(December 12, 2019)
Yesterday, my wife went out-of-town, which means I was in charge of getting our 9-year old to gymnastics practice, rushing to a meeting, rushing back to pick her up, and then taking her out for some supper. I thought I was pulling it off really well, until we went to eat at “Pa-ranera” (or Panera, for those who were wondering). When we went to order our food, she said “I want the soup mom gets…” – and then I had to stop and think for a moment – what kind of soup does mom get here?!?
When our food was ready and showed up with a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup, I was the hero of a 9-year old girl. She said, “This IS the soup mom gets!”, and I pumped my fist in the air and exclaimed “YES!” The ladies at the table next to us laughed when I explained why we both were this excited, and they congratulated me on a job well done…and once my wife reads this, I think she will be proud of me, too!
Last night, I learned a couple of valuable lessons – about choosing soups and about choosing to love our family. Some things can only be learned by observing and studying those you will live with every day. It would be easy to draw lines in the sand and not be willing to make any concessions, but when I said “I DO” to the beautiful woman I’m now married to, I also said that to her kids. That means I need to be paying attention to what goes on in their lives. When I slow down long enough to do that, I get to enter her world. I get to hear about the new American Girl doll she wants, I get to watch her face light up when she talks about her floor routine, and I get to take her out on a date. Someone reading this needs to read this: I don’t HAVE to, I GET to!
No one ever starts out by wanting a blended family, but God uses them to bring good out of not-so-good situations. They get started by things like divorce, death, adoption (to name a few), but what really matters is how you and yours handle life together. In Luke 2, we meet the ultimate blended family: Joseph, his bride Mary, and the baby they weren’t really ready for…Jesus. If you have ever watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, you know that Linus told us there were some “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…“. You also know that those shepherds went on a journey and ended up visiting with this Godly family, and then they went back to shepherding…but something changed in the way they did this after meeting this family. Luke describes it this way:
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)
When I read this, I marvel at how this meeting with this family changed them. It makes me think about how my family looks a lot different than the way I planned. That’s what happens when Jesus moves into the neighborhood. It also makes me think about what people think about my family when they encounter us. When they are around the “Rillis Clan”, does we make their head spin as they spend time with our family of 8 (half of them teenagers), or does we make them glorify and praise God?!? Does we make them want to run to the hills, or does we make them want to run home and build a family the way we set out to do every day?!?
I want to encourage you to make a journey this year. If you are in a blended family, invite Jesus into your family and look at what a difference He can make when He arrives. If you know a blended family, get around them and listen and look at them and see if they have something you want. In either case, you will be choosing correctly. When you choose to spend time with Him and them, your own family will change. All you have to do is be open to how it will change and then watch how your life gets better because of it.