Tim and I have large families on all sides. Though we seldom see the Carpenter's, their love of God and family as well as their work ethic inspires me. A favorite memory I'll always cherish is the evening we spent planting sweet potatoes in Aunt Karen's truck patch down in Georgia.
We get to see the Yoder's a little more often and my children look forward to the Shrimp Boil or Yoder campout each year. Grandpa is a delightful story teller - we tease him that his stories get bigger and better every time he tells them!
My Grandpa and Grandma Stutzman have both passed away, but the memories of Grandma's sugar cookies and Grandpa's precise instructions on how I should mow his yard (I still follow his instructions even though he's no longer checking in on me from the window) are precious to me.
My Grandpa and Grandma Miller are gone as well. I miss them. This weekend at my cousins wedding, I stared at the empty seats where they should've been and wondered what life would be like if they were still here. I wish they could see my kids today. Despite the sorrow I felt, I was so happy to be with this family I call mine.
With family, we experience a link that cannot be broken - whether we want it to or not, :) and the best connections are the ones where love permeates the room. I was blessed to experience that this weekend with my Texas family. Sitting in a crowded room among loved ones, catching up on the latest news, holding babies, eating and laughing together is a gift that is priceless. There, I knew I belonged. I was in a safe place where I could just be me!
Family is a gift I desire to pass on to my children for I believe it is the plan God has for His children - to live as family - to celebrate one another's joys and above all else to love.
And for that, I am thankful.