The Heart of the Family: Laughter and Tears from a Real Family

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9780007130474: The Heart of the Family: Laughter and Tears from a Real Family

A funny, poignant, and moving look at the nature of family life.

Families are funny. They can be sheer heaven or they can be—well, less than heavenly. One thing is for sure, though. The happiest of family members will readily concede that tears are as essential as laughter if we are to survive the dramatic peaks and troughs of close human interaction. This is no less true when love is unconditional and there is a real generosity of spirit in those concerned.

Through fiction and fact, poetry and prose, this book opens the lid of family life and invites the reader to explore the richly varied and entertaining events and characters that he or she will discover there. This collection of homely treasures will certainly make us smile, and there is a very good chance that some of them will make us cry.

The book is divided into seven sections:
· The problem with perfection
· Communication—a crucial factor in family life
· The patterns of family life
· Priorities—which can be tricky
· The power of the past to influence us
· The death of loved ones
· The Father’s love—most important of all

As you will see in the course of this book, this is as true in the family of the church as it is anywhere else. The heart of the family is love, and at the heart of love you will find God.

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About the Author:

Adrian Plass is one of today's most significant and successful Christian authors and has written over twenty books, including his latest, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass on Tour. Known for his ability to evoke both tears and laughter for a purpose, he has been reaching the hearts of thousands for over fifteen years. He lives in Sussex with his wife, Bridget.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INTRODUCTION
Bridget and I have four children, Matt, Joe, David, and Kate, their ages ranging from twenty-eight to fifteen. We all love each other very much, but we have been through terribly negative as well as tremendously positive times in the course of the last couple of decades.
The year that is ending as I write is a very good example. Early in the month of August we received a telephone call at three o’clock in the morning to say that our twenty-three-year-old son, Joe, had fallen thirty feet from the top of some scaffolding near his home and was seriously injured. We threw our clothes on and raced to the hospital where he had been admitted, and we found him in a very bad state indeed. Joe’s jaw had been broken in five places and would need thirty-eight screws to hold together the metal plates that the doctors were planning to insert. His left wrist was shattered – “destroyed” was the word that the surgeon used. His third major injury was to his left leg. The femur was snapped in two. The general trauma was very great as well. Over the next few days our son’s life hung in the balance, as his body struggled to breathe for itself.
It was a terrible, emotional, frightening time. We prayed of course, and so did many of our friends. Whenever possible Bridget and I laid hands on Joe’s injuries and asked God to heal him. We knew, though, that God does not always give us what we want, however clear and obvious we may feel our needs to be. People do die of their injuries, Christians as well as non-Christians, and we are not allowed to dictate any particular course of action to our heavenly Father. We just pleaded with him for this precious life and hoped against hope that he would answer our prayers in the way that suited us.
God was merciful. Our son has recovered. The surgeon said that Joe’s broken jaw was the worst he had ever seen but that his work on it was the best he had ever done. The “destroyed” wrist is now functioning at a near-perfect level. The femur is healed and becoming stronger every day. Joe has a very slight difference in the length of his legs to remind him of how close he came to disaster, but with that exception he is likely to make a full recovery.
Coming so near to losing a close family member has an extraordinarily focusing effect. As a result of what happened to Joe we have all realized just how valuable we are to each other, but that is certainly not because we are a perfect family. In fact, we are very far from being perfect as a family. We are even further from being the perfect Christian family. Loving each other certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t spend quite a lot of time annoying each other as well.
Bearing this in mind, we, and all those other families who can identify with the rocky path we have traveled, should undoubtedly salute those who do manage to bring up those perfect Christian families that you sometimes read about. We should admire them, we should respect them, we should thank them for their example, and perhaps we should pop round tomorrow to hit a selection of them with a baseball bat, quite gently, you understand, but just hard enough to make them angry so that they sin a little bit.
I have a feeling that people who run perfect families will not appreciate this book. They would prefer one of those “how-to” books, even though they don’t need one because they are perfect. One of my ongoing projects is a volume on how to build and light a bonfire that can be used to destroy most of the Christian “how-to” books that have been written on the subject of family life. They are meant to help, but they actually make many of us feel weak and foolish. This book, by contrast, will certainly not tell you how to bring up your family, but it might reassure you that most of us are making the same sort of mistakes along the way. It includes fiction, true stories, dialogues, sketches, and a little poetry, all embracing the joys, tragedies, puzzles, and problems involved in being not only part of a human family but also part of the family of God.
God bless you as you read this book. Remember that God loves your family even more than you do and that he may find them just as irritating at times.
Part One The Problem with PERFECTION
The main problem with being perfect is really very simple. We’re not. And the chances of us achieving such a goal on this side of heaven are infinitesimal. Granted, we are made perfect and justified in the eyes of God because of the sacrifice that Jesus has made, but we still have to live with ourselves from day to day, and that can sometimes be discouraging.
Take heart! You may think that you are alone in falling so far short of the glory of God. I can assure you that you are not. Join me as we look a little further into this matter.
FAMILY NEWSLETTER
I wrote my first Sacred Diary book way back in the mid-eighties. At that time nobody was quite sure which of the trappings of faith could be laughed at and which were sacrosanct. I was as confused as anyone else, but I did sense that some of the things we Christians did and said were just a little silly and, at times, even rather dangerous. The main protagonist is Adrian, a good-hearted twit who records his adventures without realizing how much of himself he is actually revealing. I suppose there is quite a lot of me in this character, but I only gave him my name because the Adrian Mole diary books were very popular at the time, and I never realized how many people would eventually read the book and its successors. The other main characters are purely fictitious. Adrian’s wife, Anne, is wise, kind, and long-suffering. Their son, Gerald, is a likeable, irreverent young man who finds much Christian behavior far too funny to take seriously.
One of the modern plagues for members of those Christian households who do their best but fall far short of the ideal, is the yearly arrival of printed newsletters from apparently wonderful families. In one of the Sacred Diary books Gerald caricatures the more extreme of these intimidating epistles.
Dearest (please fill in own name),
It hardly seems possible that a whole year has passed since our last newsletter went out. What a lot has happened since then! Each of us has seen change, beginning with the youngest. Naomi (Age 5)
Little Naomi has become more spiritually alive than ever during the last twelve months. All four of us have the stigmata now. She is also very bright, but Rebecca and I are anxious that she should not be pushed too far, too quickly where school work is concerned. She must...

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