Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Turning Outward

The candle in the middle of our table was purchased on one of our family trips to San Diego. I found it in a shop and loved the symbolism of it. Three boys and three girls, arms around each other, facing inward toward the light. Our family. I have kept it on our table always. Even...when friends told me it did not match my Victorian d├ęcor. Even...when friends told me it was ugly. Even...when friends told me it was pagan.
I simply don't care. I love it.

 When my children were little, I worked hard to make that candle a reality. I taught them as much as I could about the Light of the world. I homeschooled them and made our day revolve around the Bible and Jesus. We lived life together, arms around each other, facing the Light.

And then Avonlea went on her two month mission trip and my world and my heart felt cracked, severed, damaged. I struggled to understand and articulate WHY I felt like that, but last week I finally understood.

I was asked to participate in a survey about teenage homeschoolers. A man called to interview me and I was glad to glibly answer his questions. Some of them, were critical of home schooling and called for a defense of what I did. This too, I gladly answered, but some of my responses surprised me.

He asked me if I thought homeschooling was non-democratic because it only catered to the good of one family as opposed to the good of the community. I responded, "Oh it's what we learn at home that enables us to better serve our community and our world!" I proceeded to list the ways we interact as a family and individuals with the world around us. And as I described these things to this man on the phone, I suddenly had a vision of our family, facing outward.

It hit me why Avonlea's going on her mission trip had been so traumatic. She had broken the circle. She had turned outward. It was what I had prayed and hoped she would do, but it was a difficult transition, and it precipitated a general coup. Avonlea started public high school. Dave and I went to Haiti last month. Grant goes to Trinidad in July. We have a second Haiti trip planned with the kids. We are engaging the people God brings into our lives on a regular basis, not just in our home, and not just as a single unit.

We will still have times when we turn inward as a family. But more and more, our focus is outside these Victorian walls.
I want to live a turned out life.
I want to sit on the front porch instead of hiding in the fenced back yard.

I want to turn to the world with the light of God shining on our faces, arms around each other, three girls and three boys.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Avonlea was born in April. The end of March I had pretty convincing false labor. I went to see my doctor and I said, "Um, I hope that's not what labor is going to feel like, because that really hurt!"

She looked at me like she was trying to figure out if I was joking, I wasn't.

She didn't really have to say anything because I had my answer a few weeks later.

Yes, it really hurt. But I didn't care! I rejoiced in spite of the pain, I enjoyed the wonder of the birth of the most beautiful little girl!

To make up for my lack of preparation for the pain involved in birth, I tortured myself throughout the next pregnancy. I anticipated the pain and so it came as a shock when Grant shot out quickly and almost painlessly. I am captured on video, holding my son seconds after his arrival, exclaiming, "That was easy!"

And that's me in a nutshell, always surprised by the best and the worst.

Parenting the teen years has had something of the same feel to it. I am still grappling with the fact that this is hard. It's labor to raise these children through their hormones and my own. It's agonizing to search the faces of my teens, trying to find something familiar, something sympathetic.

I watch them stretching past me, yearning for the light and air of freedom and independence. I see them make their own choices and I feel the tearing of separation, even though they are often making good choices.

Throughout the labor, throughout their ache and mine, there is profound gratitude. I was blessed to be able to carry them inside me for nine months. I was blessed to be able to wrap my arms around them all these years and train them. I am blessed to have them always, embedded in my heart, twined into the person I am.

I stood at the window and waved this morning as Avonlea drove off to school. She didn't look back. And the pain of that surprised me.
But I rejoiced in spite of the pain, as I watched in wonder at the maturing of the most beautiful young lady.


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