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Moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And there may be step siblings and other relatives who come along and add to the mix.

Family! We love ’em. We hate ’em. We laugh with them. We cry over them. We run from them. We run to them. But most of us can’t get along without them–even when there has been pain and hurt. Being family includes love and forgiveness, joy and acceptance.

“These are my people, and they’re wonderful,” one woman said with a catch in her voice as she reflected on her extended family. “I’m just beginning to get that at age 65.”

I remember as a child enjoying a weekend at my cousin Pat’s home. She lived in a great old house in Chicago, Illinois. It had two ‘attic’ rooms with slanted ceilings. I loved sleeping in this cozy space and waking up to the sound of tree branches brushing against the window pane and the fragrance of pancakes on the griddle in Aunt Janet’s kitchen.

I also recall dreading kissing Aunt Bernice. A bristley hair stuck out of a mole on her cheek and poked me whenever I came in contact with it. I shivered and jumped back every time! But she too, was one of ‘my people,’ and I loved her.

Today I am thinking about my family members with love and appreciation–those close and those far away, those still on earth and those in heaven, those I know well and those I know only a little.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, spoke to my heart with these words:

“…love is not determined by the worthiness of the object. Love is determined by the giver of the love.” What a beautiful concept to remember and practice–not only for our family members but for all people we encounter for we are all part of the family of God.

Sir John Bowring, 19th century British ambassador, put it elegantly. “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”           

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household (Acts 16:31).



Ah! Family — 9 Comments

  1. Karen, very well put. Sometimes I need a reminder when family hurts my feelings it doesn’t mean that they dont love me.

    Thanks, Karen.


  2. Karen, I’ve been feeling loved ever since I found my ultimate family — Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and God-loving angel people like you. Thanks for your loving spirit! Jing

  3. Karen, I love this one! My family had reunions for many years! We met in the Noble Park in Paducah and also in the community building in Reidland and in some of our homes. I was the youngest of seven and by the time I was eleven years old the four oldest were already married which left the three youngest and we were always so very close. The men in the family would play horse shoes and other ‘tossing games’ in the yard, the kids did ‘everything’ and really enjoyed each other every year. I put together a large photo album of pictures taken at our family reunions and it was a big hit!! My oldest brother could not put it down it brought back so many memories for him. I highly recommmend making an album! Fred, my son-in-law was looking at mine not long ago and said his family never did have a reunion. He felt sad that they hadn’t. He enjoys looking at mine and of course he and my daughter and their twins are in the album and the captions I put on them bring smiles.
    All of my siblings and in-laws but one are gone now and it is just wonderful to have all of these memories.
    By the way, our Irish calendar has mentioned “love” several days lately and I love the one for today: “May you be touched by a bit of Irish luck, Brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love”.
    Love to you, Margaret

    • Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your memories of family reunions and play times at Noble Park. I remember visiting the park often when Charles and I returned to Paducah. He told me about the time he led the high school band at a performance in the park. He was dressed in short pants and long socks–the fashion of the time, I guess. And yes, I continue to read the Irish devotional you sent us. I LOVE it and the topic of love has been prominent in recent days–a good reminder in all situations.

  4. I have a VERY extended family. When we were first married my husband gave up trying to remember all the complex relationships and coined the phrase, step-neighbor-in-law to refer to all of them.

    • Thanks for your comment, Janet. I like the way your husband handled the names for your extended family with the term you shared. Makes me smile.

    • I just met another step-neighbor-in-law at a book event for kids today. My second cousin’s cousin’s grand-son-in-law (I think I’ve got that right) happened to be presenting right after me!

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