This last weekend was my husband's birthday and we had the opportunity to have all of our kids here.   You see I know that I don't look old enough to have 2 kids that have left the home, 😜 but I am.

And while it is sad as they are first leaving, it starts getting a little easier.  I began to see them differently. They are no longer in our house therefore living under our rules and guidance. They are now able to more freely explore and form their own views of the world. The relationship becomes one of mutual respect and love and you begin to have discussions and arguments all while watching them grow and form their own opinions and thoughts on life.  It's not always easy when they have strong differing opinions than you but it is also really cool to challenge them to learn to back those up with truth, facts and passion.
Sidenote: This picture shows the happy we love you side of the kids, but the reality is that we have 5 very strongly opinionated and passionate kids that don't always see eye to eye.  But they do LOVE each other.

As I sat in church on Sunday, and we filled and entire row almost, I got a little sentimental.  You see I have always this vision in my head of our large family many years down the road enjoying family dinners and cookouts while there are kids and pets running amuck.  As we sat in church and both of my older 2 had their "friends" with them, I began to see the reality of this family picture and it was so cool! But not only that I realized that we already have had this with our grandparents, parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and so on and so forth.

I love that no matter what both Josh and my families have taught us to stick together.  Family is important and it is definitely a place to call home.  We may not always agree(in fact a lot of the times we don't) but we will always be here for each other and always love each other no matter what.

And unconditional love most definitely doesn't mean that we will always see eye to eye, or support bad choices but it always means that our door is ipen and a safe place to rest your head if needed.  It means that we can talk and debate.  Choices still have consequences but we will walk through those consequences by your side!  We will also be right there celebrating the victories and the excitement.  We will live your STORY with you and hopefully grow and learn from all of it together.  My kids are constantly teaching me things, the older ones are teaching me more than they know and more than I want to really admit sometimes. 😜

So this post has been brewing in my head for a few days. I am also reading/LOVING and can't put down the book "Welcome Homeless" by Alan Graham with Lauren Hall.  Seriously, every one of you should pick it up and read will be pleasantly surprised!  Anyways, I set it aside for a couple days and today when I picked it up, the story and chapter I read was "The Love Story of Bruk and Robin." Again I am overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and how well He can guide me.

The entire book talks about the importance of relationships in the stories of the people. This chapter in particular is amazing and really focuses guessed it, "the importance of FAMILY."

The vision that God has given me for Grace Like Rain and our community village is of FAMILY!  It is of all the children of God embracing our way back heritage and embracing our brothers and sisters and living and loving as one BIG happy family.  Alan Graham says in this particular chapter, "But the masterpiece that reveals more about God than anything else shows up when God made "family.""  He then goes on to say, "The single greatest cause of homelessness is a catastrophic loss of family."

Now I know that there are many, many reasons to lose family and I also know that you can blame, guilt or shame many people and ourselves because of these losses but that is most definitely not the point of this post.  The point is that we, human beings, need family.  God created us for relationship.

Alan Graham says that "Our purpose, from the very beginning is defined by relationship." We need each other, we thrive on our relationship with God.  We also seek and find meaning from our relationships as friends, mother, father, brothers, sisters, children, cousins, when these relationships that are important to us, i.e. son, daughter are harmed or faulty or severed because of all the messiness in this world, then it is easy for our world to spin out of control.

Later in the chapter, Alan Graham said, about family, "But the reality is we have to be in the mess and willing to stay in the mess."

The loss of relationships can lead to hopelessness.  When my relationship with my heavenly Father is not at it's best, my hope is definitely a lot less. When something is askew in my relationship with my family, friend or anyone really, then I tend to see things differently.  I am continually realizing that relationships are not about who is right and who is wrong but about how unconditionally I can love someone though the mess of this world.  Can we walk through the junk together? My relationships that I count on the most are the ones that I know have my back no matter what.  That we LOVE without judgement and that we can agree to disagree.  They are my family whether by blood or by God!

Back to my vision of peace and joy!  That vision is one not only of my blood family enjoying an afternoon of fun and relationship, it is one of the GLR Community Village all gathering to love one another.  It is of lots of kids running and playing, of my neighbors, friends, and their families joining us, of my kids and their kids being there, of my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all joining in.  It is a VISION of a SAFE and LOVING place where we can all gather and delight in God's love and agree to disagree on things.  It is FAMILY, God's sons and daughters spending time together and dancing, running, playing through the mess.  Relishing in His grace and love.


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