When I was younger, my brothers, sister, mom and I would visit my great grandmother Miller when she was still living in NE Portland. What I remember most about these visits was the time spent just sitting and talking with her.
My great grandmother would take short walks around the neighborhood. However, the majority of time we shared was in conversation, playing Scrabble or Monopoly, and of course, watching Perry Mason at noon on KPTV, one of Portland’s local television stations.
As I look back on this season of my life, I truly appreciate the dedication and love my mom showed my great grandmother in making this time to be together happen. It wasn’t easy, I’m sure. We didn’t live just around the block from my great grandmother. Add that to getting all of us kids ready to go and ready to engage with someone who wasn’t moving all that fast and who preferred, at this junction of her life, to stay near home, take an afternoon nap, enjoy a snack or two, and just talk – it’s fascinating to me at this time in my life how much care was given to just being with my great grandmother by our family.
Honestly, as I look back on this time, I treasure it.
Fast forward to my life today, so many, many years later, and I am grateful for the model my parents gave my brothers, sister, and me of being available to my great grandparents and grandparents. My parents made a commitment to spending time with all of my grandparents – just sitting, just listening, just talking, just walking (slow), just watching – Perry Mason, or Wheel of Fortune, or whatever – with them.
Therefore, I shouldn’t be surprised that when I received a word from the Lord to make a trip to spend time with my parents, that I listened. For much of my lifetime, my parents modeled that honoring our parents and grandparents was an important value. Living literally a world and hemisphere away from my parents, however, proves to be a substantial obstacle to enjoying a face-to-face conversation with my parents.
After significant prayer and talk-time with John, the decision was made that the boys and I would visit my parents and John’s mom – forging the long distance – to just be with them.
No strategic purpose.
We would just hang out with our family.
And so we did. For five blessed weeks, the boys and I were able to do something we rarely are able to do. We had significant face-to-face time with our family without the pressures of school work, ministry appointments, or any other responsibilities that typically require our time and attention.
Perry Mason isn’t shown at noon on KPTV anymore. However, my parents have Netflix. So we had the pleasure of watching episodes of Poirot, another famous sleuth, with Dad and Mom. Micah said that unlocking the Poirot mysteries with his grandparents was one of his highlights of the trip. Me, too, for that matter!
One of the highlights for me was having time to listen to the heart of my mom. Of course we Skype, write emails, send texts with Whatsapp, and comment on Facebook posts. However, none of these communication tools carry a stick to enjoying our one-on-one times together at the kitchen table. I loved that.
I also appreciated hearing my dad’s stories – even when he would begin, “Now, stop me if I have told you before….” or “I’ve probably shared this story with you, but….” It didn’t matter. I loved hearing every single story again, even if I had heard them countless times before – having this time with my dad mattered to me.
I don’t know what the future holds for us – for my parents or for my family. I don’t have a date on the calendar when we will be able to return to the States for another visit.
Ecclesiastes 8:7 states, “He does not know what will happen; so who can tell him when it will occur?”
Or stated another way, “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone what is to come?”
I believe the Lord is exhorting us to live life now – to be all in – and embrace the day and the gift it brings us.
This is why I am so grateful I listened to the still, small voice of my God and followed His leading to visit my parents last month. I didn’t ignore the prompting. I didn’t put the visit off until later. I responded.
I don’t know what is ultimately ahead regarding my parents’ long term health and care, but I do know that I will never regret making the effort and traveling the distance to spend time with them. In addition, this trip provided my children with uninterrupted time with their grandparents. I know they won’t forget it.
When I am in the States, I am always struck by how little time people really have for each other. There seems like there is so much pressure to be doing something – all.the.time. People just seem like they are on the run, run, run. The value of having space in one’s life to sit and be with one another appears lost – unless it is scheduled. And even then, if such talk time is scheduled, there appears to be another appointment or activity that follows. As a result, engagement time must be fitted between one hour and the next. It doesn’t seem like much fun to me.
Thus, the reason I want to model uninterrupted times of engagement with family for my children, as my parents did for me.
I desire to live my life with a value of being – not doing.
For if I am able to be, I am able to be free to engage as the Lord leads me in this finite life I enjoy on earth.
I am able to appreciate the gift of Emmanuel, God with us, and embrace His loving, assuring, guiding Presence in my life.
Yes, I am grateful for the life-giving five weeks I shared with my family last month. I am blessed with parents, siblings, and an extended family who love me as well as John and my children as we are. Just as I love them for who they are! They are precious to me.
That’s the life I want.
That’s the life I seek.