FAMILY – September 2, 2013
Who is my family? I’m reflecting on the gift of “family” today because I encountered family this weekend everywhere I turned….it is complicated, loud, confusing, comforting and often a very beautiful picture of the Body of Christ….actually much of my “family” is not what we called in Branford “blood kin”.
Family has always been a conglomerate in the Ware household beginning with “Uncle” Carl Schneider’s visit to my grandparents when their youngest son, my Uncle Albert, was killed during the Korean War. I never had the chance to know him since his plane crashed in the Sea of Japan several years before my birth. But I KNOW my Uncle Carl, one of his dearest friends, who fulfilled a promise to visit Albert’s family in the event that Albert never made it home. Albert DID make it home, we know it as HEAVEN, and that’s when Carl became “Uncle” to a grieving family.
From that time on, our family grew. Although Mom and Dad had but three “biologicals”, they began to collect children, tucking each in their hearts to be forever part of the Ware Family. I remember the day Daddy called home from the pharmacy and told Mom to set two more plates for the noon meal we called DINNER. He had taken in two young scruffy men who were paddling their days away on the Suwannee River. Troy and Roger made their way into our home and into our hearts.
Mickey & Mary Dean, young newlyweds in the midst of crisis, came to live in our home the day their house was consumed by fire. As their family grew, the generations have adopted each other. We’re on the third generation of sharing the love. Preston and Fairly are our amazing godchildren!
Pam, my look alike, came to us at 14, in need of love and family. Mom and Dad would only take her if the rest of the family agreed that it was a “forever” arrangement. Randy & Gary, distant cousins from Iowa in need of a Mom, reached out to “Mama Doris” during the difficult years of high school and college. My siblings, Peggy & Harry and Scott & Melissa continue our parent’s tradition of extending family via fostering and adoption. Aunt Cindy & Uncle Denny cherish ALL of our nieces and nephews – Danny, Kayla, Jessie, Kristina, Meagan, Coral and Bryce AND their furry rescue pets!
Denny and I married in 1980 and that year one of my best friends moved in after the death of her husband. Thus began a long tradition of extended family in the Heiberg home! I cannot began to count the numbers of “sent family” that have joined our home over the years, enriching our lives and expanding God’s love toward us in ways that look a lot like the Walton Family on steroids. “Good night, Tess”, “sweet dreams Holly”, “nite-nite Benjy”, “good night Chris”, “Buenos noches Amanda”, “night, love ya, Em”, “night Margaret Ellen”…..we could be awake all night saying “Good night, sleep tight!”
In the midst we have been blessed with our own “biologicals”. Rachel, Joanna and Sarah helped raise us and, through their friendship connections, our dining room table bulged with “Family Dinners” that sparked a 12 year run of “Monday/Thursday night dinners”. Our girls increased family as we married three new families!!
Neighbors have become family in the midst of difficult circumstances. How I cherish the children “of my heart”, Jorge, Emily & Lily. As I put the period to the sentence, I heard voices in the kitchen. Emily, her daddy and her friend, Emma were in our kitchen getting a snack! How I love the open door policy!!
Our “collected children” have come from continents far and wide from the outskirts of Branford, from the perimeter of the University of Florida, to the southernmost tip of Africa with China and India interspersed. We are blessed!
Our children have continued the tradition begun by Grandmama & Grandaddy. Rachel and Jon are part of a “community group” that do real life together on a daily basis. Just check out Rachel’s FB page….little Lydia might live at another house, but Rachel is one of her Mamas! Joanna & Ben have parented more kids through the ministry of Young Life than we can possibly count! Sarah & Kyle are also “Young Life Parents” and their photos reveal two little girls that might keep them grounded in Orlando for longer than planned!
Last night “family night dinner” included six new international students, along with several local families. It was loud and messy, the strains of “Heart & Soul” being banged out on the piano while the dishes piled higher in the sink. The dishes didn’t last long as two of the guys jumped in to clean up and to give impromptu lessons in how to run a dishwasher and a dryer. One-on-one conversations took place in various areas of the room while the kids ran around with wild enthusiasm. The strains of laughter wafted through the house and Jesus smiled.
FAMILY – a priceless gift from God! How I thank Him for those birthed by blood and brought to us by His blood! We are the FAMILY of God!
Denny & Cindy Heiberg