From the Parent CouncilNew Page 1

Home for the Holidays

They say that "home is where the heart is." But to get to "the heart of the matter," what will your student(s) find when they return home for the Christmas holiday break? As parents, the status of our hearts goes a long way to determining how a brief two to three weeks will play out in our homes, our lives, and the lives of our student(s). Will they enjoy their time, longing to return, or will they long for the break to be over so they can return to their friends?

God says in his Word, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." He also says that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Of course, these verses are being pulled way out of context, but they serve to underscore two important principles of the home. First, the Lord must be the architect and builder of our homes, and second, the inhabitants of that home must strive for unity. I'm not talking about the physical building, but rather the home as an experiential, emotional entity - an interaction of spiritual beings. Pulling an image from popular culture, the little girl in Poltergeist turns to her parents and says "they're here" referring to some very uninvited guests. (Never watched it, only saw that one scene …) Hopefully when your college-age son or daughter pulls up in the driveway, the cry of, "(insert name here) is home!" is one of excitement and not dread.

Perhaps this is their first time home after their first semester as a freshman. Or perhaps you and your student are old hands at the annual holiday "migration." No matter. It still requires adjustment. In our case, as empty nesters, my wife and I have fallen into a routine that is no longer centered around our child. It's much the same with our daughter. The girl of 16 or 17 who was in bed every night by 9:30 p.m. to ensure she got enough sleep to survive the next day of high school now routinely stays up until midnight or later to study or spend time relaxing with friends in her apartment. The trick to harmony is not to expect my daughter to revert to her old ways and to recognize that she has a life of her own away from home and has gotten used to a different way of ordering her day (and night). Our rule is that as long as she is able to function and maintain her sanity, as long as she stays healthy physically and spiritually, she is now an adult and has to find her own equilibrium.

She may be ready to sit down with a new DVD just when Dad says he needs to go to bed for work the next day. Mom needs to make sure there is nonfat milk and that the fridge is stocked with plenty of her favorite yogurt and the cupboard has her favorite cereal. Dad needs to not get angry when he reaches for his shampoo with squinty-eyes only to find that his dear daughter has borrowed it because she traveled "light" on the train. (Oh, and his shaving cream was purloined for legs …) Mom shifts her things back to the master bath so that daughter can have "her" bath back. Many tiny adjustments become routine in their own right, repeated every time she returns home.

In short, we make her feel welcome by making allowances, just as we would with any respected relative. We do not expect her to be the way she was when she left for college. In fact, we have few expectations except that she treats us with the respect we deserve as her parents. She has changed. We have changed. But when reunited we in turn are united in Christ as a family once more.

We both truly enjoy having our daughter home. It is a welcome break in our routine that we look forward to and plan events around. Even so, we temper our enthusiasm. In many ways she has grown up. As a junior and nearly 21, she's in transition. As a high school junior, she was looking at colleges. Now she's looking at graduate schools.

The house she grew up in (okay, the last of three) is still the same: her room is still there with her things as she left them three and a half months ago. But in many ways, we realize that our home is no longer "her" home. She loves George Fox and can't wait to get back, no matter how much she loves Mom and Dad. Oregon has become her new "home." And when you think about it, that's exactly how it should be. She's left the "nest." We've been successful as parents. She has developed the skills necessary to live on her own and the ability to make her own decisions. Today when I get the opportunity to spend time with my daughter I marvel at the Lord's goodness and at the young woman she's become. Hopefully all of you reading this feel the same about your children.

Central to all of this is Christ. As we continue to grow in him we experience the abundant life he promised. And even when separated by many miles we are still united as a family through prayer. We pray for her, she prays for us. Paul said that God's power is made perfect in our weakness. Sending our child to George Fox has not weakened our family, but made it stronger through new relationships and friends, not only for our daughter, but for us as well. Our "family" has grown bigger, not smaller. I pray that all of us as parents can look forward to our students' return and say "Welcome home! It's so good to see you" and really mean it. But I also pray that when it comes time for them to go back to school we can rejoice at what they're becoming: young men and women of God.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Tony Reynolds
Parent Council Chair

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