Bringing the Family Together

This time of year stirs up a lot of emotions. Good and bad. You know why? Because we have good and bad relationships, that’s why. Family gatherings for some are like the home and hearth story of the Waltons but others feel more like being caught in the Gaza strip after curfew.

Somewhere , somehow we have to adjust to new definitions of family, kindred spirits and blood relations. For example, in my family my girls have a lot of “aunts.”  I didn’t realize what was happening until Charis started trying to piece my family tree together.

“So is she your sister, ’cause we call her Aunt Nan?”
“Yes, she is my sister in Jesus.”
“So is Aunt Lou Ann your sister in Jesus?”
“Well yes, because she is a believer too, but Aunt Lou Ann is also my real sister. Well, Aunt Nan is my real sister too. Aunt Lou Ann is my blood sister. Oh (sigh) well, Aunt Nan is my “Blood” sister.” I tried to explain.
“Mama, you got Aunt Nan and Aunt Lou Ann, and the girl group and Miss Betsy and Miss Kate…Mama, you sure have a lot of sisters.”

You know, I do!  That’s just how God’s Family is. It doesn’t always make a lot of sense. We don’t always look alike. But the Family grows and expands in and through the seasons. And the Family doesn’t end, because one day we will all have one big Family party. Only at this party there will be no one left out, or isolated, or rejected. No one will be “not speaking” to each other.  Being separated by offenses and wounds will be impossible because we will have such joy in the One who called us all into His Family.

Let me give you the most beautiful picture of this. My friends the Morrells just came home with their third child from the Phillippines. All of them are children of promise.  All of them are children of designation, specifically chosen to be part of this family. Three grueling trips after years and years of prayer and preparation, and the anguish of the waiting.

Look at the picture. Look at their faces. Related completely, but not. Ordained together but not from the world’s perspective. Look at the future they have now been afforded and the very real risks these children have been rescued from.

All because God stirred a man and a woman who wanted to adopt to find each other and build a marriage and a home. All because God heard the prayers of the saints, an altogether “other” family has been born. All because God’s blood is stronger than any other bond, we rejoice in what He has done. God has a way of creating beautiful families. Rejoice this year in the “kinfolk” He has given to you.

You know what Mark said as he was traveling home with Abby in his arms? “I miss my boys. I can’t wait to get my family all together.”  I wonder, I just wonder, if God doesn’t say the same thing…

“I can’t wait to get My Family all together.”

A Story Worth Repeating

You know what I used to hate more than anything?  Asking for help. Isn’t that crazy?  It was something in my genes (Southern? Stubborn? Self-reliant?) that used to drive me to be the Christian Martha Stewart, Martha Washington, and Martha in the Bible all rolled into one at the same time.  And if I didn’t pull off this independent perfection, then my conclusion was that there must be something wrong with me. What a bunch of hooey.

But here is a really good thing I am learning: God doesn’t help those who help themselves. (Where did that dribble come from?) He helps those who humble themselves under His mighty hand and depend on Him to provide in real, tangible ways.  And in due time, He lifts them up. That is His promise.

It is one thing to ask for help when you can still maintain composure (read: pride).  It is quite another thing altogether to receive help when you are at your worst. I started seeing this principle play out in odd and vulnerable moments of my life.

I was moving. No worse time to see your own mess, dirt and clutter. But it was Melissa who helped me pack up my house when Chuck and infant Salem had a throw up bug and my freezer had come unplugged and reeked of rotting food.

When I  had surgery and couldn’t bend over, Ellen insisted that she help me in a “real way.” So she scrubbed my nasty bathtub.

Nan arranged a baby celebration not only for Salem, but also a memorial service for Judah, our baby who died.

Then there is Betsy, Lyschel, Nancy, Ruthie, my folks, Lou Ann, Christie, Christina, Lora and the list goes on and on.

Friends who were willing to go the extra mile at their expense, just to help me, at my worst and ugliest moments. When I had nothing to offer them in return but a feeble and heart-felt “thank you.”

It is called community. The family of God in action. And it reminds me of Zimbabwe in an odd way. 

Here is the short version of a great story. A big group of people in the Knoxville area sent a container of food, clothes, and school supplies over to people in a land far away where there are no jobs, where the shelves are empty. These were not  things not to make life “comfortable” but things to help them survive.  And when this group of people in Zimbabwe, our God family, opened up this metal box sent from around the world, the first thing they saw was a hand-made sign: “See, I have not forgotten you, I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.”

I weep every time I see the picture.   He hasn’t forgotten them. He hasn’t forgotten you. Ask for help. Believe it will come. He has got the whole world in His hand.

Also, if you want to help us continue to bless the people of Zimbabwe, click here.