Over the summer we had a chance to attend a family reunion that I had not been to since high school, and that Shawn and the kids had never been to.
Through a facebook connection with my mom’s cousin, we received an invitation to attend. With travel plans already in place for a visit with other family in that general direction, we left a couple of days early to join in the family reunion festivities. I’m so thankful Shawn took a chance on going to a place where he knew no one and probably felt out of place…at least at first.
I have fun memories of family reunions as a child—catching salamanders in the creek with the other kids, playing softball with adults that wanted the kids to participate, square dancing, and gospel music singing. I knew I was part of a larger family somewhere.
As an adult, I recognized even more how important (and interesting) it is to know your family history. I walked through one cousin’s home and she pointed out things like an antique child’s bed that used to belong to my great-grandfather. Her home was full of interesting family history and all of it was part of my history too.
During our visit, I reconnected with a 3rd cousin (I had to find a family relation chart to make sure I got that right!) and his family—another young family with 4 kids. Apparently they were the ones to keep up with in our generation, until we showed up with our 6. Though we didn’t talk very long at the reunion, it was obvious we had much in common with homes full of little children, home schooling, and Jesus.
We are so thankful they accepted our invitation to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday! They loaded up their van full of kids, clothes, pillows, and food and drove through several states in holiday traffic to visit someone they barely knew.
Why?… Because we are family.
The kids practically disappeared while they ran off planning exciting adventures, fighting battles, cooking up food for their restaurant, playing family (which was hilarious since they were calling the 2 yr old mom and she was giving them directions!), and sharing dress-up clothes. After 5 days, while they were loading up to leave, my 3 yr old sighed and said, “I love those kids.”
I love that our kids now have a family connection on that side of the family—people they love—even if they are 4th cousins (I think!!).
I can’t help but make a spiritual connection here. We reconnected with our cousins because we are family, but we truly bonded because of our shared love of the Lord and our desire to live in a way that brings glory to Jesus. Yes, we shared a grandfather several generations back, but our relationship with Jesus makes us closer; brothers and sisters in Christ. We share another family history—God’s history—the story or our redemption from creation and continued through scripture and beyond.
Family is truly important, especially around the holidays. But having lived far from our families at times, we have learned the importance of Christian community and felt the love of the family of Christ in those times. The ones that share a love of Jesus and have a passion for his glory are family no matter how we define our earthly relationship.