Family Reunions

What is summer without a family reunion or a family get-together sprinkled with lively children, frisky dogs, and ice cream? In my book, that’s part of the quintessential definition of summer. My childhood summers always included the mandatory grandparent/aunt/uncle/cousin get-together, a dining table ladened with tender roast beef, fried corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, and garden-fresh sliced tomatoes. (The cousins were relegated to the “children’s table” in the kitchen where we could talk, laugh, and play with our food to our hearts’ content.) After meals, we’d play in the attic and parade about wearing dresses from our aunt’s college days and then tumble outside to run here and there to the tune of twittering birds and droning cicadas amidst glittering lightening bugs. Happy times.

Just the other weekend, we enjoyed a small semblance of those times. There were aunts and an uncle. There were cousins. Little children were missing, but a frisky puppy made his appearance. The dining table was full with food and family faces once again and although the roast beef gave way to sweet potato burritos and guacamole, there were still garden-fresh sliced tomatoes. (And this time, all the cousins were grown, so we were all at the dining table!) We enjoyed walks through our shady neighborhood, stopping here and there when the puppy decided to sit down or tangled his leash around a bush. And in the evening, we relaxed in our small screened-in porch, once again lulled by twittering birds and droning cicadas, and reveling in the wonder of God’s creative handiwork of each glittering lightening bug we spotted.

After we all attended worship the next morning, we went to lunch together. Leaving the restaurant, my cousin whispered in my ear, “What a great family,” and I couldn’t help but agree with a thankful, wiser heart.

Looking back, it’s funny, how you view things when you’re very young. My daughter, at age 5, used to think that whatever was playing on our car stereo was playing in all the other cars around us. She’d see someone smiling in another car and attribute that to the fact that we were playing John Lithgow’s uproarious “Singin’ in the Bathtub”. Then she’d see someone looking serious and attribute that to the classical music we were playing! Growing up myself, I thought every family was the same as mine: lots of stories, lots of laughter, playing games, and worshipping together.

Now in her early twenties, our daughter laughs over that instance of a young, self-absorbed world view. And now, since knowing many more families myself, I’ve realized my perspective was a bit naive, as well. Yes, we have a great family and now I realize it’s a great blessing as well, but many people–people I love and care for and people I don’t even know–have families with lots of contention, lots of disappointment, playing around, and discounting God. And some families have a mixed bag, a little of both worlds.

In the end, however, it really doesn’t matter what your family here on earth was or is like. Whether it’s out of a storybook or a nightmare–or somewhere in between–that doesn’t matter at all. Because, even if Aunt Ruby said that we were “the sweetest thing ever” for as long as we can remember, we are all broken sinners, in need of a savior.

Which brings me to a different kind of family. It’s the family spoken of in John 1:12:

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”

We read in that first chapter of John that God has given us the “right to become children of God.” It’s not automatic. It’s an opportunity, a choice we are capable of making. We have the opportunity, the invitation. And if you realize (along with Aunt Ruby) that,

you are a broken sinner in need of a savior, and

you believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and

that He died for your sins on the cross

was buried in a tomb,

rose to life after 3 days,

and will come again to call you home,

guess what?

God has called you into a new family:

And you’re in God’s family!

“See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are!” 1 John 3:1, 2

You’re a child of God! Isn’t that wonderful news, dear sister and brother?!

Now let’s fast-forward to another family reunion.

When our time on earth has reached the fullness God has ordained for each of us, He will call us home. And what a family reunion that will be, complete with the wedding feast of the Lamb, of Christ!

Will we hear stories from our favorite Bible characters? Will Noah share a funny story about the peacocks and the crocodiles? Will Paul recount his shipwrecks? Will we be in awe, gazing at the reunion of the disciples, at unexpected surprises, at sights too beautiful for words and sounds of angels too glorious for recognition, and at the face of our Savior? Yes!

That’s going to be a family reunion like no other. I’m eager to be there; aren’t you?

