This past week was school vacation in my part of the country, so we loaded up the kids and drove to western Massachusetts.
This may not sound like a particularly exciting spring break destination but that happens to be where my husband grew up. He wanted to share his memories and some of his story with our kids.
As our kids grow older, Doug and I have been sharing more of our personal stories with them. Our goal is that they see us as just more than “Mom and Dad”…but as Doug and Susan, who have lived our own struggles, joys, heartaches, and triumphs. My parents both did that with me and it helped me grow in empathy and understanding.
It’s always an amazing and transforming moment when you see your parents as people who had lives long before you ever entered the scene.
Preconceived notions shatter (as they should) and are replaced with reality… in all its’ glorious messiness.
That is the moment when relationships get real and things that may have always troubled us begin to make sense. That is when we begin to understand a fraction of the love that our great and wonderful Heavenly Father has for us. He sees all our broken places and loves us anyway.
If we will allow Him, He will love us into wholeness and restoration and healing.
It is also a humbling experience to look into the eyes of your teenagers and share the mistakes of your youth (as needed and with discretion, of course), hoping, willing, and praying that they will learn the lessons from you in the classroom, so to speak, rather than having to take a field trip.
We drove by the house Doug lived in from the time he was seven until he left for college at eighteen.
Houses still speak, even when it has been years since we may have lived inside their walls. What happened there shapes who we are, for better or for worse.
Doug’s parents have been gone for over twenty years. Their lives once played out in that little ranch house where they raised two daughters and a son. Sadly, few good memories exist for any of them.
It is comforting for me to know that as he rode his bike all over the rolling hills of western Massachusetts during those years, there was a woman in western Pennsylvania who was praying for him. She didn’t know his name yet, but that woman was my mother, who steadfastly prayed for the man I would marry.
What a beautiful legacy.
And what a beautiful Savior, who answered those prayers when my husband was 27 years old and finally came to know the One Who always gives beauty for ashes.
We also visited the house he and his family lived in for one year in Connecticut:
I love that after 22 years together, I am still learning new things about my husband. Such as the fact that if his dad had not taken the job that necessitated the family leaving Connecticut for Massachusetts, he might have become a juvenile delinquent!
His best friend was the son of the superintendent of schools in that town. He taught little six year old Doug how to break into the school at night and steal pencils and erasers from the desks.
They also used to roam over to the fancy and exclusive Miss Porter’s School and peer into the windows to see what was happening.
The girls would notice them and smuggle them into their rooms and give them snacks because they were so cute. If someone came by, they would tell the boys to hide. After all, who in the world could resist this face? 🙂
Throughout the three days that we were away we shared stories. Ironed out some misunderstandings and hurts. Laughed a lot. Discussed goals and dreams. Treasured the time, knowing that it is short as our son will be in college in two brief years.
All our lives are richer for having spent this time together in a small college town.
Do you know the stories of those closest to you? Do they know yours?
Everyone has a story.
Today is as good a day as any to start telling yours. And listening to theirs.
“You have a unique message to deliver, a unique song to sing, a unique act of love to bestow. This message, this song, and this act of love have been entrusted exclusively to the one and only you.” —John Powell