We Are Family

Welcome back to another week of my brain spewing out random thoughts and sharing tidbits of my (otherwise) boring life. This month was a big one for my little crew… we’ve been celebrating a few momentous birthdays recently, and my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary! Which is no light task, lemme tell you! Their actual anniversary was earlier this month, but this past weekend was the grand celebration! Of course, post-Covid, we were trying to be sensitive to the fact it was a rather large gathering of people, in an indoor space, and many were of the senior persuasion. All red flags. Still, we figured such a milestone must be celebrated… so we went ahead… and ordered two (yes two) large slab cakes.

It was a wonderful party. Many people made appearances, including some old friends and distant relatives who travelled in. It was certainly nice to make connections again. Some were masked, others were not… but it didn’t seem to matter. What seemed to matter, was legacy, longevity and well, a recognition of what a true milestone fifty years of marriage really is! Which, of course, had me musing!

What kinds of legacies do we leave those around us? What do our accomplishments tell people about what is important in our lives? Do our children see strong family values presented? Do friends and family gather because they love us or simply out of duty or guilt for how it may look to others? How much cake do you really need anyway?

God loves families. He certainly knows we are not perfect. Yet, He designed us to be part of family units from the get-go. He created man and woman… and then children and siblings and mothers-in-law. He allowed Jesus to come to earth, born of a woman, into a family to grow, to be nurtured, to be taught and to be part of a bigger group of connected people. I would like to think that His little band of disciples became like “family” too. Bound together by a common bond. We talk about “church families”, “small groups” and “brothers and sisters in Christ”. We were created to have relationships with one another. To mentor the younger ones, to pass on wisdom and encouragement. I have learned so many things from others.

Saturday, at the party, we laughed about who looks like who and who has so-and-so’s personality. Have you ever been to a family reunion where you just “can tell” that cousins are cousins? I wonder if Jesus looked a little like His brothers? Did He have His mother’s eyes? He certainly had His Father’s will in mind. And it’s true what they say… you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. It picks you. And you are stuck with it.

God doesn’t make mistakes, though. He knew who belongs where and why. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are hard. And a close relationship is even harder. There is some vulnerability we must face when we are with the family. Perhaps you were taught, like Timothy, by a faith-filled grandmother. Perhaps you have been shunned by your family because of your faith, and your church has become your new family in Christ. The Bible has lots of examples about the good -and the bad- of relationships via relatives. I’m not going to list them, but it might make for an interesting study one day!

No matter where you feel you stand among those who share some part of your DNA, remember this: God placed you there for a purpose. You have something to learn from these people. It may be blatantly evident, or it may take time to discover. Hug them a little closer. Share cake with them. Share some of our cake with them… We have lots leftover!

Life is Messy

Oh, my friends! What a world we have come to live in! Not only have we only just begun to crawl out from under a global pandemic, our own country has faced huge discord among its people in recent weeks, resulting in freezing assets, misguided information, and rally cries for dissension. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Europe has gone to war. Power-hungry men are puffing up their chests in attempts to gain … something. And the innocent are suffering. I have no words. In fact, I skipped a week or two of posts because I am beginning to question it all. Do words have value anymore?

Is it worth my two cents if I choose not to post my personal views and take sides? Is it worth it to “remain neutral” and bring some light-hearted script to encourage when the world is in such darkness? Last week I received a new book on the Psalms (check out my Instagram reel here) and I am looking forward to doing some doodling as I delve into it. The Psalms were never my go-to book. I think King David was a bit bipolar. His words always seemed far too “up and down” for me. One minute praises — the next, deep laments and evil wishes to dash his enemies. Recently I heard this about the Psalms: that you don’t truly know the light until you’ve been in the dark places. I suspect that is a very true statement. And the Psalms hit it on the head.

A couple weeks ago was my eldest daughter’s birthday. Now, she will be the first to admit that her culinary skills are not top-notch. She has a few basic recipes under her belt and she is happy to repeat them week by week. However, she wanted to try a few new things for her birthday dinner. Fine. No problem, sweetie, I will help you shop for ingredients and make a few suggestions, but the work is yours. The food was great. Everything tasted wonderful. The problem with amateur chefs? My kitchen was a disaster! Every dish, every appliance, every spoon and platter was well used and left for dead on every counter space left available. Sigh. These are memories. We can clean up later.

