Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Big Happy

I just got through eating at Potz Cafe in Irving. Interesting place. It's more like walking into the kitchen at my mom's house and asking "What's for lunch?" than it is like 'going out' to eat. They treat you like family.

I watched "THE BLIND SIDE" last week....yes...almost a year after it came out but wow, what a movie. I guess the question the movie answers is "Who's your family?" For a very large homeless black boy it was a family who extended grace and mercy to him and invited him in.

I grew up in a Paonia, Colorado, attended a small church and school. Everything was small but the feeling of family there. What struck me was the feeling of togetherness, community, belonging, acceptance and love. At church, there was Grandma Connie and Grandma Della, neither of whom gave birth to either of my parents but they LOVED me and cared for me. They hugged me and kissed me like any grandma should do...I belonged to them. I feel a fondness for them even now they both have passed away.

So here is my list of the top ten ways you know you belong to a family:

1. There is hospitality. You are welcome in their home and are treated like a biological member of the family (or better in most cases). You rarely go away hungry for food or affection. They give freely of the resources they have.

2. There is affection. Hugs and kisses and physical touch send the message, "I like you." Affection is the glue that holds a family together. Without it we are a bunch of strangers wandering around together but never really connecting. Affection forms life long bonds with others that can never be diminished over time.

3. There is a need to know you. Questions are constantly in the air about how the other is doing and what is happening. They want to know about your health, relationships, family, and any minute detail they can pull from you. That sharing helps them understand who you are and what you are about. It comes from the theory that the more we know about each other, the more we have in common. Familiarity breeds love.

4. There is safety. The healthy family is a calm harbor in which to rest and relax before going back out into the waves and wind. I can talk freely about myself because the information won't be held against me because family knows that growth is a process. The world beats us up but family is there to build you up.

5. There is acceptance. Family knows your weaknesses and they still like you. They know each member is not perfect but each member is important. There is forgiveness and grace to handle the realities of real life.

6. They tell you "you can do it." Family is your biggest fans. Whatever goals and dreams you have, family standing on the sidelines cheering for you to reach your potential. They tell you that you are smart enough, clever enough, nice enough, good enough and strong enough.

7. They give you what you need. Family provides the basics so you are free to succeed. So many people in this world strive their entire lives just to get their basic needs met (food, shelter, love,). There is no freedom to move beyond the striving because they feel as though something is missing. Family is a constant source of provision so each member can move beyond to achieve greater things.

8. There is belonging. You are a vital part of the machine and your identity is woven in that belonging. They miss you when you are not there and seek to connect with you wherever you are. They call and chat because they belong to you and you to them.

9. There is freedom to leave. Even though you are a part and belong, they also know you must leave the nest in order to succeed. They tearfully let you go and think about you often. They pray for your safety and success often. Like the cable that allows an astronaut to work securely on the space station, prayer is the tether that holds us together when someone is outside the fold. I know many people who pray for me daily and that bond is felt and returned.

10. There is love. All these things together is the proof of love. Whether the family is biological, social, or spiritual, the things listed here are the proof that we are a part of something greater and sweeter. It's tender and warm. Whoever does these things for us, whoever invites us in to share life together, they are "family."

Did I miss anything? What does family mean to you?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Word of your Testimony

My father-in-law turns 80 years old this month. He is a gentle, warm, caring man of God. He is usually quiet but tonight he blew me away. We were celebrating his birthday today and tonight he pulled out the testimony of his faith.

He started with creation and went all the way through his beliefs about God and started getting emotional as he talked about Jesus. It was beautiful. He touched my heart (and my kids hearts) with his sincere and meaningful recounting of his faith.

It was a reminder of how important it is to talk about Jesus, even to those who believe. It helps people solidify their own faith as they hear others tell the story. God moves in our story and touch those who listen to it. I encourage you to tell your story today and see what God can do.