As most of you know, Piper and I had all four of our kids along with Jamie’s husband and Jeremy’s bride visit us for four days which concluded at about five in the afternoon yesterday when the last of the kids, Jeremy and Aubrey, pulled out of our driveway and commenced their road trip back home to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This gathering was the first time we have all been together since Jeremy and Aubrey’s wedding a few years ago. But it is the first time that our family has been able to fellowship alone with each other for a prolonged period of time!
If you caught any of the pictures that most of us posted on Facebook over the weekend, it will seem as if all we did was eat and talk! And you know… that about sums it up! We purposely didn’t plan many extracurricular activities as I really wanted it to be a time when the kids and I could spend some quality time alone with their Mom.
I have to admit that we were blessed with some fantastic weather and spent most days and early evenings sitting on our back deck and/or tossing the ball to Fiver in the yard. It dawned on me on Saturday that it was so special to see our adult children working together and taking charge and preparing the meals. I saw many special qualities in each of our four kids. Jamie our oldest daughter, who lives out here in NC near us, took the role as host. As she worked in the kitchen, laughed and joked with her siblings or ran outside to assist our oldest son Josh with the smoker, I saw a bit of my mother and a lot of Piper in her! I told her that I believe that she has assumed the Piper mantel!
Not real surprising, but I also saw a lot of me in Josh our first born, in his interactions with Jamie and the other kids. His friendly personality, wisdom and charisma always fills the room when he is around! For a moment there, I thought I was looking at a picture of Piper and I while they got the ribs into the smoker! My heart swelled as I watched JoAnna spend time helping Piper with her meals, talking to her or just sitting quietly at her side holding her hand. I was also amazed at seeing the compassion of our youngest son as he would talk with his Mom and look into her eyes. Jeremy wrote a beautiful, heart-tugging personal tribute to Piper that he read to Piper and I before they left on Sunday afternoon.
Then of course there was the heartfelt and sweet interactions between Piper and Aubrey, Jeremy’s new bride. It felt as if she has always been a member of our family. And don’t let me forget Jamie’s husband David. Because of work responsibilities he was not able to join us until Sunday (although a couple of the kids bunked at their house and got to fellowship with him and Jamie at night), but when he walked in the door with a big smile on his face, it felt like we were complete and ready to have some real fun!
It was rewarding and a pleasure to watch all of our kids sitting on the deck or around our dining room table talking, laughing and enjoying each others company. And while Piper may not have said too much, I know that she was also having a great time simply enjoying the family “noises” and the strong anointing of love that filled our home.
Ephesians 3:18 in The Message Bible encourages us to “Reach out and experience the breath! Test its length! Plumb its depths! (and) Rise to the heights” of Christ’s love. As I looked around our table on Saturday night, I could see those particular expressions of action in full swing in the faces of all our kids. The next verse tells us to “Live full lives that are full in the fullness of God.” And that dear reader is exactly what I saw unfolding itself throughout the last four days!
What I observed was the heart and soul of God’s love that Piper poured from her own life into our kids throughout their childhood as their Mom, homeschool teacher, chauffeur and most times as their children’s and/or youth co-leader at church! What I saw was a big part of her in each of our kids. How fantastic is that! (okay… past the Kleenex…) She may not be in a place right now where she could have physically or verbally interacted with them this weekend, but you know… she didn’t have to. It was pretty evident to all that she was interacting with all those present through all of herself radiating through the lives of each of them!
Have a great week everybody, and as you do, think about what it would mean for each of you to “Rise to the heights” of God’s love in your daily interactions with others! And as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting others to see Christ in me today?”