family is more than blood – it’s an ongoing choice

the welcome table at Saturday's open house
the welcome table at Saturday’s open house

The past few days have been a whirlwind of fun and celebration; far too much to detail properly in a single post.

Saturday 125 people showed up at Maul Hall for an open-house introducing Andrew’s fiance, Alicia, to just a few of our friends. Sunday morning at church was moving and powerful. Then, Sunday evening, we headed to Orlando to hang out with Rebekah’s Alexander siblings.

I’ve already reviewed 2012 in my “Newsletter-ish post” last week. So I think I’ll let a few photos from the sibling festivities wrap things up for this most singular 366 days.

Alicia, Grand-Myrt and Andrew
Alicia, Grand-Myrt and Andrew

INTENTIONALITY: What I admire about Rebekah’s family is the way they make the conscious choice to “do family” and nurture “the ties that bind.”

The five siblings (Roy, Rachel, Rebekah, Joe and Jesse) are spread out from Virginia Beach to Tampa, and – for the most part – they all move heaven and earth to get together whenever possible.

The Orlando gathering – hosted by Joe and Cheryl – featured four of the five siblings, five of the ten cousins, and Grand-Myrt; it was a great opportunity for Alicia to see the family at its most natural.

Joe and Cheryl hosted

EXPLOSIONS: Of course Joe (pictured with Cheryl), organized some back-yard fireworks and somehow managed to avoid incinerating the neighborhood, but not for want of trying; food was plentiful; and, best of all, love and generosity were rampant.

These gatherings are not just family get-togethers, they are community-of-faith events.

Lindsay and Jordan

COUSINS: Sibling geography may pose a challenge, but it’s even harder to gather cousins who now range in age from ten to 31, and we now have two more slated for college in 2013. Jordan and Lindsay (pictured right) are both super-smart and highly motivated. It’s going to be interesting to see where they end up and how they navigate the next few years of their lives.

DSC_0051GIFTS: We always do the traditional “Chinese Gift Exchange,” you know, the one that involves taking numbers and then stealing from one-another. It was my fourth exchange of the season, and while I always have a great time I’ve been left holding fairly uninspiring gifts absolutely every time.

Jesse, as you can see, was pleased with his uber-cheesy “Merry-Okee” device. Fortunately for me we also gave one-another real presents. Rebekah and I shared hand-carved olive-wood mementos from our Mid-east excursion and I was able to bring home an assortment of creative, thoughtful gifts.

Jesse and Heather
Jesse and Heather

PICTURE-PERFECT: I could post a dozen more great photos, but the point of images in a blog is simply to help tell the story and you’ll have to check my facebook page for the complete set.

I’ll leave with one more (below), featuring Rebekah and her sister, Rachel; they’re actually posing for a camera other than mine, but the image does a great job of representing what I’m writing about this morning.

Rachel and Rebekah were already talking, sitting close and being sisters. So when Tom said, “Hey, look over here” he wasn’t asking them to pose so much as to help tell the story of a family that is intentional about being a family.

DSC_0083I know it sounds like a “duh,” “no-brainer” thing, but it’s not. People lose each other too easily and too often; and typically they lose their family an inch at a time rather than via some traumatic or divisive event. So we choose to be a family.

It’s a new year, people; why not determine to make 2013 a year where your family makes many such positive choices?

In the hope and the promise of Christmas – DEREK


  1. Thanks for posting about Rebekah’s family Christmas and all about Andrew and his fiance! They are my extented family and miss all of them!
    Have a Happy New Year!


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