When the term "extended family" is used we have a mental picture of a gathering for holidays, or family reunions. All of the aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, cousins and children meet and compare old memories, while shaking their heads in unbelief, at how much the children have grown. They usually make jokes about how much they have grown, too, all around the mid section!
In times past the extended family played a major role in family life. As many as three generations lived in the same home. The grandparents, aunts and uncles could help with the care of the children. They could usually spin tales of "the good ole' days," and keep the younger children occupied. The youth would turn to them for valued advice, "their pearls of wisdom!"They also had the privilege to pamper and spoil the children a little, too!
In our mobile society our younger generation is missing a lot of the closeness of family life. Most of us are spread out across many states, and even into other countries. The bond between the extended family is less, and at times ceases to exist. We can't give up; we just have to work at what used to come naturally.
Email, instant messaging, cell phones, and unlimited calling can keep us in touch, even if we are thousands of miles apart. Our daughter, her husband, and sons are a career military family. When they were stationed in England we used all the tools of the communication trade to stay in touch! We made two visits by plane; and they returned to the states a few times. When the children were small I would read them stories recorded on video tape. In return I got videos and even cassettes of them singing their favorite songs from school.
Our family has lived in many states, coast to coast. In our early years of marriage we averaged a move every six months. I would comment with a smile, that I didn't do spring house cleaning. I just moved! We were in the radio business and there were many job opportunities, that required relocation.
When the children reached school age, the moves became a little farther apart. The longest we stayed in two different locations was five years. Each of those two times we were close to some family, which was a real blessing. There are times when we need more than just a quick baby sitter, or a chat on the phone. We need to feel the presence of family.
There is another kind of "extended family," that is often ignored or taken for granted. We all need the support of our "church family." As we moved town to town, city to city, or state to state, we always quickly found a church home. We moved our letters, and became involved. We got to know our sisters and brothers in Christ.
We worshiped together, studied together, prayed together, and sang together. We were parts of small churches as well as large "First Baptist" churches. Each was unique and gave us the security of family ties. During times of sickness and loss of loved ones, they have meant more to us than we could ever express. During those times of crisis their presence brought comfort, encouragement and strength. They are our extended family!
Freelance writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Devotionals are her first love in writing. Published articles in Mature Living Magazine, Devotions for the Deaf, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, Coosa Journal and more. Devotions included in Mary Hollingsworth's The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter by Tyndale Publishers.
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