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 décor. Even...when friends told me it was ugly. Even...when friends told me it was pagan.
I simply don't care. I love it.
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.