"...these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."
(NIV) 1 Timothy 5: 4
As many of you know, our family recently returned from a fantastic vacation in Costa Rica. My husband is a native of Costa Rica and most of his family still resides there. During the first part of our trip, our immediate family enjoyed some incredible experiences while touring the country - zip lining, white water rafting, catamaran cruising, and relaxing by the water. It was exciting, exhilarating, rejuvenating, and just plain old FUN!
Since we have older children, it is difficult to get everyone together at the same time for dinner, never mind 10 days away in a foreign country. Yet, our family made the commitment, and I couldn't have been happier. I knew that when we would hit US soil after this vacation, everyone would go back to their separate lives and journeys. For a few precious days, though, we accomplished what we went there to achieve - make memories. It could have been something simple as being in a car for four hours together - laughing along the way. Or it was something much braver as hitting the rapids in a small raft (and I only almost fell out once!).
My greatest revelation, though, was the love our family has for each other, and support for each other is still there. We may have grown up, and some may have moved away, but the love for each other hasn't wavered. It was as if all that they have learned in the last eleven years as a family came together - the joy, the tears, the trials and the triumphs. It was all there as God had planned.
The last leg of our trip brought together our Costa Rican family with us. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, by the pool of Melissa and Carlos, the family gathered, reminisced and made new memories. As an observer, it was beautiful to watch. As a participant, it was beautiful to FEEL. My Spanish is not very good (okay, non-existent), but we were able to communicate. Through smiles, through touch, through facial expressions - we were able to share thoughts and love. On that special Saturday, we came together - it was all there as God had planned.
God's plan for our families can sometimes seem foreign to us. I know that I tend to want experiences for my family that don't always come to fruition. I can be demanding of God on many occasions, wanting the "perfect" family times on MY time. What I realized during this vacation, though, is that these moments come when God wants them to come - and usually those times are much sweeter, much grander, than I could have planned.
Our family moments may not always come through scheduled family reunions or vacations. They could come with kids jumping on a trampoline, huddled around a board game, eating a meal together, or even Skyping near and far. The important thing to realize is that God wants us to take care of each other - regardless of the distance. God wants us to pray for each other. God wants us to support each other. God wants us to love each other - to take all that He has taught us and bring that into our families. When we do what God has guided us to do, the memories will follow. They will be better because the memories will be in His name.
"Heavenly Father, we ask that you be with our families - both near and far. Help us to live out our faith with our families, showing our families everything that you have taught us. May we fold our loving arms around each and every family member - whether they be streets, states, or countries away. May we remember them in our prayers. Thank you, Lord, for my wonderful family. In your name we pray. Amen."