Finding family faith

By Erika Rizkallah

Almost every night after my family goes to sleep, I spend an hour or two working on genealogy. I’ve had an Ancestry.com account for several years.  It’s amazing to piece together what’s becoming a massive family tree. It’s thrilling to see their names. Among the common ones we have the standouts: Nimrod, Commander, Dilemma, Ransom and Content.

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I’ve found ancestors as far back as the 1500’s. Sometimes I’m just doing gritty research like digging through census records and wills. But often I stumble upon stories in books written decades later.

I didn’t grow up in a family of faith. My great-grandmother was a Christian and poured into me as much as she could through letters. Though she didn’t get to see the fruit of her labor in her lifetime, it did produce fruit. Both in my own family and the families I served as a children’s minister.

I think understanding where you come from is important work. In the Bible, we see name after name recorded for posterity. As I dig for my family members I discover a rich history of faith.

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My ancestors came over as colonists seeking religious freedom. Some of the men fought against “the savages” we now call Native Americans ( ironic). And sometimes they were killed or taken captive because they were peace loving pacifists. There’s a story  about a man named Robert, who lived alone on his farm in Maine . . .

“One time, just at night, he was cooking his supper when the Indians burst in upon him, and seizing him, said, ‘Now, Robert, quick you go to Canada.’ He answered, ‘Well, if I must, I must.’ He begged that he might cook and eat his supper, when he took up his line of march for that distant country.” Robert was taken multiple times to Canada but always managed to get home.

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I come from a long line of immigrants who fought in the Revolution as patriots – because they believed in America. They were hard working dreamers who knew this bountiful land offered them the opportunity to worship Christ on their terms. Many became leading citizens of their new country and established towns and community churches. The women, served at home, “keeping house,” caring for community members and fighting when necessary.

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I’m proud of my heritage. I’m amazed that I’ll get to meet my relatives in Heaven.

But whether your ancestors landed in Plymouth or sailed in at Ellis Island, the idea of worshiping freely is an integral part of the American dream. It’s worth fighting for.

I wonder what history will say about our generation of Christians. As Jesus said, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Your turn: Do you record the stories of the faithful in your family?

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

I started packing up our house for renovation in late October and now – six months later – it’s almost finished. I moved back in two weeks ago and have been buried under boxes ever since.

Sometimes we’re placed in situations that make normal rhythms of life grind to a halt. Everything gets tossed into a box and packed away until the time is right for bringing it out again. And when we do, it feels like Christmas. Or a little like the Christmases my brother and I used to enjoy.

When we learned that Santa’s gifts really came from our parents, we’d search for their (really lame) hiding places. When we found them we’d slowly peel back the tape and take a quick peek under the wrapping paper to see if we got what we wanted. Later, of course we’d have to act surprised.

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Gifting myself with some HomeGoods goodies

This is what unboxing a home is like. Although I’d labeled the boxes well, I’m sometimes surprised to find what’s in them. And after months of cooking in a microwave and washing my dishes in the basement bathtub, I find I don’t need (or want) as many things as I have. So now . . . more sorting and donating. Pure drudgery.

But it’s worth it.

Our house was almost completely updated and I feel like a bride setting up her new home after the wedding. So exciting! Through this process God brought us some unexpected gifts – treasures hidden in the heavens: our family grew closer, our patience and resolve got stronger and our gratitude is overflowing.

On the other hand, sacrificing my writing time to create a homelike environment in the midst of chaos is something I hope I never have to do again. For me, writing is like coming home. It’s comforting, nourishes my soul and gives me a chance to sit down.

So glad to be back. So glad to be home!

 

Relationship Challenges

By Erika Rizkallah

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? November is National Novel Writing Month and NaNoWriMo is a movement and challenge to write and finish a novel in 30 days. I was thinking about working on my middle grade adventure novel when I discovered the bloggers equivalent of the challenge.

It’s called NaBloPoMo so you’ll be hearing from me more frequently – as in every day. I’ve never blogged daily but I need to be challenged in areas other than relationships.

Creating posts and managing healthy relationships are both difficult but blogging stretches and challenges my mind, whereas relationship drama tends to shut me down. Unlike a blog, I can’t just stop communicating (though at times, I certainly want to).

I swear I sometimes wish I could hide.

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Like blogging, relationship building requires good and consistent communication. But what do you do when people get stubborn, cranky and negative? What do you do when bedroom doors slam shut and phone calls and questions go ignored?

I’ve decided to take a month off of arguing and debating with people and let everyone – including me – have their space. Instead I’ll be blogging and doing my best to keep a quiet mouth and spirit at home.

I love the quote below

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