What does “family” mean to you? At Central, we talk a lot about our church family, and we treasure those connections. Of course we are closer to most of the people there than we are to some of our “kinfolk.”
The definition of family in Wikipedia (I know—not always a reliable source) is pretty funny: In the context of human society, a family is a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence or some combination of these. Consanguinity? Really? I had to look that up. How helpful is a dictionary that uses such obscure words, especially such a long one that simply means “blood relative” or “being descended from the same ancestor”? Our vocabulary word for the day!
I love being a part of our church family, but I also adore the closest members of my own family. This summer, I was able to spend time with all those near and dear to me—our children, grandchildren, and siblings.
In California in early July (107° two days there), we were with our children, grandchildren, my brothers and their spouses, and my brothers’ children and grandchildren. What a feast!
My brother Larry and his wife Nancy have a lovely home in Durham, California, and we all were in and out for four or more days. Larry was breakfast cook and helped Nancy with the other meals, too. They were gracious about their 40th anniversary party turning into a week of feeding people! But we all loved it—the conversations, especially. Around the kitchen or dining table, on chairs at the bar, by the pool (many were in it, but not I), in the sequoia grove in their backyard, in Larry’s office, in the living room, or the family room—we got to talk with each other and catch up. We keep up with each other’s big news—new babies, health issues, travels—but we often miss out on the little and often entertaining moments in our lives. We loved being with Nancy and Larry and visiting their church in Chico where he is an elder and their song leader.
After we were home and settled in, Kelsey and I took her two with us to visit the aunts and uncles in Tennessee. When she says “visit the aunts and uncles,” she actually means my aunts and uncles—her great-aunts and great-uncles.
Yes, at my advanced age I have six of my mother’s siblings and five of their spouses still living! Their ages range from 82 to 96, and they still live in their homes and thrive, except for one uncle-in-law who is well taken care of in a nursing home. We didn’t visit every one, but we did get to a lot of them and loved talking with them. I always forget to take pictures because I’m enjoying the conversation too much. Maybe next time, I always say, hoping there will actually be a next time.
But we did get to visit more with one of Kelsey’s uncles, my brother John. He and his wife Liz always greet us warmly and take good care of us, graciously letting us stay with them whenever we decide to visit Tennessee. We had pizza with Liz the first night, then played Mexican Train Dominoes into the wee hours—at least very late for Finn to be up. The second night, John cooked for us, we finished our Mexican Train Dominoes game, and he cooked breakfast the next morning. They embraced our idea of inviting friends and their three children over to swim and helped put together lunch for all. We loved talking together and learning more about their lives, their jobs, and their children.
John speaks each Sunday at Park Place, a retirement home in Hendersonville, where they live. He brings singing, communion, a lesson, and loving care to the residents there and they adore him. We had to return on Saturday and didn’t get to go with him as we often do when we are there.
Immediately after our return from California, Steve and I went to a wedding in Indiana and surprised his sister Nancy and her husband Flay at church the next morning. Some of our best travel memories involve spontaneous side-trips, and this was one. We took them out to lunch for their 58th anniversary and had a grand time.
Then yesterday they came by on their way home from visiting their daughter in Columbus and took us out to lunch for Steve’s recent birthday. Steve has become interested in family history, especially the sudden shooting death of his Uncle Omer in Montana in 1926. She had found some old newspaper clippings about the event and the trial that followed. They had a great time going over the papers, including his mother’s report cards and his grandmother’s teaching certificate. I’m so glad people have saved such as that—glimpses into our family’s past.
Sometimes we go for months without seeing our siblings, but that has not been true this summer. We’ve enjoyed an abundance of family time riches, and I’m grateful for each one. And the very best part is how all our siblings and their spouses love the Lord and serve Him daily—the center of much of our conversations. I hope our parents are aware of how so many of their offspring are strong, faithful Christ-followers.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3