I have been amazed at what a gift it is that I love (and mostly get along with) my family. Every family has its quirks and sometimes you sit and stare at each other and wonder how on earth you came from the same gene pool, but in the end when you discover the loyalty and underlying commitment to each other through thick and thin, you can praise God for this network you are bound to by blood for the rest of your life.
I have three brothers and two sisters ranging from the ages of 42 to 22. I bug all of them about the fact that I am the favourite (which got blown out of the water when my own father forgot to invite me to a family gathering once... sigh). Ok, so maybe I am not the favourite, but I like to think I am the favourite "spicy" and "flavourful" one forcing them to lick their plates on my birthday "because it's my birthday and I said so" and to raise our glasses to toast my mother's uterus who housed each of us...
I know, strange thing to toast, but fascinating none the less!
It's been an amazing journey to love each other unconditionally, embracing our differences (and butting heads about them, too) and GROWING from the challenges we've been faced with. This is why I say it is a GIFT. My family has taught me to love someone so much that you want to connect with them through heart and soul beyond skin-deep issues or differences, arguments or set backs. My family taught me to believe that I could do ANYTHING because they would ALWAYS be there for me in the end.
Last night was no exception...
Duane and I hosted my mother's family gathering and as the house filled up with people, noise and love, a meal was being created that tailored completely and totally around Ethan's allergies! Considering his 20+ allergens (most are key ingredients to tasty meals), this was an incredible feat! Alas, it became an incredible feast... wholesome, simple and delicious.
I have come to meet some people whose child has a life-threatening allergy (sometimes several) and the horror stories I hear of their family members coming with foods and dainties riddled with LIFE-THREATENING allergens, showing no concern about crumbs, touching the child afterwards and even cross-contaminating his/her foods by sampling his/her "special plate" of food! These parents are loving and understanding of the fact that their family just doesn't get it (and as I pointed out in previous entries, sometimes you just CAN'T get it until it affects your life directly). This is why what my family did for us and our Ethan far exceeds anything I ever expected!
So to my beloved brothers and sisters (and mom, too) I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my network of support, for always loving me for wherever I am at in my life, for jumping on board when life takes me to dark and challenging places and finally, for being my family! I love you so much and pray that I can be as much a gift to you as you have been to me.
And for all of you out there with your own quirky, head-butting, unconditional-love-testing families... I pray that you also find PEACE in knowing that whether your family is good at showing you their love or not, I hope you KNOW it is there... that YOU not hesitate or hold back in showing YOUR love for them, that you find strength in knowing you are not alone. And should you be faced with those stubborn siblings (or even parents) who just like to make it challenging to love them, I pray that you embrace that challenge and be the gift to them you hope they can someday be to you or someone else. May you be the first to be the gift and bring FREEDOM to those bound to you in blood. It means a major embrace of humility, taking a deep breath and walking into the storm knowing you may get pushed around (just like when you were kids) but you may just walk through it and discover they had been waiting for YOU all along!
Bottom line, I pray your family can be YOUR gift, too. I would be lost without mine and I guess I just want EVERYONE to have that same support and love around them. And if you DON'T have that? Then I ask that you accept my love for you, as my brother and sister in CHRIST bound by HIS blood for all eternity. I will love you and praise God for His very breath that breathed purpose into YOU. Thanks for being here...
God bless you!