggest using some silly made-up word that creates a smile for most of your family members. Keep in mind that change begins with you and you may have to stop yourself from bringing it up and you may have to politely remind people to “cut it out.”


Point to Ponder 2: Can’t do # 1 because there are some really huge issues going on in your family? Here’s the good news and the bad news: You have a lot of company in America. If so, it may be time to take your immediate family and try to change only that end of the family for the better. Consult a pastor or counselor or other mental health professional to ensure that your family knows when it, itself, is getting into the same dangerous territory as your extended family. This isn’t weakness! It takes such strength to admit you need an objective opinion from someone who deals with such issues regularly.


Point to Ponder 3: Done # 2 and feel your immediate family is in a good place? Congrats! That’s awesome! Celebrate by beginning a weekend vacation tradition with your family whenever the money’s in the bank to do so. You can just go to the next town over and camp in a park or some other beautiful area, if the budget’s tight. You will be amazed at the conversations that take place merely because you are away from home. Keep practicing any suggestions that your pastor or counselor has given you to make sure the vacations keep going in a positive direction. (Sometimes a change in location can cause some to revert to old negative behavior patterns.) Your offspring will probably start to treasure these times unless they’re currently teenagers. But if so, have no fear—eventually they grow out of it.


You Might Also Like: 56 White Men; The Tyrant; The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant; Eulogy for a Brother; and We’re Still Losing This War


2 Heart Attacks Too Soon: Part 4

Heart Ring Bible

Scanning is a good thing, normally. It’s what got me through college and grad school. But, this is not one of those times. Please read (at least) Part 1 of this series to understand the following:

  1. Think you can miss 14 years of your life?  Here’s what happened during the last 14 of mine:  The eldest DS graduated from High School and College.  He made the Dean’s List and has a full-time job now.  The DD graduated from high school and college.  She got engaged.  She got married.  The DSL graduated from high school  and college, too. The DD got a full ride into grad school. The LSH and I celebrated our 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries.  I went to Europe with the LSH.  I was a bridesmaid again.  All 3 of my kids got their driver’s licenses.  I eulogized my mom and dad at their funerals.  I lost several aunts and uncles.  I lost my best friend.  I walked 60 miles in 3 days to celebrate and honor her life.  I completed a master’s degree.  I gave up a great job to help 50+ of the best students at our town’s university.  I passed the National Licensing Exam for counselors. I went to Alaska with the LSH. I have a “sea” of adopteds that I would give my life up for anytime, any place. We discovered that the eldest DS has ADD.  We discovered that the youngest DS has Sensory Processing Disorder, is gifted and has vision focusing problems.  The youngest DS got into his favorite college. We’ve ordered his HS graduation announcements. In other words, I’m glad I stuck around, even on the bad days.
  2. Here’s what’s on the docket for the next 14, God willing:  The DD and DSL will welcome a healthy child into their home and I’ll get to spoil that kid rotten (The DD and DSL do not get a choice about this!); the eldest DS will find the woman of his dreams and advance his career; I will be successful blogging and finally publish a book; the youngest DS will graduate from high school and college and find the woman of his dreams; the LSH and I will celebrate our 35th, 40th, and 45th anniversaries; we will watch another several adopteds get married; we will watch a few more nieces and nephews get married.  In other words, embrace the barbell, even on the bad days.
  3. You are not replaceable.  God put you here because He has a mission for you that only you can complete.  Don’t kid yourself.
  4. I care about you even when you think you are unworthy of such care.  I care about you even when you think I’m not looking.  I may just be a little busy holding my barbell to show you that, and still working on yanking out my selfish weeds.


Point to Ponder Challenge # 1: What happened in the last 14 years of your life? Make a list. What is likely to happen in the next 14 years of your life? Make another  list.What needs to change so you can be around for that second list? Start working on THAT list today. 

Point to Ponder Challenge # 2: Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” What events took place in your lifetime only because of your presence for those events? What else do you want to “make happen” in the next decade? What is the first step to making at least one of those things happen?

Tomorrow’s Post: What really causes heart attacks



2 Heart Attacks Too Soon: Part 3

Heart 9

This post will make much more sense if you at least read Part 1. But, if you enjoy “living in the dark,” turn on a light and read on:

  1. When you are a heart attack survivor, your family suffers.  They now can’t take certain drugs because of my little adventure in 1999.  They have to get a flu shot every year.  Getting health insurance at a lower rate is tricky now.  Changing jobs is out of the question for your spouse due to your health history.  Most people have never heard of my little heart condition and they are constantly having to explain it to doctors. Yeah, doctors.  It’s that rare.  My kids “freak” every time I sneeze.  They know I most likely will revisit 1999 someday.  When one of their 2nd moms/wife’s friends dies, it does them in.  Why?  Because those moms took care of them while I was in the hospital and it reminds them how close they came to losing their own mom/own wife in 1999.
  2. I am loved.  I sorta knew this, but now I REALLY know it.  17 messages on your answering machine every day for 2 weeks straight will remind you just how fortunate you are to live in Small Town TX and be in two great families.
  3. Life is a learning adventure.  Never stop learning…it’s as good as the wrinkle cream, too.
  4. Learn from the next generation.  They are fun, cool, smart, loving, interesting people.  Get to know them.  Respect them.  Love them–they deserve it.
  5. Connect with your generation.  They know why you’re as warped as you are.  They know all the lyrics to the stupidest show in history–Gilligan’s Island, and they will help you “Celebrate Good Times” and not laugh when you want to put on your, your, your, your, your boogie shoes and boogie with you.
  6. Laughter IS the best medicine.  Marry someone who makes you laugh when you’re ready to cry.  Do stupid stuff like dancing in the shower and smashing confetti eggs on people’s heads.  Better than the wrinkle cream and I’ve grown to loving laugh lines on people. 🙂  They’re sexy, if you ask me.  Yes, I said that.
  7. Listen to the older generation.  They’ve been where you are hopefully going and where you are right now.  If they’ve made it to old age, that means they know how to get you to the next phase of your life intact.  Most are amazingly upbeat, despite a wide variety of challenges and repeatedly going to funerals.  And they don’t mind if you drone on about your children….a big plus!
  8. Every big, bad, mean, black cloud has a silver lining.  Every. Single. One.  It may take 10 years to find it, but it will show itself eventually.  Hang in there.  Learn what you can learn from it.


Point to Ponder Challenge # 1: Hug a family member and tell them, “I love you.” It may be your last chance to do so. 

Point to Ponder Challenge # 2: Seek out someone from a different generation and spend an hour asking them questions about subjects that aren’t your area of expertise.