#family

IT LOOKS LIKE LOVE

They noticed from the time when they were young…from before they all could speak…their father’s way of looking at the world was different…some would say…unique.

 

Every morning he’d open the front door…look out over the land and to the sky above…then he’d turn around and say… “Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”

 

Rain and shine, good and bad he believed this is the world as God designed it…

"But she also filled it up with love." He’d say, "And it’s up to us to find it!”

 

Which is why every day he was on the lookout for the love he constantly spoke of…

and every day, wherever he went, he would call attention to that love.

 

He’d point out a smile exchanged by strangers…watching anybody share…his children were amazed…how he’d find love anywhere.

 

He’d show them a mother comforting a crying baby…a family holding hands…and slowly the more love that he’d show them…they more they came to understand.

 

Once they learned this lesson…once they knew what they were looking for…they began to find love in places where they hadn’t noticed it before.

 

It showed up at family dinners, good night kisses in their rooms…it showed up in the rain that helped the flowers bloom.

 

It showed up in people helping other people…in a wave to someone they didn't know.

It showed up anywhere they happened to be…and anywhere they’d go

 

The more they began to see love in their life and in the world around them

the more they began to understand how love envelopes and surrounds them.

 

Thanks to their father’s teachings…and those seeds of love he’d sown..

they learned how love makes every little thing in life…glow…with a beauty all its own

 

Which is why their own children…from before they all could speak…

saw their parent’s way of looking at the world as different…some would say…unique. 

 

When every morning they open their front door…

look out over the land and to the sky above…

then then turn around and say… 

“Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”

 

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DREAM HOUSE REVISITED

 

While looking through an old picture album the other day (Yes! Picture albums still exist) nestled in the seams of one page…we found this old and weathered list.

 

As we opened it and began to read…the two of us were thrilled…that old list contained the items for the dream house we would build.

 

At the top of the list…of course…a bungalow was number one…not too big…but with enough room for our children to play and dream and run.

 

There was no timeline on our dream house list…no specific when…it was just a list of all the things we dreamed about back then.

 

As I sat there holding that old list of dreams within my hand…I realized we never built our dream house…life didn’t go quite the way we planned.

 

After we finished reading the list…that together we’d amassed…I gently folded it back up…then turned to Deborah and asked:

 

“Are you sad we never built our dream house…sad you may have missed…your chance to live in a house with all the items on our list?”

 

She closed her eyes and visited her memory for a while…before she returned the list to the album…squeezed my hand and smiled. 

 

“How can I be sad.” She said. “Though this is not our bungalow…this is the house we’ve raised three children in…and watched four grandchildren grow.”

 

“This house contains all the joys we’ve shared…all the sorrows we’ve overcome…this is the house that’s influenced who our children and grandchildren have become.”

 

“Yes, this list was never completed.” She said. “But it’s not as sad as that may seem…This might not be the dream house from our list…but it is our house of dreams.”

 

And I felt blessed she reminded me of something we both already knew…

that a dream house can be any house…where all your dreams come true.

 
 

 

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VISITING HOURS IN HEAVEN

 

 

The young son came to his father…not long after his Grandpa had died…with tears still lingering in his eyes…eyes that were open wide.

 

“I know that Grandpa’s gone,” he said, “and at the funeral we said goodbye…but is there anyway to visit him in heaven…or do I have to wait until I die?”

 

“There are always visiting hours in heaven.” Dad said. “But to heaven you don’t have to climb…because heaven has made it easy to visit Grandpa…any place…at any time.”

 

“If you close your eyes and think about Grandpa…quickly you will see…you can visit him anytime you want…where he lives…in your memory.”

 

“And if you ever have a question for him…here’s what you need to do…ask your question…close your eyes…listen…Grandpa will answer you.”

 

“You see, heaven is not just the place people go when from this world they depart…I believe each of us has a little piece of heaven…right here…inside our heart.”

