Strengthening Family Ties

©2009  Mollie Pearce McKibbon

(first published in The Winchester Press “Shepherd Talk”)

Family-Picnic-Silhouette

It’s almost my little sister’s birthday.  Of course, neither of us is little now.  We’re all grown up with our own families, but sometimes I like to think of her as she was when we were growing up together.

I had straight brown hair and was horribly shy.  My sister had blonde curls, two dimples and a bubbly disposition.  Naturally, I was jealous of this fair-haired interloper, but as the years passed she grew on me.  Now we live over 200 miles from each other and I don’t see here as often as I’d like.

I know we had arguments when we were younger, but nothing that left any scars.  Once we had a tug of war over a doll and pulled off one of its arms.  Another time, I thought she was a bit too eager to take over my room while I was getting ready to leave for college.  Otherwise, we got along fairly well.  She was my maid-of -honour at my wedding and I was her’s.

We both doted on our baby brother.  He’s no baby anymore, but we still think he is kind of wonderful.  Naturally, we tease him.  We tell him he was the apple of our parents’ eyes and spoiled rotten, which he was.  When we all get together, we have a noisy reunion, which usually includes a boisterous board game or two.  We have had our arguments and hurt feelings, but we’re family.  We make -up and when we’re in need of comfort or moral support we know where to turn.

We were blessed with generous, loving parents.  We are all trying to emulate their example with our own families.  Our parents were not paragons of virtue.  They had their flaws, but they loved us unconditionally and we knew it.  This was our inheritance, the best of family ties and we’re trying to pass it on to the next generation.

Sadly, not every family has this legacy.  Some families are left with an inheritance of emotional pain or even indifference.  Some family trees are tangled and snarled with ongoing quarrels, severed relationships and secret shame.  Often these family ties are more like anchors that inhibit personal growth.  Sometimes they are like open wounds that fester.

I think that it is comforting to note that the family stories in the Bible are not about perfect parents or perfect children.  Instead, they are stories about real people; people who made mistakes and needed forgiveness as we all do.  Even with loving parents like those in the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son, we can mess up and have to set things straight.  Having a good family relationship takes effort and time, as well as the willingness to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

Jesus made it very clear that we must love one another in his commandment to his disciples.  Anger, abuse, and disdain are certainly not loving attitudes.  Jesus went on further to say, “If , when you are bringing your gift to the altar, you suddenly remember that your brother has a grievance against you, leave your gift where it is before the altar.  First go and make your peace with your brother, and only then come back and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24)

Peace has been on our minds since Remembrance Day and peace should begin among family members.  This includes our Christian family membership as well.  We will not always agree with what our brothers and sisters in Christ believe, say or do, but we should remember to treat each other with love not anger, kindness not abuse, and respect not disdain.

None of the things we do in worship will mean anything to God as long as we harbour such hard feelings against one another.  We are made by God in His image, adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and con-inheritors with Jesus of the Kingdom, because of God’s love for us.  Therefore each of us is responsible for truly loving one another.

The Rival – a poem

The Rival

©2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

 

Oh, Mim has been my sweetheart

For most of all my days,

Since junior kindergarten

When I saw her winning ways.

We married, had three children,

A mortgage, house and car

And always have been faithful,

For that is how we are.

*******

But lately I’ve been wondering

If I’ve been losing ground,

Because whenever I come home

There’s someone else around.

Oh Mim, I know still loves me

In the same dear way she will

However, constantly she talks

Of nothing more than Bill.

********

She keeps every memento

That comes from her dear Bill,

A scribbled note he sends her

Gives her the greatest thrill.

wildflower bouquet

 

I know that I am jealous

And perhaps I should protest

That all his flower bouquets

Are in our Bible pressed.

***********

They often go out walking

And never tell me where.

Sometimes I see them talking.

Telling secrets they don’t share.

I guess that I should understand

That my Mim’s heart he’s won,

Be a man and step aside

For our very first grandson.

A Hymn for Father’s Day

Father_ChildI wrote this hymn eleven years ago in honour of my parents, Elizabeth and Bill Pearce.  My mom heard it sung in our church several times and I sang it at her funeral.  It expresses how much we need God and some of the  ways in which He touches our lives.

O  God, I Need You  

Words ©2002 Mollie Pearce McKibbon  (Music -Slane)

God, like a father, You take me by hand;                                                                                                                Lead me to follow the life You have planned,                                                                                                       Gently correct me when my way is wrong,                                                                                                                   God ,You are with me and You make me strong.

God, like a mother, You heard my first sigh;                                                                                                         Comfort and soothe me whenever I cry.                                                                                                                      God, You are with me in joy or in pain;                                                                                                                        Always you love me and call me by name.

