Thursday, October 30, 2014

Being a Family Is...Part 3

Part 3 of my series on what I believe it means to be a family. You can read Part 1, and Part 2 here.

Being a Family Is...Crying.
From tears of joy, to tears of deep sadness. One of the most precious and treasured things about a family is being able to share life's deepest joys, and life's most tragic sorrows together. I believe this is one of the key reasons that God created the structure of the family, because He wanted families to be able to support each other.

Crying together is something my  family has done many, many, many times before. Everyone from my Dad down to my littlest sister. It could be something more trivial like that end scene in Toy Story 3 (get's me every time), or it could be all of us asking God why our life is so hard.

When I say crying, I do not mean it is always literal tears, obviously, some of us are better criers than others. But everyone has cried at some time, and often we are all crying on the inside, we just show it in different ways.Throughout the years I can remember a multitude of experiences in which one, a few, or all of us were down and needed the comfort, support, and love of the others to get us through that moment. We haven't done it perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but we have done it.

This is an incredibly beautiful part of families, one of my favorite parts actually, and most definitely something that I do not take for granted. I am so grateful that God put me in a family where we can feel things together.
we can feel things together...
I treasure the moments when we shared tears of sorrow, and I always love the moments where we share joy. I look forward to many more in the future, and I hope that they are shared with my favorite people in the whole world.

Being a Family Is...Learning.
Some families are better at this than others, but regardless, if you are in a family, especially one who cares about important things, then you will be learning, constantly.

I am homeschooled, so my home is also my school. But learning is more than 2+2 is 4, and i before e, except after c (yeah, it still doesn't make sense to me either). Learning is about growing, it's about becoming a bigger, better person, and it's about learning how to relate with and connect to people.

One the ways my family is great about learning is that we talk, a LOT! I believe I have mentioned this fact before, but really, we talk a lot. For as long as I can remember I have been having questions and asking them. And my parents have done a really great job of talking them out with me. Through years of doing this I have learned how to ask a question, wrestle with it in my mind and heart, pray about it, and find an answer.

This covers a multitude of subjects. I love to talk about theology and politics with my dad. We have great conversations that make me literally feel like I am on cloud nine. My brain feels like it is on fire, and I get so excited. Call me a nerd, but it's true.
I also love learning practical things from my dad. For years I have watched him build things, fix houses, drive cars, etc. I have learned so much from my dad. Even just watching how he goes about learning something new has taught me much. Before the days of the Internet being everything, if my dad wanted to learn how to do something, he bought a book. Now, he will research something online until he feels confident he can do it.

From my mom I have learned a lot about the Bible, and about people. She and I have spent hours upon hours talking over things in the past, present, and future. She is the first person I run to in order to hash out something in my own mind. When I ingest something really hardy, I usually seek her out to use as a sounding board while I reiterate what I just learned. She is my confidant in so many things. And I have learned SO much from her.

I have learned much from my siblings as well. Often they teach me things unconsciously, just by being themselves I learn a truth about life. Amazing how that works. And because I am older than all but one of them, I have had the supreme joy and privilege of being able to share my fraction of life experience with them in the hopes that they might grow and learn as well.

This past June I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Worldview Academy. It was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget. I had my concerns before I went that maybe it would be too much for me, that I hadn't read enough of the recommended books or maybe some of the concepts would go right over my head. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was over-prepared for Worldview. Half of the content I knew already from having been exposed to it at home, and the other half I was able to take in and digest because of the exceptional training I have already had at home. I came home and told Mom and Dad just how great of a job they have done.

We as a family analyze everything, delve into everything, and talk about everything. I have learned so much, and I have grown to love learning greatly.

Little girl learning -  We.Analyze.Everything.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Being a Family is... Part 2

Part 2 of my series about what being in a family means to me. You can read the first part here.

Being a Family Is...Creating.
My family is homeschooled; homeschoolers are naturally pretty creative because our lifestyle encourages a creative attitude. But even more that, my family is, how shall we say it, beyond creative.
When I was three I got a  beautiful wooden dollhouse, but I didn't have any furniture to put inside of it. Mama sat me down at the kitchen table one day and we made furniture out of plastic lids, popsicle sticks, and tiny mugs out of beads and macaroni. Later on when I was thirteen I made an entire dollhouse out of cardboard boxes, and five rooms full of furniture and accessories right down to the a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. When we kids were little mom let us build elaborate tents in the living room, and when dad got involved they usually involved the entire room and some string. Those tents would last for days. We've made Christmas ornaments, snowmen out of coffee creamer bottles, and little Christmas cabins out of wooden sticks. We've built playhouses in the backyard. I've sewn costumes, my siblings build insane Lego creations. Our Lincoln Log forts are works of art. My mom can go into the kitchen and create mouthwatering meals just by feeling it out, no recipes involved. My dad and older brother can build amazing websites and things online. The fact of the matter is, we love to create, and I believe families were designed to create, the very structure of a family is built to nurture creativity.
Phineas and Ferb 1 -  Hey Ferb! I know what we're gonna do today!
Yeah, it kinda goes without saying that Phineas and Ferb are some of our heroes. I mean, who wouldn't love these guys? They are some of the coolest characters out there, and their show is hilarious! Have I memorized their hit song, "Bow Chicka Bow Wow"? What do you think?