 

“It’s the way we were created…the way we were designed…it’s where those we love, before they go, leave a piece of themselves behind.”

 

“And when we want to visit them…this moment…or long after they have died…we only need to close our eyes…think about them…and take a look inside…”

 

“Look inside your heart…right now…that’s what I’m going to do…that’s where you’ll find your Grandpa…waiting patiently for you.”

 

Dad held his son’s hand in his…said, “lose your eyes”…and with their fingers interlaced…

“Hi Dad!”

“Hi Grandpa!”

You could hear them whisper…

as a smile lit up each face.

 
 
 
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WHEN GENERATIONS COME TOGETHER

 

I love when generations of a family come together…

how they ride happily on our shoulders…when our life is full of sunshine, 

full of light and warm…

and how they hoist us onto their shoulders to help us weather any storm.

 

When generations come together…

I love how quickly we discern…

each generation has something to teach…

and each has something to learn.

 

For when generations come together…

when they share their thoughts, their feelings…their hearts…

they take a little of each generation with them when it’s time for them to part.

 

Knowing the changes may be subtle…

changes, at that moment, they might not see…

but changes that help them blend together…generations of one family.

 

So they’ll be ready to ride upon our shoulders in our sunshine….

or hoist us onto theirs in stormy weather….

It’s one of the things I love about family…

when generations come together.

 
 
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MORE THAN JUST A CABIN

 

 

It’s just a cabin in the mountains Deborah’s parents built over 30 years ago

It’s seen its share of spring flowers, summer rains, autumn leaves and winter snows.

 

As we’re about to return to Florida I like to sit for a moment…and recall…what is it I love about this cabin…what’s so special about these walls…

 

I smile…take a deep breath…then right before my eyes

as I look around this cabin…a host of memories float by…

 

How fast the memories come…how quickly they arrive

of when our children were still children…when Deborah’s parents were alive…

 

The games we played at the table…it really isn’t hard

to see our grandchildren playing where our children once played

running up and down the yard…

 

The hours spent out on our porch…rocking in these rocking chairs…paper airplanes launched from the top deck…beans slingshot into the air..

 

All the campfires we have gathered around…watching fires roar…

telling stories, roasting marshmallows…building our s’mores.

 

Friends who visited us while we’ve been here…people sleeping on the floor…the cabin filled with laughter…all these memories I adore…

 

I know what it is about this cabin…why it keeps us so enthralled…

It’s because of all the memories…we’ve painted on its walls…

 

Memories have this wonderful duality…once they’ve formed within our mind…to travel with us wherever we go…but also to stay behind.

 

Reminding us this is more than just a cabin…

reminding us no matter how far from here we roam….

our memories will be waiting….

the next time we come back home.

 
 
 
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WHEN THE TV GOES TO SLEEP

 

 

When our TV goes to sleep we have this app that immediately awakens…it links to all our photographs…every photograph we’ve ever taken.

 

The photographs appear for a few seconds…chosen randomly from a vast array…enough to stir a memory before that memory fades away.

 

There is no chronology to their appearance…no rhyme nor reason…if you please…

They take us back and forth throughout our lives with alacrity and ease.

 

Birthday cakes, family vacations…a mountain landscape…a beautiful sky

Graduations…sunsets…family…holidays…all pass in the blink of an eye. 

 

Camping, people who have passed, grandchildren playing football on the lawn…moments…just like life…there for a moment…then they’re gone.

 

As this slide show plays out in front of our eyes…usually we smile…sometimes we’re perplexed…as our memory tries to catch up from one picture to the next.

 

Most of the time we just ooh and aah…as different memories burst before our eyes…It’s kind of like watching fireworks…exploding across the sky.

 

We’ve found ourselves watching these memories and losing track of time

realizing how lucky we’ve been as together through life we climb…

 

Which is why you’ll often find us sitting in our living room

searching for memories we’d love to keep…

as they burst upon the screen…

when our TV goes to sleep.

