Taking Roots: Home, Sweet Home

It has been excruciating for me not to blog or write. Or even think. The past few months have been very strange. Life, though, went as usual, but I felt like a stranger to myself. I wasn't enjoying what I usually found enjoyable, and instead was drifting. The only explanation I could give was that I was trying to adjust to being transplanted, while at the same time finding my roots again. It wasn't an easy journey as seen by the number of blogs  produced in the past five months. But it sure is awesome after finally making sense of what is happening with me.

I have God to thank for, and the people and circumstances, and even a TV show, that showed me what I have been missing for years. (And here I thought I don't watch TV :)) I realized that I have lost my roots. For the many years I have been trying to fly--- away from home and to the places I wanted to be and the person I thought I will be--- I had forgotten that one still needs a home after all the flying is done.


I recently have gone back from the Philippines, the place I have known as home. Home home. Where Ma and Pa had waited for me, just like all the times I had come home from academy, college, missionary stints, on vacation after getting married and having children, and all sorts of other reasons just to go back home. But this time, home was gone. Gone with my parents as they disappeared in that storm.

There was no one to call home, no one to go home to, no one to open my heart. I felt like a stranger in a place that was oh-so-familiar. An orphan. A tree uprooted, but fortunate to have the opportunity to rediscover its roots. The process of rediscovery was vague, though, which made settling down to where it is transplanted quite painful.

But the merciful God knows what will bring healing. Time and love. And that I found. I am grateful for friends who opened up their home and their hearts and made me feel welcome and 'at home' when I found myself with no home at a place I call home. Slowly, in the months I was there, though not understanding yet the whole point, I discovered my roots again. Of being Filipino and loving what it means to be one. Of knowing that my parents had given me roots and now it is my time to give my children theirs.

The first few years of starting as a family was spent in South Korea. We called it home then. Now, we are trying to settle in Russia. The first year we were here, the kids wanted to go home. Now they are realizing that this is home. And they are loving it.

Location aside, can my children truly call our home a sweet home, where they could grow roots and grow healthy, steadfast and strong even if transplanted in our highly mobile, fast-paced uncertain world? What makes home sweet enough to go back to and safe enough to leave our hearts with?

Here are the 'primary roots' (that could grow more secondary roots), which we could develop and cultivate. These roots could keep everyone in the family grounded and intact even as they attempt to fly.

Beneficial Family Traditions and Routines


Most families have traditions on holidays and special occasions. One most important thing to know whether these traditions benefit everybody in the family is to determine if these traditions encourage closeness and fellowship.

Being in Russia, we celebrate holidays like the Russians do, but not forgetting the ones that mean a lot to our family before we moved here. Being multi-cultural, we create our own traditions.

And that also goes with how we try to create a Christian home. We try to have a family worship everyday, read the Bible, and learn and sing songs of praise together. Attending church as a family and serving in the church or community also helps us stay spiritually and socially connected, as we spend enjoyable time together in worship and service.

Currently, I am teaching my children Filipino values and they have become interested in learning and applying them. They've been asking questions and it has given us many fascinating conversations. (By the way, I am a Kalyeserye fan.;)) They are incorporating the 'mano' (blessing) in their greetings to me and their father, and are quite animated in adding 'kuya' and 'ate' when they call each other. It is amusing to watch them outdo each other.

Safe Retreat of Acceptance and Honesty


Acceptance

It was hard for me to accept my husband after I got to know more of him in his own turf. And maybe, it was the same with him.  Not everyone has a foreigner for a wife here. And that's an understatement. But time and experience (tough though it was), and God working in us, opened our eyes to what each of us needed and helped us open our hearts to each other, making us more determined to make a sweet home out of our home.

Children need acceptance, most especially in our current society that sort of doesn't want them. There are places that they are not welcome. Couples who do not want to have any of them and grandparents who do not want to have anything to do with their own grandchildren. Even in buses or planes, parents often take second thought, or third or fourth, whether to bring along their little ones just to avoid rejection. 

But acceptance is the only way children can move forward as a person of their own selves. Adults need to accept them as children, not a mini-version of themselves. As Angelika so rightfully declared to her father one evening, while he got frustrated over the creative pandemonium of costumes and an improvised comedy strip, "Wooh! We're having fun! I'm so glad you have real children!" She had an angelic, joyful expression on her face when she said that. I couldn't help but laugh. Her Pa did too. 

If only adults would loosen up sometimes, they would have as much fun as children do. So children are irritating? Not all the time, right? Just like you, maybe? They forget their manners? We sometimes tend to. They get too loud? My, don't we when we get excited? And children have a whole new world and life to discover and live! If it's not a church service or a funeral or a wedding, allow children to be themselves--- children. Yes, teach, but not scold for over an hour, spoiling and ruining the mood and the occasion for everyone. We, adults, need to remember that children won't even think a moment to embrace us just as we are, with our faults and warts (and farts), and it is just appropriate for us to accept them, now in their tender age in life, just as they are.

Honesty

Isn't home a place where things have a place but also where we are free to make a mess? (Just don't tell my kids the last part or I'll be playing dead for ages!) Honestly, though, home is where everyone living in it is free to be themselves and encouraged to grow just as they are.

Parents should cultivate honesty between each other and make sure that the children know they value it in their home. Children should be encouraged to tell it and live it. And the only way to do it is when they feel safe. If children feel threatened, they will fabricate and lie just to avoid getting hurt.

Anything other than truth is messy. The only way to put things in order is by cultivating honesty.

Retreat


Today's society is always in a hurry-up mode. It's no wonder families feel like just a busy cluster of people, at home yet feeling alone, lonely and disconnected. How do we avoid raising children in this condition within our homes? By making home a retreat. A place where they can recharge after being out in the world. A place of peace and rest.

Peace, not as the world gives, is only found in Jesus (John 14:27). Let the children and everyone in the family know this that they may freely avail of it. And when the home permeates with peace, it becomes a safe retreat. "May there be peace within your walls" (Psalm 122:7), as the Lord desires for our families.

Finally, Jesus said, "The winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matthew 7:25)

May your home be place to celebrate and cultivate loving relationships. And if you don't have one, may you find home in our Father, whose love never, never fails.




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