by Deb DeArmond

Today is a different kind of day in our house. For the first time in 14 months, I will awaken to a home with an empty guest room. In fact, in the last seven years, there have been only about 14 months when that room was NOT occupied. It’s been a virtual revolving door since we moved in. Something we never anticipated. And candidly, something we sometimes struggled with.

We moved to Texas leaving every bit of our family in other states. It was a decision prompted by God’s guidance that the Lone Star state was to be our new home. For folks who had never lived anywhere but California, it was a big and somewhat scary adventure.

And then, within just a short time of our arrival, for various reasons (all of them valid), we found ourselves joined by loved ones in need of an available guest room. Ours was open. Some were looking for a fresh start , others transitioning, some in crisis, and others needed a “soft place to land” for a brief time. It was fun at times, having loved ones share our everyday. We ate together (although not as often as you might think), we shared the day-to-day tidbits of life that might not have warranted a phone call or found their way into an email. At other times it was stressful. Our routines were not the same. It was a loss of privacy (for all), and occasionally, I slipped into “parent” mode. Some of these guests, after all, were my adult children.

A quick look at the news in the last several years reminds us that the “multi-generational household” has become more common. The economic downturn has created a new opportunity for many to get up close and personal with parents, kids and sometimes grandkids living under one roof. The decision to say “yes” was never difficult for us – not even once. We love our family and felt led by God each time to extend our home. We were grateful to be able to help. The day to day reality, however, provided new challenges and opportunities to grow in Christ.

I might have been a bit OCD before I was rescued by Jesus. Some are waiting for the completion of the miracle. I like things the way I like them. I don’t like clutter – although often in the last 7 years, visitors to my home might have been surprised to hear that. My house simply does not have enough places to put the things that 4 or 5 of us needed, as it was purchased with only two occupants in mind. They came with “stuff”. Boxes, bicycles, babies, pets, and other paraphernalia. And we had a pretty good collection of our own “stuff.” I find it stressful to have dishes in the sink or pillows tossed on the floor. “How many times are they going to walk past their shoes in the middle of the living room?” There were times I let it create resentment or frustration, which is a nice way of saying, I was not patient, loving or kind. And it hurts my heart to admit it.

I know, however, I returned the favor, unintentionally, but nonetheless, I created frustration for them as well. There were my loving reminders (nagging), my refrigerator full of science projects (hey, nobody can see that) and my failure to inform them when there might be a guest stopping by. Occasionally, I may have offered an unsolicited suggestion (meddling), or commented on a behavior I objected to. Not my role. Not really. They ARE my kids. But they ARE adults. And they have spouses to work it out with, they didn’t need MOTHER on top of it.

I am proud to say, that we are all still speaking to one another. And I think our relationships have grown as a result of our situation. We learned to talk things out and not simmer or suffer in silence. We are glad to be moving beyond our co-habitation, but we recognize that we are blessed to have been able to make this work. The fact that we all love Christ and desire to honor Him and His word was a huge part of that success. It wasn’t easy at times, and it required that we set aside some of our own “stuff” daily. But it was a sacrifice we all made – each one of us.

King David knew something about sacrifice. One of my favorite passages is 2 Samuel 24. David once again finds himself on the outs with his God. He confesses his sin, acknowledges his foolishness and asks for forgiveness. God allows him to choose from among three punishments – all of them devastating. His choice – three days of plague.

2 Samuel 24:14 “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad (the prophet). “But let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”

70,000 people die, and David cries out to God in his anguish. His merciful God declares, “It is enough.” David asks that God’s anger fall against him and his family. Again, the prophet appears: “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

When David approaches Araunah and asks to buy the land for the altar, Araunah falls to his knees and declares that he will give King David all he needs for the sacrifice: the land, the wood, and the ox. Tempting? Not to one who understood the meaning of sacrifice. David’s response:

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.”

Sacrifice is supposed to be costly. And though the sacrifice we made together as family did not involve anything as dramatic as a plague, it required a great deal of us. A definition of the word ‘sacrifice’ includes the following:

• To surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.
• The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something
considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

The opportunity to serve and support these prized family members was indeed a higher and more pressing claim. Thank you Lord, that in your care, we find mercy to do what you have requested of us.

For many, sacrifice is not familiar. We are happy to give, be generous, as long as the cost is not too great. We are missing such a blessing. The very land that David purchased that day became the site that would ultimately hold the temple. The return was so much greater than the obvious cost. And as I look at the lives of my dear former housemates, the evidence of God’s blessing on them fills my heart with such thankfulness.

It’s a good thing we’re family – living together means we know WAY too much about one another to ever be enemies. That’s what close quarters will do. I do think it’s interesting that it’s been 7 years. That’s the number of completion in the Bible. And I’d like to be done – I have plans for that guest room. Now if I can just get God to sign off on that……

Deb DeArmond: Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who showed her the path to become a Christ follower 38 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it. She is a transplanted Californian who has been a proud Texan for almost 8 years and she Ioves the Lone Star state!

She is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. She longs to see experienced women find their passion and place in the body of Christ, show up and finish strong. One of Deb’s favorite quotes comes from author Agatha Christie, who said, “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.”

6 Comments

  1. 10-10-2011

    Great point here. I too struggle when my adult children come home. I have learned to sit back and watch and enjoy rather than mettle. They have heard it already so now I should be blessed to watch as they parade in and out, twirl and swirl with excitement with one another……I have six daughters…..lots of twirling here. I end up staying up way too late cause I don’t want to miss out on one minute….no not one moment. What I have decided is to make our home a place of refuge from their norm, a place they can feel safe, blessed, nurtured, comfortable, able to relax, let down, and be themselves. I want our home, their home to be a place where they come and get refreshed. I want them to always say,” We get to go to mom and dad’s” not ” we HAVE to go to mom and dad’s”. Truly a sanctuary for them is what I want for them coming away from a visit home.
    Thanks Deb.
    Kindest regards,
    b†
    @madreminutes

    • 10-10-2011

      Barbara- I agree completely about how much joy our grown kids bring us. We have even braved some travel excursions together, including a grandbaby and had so much fun. We have always lived for their visits and wring every minute dry when together. Living together was a different opportunity – and challenge. For them as well as us. And it brought new understanding of each person’s uniqueness and how God has knit our hearts together, even when we struggled. Would not trade the 7 years for anything.

  2. 10-10-2011

    Oh my — this hit the nail on the head for me — “boomerang” kiddos — currently living with adult kids — I can so relate — the OCD can also be identified with — and offering sensible info (unwanted I’m sure) has been a wee bit of a problem, as well — but like you mentioned the “multi-generational” household is becoming more common — and because I love my family I do it — Cheers to you for bringing this to light! Blessings

    Patty :)

  3. 10-10-2011

    Once again, transparent and well said! It is enough of a challenge to have people move in with you, but to do it over and over…blessings to you!

  4. 10-10-2011

    I was one of the many that stayed with Deb. They provided a home when I had nothing left. They gave me love, strength and security. I will always be grateful for my time with Ron and Deb. Bless you both.

  5. 10-11-2011

    Our adult daughter enjoys coming back home every few weeks to spend the weekend, it is her personal retreat. How blessed we are that she enjoys being with us! A few years back our son and daughter-in-law were moving into a new home that was not yet complete. They moved back in with us, along with their three children. What a joyful time we had together making dinner, helping with homework and sitting by the fire with a cup of tea at night to share the events of the day. When they moved out we really felt the “empty nest syndrome” far more than the first time. Family is a gift and we thank God we had that special time with the grandchildren to share Christ with them.

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