 

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ONE BIG FAMILY

 

 

How big is your family?   A simple question I was asked the other day…

but the questioner seemed confused when I did not answer right away.

 

How big is my family…I thought to myself…well I guess that all depends…

on your definition of family…and how far it should extend…

 

I know how many children and grandchildren I have…but it seems a bit unfair

that when it comes to estimating my family…I should stop my counting there.

 

What about my parents and all my relatives alive and dead…now there’s a daunting list

but I’m pretty sure without them…my family wouldn’t exist.

 

And what about all the friends I’ve made who give my life balance and symmetry…certainly I have to count them…as part of my family.

 

What about all the students I taught…all those innocent family members I acquired…

They didn’t stop being family the moment I retired.

 

What about all the pets I’ve had…who did their talking with their eyes

counting them as family would certainly be wise.

 

Then there is every human being…all those other family members I have missed…

who share my genetic makeup…I must add them to the list.

 

I think I have an answer but I’m afraid it’s an exorbitant amount…

How big is my family…I wonder…How high can one person count?

 

How big is your family? A simple question I was asked the other day…

But by the time I was ready with my answer…the man who asked had walked away..

 

 

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JUST ANOTHER CAMPFIRE

 

 

It was just another campfire the old couple sat around…listening to the crackling of the wood…watching the flames push off the ground

 

Watching as sparks break off from the fire to be free…to fly…to soar…just another campfire…like so many campfires they've sat around before.

 

At this campfire it was just the two of them…in the silence of the night…snuggled next to one another…faces illuminated by the light.

 

If you were blessed to be nearby…and watching for a while

you’d have seen them close their eyes…

you’d have seen them laugh and smile.

 

You’d have seen how just another campfire has the ability to transcend...into memories of other campfires…with family and friends

 

If you’d have been inside their minds…you’d see them as children in all their glories…you’d see them toasting marshmallows…feeling the warmth…telling stories.

 

You’d see them with their own family…you’d watch the sweet togetherness a campfire brings…before life and time and growing up…chances everything.

 

You’d sit in wonder around this campfire…realizing why they love it so…knowing it is more than how the flames shoot up and oscillate to and fro.

 

You’’d see it’s not as just another campfire…but a campfire so boundless and vast…it has a way of connecting…through its flames…to all their campfires of the past.

 
 
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SHATTERPROOF

 

 

I loved the times when our family was young…everyone under the same roof…

I felt we were invincible…indestructible…I felt we were shatterproof.

 

That feeling is often tested over the years…as many parents have known…because one day you turn around…and your once young children are grown.

 

There was a time when it was easy to get our family together…when the family was complete…We’d open the front door and holler…”Hey everyone…it’s time to eat!”

 

But when children grow up and move away…when they’re living behind different doors…hollering, “It’s time to eat!” doesn’t complete the family anymore.

 

Now we still make plans to get together…and we hope the family’s complete…when we sit around the table and say…”It’s time to eat!’.

 

But that’s not always the case…it seldom goes according to plan…so we’ve learned to grab parts of our family…whenever…wherever we can.

 

We recently got together with two of our three children and one of our four grandchildren…there were smiles on our faces even though our other son and other grandchildren were all in different places.

 

I know they would have joined us…if only they were able…

but alas…when we all sat down to eat…there were only five of us at the table.

 

But in a way we all were there…the family sitting in front of me…and the family I could not see…because I’ve found, over the years, my family goes everywhere with me.

 

On those rare occasions we are all together…I love to sit back…smile and stare…and if anyone is missing…I love to sit back and imagine them there.

 

It’s not quite the same I know…but immediately after they all grew….I learned to enjoy who’s here and imagine the rest…because that’s what parents do.

 

It’s the way I keep my family complete…

when we can’t be together under the same roof…

it’s my way of keeping our family invincible…

indestructible

my way to keep them shatterproof.

 
 
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