Thankful for Family

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Probably one of the first things we think of at Thanksgiving is to give thanks for our families. Usually, I purposely try to lead people to go beyond family, health, our homes, our church, friends, and all the usual–to move to deeper forms of thanksgiving.

But today, I am thinking of family. In a day when families are being bombarded with divorce, out-of-control teenagers, death of older members, suicidal deaths, abortions, conflict, loneliness, not to mention feelings of isolation because of too much media (computers, iPhones, and the like) or the feeling of too much family in this Covid year, it is possible many are not too thankful for family.

I hope that is not so for you. If you have survived these dilemmas, or have dodged them, then you have much for which to be thankful.

My husband and I are blest to have had parents who went past the 50-year mark in their marriages, giving us a goal for our 50-year mark (and now beyond.) We hope that this in turn has set the pattern for our son and daughter in their marriages. All of us have our challenges as in any relationship, but how valuable it is to have healthy legacies to pass on.

Now I look at our seven grandchildren in this era of family turmoil. As I give thanks for each one, I also pray for God’s protection and guidance as they make their daily choices and form patterns of faith. Their ages are 13, 14, 17, 18, 19 and the two girls are 20. What critical years.

Here they are after my mother’s graveside service. Sorry it’s not a good closeup because they’re all so cute! (Said like a grandmother.)

This year we are beginning a new tradition. We commit to pray every day for the grandchild who is having a birthday in that month. We ask them to tell us three things they would like for us to pray about in their lives. We have done this with five of the seven so far and have two to go. It has been a delight to do this, really focusing in on one of them at a time for a whole month. 

We will likely give their parents a turn as well. We hope this opens the door for them all to mention any prayer concerns throughout the year.

So at this Thanksgiving time, I am truly grateful for this wonderful family God has given me. We’ve had our share of struggles, but God has seen us through and taught us many lessons in the process.

May you find things about your family that bring you to thanksgiving this year.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:12

~ Joyce ~


Grandchildren Week

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We’re in the thick of it—grandchildren!

As each one of the seven came along, we rejoiced. We coddled and cooed and bragged—two from our daughter, Julie, and five from our son, Jason.

So how is it that these little people suddenly became big people? Taller-than-me people! They have turned into 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, and two 16 year-olds.

Thankfully, they still want to come to Nana and DoDad’s house. (Yes, “DoDad.”)  They also like being with their cousins. We ride the go-carts at the Fun Park, swim, eat, take in dollar movies (if we can find them), eat, play in Julie’s big yard, do a volunteer day, eat, and play in the park. Did I say eat?

They each have their unique personalities and likes, but they are well behaved and are fun to be with. We are blessed. Yes, there are bandaged knees, sprained wrists, and things broken at times, but that comes along with it.

I delight in the memories we are making together, conversations that help form values, while establishing that family is a loving, happy place to be. They love to hear stories of when they were little or stories about their parents when they were were younger, and our stories. It provides connection and a place of belonging.

When the two oldest girl cousins were born (a month apart), I began a photo album with two pictures per page and a space to write comments in between. A year later, the next next one came along, so of course he needed an album, too. Then another… and another… and another. Needless to say, my book shelves are full of albums of memories. At Christmas each finds a spot to sit with his or her album and look through the activities for that year. I must say, though, it is a lot of work!

Is all of our family life a garden of roses, a fairy land of magical happenings, a Kum Bah Yah campfire? Of course not. As with all families, there are times of misunderstanding, bitterness, even rebellion. Fortunately, God’s love overcomes it all. We can say with David:

I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble

Oh my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59: 16-17

Young parents, I implore you to follow God’s example of being a refuge and fortress as you grow your families. Grandparents, may we bring our unique joy into these precious lives as we build heritage.

However, I would caution you to watch your traditions with the first one or two grandchildren, for who knows, you could end up with seven, too! (smile)

~ Joyce ~