Monday, December 30, 2013

my heart is full

"My soul glorifies the Lord 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..." 
Luke 1. 46

Birthdays. Christmas. Family reunions. Relationships. Celebrations. Laughter. Tears. Hello's and good byes. 
I said before, December is a full month but what I really mean is that my heart is full. Full to overflowing. The outpouring of love and affirmations that came with my birthday party-- being surrounded by some of the best people in the world...  Celebrations that shine bright in my memory hall of fame... being together with family, investing in those relationships... these are the moments I treasure. 

I was excited for my family reunion this weekend but I underestimated the measure of joy and fullness it would bring. There was a time in my life where the thought of spending the day with family depressed me. (I was a surly teen of course) Even in my adulthood there were occasions for us to gather and I sighed with resignation because our relationships were fractured, or tenuous. But, O thank the Lord, thank the Lord, for the healing He brings. Not because my family is a new and improved version. No it's the healing in my own heart and mind to see and appreciate the wonder of my brothers and sisters, to delight in their uniqueness, to enjoy their antics, to gain a better understanding of each of them and their special contributions to the world and to our family. 

My oldest brother is 11 years my senior. He is severely mentally handicapped. He lived at home until in his 20's and since then has been living in supervised residences. His communication skills are limited and his behavior is... well, odd. We have no idea what is going on in his mind and how much he really understands when we talk to him. But he is a child of God and a delight unto the Lord. One of God's masterpieces. 

My second brother is 10 years older than me. It felt like I really didn't know him until recent years. He and his wife, my sister-in-love, played a significant role in my life during and after my divorce and became very close friends of mine and Bruce's in the years prior to their move to Montana. I miss them so much and so the visit with them over the past 2 days was so dear to me. Saying goodbye was hard

Then comes my sister. Oh, my dear readers, you know how I feel about my sister. She has my heart without a doubt. My other half in some ways. I wonder sometimes if we aren't really twins, born 5 years apart. And to think, now that she lives here, goodbye's are really just see you later!

In our family line up, I am next and I was the baby of the family for 9 years. Then.... a surprise. Baby brother was born. We didn't really get along until long after I was out of the house. He makes me laugh, sometimes even on purpose! He was a great host, along with his sweet wife, for our family hoedown. 

With a large house and a brand new smoker/bbq, they kept us well fed and comfortably ensconced for a full day of sitting and gabbin'. 

everybody and their dog. One brother has 2, another brother has 3. Not seen are 3 more belonging to various other family members. 

As Bruce and I drove home last night we talked about the meaning of holidays, the meaning of Christmas. To remember that Christmas is all about Jesus-- God sending his son into the world to save us, to have relationship with us. That's what it's all about. And building relationship with those around us, investing in those relationships, that is our purpose here on earth, regardless of what career you were designed for, regardless of the talents and gifts you have, it all comes down to relationships. 

birthday lunch for Bruce.

Our last event of the weekend was a farewell party for our senior pastor and his wife who have retired from our church to enter full time into overseas missions. They have poured themselves into the lives of their congregations, holding nothing back. I have never been so impacted by a pastor, never been so challenged. It was with much laughter and tears that we celebrated the years they have given and sent them off proper to go on to the next chapter of their lives. The place was packed with people who feel similar to how I feel about the impact he has made in their lives. And again it was all about investing in relationships. 

it's all about relationships

2013 is coming to a close and with a new year before us it's time to re-evaluate and look ahead. I already know what my word for the new year will be. Yes, that's right. RELATIONSHIPS. I look forward to a heart that is filled to overflowing. 

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