“Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let Thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” The familiar words of our family meal prayer will forever be engrained in my mind. It is a comfort to have such a phrase for it reminds me of the wonderful gift God blessed me with: family. I believe in the power of family. The warmth and closeness I feel when I am with my sisters, parents, and relatives is a treasure. Families are kindred spirits who never leave: who cry and laugh together, who mourn and rejoice together. They support each other when times are tough. My family has grounded me in my faith and has surrounded me with Christ’s love. Above all, family is love.
My father is the “Chef Supreme.” My mother granted him the title because of his proven ability to cook. Wonderful concoctions like chicken enchiladas, hot chicken noodle soup, and his famous supreme pizza have brought my family together many times as we tell stories and laugh about the day’s events. One particular evening, I recall impatiently awaiting the “it’s served” call from my mom as the aroma of broccoli and chicken Fettuccini Alfredo cooked on the stove. As the five of us sat around the table devouring the Italian meal, we talked of past memories. We reminisced over vacations in the Mountains and our trips to the beach. As the family meal continued and more stories were shared, I paused to look at each of the happy faces of my family. The love that reflected off each of our faces filled me with peace and contentment.
Not every meal, however, has been this perfect. My family has had our share of fights. Little arguments that began ironically at the dinner table sometimes turned into week-long battles. I can remember as a little girl my parents and older sister constantly fighting about her soccer team that my dad coached. Other arguments involved my younger sister and me. It is during these tense moments where I find myself praying often. My mother too prays for peace. I know God is watching over us and hears our prayers, but sometimes I feel discouraged, as though God intended for our lives to be a constant struggle.
The past year, 2008, has been a trial for my family. In November of 2007 my father lost his job. He stayed hopeful for the months that followed. In January of 2008, he was in a motorcycle accident. Thankfully, only his knee was damaged, and while he was in surgery we thanked God for sparing his life. My mother was at first in shock. She was very sad for my dad’s misfortune, but her strong faith in our Savior kept her pressing forward. My sisters and I were also very upset. I was embarrassed to admit my father had lost his job and got in a wreck all within three months. At school I kept it a secret. My older sister Emily, although away at college, kept us positive with words of encouragement over the phone. We prayed every day, begging God for some sort of miracle. At this point I questioned my faith. How could something like this happen to such a Christian family?
God works in mysterious ways. He tested the strong bond within our family. My father remained in a wheelchair and unable to walk for much of the spring, and it was at that point we realized God truly did have a hand in our situation. God knew my dad needed time for physical growth for his knee and also spiritual growth. Time off from work was just the remedy. As we struggled to make ends meet, with my mom’s small teacher’s salary, we grew closer. We stayed close and learned to love one another more. My father’s leg finally healed, and eventually, in late July, he was able to find a new job. Now that my sister and I are both away at college, it is hard to remain close as a family. Whenever we are together though, we visit and spend time with each other. Some days are harder than others because the worry of our financial state still gets us down, but with God’s love and comfort, we can make it through.
My family is strong in many ways thanks to God’s presence in our lives. Three years ago, my grandpa passed away. My entire family was very sad, and we were especially worried for my grandma. At the funeral, we held each other close as we mourned. My dad was the one chosen to give the eulogy. He shared stories of his strong relationship with his father, and as I listened, it touched my heart because of my loving relationship with him. I knew that Grandpa was the strongest man in Maysville and we all were extremely proud of him. I knew he wanted us to be strong for Grandma and stay by her side through the rest of her life. During the funeral, my sister, Emily, sang “On Eagles Wings.” It was during the refrain when Emily sang “Make you to shine like the sun,” that the sun’s rays from outside shone brilliantly through the stained-glass windows of the church. At that moment I knew God was watching over us. He was reassuring us that our grandpa was safely in His loving arms. Over the years, we have stuck by my grandma’s side and loved her as she lives on without Grandpa.
It is times like these where I recognize the power of family. We grow in love and faith whenever life gets tough. When bad events such as these happen, though, we must stay positive and stay close. It is a comfort to have such a family who has supported me throughout my life. I am undeservedly blessed to have such loving and supportive people in my life who uplift me when I am down, who have held me at baptism and witnessed me get confirmed in the faith they taught me. My family is my strength and comfort; I would be lost without them. Nothing compares to the joy I experience at our Christmas dinner when the fourteen of my relatives join hands and pray the meal prayer, thanking God for our gifts, especially the wonderful gift of family.
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