*In one way, this was a difficult blog to write, but in other ways, very, very easy.

Over the past few weeks, due to some different things, this word has been knocking about in my head – what family is and what family does.

There are those who define family by blood (I would include adoption in “blood” as well).  Blood is a starting point, but only a starting point, and, sadly, there are those who believe that “blood” is the “be all and end all” regarding what makes a family.

Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong, because it is possible for those connected by “blood” to be at best acquaintances and at worst practical strangers.

True family is not about “blood;” it’s about connection.  True, shared “blood” can be the foundation for that connection but, not only is it not required, it can actually be a detriment to connection actually occurring, especially if there is a mindset present that it is “blood” that defines a true family.

In the past, there have been seminal moments in my life regarding understanding this idea of family.

One that comes to my mind is when I was introduced to the family of my beautiful bride.  Here was a family that didn’t have much, but what they did have, no amount of money could ever buy – strong connection with each other.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that there has never been conflict or strife within this family, but that conflict and strife was never allowed to permanently sever those connections.

I have often wondered if this idea of family was driven by my bride’s maternal grandfather.  Being the first young man brought into this family into a generation of 6 granddaughters, Grandpa Redfield made a strong connection to me.  His impact on my life was so great that I name him as one of three men who had the greatest impact on my life and my path in life.  From Grandpa, I learned that real family is about connection, not blood.

My in-laws, Jim and Dianne Chadwell, have done the same, probably learning it from Grandpa, not only with me, but also with my two brothers-in-law who followed my footsteps into this family.  The three of us have been and are indeed blessed because of this.

Back to that connection thing.  When we all lived closer to each other, we all sought ways, opportunities, and times to come together.  We had more things in common with each other than just blood.  We genuinely enjoyed being together and the normal raucous result was proof of that.

Even now, with so many hundreds of miles separating the branches of the family, there is constant contact via Facebook and other avenues.  There is a desire to be together whenever time and finances allow, which, unfortunately, isn’t all that often.  That desire exists because we value, cherish, crave, and enjoy the connection.

So, how can you tell when someone is real family?

Well, just like the adage, “Follow the money,” works in police detective work, the adage, “Follow the connection,” is the key.

When a holiday or special event rolls around, whom do you want there?  If someone is not there, does it feel incomplete?  Then that person is part of the family.

When you need a piece advice or assistance in some way, who is the first person you think to call?  That person is part of the family.

If a person were to no longer be in your life because, God forbid, s/he suddenly died, would it impact you and how you live?  Then that person is part of the family.

Shared “blood” does not create that connection.  Sharing in each other’s lives does.  And that creates real family.

I am very thankful for family, my family, those with whom I have those connections because each one of them, some in small ways and others in much larger ways, have impacted me and helped shape me.

Family – real and true family: a reason for extreme thankfulness.

Father in heaven, thank You for my family here on earth.  I pray Your empowering presence upon each of them in incredible ways.  Amen.



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