Women and Men

It's a rare and special occasion when all 32 members of an extended family can be together. Thirty-one of us were present at a graduation party in May, many of the ladies reunited a few weeks later for great-grandchild #1's baby shower, and a family vacation saw us all reunited in the Wisconsin Dells last week. For some reason I really took notice of my aunts and uncles during those times. So many of the cousins are transitioning to adult life and experiencing growth and changes. Maybe because my perspective has changed, or because my parents' generation is also going through transitions, or maybe because of a combination of both - their words and actions struck me in ways I'd never noticed before.

The women in my family are home-makers - not in the sense that they're always at their house, but they're always making others feel at home. I was so impressed as my Aunt Cindy hosted a large group of women at the baby shower, providing food and facilitating games. She managed to make everyone feel welcome, even being attentive to Vanessa's mother-in-law, only present via Skype and watching through a laptop.

And then somehow, within 5 minutes of entering our condo in Wisconsin, Aunt Jenny had the kitchen stocked and organized, with snacks out on the table. I was amazed at the hospitality each of these women had even when they were so far away from their homes! They anticipated the little things all the way from seating arrangements to serving spoons.
The men in my family are spiritual leaders. Uncle David initiated scripture-reading and prayer over the 6 graduates (college & high-school) at the party. He invited others to give words to the graduates, and every single head of family spoke up. As I listened, I realized how easy it would have been for them to leave the "words" to their wives - most of whom did share eloquently. I realized how much easier it would be for them to let all the teenagers go back to goofing around and eating cupcakes. But their love for their children came through as they seized those moments to share the most important message of all - love God and follow him.

My grandpa asked each of his sons & sons-in-law to lead one night of family devotions during our vacation. Again, my dad and uncles took the opportunity to exhort and challenge us in our faith. My older cousin, the only one married so far, is quiet and reserved, but none the less a leader. He added his own exhortations, as the head of his own young family, for us cousins to marry a man or woman of God. There are so many other ways that these men are leaders, but I particularly respect the fact that they lead by speaking and praying.

It's a rare and special occasion when all 32 members of an extended family can be together. It's even more special when that family is held together by such faithful women and men.

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