Next Isaiah 9:6 question: How has God shown himself to be your Everlasting Father this year?
You've read about the Sisterhood... and you know about my kids... but guess what - the family is even bigger...
Family is a big deal to me. I have a pretty incredible family - a mom and dad who love God, love each other, and love me; two brothers who are insanely gifted, loving, godly, (and good-looking!); a sister-in-law who I am constantly challenged and blessed by; and three nephews who are being raised as mighty warriors for Jesus. I have a rich heritage from my grandparents and great-grandparents, incredible support and encouragement from my aunts and uncles, and my cousins are some of the coolest people I am privileged to know. But my family, though emotionally close, is geographically spread out all over - from South Florida to Vancouver Island; from Ontario to L.A.; from Vernon, British Columbia, to Buenas Aires, Argentina, to Australia. And then there's little ol' me, lost somewhere in the middle, in the flatlands of Indiana. I'm thankful for Skype, Facebook, and email, but there is nothing like being present with family.
So what does a lone Chandler do in the Midwest? She remembers that she is grafted in to a bigger family, adopted and promised an inheritance from her Everlasting Father, and she looks around to see who else has her Father's eyes, smile, and heart.
Once a week, Hannah and I get together with some friends to share good news and pray together. Among them are our Uncle Steve and Aunt Sheila, Uncle Eldon and Aunt Jan, and Auntie Cathy. We've christened them with these names when we talk about them and pray for them together, and it just seems natural and right, because they do "uncle and aunt" types of things - they give us hugs and snacks, they ask how things are going and really listen to us and remember what we've told them before, they offer counsel and assistence, and they pray for us. I trust them, learn from them, and want to be more like them. Other "aunts and uncles" in my Fort Wayne life right now include Brenda and Ron, Linda and Juan, Ciin Nuam and Pau Kai, Reyna and Pedro, Meng Pu, Lian, Margie, Becky, and Coleen.
Then there is my beautiful bunch of cousins from Gospel Community. We're just now really starting to get to know each other well, but I love the times we've had together lately - especially with Ben and Kayla, doing ministry, drinking coffee, and obsessing over fairytales together. It's fun to do life with people close to my age, who like doing the things I enjoy too. I think of them more as cousins, because we come from such diverse backgrounds and are all a bit weird in our own right; we don't look much alike or act very much the same or have the same gifts, but there is definitely a family resemblence that testifies to the Grace that binds us together.
Of course, the brothers are pretty exceptional, too. God has taught me so much through them this year, and their strength and wisdom has helped me through some difficult times. They have been so faithful to redirect my focus back to the Lord over and over again, whether I've needed prayer, loving affirmation, or a reality check that I was being too rediculous (which is more often than you might think!). They make us food, do repair jobs, and tend to our yard, among other things. They've taken care of me like my real brothers have, and I'm so thankful for their presence in my life.
So even though I'm the lone Chandler of Indiana, my Everlasting Father has surrounded me and blessed me with family in such rich community that I never feel lonely or unloved. It is so good to be a part of the family of God.