Friday, September 11, 2009

Family... what does it mean to you?

I was looking through a group of photos of my family and realized how the years have changed us all in so many ways, except the fact we love hanging out together. Spending time with one another has always been an integral part of our family. From the time our first child was born, people gathered to welcome the newborn and celebrate with us. How memorable this time always was for everyone. For years it was talked about at family gatherings and amongst friends who came to know our family. They always seemed to bring up the closeness we all have with each other. What a treasure this was to hear and see.

Family can mean a lot to many people. It can also stir up feelings of love, joy, and comfort as well as hate, resentment and discord. What does it bring up for you? What are the first things that come to your mind when you even heard the word, 'family?' If the feelings are anything but positive, try and find out why. Do you possibly remember an exact time when the thought of family was the best thought in the world? Or was there a time you shunned even the notion of this word? Maybe you despise even the sound of it as it rolls off your tongue, even now.

Family was meant to bring warm fuzzies to your soul. The thought of a group of people totally in love with one another, willing to lay down their lives for eachother and showing this in all they say and do, is what family is all about. Oh, don't get me wrong. It is not like families never hurt one another, fib to or frustrate eachother. It's just bottom line, we would die for one another. This is what family is all about. Helping at inconvenient times such as what my oldest son, Douglas did for us only three weeks before he moved out of the state. He was all but killing himself trying to pressure wash our back deck, the house itself and the walkway up to our home. He used primer on the walls, replaced trim, painted and polished the exterior of our home. It did not even look like the same house as before he began. Doug also prepped and painted his in-laws house, and managed to go dredging with his little brother in the Rogue River, prepped his brother's Honda Civic for painting including masking everything off, packed his entire house, and did it all with a smile. Or my youngest daughter, Tiffany who no matter what needs she has of her own, she drops them and helps me with my dogs. She doesn't think twice about neglecting something for herself if it means making life easier for me. I could never care for all my dogs without her help, and she knows this. Day after day she wakes up before she goes to work at a ranch nearby, and feeds, waters and cleans up my puppies and dogs so I won’t have to. She wears herself thin before she even sets off to work and tries to rejuvenate in the car on the way to her job, without ever a single whimper let alone a complaint. She's reliable and I know it. Would anyone but family do that for you? If so, they have earned the right to be called 'family'.

Maybe family isn't such a nice word because you don't have one. At one time you did, but now you are as alone as alone could be. For this, I am deeply sorry. But don't let this experience you've had with possibly a parent abandoning you, a sibling turning their back on you, or a relative deceiving you and leaving you with scars you feel will never heal and render you hopeless to enjoy life. There is hope. You can turn the clock back and open your heart once more to family. It can be a friend you have confided in for years and she has shown herself to be trustworthy. Family could be a teacher in whom you depend on for advice and constructive criticism of your work; or quite possibly it could be the cashier at the grocery store in whom you share the hilarious things of the day with.

Whatever you know 'family' to be, cherish them with all of your heart. No one is promised tomorrow. Our future is in the hands of the great Creator. We don't always know what His plans are or agree with them, but we one day will see what our eyes were blind to.

Love like you have never loved before; reach out as if God Himself were standing over you watching. Share fun times, hard times and laughter amongst your family and treasure each and every moment you have with them. All of the sudden, things will be different and they may not be so easily seen. You may have to communicate over a cell phone, or by letters and cards. Thinking you will always have tomorrow is a waste of time and ultimately vain. Life has a way of sneaking up on the best intentions and putting them on the forever never burner. Don't let this happen to you! There is no better way to live than to die with no regrets, This is living to the fullest every single day. Take time to smell the roses, hear the song of birds and get caught up in the beauty of a spectacular sunset. Seize the moment and savor it. Nothing here on earth lasts forever.

So what does family mean to you? How do you describe family and why is it significant or very insignificant to you? Take a moment and visualize family as you ponder its meaning in your life. Family can be one of the sweetest words you know. Family can hold you when you are falling apart, celebrate with you over victories won, cry with you when battles are lost, and love you like no one else can. Family is fundamental and we need one to have the quality of life we yearn for. Family is strong, endearing and supportive as well as loving, kind and comforting. Family can make the difference in your life you never dreamed possible with anyone. Family to me, is everything. God gave me my family and I am so thankful to have the family I do. I am blessed beyond measure, and you can be, too.

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