Remember, Christ is ever with us, ordering our steps (Psalm 31:15), numbering our days, and–when time reaches fullness–we will all be truly home. What a joy it will be to see you there, my brother and sister, and what a reunion time we will have!

Until then, grace and peace and joy!

Advertisements

The Last Day of Summer

I am at a loss. Why? The end of summer is upon us! The month has dwindled down to a drop–

a day.

img_3186

Today, Wednesday, September 21, is THE LAST FULL DAY of summer.

More precisely,

(with a little help from “ye” Old Farmer’s Almanac)
Old Farmer's Almanac

tomorrow–Thursday, at 10:20 AM–is the last moment of this summer.

Gone are the days of. . .

ice cream Image result for ice cream cone

Image result for lazy summer morning lazy mornings

being poolside, dockside, or beachside Image result for public domain lake with dock and chair

Image result for chasing fireflies public domain  chasing lightning bugs

overflowing gardens  Image result for bountiful flower bed public domain

Image result for jumping through sprinklers public domain  jumping through sprinklers

barefoot walks in soft green grass  Image result for public domain feet walking in grass

Image result for watermelon slice public domain  watermelon

fresh tomatoes   Image result for beefsteak tomatoes public domain

But weren’t they wonderful? (And who says ice cream is only for the summer? I have a dear aunt who would strongly concur!)

I hope you were able to enjoy some special times this past summer, dear friend. Did your garden bloom beautifully? Did your friends rejoice with you? Did you share sparkling morning sunlight and evening starlight with someone special? Did you walk increasingly more closely with Jesus?

Among His many characteristics, God is a god of relationship. Look at the friendships of David and Jonathan, of Paul and Barnabas and Timothy. Look at the marriages of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and Sarah, and of Joseph and Mary. Look at the kinship of Jesus and His cousin, John. Look at the bonds between Jesus and the apostles–and Jesus and you.

Relationships span time and seasons. They are important, in every season. So, let’s be thankful for the summer days we enjoyed and praise God for those moments and memories.

But what about difficult days? Have the hottest summer days been accompanied by trying and soul-strengthening trials? Have you been through a personal summer thunderstorm?

If in this past summer you experienced some bitter or difficult times, remember God does not leave us without comfort. We have His Word. We have His ear. We have His Spirit. We have those relationships. Like that gangly last tomato plant, continue to lean on the firm support that only Jesus Christ is. He came and died and rose making that relationship possible–all for you!

Remember

  • how very much He loves you,
  • that He is in control, (and that He is in control), and
  • to humble yourself and concede, “Thy will be done.”

With that attitude, we can be thankful for the summer days and for the fall days just around the corner. We can look forward with great expectation to see the unfolding of His good and perfect plan for our lives. We can be encouraged to walk even more closely with Jesus as we enjoy. . .

Image result for fall leaves public domain Colorful leaves (and leaf piles to jump in!)

Uniquely shaped gourds and pumpkins Image result for pumpkins gourds public domain

Image result for public domain thanksgiving dinner Thanksgiving dinner

Hot mulled cider Image result for public domain mulled cider

Image result for public domain pumpkin pie Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, (pumpkin ice cream?)

Crisp air  Image result for public domain fall in the blue ridge

And when we don’t know what will happen or when we pray and pray and PRAY for something or someone–let’s commit to wait with expectant eyes to see the realization of the wonder that is God’s will.

Let’s be awed and amazed with. . .Image result for public domain fall heart leaf

each uniquely colored fall leaf,

Image result for public domain breath of mountain hiker  each breath of crisp air

Image result for public domain hands making heart shape

each day He gives us.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Cooling off in the Heat

Long time, no post, right?! Don’t think for a moment that I forgot about you; I’m ever thankful for the opportunity to encourage and strengthen you.

It’s just summer, with its extra activities and odd schedules.

But now I’m sitting in part shade (very important in these hot summer days) on my old wooden bench outside. Sit down a moment with me. Let’s see if we can cool off and be encouraged together.

(more…)