What does family mean to you?

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photo-80I took this picture last night at my mom’s house. My brother’s family and mine gathered there for an impromptu Friday night dinner.  These are cousins, lounging on a hammock, waiting for the blessing to be over so they can dive into Grandma’s good cooking.  I quickly snapped the picture to capture a moment so beautiful to me.

These cousins love each other, regardless of the fact they were born in three different countries to a handful of other women. God’s plan was for them to be cousins, so here they are, in the backyard of an Ohio grandmother, waiting for her to lavish her love on them.

Gilda Radner tells a story of a pregnant dog who had been hit by a car and whose owners decided to save her life by amputating her back legs. As she learned how to get around after the surgery, she would use her remaining front legs and would drag her back end on the ground behind her. The day the puppies were to be born, she delivered a healthy litter, but for the first several days, they only used their front two legs and drug their back ends behind them. They were following their only example.

I am so glad God made us in his own image and with that came the ability to stretch, grow, learn and change. I am glad I am not following the only example of ‘family’ I had seen, but God could whisper to my husband and I, a new vision. I am grateful when we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, that even at my mother’s age, she can adjust her idea of family and be blessed by the many who call her grandma.

For some of us, family may mean the children we bear out of our bodies, for some it’s who we add through adoption or foster care, for others, it’s a combination and for still others, family is a term of endearment we offer to those who rest and grow beside our family for a season, whether there is any formal arrangement or not.

The important thing for me to remember is being a mom means loving, correcting, creating. It means trusting, discerning, risking.  It means celebrating whomever is around my dinner table that evening. Some of us have lost children around our table, either to college dorms, or to heaven or prodigal roads we hope circle back, but on this day, this mom, looks around at these faces and is thankful.

Blessings, Beth Guckenberger

Beth Guckenberger

Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in education, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Since founding the international arm of Back2Back in 1997, they have hosted thousands of guests on the ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children. Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014). Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014).Beth is the recipient of the the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry Legacy Award and the Cincinnati Christian University Salute to Leaders Award for her and Back2Back’s impact on children internationally. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings and church services. Her style is based in story-telling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary and parent of nine children for illustrations of biblical concepts.