Being a Family is...Laughing.
Laughter. Pure, beautiful, bubbly laughter is straight from heaven. I have gotten more than my share living in my family. Strong families laugh together all the time, even when things are hard, or some of the members are angry, families need to laugh together. I've gone through my share of hard times, I still am, but throughout all of my life, some of my favorite memories have involved those when I was laughing with my family. Everyone in our family has a slightly different sense of humor, sarcasm for some, slapstick for others, clever comments, or puppies sliding on a kitchen floor (guilty). We all are very witty, from the eight year old on up, I think I mentioned in my previous post that this was a direct result of talking too much. ;)

My mom and dad used to tell us stories before bed a lot. We had two different series of stories. Mom's was Richard, Susan, and Busbee (pronounced Biz-bee). They were three dogs who lived with a very rich woman called, "The Master". Susan was sensible and feminine, Richard had been taken in off of the streets and was more rough around the edges. Busbee was a baby (Mom used the cutest baby voice that still tickles me when I think about it), he got his name because he was always a busy bee. They often went on adventures, and Busbee or Richard would get them into trouble that was always hilarious. There was this one story in particular that involved eating spoiled food out of a restaurant dumpster and a cat passing out that still leaves me in stiches every time I think about it.

My dad's series was called "Muller and Carmichael". They were two ugly, decorative turtles we owned that a few of the younger ones had gotten from the dollar store for mom on her birthday one year. She named them after her favorite missionaries, George Muller, and Amy Carmichael. Dad turned these plain, ugly little turtles into objects of endearment with his stories. Mueller was the adventurous one, he would propose an idea that the sensible and reluctant Carmichael would object to. But inevitably they would end up in trouble. Driving the tractor, accidentally attaching themselves to fireworks and ending up at Grandpa's house, sneaking into the freezer to eat turtle sundae, accidentally emailing the kids' Christmas lists to all of Dad's coworkers. The things those turtles did while we all slept.
giggling dog - LOL!
I love laughing with my family, especially when I have had a hard day or week. I think if more people enjoyed their families enough to laugh with them, the world would be a better place.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Being a Family Is... Part 1

I live in a big family, six kids, two parents. Granted, we're not the Duggers, but to an average American household, we are pretty large. Seriously, you should see the stares we have gotten when strangers see our fifteen passenger van pull up. They halt and watch the train of kids getting out of the back, unable to leave until the last kid is out, then they kind of shake their heads and move on. Knowing that I have an audience when I am getting out of my family vehicle has forced me to learn how to exit in a very ladylike fashion, so, yeah, not all bad.

I have lived in my family for eighteen years now, and I think after years of agonizing, asking questions, praying, and probing the depths with my inquisitive mind, I have finally grasped the tip of the iceberg on what a family is. So here it goes, this is one girl's idea of what a family is...

Being a Family Is Talking...a LOT!
Ever seen the Brady Bunch? You know those super chaotic scenes where all of the children are talking at once, and the parents are desperately trying to make sense of it? Yeah, that totally happens all of the time. From the moment you have more than one child and all of them can talk you begin conversation wars where everyone is attempting to talk at the same time. The conversations can range from, knock knock jokes, the best way to take out a burgler (thanks to little brothers), why glitter and playdough are both acceptable, no, necessary substances (go team glitter!), music, politics, Hallmark Channel dramas, what so and so said on Twitter, when can we put up the Christmas d├ęcor (yes, I know it's September, who cares), the technical pattern of Yoda's speech, why Captain America is better than Thor, the latest from HonestToddler, and so forth. In the end someone usually looks like this.
incredible hulk - LET ME SPEAK

Exhausting as these conversations are, they have groomed me and my siblings a lot. We are very funny people (other's words, not just mine ;), we can talk to any age group, and are actually pretty decent at improv games.

Being in a Family Is Being LOUD!
This seemed like an appropriate subject to move into considering the previous one. I'm just gonna shoot straight from the hip and say it, my family is loud. Some members more than others, obviously, but we are loud. We laugh loudly, many of us listen to music (yeah, that Austin and Ally soundtrack was me, no shame) my younger brothers get deeply involved in their Battlefield games to the point where I believe I may have gotten singed eyebrows from a nearby explosions.
Desperation1 -  So.Much.Noise...

Yeah, we may need to tone it down sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, but I have come to accept that being in a family, at least, my family, often means being loud. And when I am alone, I find it far too quiet. As loud as it gets around here, at least that noise means that I am surrounded by people I love.

Being in a Family Is Forgiving, ALL THE TIME!
It starts with siblings destroying block towers. It get's deeper over time. He hurt my feelings, she is ignoring me, he doesn't understand me. Parents have to forgive their children for saying hurtful things to them. Children have to forgive their parents for making mistakes, and vice versa. The idea of a family is that you have a group of imperfect beings who are bound in this close circle where they have to constantly interact, be given the choice of doing right and wrong, and treat others as Christ would want them too. News flash, imperfect beings, that ain't happening all of the time. And so you find yourself in the position of having to forgive someone, yet again.
Frustration Student  -  But I Just Did that Yesterday

Seven times seventy times people, and most of the forgiving you have to do in your life will be in your family.