Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

Home Again

They left yesterday…the last of the children and grandchildren who had come from Calilfornia, Kentucky and West Virginia for a visit over the Easter holiday. All five of our grandchildren were here at the same time (my five starr[s]- an acronym for Skylar, 4 , Trapper, 6 months, Adi, 8 months, Remi, nearly 2,  and Rilyn, 3 months) , as well as all of their parents. I tell you…it was a beautiful noise going on in our house…babies playing, laughing, and crying…all of this, often at the same time. It’s all a precious blur to me now…I think of Skylar’s excitement over the new swingset, of Remi’s belly laughs, of Trapper’s great smiles, of Adi’s bright eyes and of Rilyn’s wide-eyed wonder over everything. I tell you I never saw the trash cans fill so quickly at our place. I would empty them and in nothing flat another load of used diapers and wipes and food containers and paper towels and etc. would appear as if by magic. It was magic…because we were together. Yes…we got tired. Yes…we had to be careful where we walked through the obstacle course of toys and children. Yes we held and rocked and fed and patted and talked softly to our babies. We laughed at their shenanigans. We worked to get them to eat and be careful of the stairs and to clean up and to go to sleep. We heard them often during the nights. We bathed them and dressed them. We strapped in and unstrapped and strapped in again both the car seats and the babies. We talked and laughed and prayed. At times we got on each other’s nerves. This is life in a family. And I love being family.

And then…all too soon…it was over. Time in its relentless march sped past. Family by family they returned to their homes, their lives, their work. So that today, I am left again wondering how long it will be until the entire Oakesclan can get together again. Yes, I know it sounds selfish of me. But I don’t seem to be able to help it. I love the comings… look forward to them so much as soon as plans are made. But I hate the goings…I dread them even before our beloved arrive home. I know that doesn’t make too much sense, but it’s how I’m built.

It’s God Who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). I never deserved it…never expected it…didn’t believe it was possible to know such depths of love, such chest-splitting emotions, such wonder…such sheer joy. But He’s allowed me to experience the delights of family.

Maybe your experience of family hasn’t been so good. I hate that for you. With all my heart, I wish it were different. But…God has a family for you. They are waiting to welcome you. They meet together on Sundays to praise Him for hope, for purpose, for change. They think of you and try to be creative finding ways to encourage you. God’s family longs to provide a safe environment for you to rest, to worship, to learn, to grow and to serve as together you move toward the soul’s true home. They take His Word seriously. And they won’t give up on you. This they learned from their Heavenly Father. Find them. Don’t look in the phone book. Look into the Word and then look at the lives of those following Jesus. You will know them by the familiar aroma of Jesus. It originated in Nazareth and was affected  by faithful, humble service to others, by the sounds of sweet words of Life which distilled like the dew upon the hearts of sincere listeners, by sacrifice, by the scenes of an Upper Room, of Gethsemane, of Calvary and of an empty tomb. One day He’s coming back for His real family…and we will all be Home Again forever. I look forward to that and find there is no dread at all of it ever coming to an end. Praise His Holy Name!

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12 thoughts on “Home Again

  1. Email Girl on said:

    I absolutely love reading about your family being gathered and trying to imagine how joyous it must be. Thank you for sharing that part of yourself with all of us here.

    I am one of those that has the “not so good” family experience. Oh, on the outside it looks okay for the most part…but it is severely lacking something on the inside. I didn’t always feel that way…I used to close my eyes to what was wrong and focus on the few things that were right…trying to live up to what people saw in us…and almost believed it myself. But when my world started crumbling down around me I quickly and painfully learned that I didn’t have what I needed in the way of support…I only had people that enabled me to keep my focus on how we look, rather than how we are. This is a great frustration to me and hard lesson to learn. I have been up and down this path in the last several months and it just gets clearer and clearer that I am more and more alone in this. I feel like an orphan who’s family is sitting all around him ignoring him. I guess its not all bad because I’m growing stronger within myself and learning how to cope with what I have. But its hard none the less.

