Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: FAMILY VACATION (07/30/15)
TITLE: A New Way of Being
By Jennifer Woodley
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Stephen wearily studied his family at the dining table. His heart ached for them, for what could be. He was burdened for this family that shared the same roof, but failed to share their lives. Louise his wife was continuously preoccupied with ministry activities. She was working compulsively, on a merry go she seemed unwilling to disembark. Furthermore, Louise was entrenched in two demanding jobs that kept her distracted and away from the home front. She had forgotten her role as wife, mother and homemaker, who knows how long ago. Consequently, home life was in disarray, their intimacy grown cold and lifeless like black, embers dead and forgotten.
Their 3 young sons lived at school, then at after school programs. Others had become their teachers, disciplinarians, surrogate parents. The boys were becoming unmanageable, insolent and disrespectful. And Stephen was tired: tired of farming life, tired of filling in the gaps for his vacant wife, tired of a squabbling household, tired of their disconnectedness, tired of living in overdrive, bone tired.
Louise was staring blankly at him now. Maybe she hadn’t heard. She hardly listened anymore. “You want to do what?” she said in disbelief. The boys scurried from the table, taking refuge in the evening programs, from the potential storm brewing in the kitchen.
Stephen sighed heavily. He lifted his gaze to hers and repeated the words, slowly, hesitantly. “I think Louise we are falling apart, living separate lives. We need something big, a change maybe, to draw us back together, to reconnect us as a family. Life has just got too crazy. We need to take a vacation, leave this way of being as a family and begin something different.”
Louise said nothing. She knew inside he was right. Stephen never rushed into decisions. She had always admired his wisdom, and prayerful consideration before making plans. Her heart said ‘yes’ to combat the disconnection, dysfunction and disunity that had become the new rulers of their family. And as a couple they desperately needed to rekindle the fires of intimacy. Despite her full life, Louise was discontented and empty inside. Yes a drastic change was needed. Yet her head screamed ‘no.’ How could they possibly sell almost everything, leave everyone and travel indefinitely? Could Stephen think God would possibly decide on such a mad idea? And hadn’t Stephen said they would not come back until they had learnt how to be a family again? Louise knew that could take a very long time…..
Eighteen months later Louise smiled contentedly across the dining table at her husband and 3 sons busy with schoolwork. She was grateful for the decision God had made, Stephen had heard, they had obeyed. She could write a book about what God had done with and through her family on that holiday! Tired and worn out, they had followed the call to get away with each other, to get away with God. He had taught them how to take a real rest, to walk alongside each other, to walk alongside Him. In keeping company with one another as a family, they had learnt how to live freely, to live lightly, to live with the right priorities and responsibilities.
That vacation was the start of new beginnings: a new family, a new lifestyle, a new way of being with each and a new way of being with God. And Louise was finally full – of love for her family, of gratitude to God and of a new life being lived at a saner, slower pace.
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