Family Expansion

This past weekend our middle daughter was married in a picturesque setting with fresh white snow during a bright and clear sunny Colorado day with friends and family witnessing the creation of the new family union. Tears and laughter intermingled with the realization that while something new was being formed, something that was once a new and welcome delight was fading away into the land of memories gone by that would exist now only in our minds and hearts, devoid forever of its original context.

The new had come, the old was done away with in that wonderful ceremony where two hearts were united. The metamorphosis of a cocooned caterpillar into a butterfly remains a vivid analogy of what we experienced at the wedding. A beautiful bride, a handsome groom, the two combining into something greater than either of them as single beings emerged to fly into the future that is filled with hopes, dreams, expectations and vigor.

Rachel and I, Ryan and Sasha witnessed it from our perspective as parents, but there were other perspectives just as vivid. Siblings, family members, friends and adult mentors filled the wedding atmosphere with their joy and acceptance of this union of two souls in Christian marriage. Vendors who supplied the necessary artifacts to celebrate the occasion openly expressed their approval and blessing over the event that they were happy and eager to support. It was a confluence of people that memorialized the event with their presence and a sharing that will be uniquely ours for as long as we live and remember.

It is the beginning of a venture that brings new hope, meaning and possibilities to the world in which they will live. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (I Cor 3:6)” is analogous to the culmination of a wedding, the realization that there are factors beyond parental oversight of any one individual that converges to create this vital and unique union. I thank God for the growth I tangibly see in the ones who are the object of this wedding, and it provides renewed hope for the growth I do not yet see in other areas where God will work unseen and powerfully both in my life and the lives of each of the wedding guests.

Congratulations to the groom and bride, Tyler & Carisse Warrum! You have our support, our love and our shielding thoughts and prayers over your marriage union that we now provide to Brandon and Alicia, with the assurance that we will continue our support, love and fervent prayers for your two other siblings, Daniel and Katy.

Interruptions, Distractions and Plan Changes

In the past when we made resolutions for the New Year, we noticed that it didn’t take long for interruptions, distractions and schedule plan changes to dash our aspirations once they had been delayed or set aside for pressing circumstances. Can anyone relate to that?! We remembered that Joseph and Mary’s plans were disrupted, to say the least when God’s time to come to earth was actualized. Census takings and wars have also disrupted many plans and schedules down through the ages, although at this time a census does not disrupt the way it did in previous times. Other things, like layoffs, new jobs and family emergencies seem to have taken that place in these times.

So we decided on a “mission statement” many years ago that would help determine what our priorities should be, and work through our circumstances to implement things that were important to attaining some measure of that mission statement. That worked for years, until the mission statement became controversial among some family members. We didn’t converse about the disagreements specifically like we had during its inception and adoption. One day it just became apparent that the mission statement of the family was only embraced by certain members.
What caused the drift? In short, the unexpected, the unplanned, the thoughts and ideas that germinated in receptive minds without salient conversation. If we observe that in our family, which is a microcosm of our society, is it any wonder that we observe it growing within our society towards the underpinnings of this nation and at times, the church?

But the same mechanism which causes such turmoil also provided the way in which the decay of our souls and society could be arrested and transformed back into something that was at one time beautiful and desirable. So if there is any resolution that seems to prevail in my mind this year, it is that we should not be adverse to those divine interruptions, distractions and plan changes that bring about seminal changes in our life trajectory here on earth that allow more of God’s kingdom to prevail around us.

We still have made plans, and we still have goals to accomplish this year and ways to measure our progress in attaining them. How we will balance those goals and aspirations with the interruptions, distractions and plan changes that will inevitably come is our prayer this year. Prayer for grace and wisdom to know the difference between a divine intervention or a challenge to overcome. Prayer for each of our friends and family to also grow in their understanding of God’s purposes and enabling in their lives and families as they navigate the year.

2020 vision is a wonderful ability to naturally have, but in truth Christians know that “we see through a glass darkly”. Because of this, we are more open to recognizing our own blindness to God’s goodness and purposes and working through those ramifications when interruptions, distractions and plan changes seep into our lives this year. How about you?

Dipping our toes in 2020

We began our year on midnight, January 1 at home with some party poppers, throw down snappers, toasts to each other’s health and prayers for us to be more sensitive to God’s leading and His wisdom we need for this new year. Our family there had shrunk in size in terms of numbers.

Two were missing at our home this time to ring in the New Year with their friends and new families. While we would spend part of the next day with dear friends that have also weathered storms more severe than ours; the time together, just the four of us was a great way to start the new year.

We’ve had to realize this past year that forgiveness is a part of living with each other. That our perceptions of what was said or done may not be interpreted the same as they were intended. Sometimes the intentions need to be addressed when there are underlying modes of thinking or habits that have created a blindness in us. We have been learning that we each carry a perspective that is shaped for good or evil by influences that are often beyond our control, and that they influence how we perceive those near and far from us. How we handle our perceptions says a lot about where our ultimate beliefs reside, which everyone has at the very basis of their thoughts.

We’ve listened to quite a few people speak to these issues from a variety of perspectives and contexts such as churches, Ted Talks, conversations with friends and certain books. Discovering Frederick Buechner’s Telling Secrets was one book that sticks out in my mind. There was also Joseph Minich’s book Enduring Divine Absence which addressed questions that reside deep in one’s conscience at times when God seems distant. Lesslie Newbigin’s Proper Confidence provided a framework for thinking about faith, doubt and certainty that I am still digesting in my thoughts. Those books set the stage for Peter Hitchens book, The Rage Against God, which I am starting this month, and hope to understand his journey from atheism to faith more deeply than I might have in previous years.

The break from a regular work schedule has been good for me, allowing me time to be more relationship focused and a bit more introspective about this year of changes destined for our family. I hope that we are able to process the changes we may experience this coming year as welcome or even exciting, even though sometimes they may not be easy to adjust to. I do know that they will bring us closer to that time when our understanding will be opened to know fully even as we also have been fully known (see I Corinthians 13:12). And that promise spoken so long ago is, I believe, a blessing to those who look to Jesus’ return to earth, recognizing that His kingdom is not a temporal one like the ones we experience now, but an eternal one.

Welcome 2020!

2020. Wow! From one who was born in 1956 and the other who was born in 1966, being here is quite the thrill! And now that the children are starting lives of their own, there is the opportunity to begin new adventures, find new challenges, continue to love deeply and preserve that which has been a light to our path and lamp to our feet and face this decade hand in hand, filled with the expectation that there is still much to learn and experience.

Rachel and I will see our second daughter married this Spring, and our third daughter make decisions about what she will do after High School graduation soon after. What an experience to raise four children that are quite diverse, and yet all raised in the same home. We’ve started this blog to begin writing about our experiences both new and old, passing on our thoughts about life, love, happiness, struggles and balancing contentment with expectations. We may write about friendships that have been meaningful and/or instructive while preserving their privacy. We hope to write about things that are inspirational and supportive for our friends that will take time to read our thoughts.

So this is what we hope will be just the beginning of a new discipline/joy for us in this new decade. We wish all who read this a Happy New Year, and a decade filled with joy, peace and love!

Jim & Rachel