This weekend, we made a road trip to spend some time with family. Since we have moved, it has been harder to make a quick trip over to see our parents or siblings and the kids.
One of my primary goals during renewal leave was to spend more time with family and to re-establish patterns for seeing and communicating with them. As I shared with my congregation when we announced the leave:
this is a time to enjoy the simple beauty of spending time with those I have been called to love.
I do believe that our families are part of our calling. You almost never got to choose who they were. Some of them were around long before you and some have come into your lives as you have grown and changed. But each one of them are part of your responsibility to care, to teach, to listen, to play, to love.
Since my husband and I are child-free, I have in particular embraced the role of aunt to my niblings. I love their little footsteps pattering towards the door as we walk in to get hugs. I love the sloppy messes. I love the silly things they say and their wild imaginations. And as I have watched them grow… including the one who now towers over my head… I have loved to see how kind and responsible they are and to hear all about the things that they now love.
A dear friend, who is also a child-free aunt, posted this to my facebook wall the other day and it made me tear up. I do love my niblings. And this weekend, I got to be that aunt. I loved their snotty faces and their tears and their shrieks of joy. I loved hanging out on the floor and putting together legos with them. I loved writing silly stories with them. I loved the cuddles. I loved teaching them something new. I loved listening to what is going on in their world. And, as a pastor, I also love that I can bring the gifts of my work into their lives and can wrestle with questions and be a part of blessing them… literally!
That is what the picture above is… a celebration of new life as we blessed my newest nibbling. We gathered around him and prayed for the life God has in store for him and for his parents and grandparents as they all love and care for him.
But I also love my brothers and sisters and if an ounce of what I can do and share with and for them makes their lives any easier, that brings me great joy, too.