The last several days have been filled with all kinds of emotions. There were many of them – the final days of Roger Johnson, finding out that Kristin needed surgery, the excitement of our daughter Jill and grandson Drew visiting from Oklahoma this week-end, and the recollections of Andrew and our concerns for his health several years ago when we thought he had cancer.
Other than the obvious concerns about being available to the Johnson family to help them during the past several months, notice that most of our major concerns were for our three children. And even though they range in age from 35 down to 29, I don’t think parents ever quit worrying about their kids, no matter how old they are. In fact, I still see flashes of concern for Janet from her parents, and they’re in their late eighties. And when Janet goes out to Williamsburg to visit, she is no longer the wife and mother, but she is the child to her parents – and it shows in the way that interacts, even after the visit is over and she returns home – not good or bad – just different. It usually takes several days for her to get back in the rhythm of life her in Carmel, and to re-assume her roles in the family here.
And it occurs to me that when we are with our children, the old family dynamics also come into play. For example, when Jill arrives this week-end, even though she is with her son Drew (her husband Tom isn’t coming this visit), she will fit right into our lives here – much the same as if she never left Indiana for Oklahoma. Even though she will be here ten days, it doesn’t matter – she really isn’t any trouble. And periodically, when we head out on a trip, and take Kristin and one of her boys with us, it’s just like the old days – she knows the family routines and how we do things – and our children are teaching their children the expectations of how our family members interact. Especially since we have had Kristin’s three children here during her recent hospital stay, it is interesting to watch how the grandchildren also become comfortable with the routines in our home. Always, our children and grandchildren love stories about the past.
By the way, Kristin’s children returned to their own home this evening. As you already know, Kristin had surgery yesterday morning. Things went very well, and she was released from the hospital this afternoon. I know the three boys were anxious for their mother to come home, but they were disappointed they were not coming back here to spend the night. Go figure.
A very interesting thing has also happened since I started writing this blog. Jill and Andrew follow it daily, while Kristin tends to read several stories at a time. Jill comments on the posts frequently; and her comments that can be accessed on this page. Andrew is less interactive, the same as Kristin, but he still does not want to miss a post. And all three of our children have commented on the importance of hearing stories about my life – even though they have heard many of them before. So I went back and counted my posts – and so far, there are 64 of them, not including this evening. At approximately 850 words each, that means that I have now written more than 54,000 words in the last two months. That is about the same length as a doctoral dissertation! But I assure you that this is much more fun, and there has been something special about sharing stories with our children through this medium. I love hearing from them after they have read the daily posts.
The point of all this is apparent in Joel 1:3. Joel tells us that stories about family history are very important, and he encourages us to let our families know all about us. He commands us, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” Because in the old days, this is how stories were communicated – by word of mouth, and eventually committed to writing – the same thing I am doing here.
So my encouragement tonight is to share as much of your life as you can with the generations coming behind you. Because these are bonds that solidify families; and give them a sense of unity and something in common; a legacy. And my prayer this evening is that your stories will continue to shape the direction of your family. As you grow older, the dynamics of your family will be taught it its younger members so they may have the same sense of belonging that is so important to each of us. So as the generations pass away into history, the legacies we share and leave behind will profoundly impact the health of our families – and that is something that in this world, we need more of – healthy families.