    I want to thank you for your last paragraph. I lose focus of this so easily. My earthly family is not as important as my eternal family…my spiritual family. I want to learn to trust in those people that I know can be trusted. Its hard to figure out who that is though. I suspect almost everyone has the ability to disappoint me or break my trust. That shakes me up. I must confess this here, that because of that feeling of mistrust…that unsure feeling I get with the gathering of God’s people I meet with, I’ve been avoiding being in their presence. I haven’t been to church in several weeks. I must admit there are lots of reasons….but none of them are very good reasons, and I’m sure God doesn’t think so either. Its hard for me to trust my family of church people not to hurt me in some way. Its hard for me to go to church and deal with my family on my own, with no support. Its hard for me when that support person decides to go with me because I spend more time worrying over what I’m doing wrong than how I am worshipping God. I lose every which way. But whats worse is that God loses by my not trying. That makes me sad.

    Thanks for reminding me of what is important.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Dear Email Girl,
      There is a poem called “The Orphans Of The Living.” In this poem the parents of the child are not dead…but as far as their relationship to their children is concerned, they are just about dead. Their children live as virtual orphans. I thought of that when I read what you wrote. And I thought of the sins people commit against children…sins for which our Lord will hold them accountable. But that’s them. What about you? How do you go on? How do you get put back together after your life is so shattered? How do you trust again…love again…risk again?
      I know of no other way but to focus on our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope and pray you can find strength, forgiveness, hope, and courage in Him to not give up on people even when we so richly deserve being forsaken. I’m guessing that when you’ve nearly drowned, that even the thought of getting into the water again is more than you can take. But…please keep trying. All the problems you mentioned that make it so difficult for you to even go to the assembly of God’s people…I hate that these are true for you. But please don’t allow yourself to just give up on the idea of being family with others of God’s children. Caution is understandable…even required. Balance is important. But trying is essential. It could be that you would need to try assembling with another family of God’s folk if that is possible for you. But I am praying that you don’t give up. What you have to offer is important for others to receive. It will bless them in their ministry for Jesus. And the encouragement that some good Christians might offer you…well…we all need that too. And…most importantly…I am convinced Jesus wants this for you too.
      And, among the things that are important…may I remind you of how important YOU are to our LORD JESUS? Let yourself believe it…accept it…deep down to your core. He won’t give up on you.

  2. Doug I loved reading all the busy times and all the LOVE for enjoying your FAMILY. I know how much you and Vicki cherish those times. It felt like Christmas, Easter and every Holiday wrapped up in one having them HOME. My Brother Allen and I enjoyed the children so much. They are wonderful little children. You just want to hold them on your lap, talk to them, do things with them and get a hug or kiss or two also. How precious are the little children of this world. Not every little child is protected or loved like this (God Be with Those Children).

    You help us with your thoughts to understand what a Blessing it is to have them. I am so HAPPY you have such a Beautiful Family Doug and we get to share in those wonderful Blessings.

    Love Sis Gail

    • oakesclan on said:

      Having grown up in the Vietnam era, I never expected to live to older age. Like many other young men my age, I thought I would be drafted out of high school, be sent to Nam and die there. I really did think that would be that. Comparing those days of uncertainty with what God has allowed me to experience instead, is truly amazing.
      There is only one explanation for the family I have…GRACE OF GOD… GRACE OF GOD…GRACE OF GOD! I am so glad for the grace of God in its various manifestations in my life. My precious family reflects that to me.
      Thanks for your words, Gail.

  3. I enjoy reading about your family. You write about them in a way that says to me you see them for what they are. They are human, they are your family, and they are a blessing. They also have their own homes … which is hard to accept, but isn’t it good to know they are doing well? You … and God … did good with them.

    Family is a word that conjures different thoughts in my mind. When I was young I liked my family okay. I remember big get togethers and lots of fun with cousins and aunts and uncles. My immediate family never seemed to “get” me, and I always felt more at Home in other places … with other people.

    I’ve been a part of several other families. My ex-husband’s family was great. I really enjoyed them and for the first time felt like family didn’t have to be so much work. Sadly … I don’t get to be part of that anymore.

    I’ve had friends that accepted me in to their family and made me really feel a “part”. But that too, eventually changed and I had to move on.