God, like a brother, You walk by my side;                                                                                                             Share my delight in the world You provide.                                                                                                                 In all my struggles You take on the foe,                                                                                                                       Just as You did for me once long ago.

God, like a sister, You know the true me;                                                                                                                     Join in my laughter and my revelry.                                                                                                                               Loving, forgiving, whatever my part,                                                                                                                             My God You mend me and lift up my heart.

Thank You for family, thank You for breath.                                                                                                         Thank You, Dear Saviour, for life beyond death.                                                                                                                 The True Direction, my Ultimate Goal,                                                                                                                   My God, I need You, You nourish my soul.

 

P.S. Sorry for the extra indents everyone.  They are not intentional.  I have tried to align the lines but they just won’t behave for me.  M.P.M.

Running Away

I first ran away from home when I was two years old.  I was playing in the front yard with my mother and she needed to run down to the washing machine in the basement to get the wet laundry.  She tied my walking harness to the tree in the front yard so I wouldn’t wander off.  Unknown to her, an older girl (probably all of three or four) was watching me from next door and thought I needed rescuing.  She untied me and wandered off to play.  Suddenly, Mom had a “bad feeling”  and rushed outside in time to see me toddling down the block.

Wharncliffe was, and still is, a very busy street and so you can imagine how quickly she ran down the block to catch me before I thought of crossing it.

“Where on earth are you going, Mollie,” she asked.

“I’m going to Newsie (Newfoundland)”, I answered.  My mother’s parents lived in Newfoundland and we had gone to visit them for a few weeks that summer.  Needless to say, I didn’t get there that day.

My grandparents and me in their backyard in St. John’s

Faddie, Muddie and I in their backyard

I tried to run away from home again when I was five years old.  I had a temper tantrum and Dad sent me to my room.  After pounding on the floor to no avail, I got a paper bag and put all my “valuables” in it.  I grabbed Mary, my rag doll who went everywhere with me, and stomped out to the front door.  My father met me there and asked where I was going.

“I’m running away,” I said.

I thought he would be worried or upset, but instead he said,” Okay” and opened the front door for me. That hadn’t gone exactly the way I’d thought it would.  I went out the door and then paused on the front porch to look up and down the street.  Where on earth would I go?  I could go to my friend, Susan’s house, but I knew that her mother would just bring me home and I was still angry.  I sat down on the step for awhile to think.  What would I do for food?  My tummy was already growling and I knew that they were sitting down for supper inside.  Where would I sleep?  The ground was kind of hard and had bugs crawling around on it.  My bed, on the other hand, was warm and safe.  Hmmm…maybe I should delay this running away for a day or so, I decided.  Quietly, I opened the door and went back inside.

During my teen years there were many times when things got very tense around the dinner table.  I had strong opinions (probably some wrong opinions as well) and my father and I didn’t always agree.  Many times I went storming out of the house to walk furiously around the block or two until my anger subsided.  After a few minutes, I would calm down , but my pride wouldn’t let me return until  I thought my mom would begin to worry about me.  Dad and I were like oil and water, but our relationship improved greatly after I went away to college and later when I got married.

I was still very opinionated and passionate about many topics when I first got married.  So was my husband.  I tended to slam cupboard doors a lot when I got angry.   The most infuriating thing that he would do was fall asleep when I still wanted to argue.  You just can’t have a satisfactory argument when the only person responding is yourself.  Most annoying.

Eventually, we had children and when I finally fell into bed at night I was exhausted.  I remember one time thinking that it would be so great if I could just go into the hospital with some minor thing, like an infected toe or something, so I could be off my feet and just sleep a truly relaxing sleep.  There I was, again wanting to run away,temporarily at least, from home.

Now, I treasure all those moments when our family is all together around a table.  It only happens at weddings and funerals now.  Everyone is so busy and our children are living in different cities.  When it does happen, I am blissfully happy, even if the gathering is boisterous.  Now I long to run home or to home the way it was when the children were here.   And I also longingly reminisce about my childhood home.

Human beings are strange.  We pull so hard to get loose from those parental apron strings and when we finally succeed we look back with nostalgia.  Isn’t our relationship with our heavenly Father somewhat the same?  Human beings try so hard to be self-sufficient and we can really be ungrateful for all God has given us and yet, where do we run when we are all out of alternatives?  If we are believers we return, like the prodigal children we are, right back to God’s waiting arms.  What a comfort it is to know that no matter what foolishness or mess we get ourselves into, God will always welcome us back home!  Just like most earthly parents, God is longing for the day when we are all sitting at his table, boisterously happy and gratefully praising Him.