Over Labor Day weekend, I was blessed to take a trip back to upstate New York and attend a small family reunion.  It was the first time in months, even years that some of us had seen each other.  Children had grown into adults, more children had been born, marriages had happened and life had moved on all while I was somewhere else, living in my own little microcosm, sheltered from the events themselves.  When you pack forty people into a room and give them a chance to unwind over copious amounts of potato salad and barbecued chicken, something wonderful happens.  The years simply melt away and all you can do is remember the love you share and the common ground that you possess, this one thing called family, this one spark of heritage.

When I think about connections, the great joy it brings to feel safe in the loving arms of your own family, I realize that there’s something in that group that can’t be found anywhere else.  Regardless of how many years you may have been apart, how far you’ve drifted from the family culture, or what course your life has taken, these are the people who welcome you back and genuinely hope, believe in, and encourage the best in you and for you.  This is the place where the walls, if only for a few hours, come tumbling down.

I have three sisters! These women are the gifts of my life, the blessings that have shaped and molded and encouraged and loved me through all that has come my way.  They are my angels, the ones God gave me to keep me walking on the path He designed for me.  At one point, we sat together, four women, suddenly a group of teenagers on a couch singing “Sisters, Sisters, There were never such devoted Sisters…” at the tops of our lungs.  It was a moment to be cherished because we were all back home again, in the strongest bond four women can share.

It’s always been in my nature to make “family” out of the people that share my life day to day.  Those of you who visit my blog here, are part of my family.  The people I work with become my family and the people who attend my church are my family.  I love that!  But, it really is different to step foot back into the space where you’re known and loved simply because you are part of the tribe.  I can only guess that God meant for us to understand the “feeling” of family so we’d get the same point, the same rush of experience when we join His family.  I love the Psalm that says God sets the lonely in families.  He knew our greatest need is for connection, confirmation, and a sense of belonging.  He knew our great need for sisters and brothers.

To my own family, I say thank you for all of it, the joys, the disagreements, the laughter, the support, the place to call home no matter where the world takes me.  Your family is God’s gift to you as well.  Embrace each other.  Share the love!  That’s really all that matters.

Today, I send out hugs to all of you…my extended family, my beloved family…with joy and gratitude.

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