    I know that circumstances happen and things change. My pride and stubborness keep me from being a part of my family like God intended. I have a choice in how I interact with them and I rarely choose to be a good participant.

    The church, though, has been the most suprising family to me here of late. I’m part of a place now that really attempts to be family … like God intended. We have our differences, irritations, and frustrations … but … I can see that they are there. They are there when I decide to quit holding everything in … they are there when I decide I need to vent … they are there, patiently waiting as I sit quietly trying to find the words.

    I want to be there as well … for someone else. I find myself wanting to try harder with this family … to make it work. They allowed me to come home again … and I want this “do over” they’ve given me … to be the last that I need.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Dear Paige,
      As I read the story of your journey through families, I couldn’t help but think of what those families lost when they lost you. I understand there is more to those stories than I understand, but my point still stands. For whatever reason they lost you…they lost something, someone, precious.
      When God made you, He did good. You were meant to be in a family where you could be free to grow…to become truly you…to be able to use and develope your gifts. Wherever this did not happen, something precious was lost.
      But I am so glad to hear you speak of your church family in the way you do.
      That’s real! That’s healthy! That’s what Christ intends family to be. It never gets old, does it? Stay on the family rollercoaster, Paige! Even when it’s nauseating, it still far exceeds the alternative.
      Thanks for sharing your heart.

  4. Doug,
    I am glad that I came across your blog.
    I read it and enjoyed it so very much.
    It inspired and uplifted me this afternoon.
    I will be reading as often as possible.
    Keep up the great work.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Preacherman,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving us with an encouraging word…can’t get enought of those can we?
      God bless you…and please do check in whenever you can.

  5. Ah family…such mixed emotions on my part with that word. I’ve had some extreme situations so that “family” does not really conjure up a sense of security to me. It is hard for my heart to deal with the disappointments without becoming bitter. But God is healing me and helping me find a balance. Like Email Girl, I sometimes feel like an outsider…”an orphan” is how she worded it. But somehow, I think that is part of the process of finding balance in these relationships.

    The family of God into which I have been welcomed is full of characters of all kinds. We irritate each other, we love each other, we fall down, we pick each other up, we lean on each other as we walk, and as we walk we follow Jesus.

    And the thought of Him coming to take me Home is purely delicious!!

    • oakesclan on said:

      One of these days, Sherry…we will indeed be HOME.
      Like so many concepts, the term “family” brings to mind either joyous blessings or terrific challenges. How many words which were beautiful in their inception have come to represent hardship and heartache or even nightmares for us? Think of “marriage.” Think what we expected marriage to be like beforehand. Then think of how many discover a dark side to this institution that was designed by God to model love, loyalty and partnership. How very many broken hearts do we find on the other side of marriage? Think of “brotherhood” and what that term should reflect. Then think of Cain murdering his brother Abel. On and on go the illustrations. There is the concept as God designed it. And then, so often, there is the reality as Satan corrupts it. And it is very difficult indeed for people to find strength to try again. They are still reeling over deep, deep hurts.
      But I know God is right. I know being family has such amazing potential for good. And I know your story of your church encourages all of us who read to want this to be true of our church as well. May God allow it to be so.
      Thanks for taking the time, Sherry. Yes…the blessed homegoing that’s coming one of these days will be sweet indeed!

  6. Nancy on said:

    I can picture your time together….Praise God it was able to happen!
    I remember very well when you and Vicki were looking forward to this time in your life! Praise God, again! We’re glad it was a good time for you all!
    Won’t heaven be something else if this is a foretaste?!!!

    • oakesclan on said:

      The time together with family definitely makes me homesick for heaven. I remember…that all the good times…all the beautiful people I know in my family and in my church family…among my friends…all the good stuff, every bit of it…comes from God. To be together forever with Him and with each other keeps me going. It will take eternity to adequately praise Him for the gift of Jesus…and this is not to even mention all the additional blessings He has showered upon us as well…like…well…like, GRANDBABIES! Can’t wait to hear all about your first arrival.
      I love you Nancy…you and all yours.

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