As you may already know, Jill, who is our middle child, and her family are moving back to Indiana after more than 17 years in Oklahoma. While we have missed her terribly, we gave up long ago trying to convince her to return to Indiana. So, Jill and her husband, Tom, as well as their son, Drew, have made a life for themselves in western Oklahoma.
Earlier this year, Jill informed us that the family intended to move back here and put down roots in the Carmel area. Of course, we were elated and have done everything possible to make the transition as easy as possible. She and Tom have found a suitable home, made a successful offer and Jill has stayed with Drew in our home while Tom has been backing up the home they currently own.
Jill and Drew have been here for the past two months or so and, needless to say, Janet and I have loved having them. We do acknowledge, however, that the normal rhythms of our life together have been interrupted. We have lived alone, with a dog, for at least twenty years and have become somewhat guarded of our time together. Kristin and Andrew both already live close to us and they have become a normal part of our lives – sharing their lives with us and being involved with us on a daily basis. The same goes for Kristin’s family and it would be the case with Andrew if he was married.
Certainly, we have had company and guests stay over for a limited period of time; and Jill has been here with Drew for several weeks at a time, two or three times each year. But this is the first time that Jill has been here for two months in one stretch. It is great to have them all back; and Jill has fallen right back into the routines the family has followed for decades. Now, for the first time since our three kids were in college, all three of our children will live within 10 minutes or so of our home.
Janet and I are thrilled – no doubt about it. But Jill has started to tease us quite a bit about missing her when she moved into her own home – which she closed on last week. In fact, last Saturday evening was the first time that she and Drew spent the night in their new place. She has made no secret of mentioning that we would “shed a tear” when she and Drew moved out – the operative idea being that we would miss them terribly – having lived with us for the past several months…
The truth is that Janet and I have both shed a tear over the situation – but not because we miss Jill and Drew – but because we love them, have missed them for many years and can’t find the words to express our joy at their return. Unless you have children who have been gone for some extended period of time, this can be difficult to understand. We had pretty much abandoned the idea that they would ever move back to Indiana.
Then, at the least probably time, perhaps by divine intervention, they make the decision to return. We are blessed! How many families get to have all of their children live within 10 minutes? Furthermore, all the kids get along and we can hardly wait for the holidays, knowing that Jill and her family will not pile in the car to head back to Oklahoma several days before her birthday on January 1st. Of course, we give thanks daily that Kristin and Andrew live near us and are so much a part of our lives. We have shed tears of joy over that as well!
The verse for tonight comes from the apostle Paul. He was well known for his letters to the various churches and he even wrote personal letters to several people as well. We are told, by Paul, that the cause of his tears is not meant to grieve, but to express love. He tells us, in 2 Corinthians 2:4, “For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.”
My encouragement this evening is that tears can be shed for a variety of reasons, including great joy. That is certainly the case with us and the return home of our daughter with her family. My prayer is that we should be grateful for family and the bonds that survive time and distance. Because in the ultimate analysis, God wants us to honor our families and train our children in the proper ways of the family. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…