Life, like cooking, is sometimes messy. Challenges abound. Sometimes we have to be under fire to grow, change and “glow”. Life is not meant to be perfect and predictable.

“Governments make plans, but the Lord checks them. He does not let people do everything that they want to do. The plans that the Lord makes will always happen. His ideas will always be with us.”

Psalms‬ ‭33:10-11‬ ‭(EEB)

It’s pretty clear — God doesn’t let people do everything they want. The governments — and the common people, make plans; plans they think are best, but only God has the last say. None of us have been through this life before. We cannot predict the outcome or guarantee that our methods for living will be the most ideal ones. We are like my daughter… following the recipe hoping we interpret the instructions well, and that our efforts will somehow resemble the glossy picture in the book. More often than not, we create a fairly good tasting, but messy delectable delight. This world is full of sin and it’s going to get messy. Life with God will require patience. But God is infinite and promises to bring good out of the mess. 

Photo Credit: Do it yourself from Scratch on WordPress

Perhaps you are like me, tired and at a loss for words about all the things that have been weighing on the world lately. Maybe it has lit a fire under you and your faith has been made stronger in the face of opposition. Maybe you are just trying to eat some good-tasting stuff and will deal with the clean-up later. Take heart to the assurance that “the plans that the Lord makes will always happen” and I don’t think He’s done with us just yet. Be blessed with the journey, friends.

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had to name something? Perhaps you’ve created a beautiful piece of art and it’s being prepared for gallery presentation; it needs a “name” to go on that little card. A title to say what it is about and why. Great artists and photographers always name their work. I once read a book about a girl who names all of the homes she moves into… both big and small. It gives the place significance. I guess it is more fun to live in “The Corner Cottage” than apartment #2 on Route One next to the old oak tree. Anyone name their car? “Lemons” in my case. Of course, if you are a parent, you’ve had to name your offspring. Were you like us and had a book with baby names, meanings and origins? You made a list of boy and girl names and tried out the short forms and how a first and middle name flowed together off the tip of the tongue. Did you look at initials? That kid is going to be stuck with his or her name forever… it better be good. Worthy of a monogramed towel hanging in the bathroom. Or maybe you chose a family name, passed down for generations, honoring a loved one. Oh, and never the name of that third grade kid who was a “weirdo”… I know a “blank” and can’t call my baby that!

Photo: Days with Grey

Our youngest acquired a new batch of pet rats this week. Yes, rats. That is a topic for another time and place. We are talking about naming things, here. Anyhow… Our rats have always been named after plants and flowers, so picking names can be quite fun. God’s garden gives us plenty of choices… and we’ve had fun attaching traits and characteristics to their names. I’m sure we will be posting on social media this week… so check them out later, if you are interested!

So, what’s in a name? In grade school I did a whole project on that quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”. I got a pretty good mark, too. I guess I have been musing about such things for a while. As you know, words and their meanings are captivating to me, so names naturally fall into that category. Special “words” if you may. I tried searching “How many names does God have?” and didn’t get very accurate results. The short answer? “Lots”. God has lots of names. Each significant based on certain traits and characteristics. I guess that’s what makes it so special. Our Heavenly Father could be so many things for so many people: Father, Comforter, Protector, Creator, King… the list goes on and on. Listen to people pray… it’s a good hint about how they view God. How do they address Him when they speak to Him? There is a good list (here), although I don’t think even 950 names are exhaustive. But it is a significant start, if you may be interested in further study. Certainly fascinating.

Our little brains can’t begin to comprehend all the attributes of God, let alone name them. Names are really only a snapshot of something. And God is much much bigger than our tiny understanding of the person we call “God”. Would you agree? Or do you find it easy to label Him? Perhaps based on your needs, you know that God is definitely your “Abba” or your “protector”. Either way, Holy and awesome truly are His name. (Psalm 111). And no matter what your name is, He cares for you and loves you. And that’s the bottom line. Be blessed, my friends!