Chapter 14 – God Made Us A Family
A Bible verse that speaks to me regarding Jesus’ view of family is from Luke 8:21 – “But He answered and said to them, “My Mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Another Bible verse geared toward raising children speaks to me as well – “train a child in the way they should go, and when they grow old they won’t depart from it” – Proverbs 22:6. I think my dad said that! He drilled so much wisdom in my head it was a little dizzying at times, but I am so thankful and grateful for it. I always heeded his advice and it was always good advice.
Difficult to accept sometimes, but nevertheless, our families are not always on the same page when it comes to faith, and as my friend Fr. Ugo says before our Kairos retreats with the high school boys and girls it’s important to meet people where they are at in the present.
I believe in brutal honesty and my father, God rest his soul, drilled that philosophy of honesty into me at a very young age and lying was absolutely the single most thing that drove him over the edge, so with that said, I would like to write this article about my family with honesty, this article is geared specifically toward my children as I have written separate posts on my family of origin, my mother, father and brother.
God has blessed me with 4 wonderful children. My marital situation is in the words of The Catechism of The Catholic Church, which I am devoted to and follow the teachings of 100%, disordered. I don’t dismiss that, but keep moving forward in faith, flaws included. The woman I married on November 24, 1990 goes by Sue. I would like to explain a little about Sue and my children:
Sue – stands for Sharpening, she may be the single most person in the world who God uses to test me. Even though we are estranged we built something together and she is the mother of my children, a good person and a good mother.
Alex – means strong man, he is a worker with a strong will, always has been, with a quiet strength and confidence. I like to call him Aggie, got that from my younger girls as when they very young they could not pronounce Alex.
Julia – means youthful, she shares similar traits that I have in me. I like to call her joyous, she does make me laugh with her cunning ways.
Angela – means Angel or Angelic. I call her Amazing. She has a number of natural gifts and she can be really intense.
Rosalie – we call her Rosie! A Rose is the most beautiful flower in my opinion. When Rosie was really young she kept us all in stitches without even trying. I think Rosie is actually very mature beyond her age.
My brother Kenny’s children are very important to me as well. I will start with Guy, Kenny’s youngest, because he came to live with us halfway through High School, and I became his legal guardian. As I wrote in a separate post, his father was my older brother and only sibling and passed on when Guy was 9. Guy’s full name is Robert Guy DeFeo. He goes by Guy. Both of his grandfathers were named Robert. Guy stands for Gregarious to say the least about him as he was voted most flirtatious in High School and only went to this high school for 2 years. He really does have a loving heart even though he prefers to talk rather than listen. Rebecca is Kenny’s oldest. She is very humble and caring. Last but certainly not least is Jennifer, who has a flair and smile that captivate. Kenny’s children all have children and families of their own now.
I don’t believe I am too hard on my children, but I do expect and demand more from them because that is the way I was raised. I can be compassionate and understanding to acquaintances and strangers, but not so to my own children sometimes.
Some people use the term disconnected, that is the way I feel toward my own children at times, and probably what they feel toward me, but I am always there for them, and their biggest fan, even if I don’t listen to them or understand them all the time. I expect them to share my faith in God and practice it the way I do, but that can be unrealistic. I pray for them every day and love being in their presence. I love when we are all together, and I also love being with them individually. One of my favorite things to do with each of them is take them out for a special dinner when they have a Birthday. I call it the Birthday dinner. I got this idea from my brother Kenny, many years ago. They really seem to embrace it and enjoy it and it means a lot to me. I think I get more out of it than they do. It is a great event to look forward to. What I like most is we put the cell phones down and just talk, and I always feel like I listen my best to them at this moment, not preaching, not telling them what I think they should do or be, just listening and the conversation seems to go very well. I really need to work on doing that with them more often.
I enjoy doing anything with my girls, shopping or just hanging out. I love going to watch them play sports or other activities, for instance Angela sings and has a beautiful voice and takes great pictures.
Alex , Guy and I love sports, especially Football. I know I definitely raised Alex the right way because he is a diehard Eagles fan, just like me, and that warms my heart. I have held Eagles seasons tickets for 19 seasons now and my most enjoyable moments are going to the games with Alex and Guy, and we have shared many memorable moments at these games.
Honestly, I do wish all of my children shared my passion for my faith and my father’s faith (my mother’s faith too). They say the family goes where the father goes when it comes to faith, somehow I broke the mold. But, I have faith in God, and trust Him, even though I doubt sometimes, and you never know what is really in a person’s heart. I believe the Holy Spirit works and acts in everyone’s life even if a person does not recognize or acknowledge God. It’s an inside job and often God’s timetable is not the same as ours, and even if it never happens I am thankful to be blessed with my children who teach me often.
Children are amazing and life changing, they make you open up, they make you want to sacrifice for them, they truly are an image of God’s love in good times and bad. They symbolize two people becoming one in the flesh and love of God. Witnessing the birth of your child is miraculous. It is overwhelming and brings tears to your eyes. A newborn baby is pure joy, then you watch them grow into a toddler and then a young person and then a teenager and then an adult. Yes, there are ups and downs, happy and sad moments, and they get hurt sometimes, physically, emotionally and mentally, but there are great moments of victory and joy as well, and as a parent you are always there for them. Something else my father would say, “just be there, show up every day”!
I just hope and pray I can impart my wisdom and faith on my children like my father did to me. All we can do as parents is love with the love Jesus taught us called Agape (sacrificial love, putting the good of the other above your own good).
We are still works in progress and I am excited to see my children’s lives unfold before my very eyes and to be there with them for it.
As I mentioned earlier Guy, Rebecca and Jennifer have beautiful children of their own and great families too. Rebecca and Jenn live far away so I don’t get to see them much, but I enjoy texting them often. Thank God for technology. Guy lives close and has a soon to be 1-year-old daughter named Layla, so Rebecca, Jennifer and Guy are now raising the next generation. Layla has brought even more joy to our family and Guy’s wife Melanie is yet another “daughter” for me to enjoy, love and laugh with as well as learn from.
I don’t know what the future brings, it’s in God’s hands, but I am glad I am going to face it with the people God has placed in my life that I call family.
I would like to close with one of my favorite poems called “God Made Us A Family” –
We Need One Another, We Love One Another, We Forgive One Another, We Work Together, We Play Together, We Worship Together, Together We Use God’s Word, Together We Grow In Christ, Together We Love All Men, Together We Serve Our God, Together We Hope For Heaven, These Are Our Hopes and Ideals, Help Us To Attain Them O God, Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, In and Through The Power Of The Holy Spirit!
As we approach the World Meeting Of Families to be Held In Philadelphia let us celebrate our families and all families, and pray for each other to strengthen families as that is the purpose of this event and know that God and Our Church is Not a God and Church that excludes, but includes and I will blog more about that in the future.
I love my DeFeo family, past, present and future. I love my “brothers” and “sisters” in the faith and I love my fellow brothers and sisters who are citizens in this world with me. I believe we are all God’s children no matter who you are, what you believe or where you come from. I love all my relatives, DeFeo’s, Gentile’s, Pacetti’s and Cavarocci’s and my in-laws, friends, acquaintances and even strangers I have met over the years. Every person we meet has a purpose in our lives and touches us in different ways. I hope and pray we treat each other worldwide as God would want us to.