Karen

Happy Birthday, Grace!

August 25, 2011 in Family and Friends

It’s my youngest daughter’s birthday today.  Grace is 24.  It hardly seems possible.  I still remember seeing two tiny toes sticking straight up in the air from a bassinet long since put away.  She’s an adventure in grace and as a mom, I couldn’t be prouder of the woman she is today.  She’s always been a teacher for me, causing me to step up to the plate and become more than I was before.  I guess that’s part of the big picture, part of the way God designs families.  He gives us enough sameness to recognize our roots and enough differences to truly give us wings.  We’re a kind of mix and match set and no matter how old we become or where life takes us, we’re connected, grounded in each other.

Family dynamics may have changed in terms of style or content over the years, but that doesn’t matter so much.   The good news for any of us is that families are still people who notice each other, watch out for each other, squabble with each other and come back and love each other.  Families are the best option we have in what it means to live side by side, arm in arm. The Bible says that God set the lonely in families and that seems to be a theme with God.  After all, His biggest concern after He had created the world, the animals and oceans and his guy Adam, was that Adam needed someone beside him, someone like him to share the path of life.  He didn’t want Adam to be lonely.  It’s still the case.  We’re given sons and daughters, spouses and siblings so that we have a place to turn when life goes haywire and a place to celebrate when it all goes well.  As Billy Graham said, “The family was ordained by God  before he established any other institution, even before he established the church.”    Families are key to all that we know and all that we become.

Wherever you are today, stop and give thanks for your family.  Be grateful for what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and where you’re yet to go.  You owe a great deal of who you are to the people who raised you.  You may not see the setting as ideal, the interactions as something out of a TV sitcom, but what you have and who you are is valid and real and important in large part, because of them.  Your family is God’s grace to you.  They gave you the tools to become the real and authentic person you are.

To my sweet Grace, I send unconditional love and gratitude.  Your birthday is a celebration of what I consider to be one of my greatest achievements.  Thanks for being wonderful YOU!

Happy Birthday! Love You BIG!

 

Karen

Family Trees

October 16, 2010 in Family and Friends

I like the idea of family trees…you know, roots, supportive limbs, waving branches.  It’s a great metaphor for how we connect to the world and to each other.  I like to think that we’re all connected, somewhat like the aspens in Colorado, one root underground grasping on to its neighbor.  That kind of root friendly life makes us all family.

Last weekend I was blessed to see my son get married.  As I considered what it now means for him to extend his family roots and embrace a whole new forest of possibilities, it struck me that these new roots for him, were now new roots for me too and that was a nice thing.  I thought about his father, who attended the wedding with his wife and his aunts and uncles whom I hadn’t seen in many years, and how much they too are still my family.  We may have been shaking in the wind, grafted on to other parts of the tree, but when you get down to it, we’re still connected.  We’re still part of each others family tree.

Of course, then my mind looks at how God makes us all part of His family, letting us wander around somewhat rootless at times, all the while knowing we have a place, that we have a branch on His tree.  We may let our branch grow a bit dormant at times, we may not see it blossom and produce much fruit, but the fact is, we’re there, always connected. One of the beauties of celebrations, weddings, birthdays, new babies, even funerals is that we come together on those occasions to remind each other that we’re still there, we’re still important as family.  That’s the gift, the beautiful humanity that makes us see things that matter more clearly.

Sometimes, when I’m out here on my own, far from my family, I can forget for a moment that I have a place somewhere. I can even forget that I have a family tree.  Yesterday, in a quiet time of prayer and meditation, God showed me a beautiful smooth brown tree trunk, about a foot in diameter.  I didn’t really understand it as it stood there all alone very close to me.  Suddenly, it opened up and a few bees started buzzing around it, and then before I knew it the whole trunk of the tree was surrounded by a swarm of bees.  I watched in wonder at the life that had come from that particular tree and the sweetness that new honey might produce for those passing by.  I didn’t quite understand it, but yet in some way, it made me feel better.  It made me see that we don’t always know what is produced from the roots and the branches that we’ve helped to grow, but if we’re lucky, there’s a little bit of honey…a sweet buzz created around all that we’ve hoped to do.

I love my family tree!  I love every time it’s had to be pruned, every time it has blossomed, every time it has stood strong in the winds and the storms of life.  I love that it is totally rooted in the One who keeps it strong!

Karen

We Are Family!

September 9, 2010 in Family and Friends

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.

Karen

We Are Family!

June 14, 2010 in Family and Friends

I just spent the past two weeks traveling (and so I send out apologies to my special friends who find me here on a more regular basis).  It was time to visit my family and take part in the love fest that makes life more worthwhile when you get a big dose of those family ties all at once.  I was blessed beyond measure to see my three children, who wrapped me in moments to treasure as we celebrated birthdays, played board games, badminton, and cooked great dinners together.  One gift after another without discounts or coupons.  Simply an incredible sharing and a reminder of all it means to be family, to be a mom of incredible children.

From Ohio, I drove on to New York to see my parents and my sisters and slipped into the hillsides of my roots and be reminded of the gift it is to be someone’s child again.  It’s incredible to see my parents who have been an awesome example, married for over 65 years, still dancing, still enjoying life and still holding hands.  Of course, mom’s strawberry shortcake tops the list of great things.

We all attended the wedding of my niece as well and nothing does my heart more good than being on the dance floor, laughing, enjoying the moments, and shaking our booty with my parents and my three sisters.  The Sister Sledge song that The Pointer Sisters also made really famous came back to mind. We Are Family!  You may remember the song says in part, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me, We are family. Get up everybody and sing…

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family Jewel, yeah.”

In our family, this is indeed our “jewel” the chance to remember all that we have, all that we share, all that we mean to each other.  When I think about this part of my family, all of it, my parents, my sisters, my children, I can’t help thanking God for the way He structures this life for us.  He knows that nothing makes life better than the nurturing and the love and the benefits we get from good families.  Those of us who have them cannot count the blessings.

As the gypsy woman in my family, the one who has moved to more addresses than most people have visited, I can only say that I’m always better after I’ve taken some time to re-root myself, to nourish my soul and my spirit in the arms of the people who may not always know me best, but who love me always.  I’m able then to go back into the world, create family out of neighbors and friends, and breathe more fully.

As I get back to work, back to my own routines, I simply want to bring honor to each member of my family for always giving me a place to call “home.”  Because of you, this is one incredible world.

Blessings to my family and to yours today.