By Denae Jones –
It’s a sinking feeling when you get a phone call that begins with, “I wanted to call you before the police did. Everyone is okay, but..” I got that call on Christmas Eve, when my kids were coming back from a trip to visit their grandfather in Michigan. As they were talking about the details of the car next to them spinning out of control on the interstate in front of them, and how their car t-boned into it, I broke down. Not because of what happened to them, because they were fine other than a bumped head, a sore neck and a few bruises. I cried because of what did not happen to them. The other car did not flip. They did not go off the road. Nobody hit them from behind. The person in the other car was not hurt either. That accident could have been so much worse. My little one reminded me that we asked for God’s protection before they left, and He kept them safe. It sure brought a deeper appreciation of our faith and being together at Christmas.
As we snuggled under blankets and watched a movie together, I was so thankful just to have them here to hold. I reflected on the dynamics of our family and what keeps us close, and thought about my hopes for our future. We run our home in a way that is probably unpopular, but we do it for all the right reasons. Our kids have earlier curfews than most of their friends. (My best friend’s mom always told us that nothing good happens after 10:00pm. I didn’t believe her then, but I do now!) They get grounded when they need it. We have rules that apparently none of their other friends have, and chores that none of their other friends have to do. (Sure!) I give them some money for big jobs that go above and beyond, but in general, they don’t get allowance because I want them to learn that you help because that’s the right thing to do and not just because you’re getting rewarded for it. We go to church, even though it’s their only day to sleep in. They go to bed early, and our kids share bedrooms. I declare ‘cleaning day’ on the weekends, and everyone works until the jobs are done. That’s just part of being in our family. I realize that our house rules aren’t always popular, but I’ve never much cared about that. I’m more concerned with our house rules being influential in developing strong family bonds, responsibility, and good work ethic. Something must be working, because we still get hugs and “I love you’s” from each of them, and I will never get tired of that.
My husband I and I just bought what is probably only the second piece of new furniture I’ve ever owned. Everything else has been handed down, and that has been intentional. Why get new furniture that we will stress out about getting ruined? I wanted couches that could be spilled on, tables that could be colored on, beds that could be jumped on, and not worry about the finances of replacing it. We don’t need a fancy house in this season of our lives. We just want one that feels like home. Not just a place to live in, but a place to live life in.
We are getting ready to build an addition onto the house, and someone asked why we are doing that now? Within 10 years we will probably only have one of the six kids left at home. What will we do with the extra space? My answer was that I want to fill it. Not with ‘stuff’ but with the people we love. I guess time will tell, but here is my hope. For now, I hope it continues to be our family’s place to put down roots and start new traditions. I hope that it continues to be a place to bring friends for campfires and game nights, tree climbing and backyard ball games, ping pong tournaments and roller blade races. I usually don’t mind the noise, extra snacks, and extra messes of friends being here. It’s a good trade off to hear them laughing, know they are safe, and to spend some extra time together.
In the future, I am thanking God ahead of time that it offers a place to take care of aging parents if the need ever arises, that it is the place where grandchildren and great grandchildren come to spend time and stay over for weekends and holidays. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. It just has to be a place to be restored, to feel safe, and to know you are loved.
As we go into each new year, I have to admit that sometimes I enter with cautious optimism. Like that car wreck, there are some things that happen that are beyond our control. Those things are scary and take great faith to get through. But let’s reflect on things that we can control. What are our hopes for our future and for our family? What steps can we take to accomplish them? Do the things on our list align with God’s plan for our lives? Do they bring joy to the lives of myself and my family? In 2018, let’s thank God ahead of time for making our hopes a reality.
Have a blessed week, friends!