This summer we made our yearly voyage to the “Beach House.” My husband is from the East Coast and when we had our first child, my mother-in-law started actively looking for a vacation home that would comfortably fit her family, with room to grow. She ended up finding a gem of a house on the Beach with a pool. We have been going there for 26 years.
It has been a place where memories have been made, traditions started, and laughter abounds. It has been a gift of love from my mother-in-law and father-in-law, (my father-in-law has passed), to their children and grandchildren and now– great grandchildren.
I think my mother-in-law had a vision for what this house could be for her family, but mostly I think it was where she wanted to express her love for us all—for giving us a place to come and be together and play together. This year when we went, my mother-in-law was not able to join us, instead we visited her in her Senior living apartment. Every time we visited her, she would ask us, “Are you swimming in the pool? Are you having a good time? How is the Beach House?” I felt like she was really asking us, “Do you know how much I love you. I made this place for you all. I decorated it and maintained it for you all. Do you know how much I love you?”
My husband has a younger sister. She brought her, (at the time), future husband to this house, to meet the family. I, of course, interrogated him, as was my right as the older sibling. He passed with flying colors. At their rehearsal dinner, I told his mother that I had long prayed for whoever my sister-in-law would marry, and her son was a shining example of God answering beyond what we could think or ask. (His mother dragged me to the front of the room to share that statement with the 100+ guests that were at the rehearsal dinner.)
Over time, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law brought their children to the beach house, and the beach house became a place where the cousins could play together and build friendships. So even though we lived in the mid-west and they lived on the east coast, we had this shared place and experience to come together.
Our family has so many shared memories: playing Categories and Marco Polo at the pool. Dancing in the yard, building sandcastles at the beach, catching hermit crabs in the ocean, looking for shells on the beach, eating lobster and fish, going for ice cream at our favorite places, going to the corner store, (when it still existed) for a treat, having birthday parties, eating pizza on the jetties while we watched the giant sand castle, (we spent all day building), washed away by the tide. Being together, just being together.
All these shared experiences remind us that we are loved. We belong. What a gift we have had to share in these experiences together—because my mother-in-law wanted to have a place where her family could come together, year after year.
I hope you have a place like this. It may just be a tent; the place doesn’t really matter, it is all about family coming together to make memories, to share love and laughter. When I was growing up— my parents took us camping, or we went to our Uncle Chuck’s cabin or to my Grandparents’ cabin. We had places for our family to gather together and “be” together.
All these things were a way to spend quality time with one another, away from the bustle and hustle of life. In many ways, our homes can be those places as well– a place of comfort and solace to come home to after a long day at work or school. When I go back to my family home, (which my mother still lives in and maintains beautifully), I draw a sigh of relief, my soul recognizes the love and nurturing I still receive when I walk through those doors.
If I’m honest, part of being together, does involve conflict, conflict between siblings, cousins, between parent and child. Conflict is not easy, ever. Forgiveness is not easy, ever. But the verse, “Keep fervent in your love for one another because, love covers a multitude of sins” I Peter 4:8, is true. It is because we love each other, that we choose to overlook the offenses, and forgive them, not dwell on them.
You may think, “you don’t know my family”, they are unforgivable. You are right—I don’t know your family. But I do know mine. They are so fabulous, but they are also so flawed. I don’t know a perfect person on this earth. We all want to be loved, we all want to love, we all want to be significant. Families can be the vehicle that God uses to reassure us – yes, you are loved, yes, you belong, yes, we want you, yes, you are significant to us. Families can be a vessel which God uses to show His nature. Families can also be used, to show us that no matter how great a family is or is not, they cannot fill the void we have in our hearts. Only the infinite God can fill the infinite hole we all have in our hearts. (This thought of us having an infinite void that only an infinite God could fill, did not originate with me, but with a scientist named Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662)
Moms, your role of expressing love to your children, of creating a place from which they can draw comfort, will help them in ways you cannot even imagine. Your role of showing them the God who can really love them completely and totally—is immeasurable!! You are needed Moms, you are so, so important!! (Dads are needed too!! ) But this blog is to encourage Moms–especially my moms, that they are appreciated and so, so loved!!
So Be Encouraged!!