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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Life Lesson #109 ~ Family is Everything (The Extended Version) 2016

"No matter how poor you think you are if you have a family, you have EVERYTHING." ~ Anonymous

Two years ago on December 19, 2014 to be precise I wrote my first post titled FAMILY IS EVERYTHING. The truth is our family has been through some pretty tough times. Back then we were recovering from some fairly harsh blows that year on all fronts to be honest. The thing is this: as a family we are stronger together, each of us individually bringing a strength which fortifies our bonds, reinforcing the ties that bind us. And just like in 2014, our bonds in 2016 are still unbreakable, unshakable and inseparable. Doesn't matter what bombards us, attempting to destroy or target our family. It doesn't matter who or what may try to tear us apart I know this to be true: we will not abandon those we love. Simply put, family is everything and so today I am revisiting this subject. Let me start with this... as a family, our goal is not to appear happier than anyone else, not to obtain perfection or seem euphorically blissful. That's not our reality. Our truth finds meaning in this simple quote,"Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that looks good on the outside." For us, our strength comes from honesty, openness and every last one of our flaws and faults. These are the things that fortify, keeping our family castle so to speak from collapsing.

So what does family mean to you? I know what it means to me, to my hubby, our boys and my parents. I know when I say family is everything, it is defined by unconditional love. Even when we don't get a long we are family. Heck we might not even like one another sometimes but unconditional love is defined as, "affection without any limitations or conditions." This is the core value of family. See family isn't just the holidays, birthdays or celebrations bringing us together. Family is love, devotion and gratitude even during the most calamitous of situations. For me,"Family over everything" sums it up beautifully to be honest. I love my family with all my heart, those near and far. I am content in knowing they are part of me just as much as I am a part of them. Some share my DNA, some don't but all share my heart. They are my tribe. Blood or not, we are a family. We are kindred, we are bonded, affixed and stuck together like glue. For me, these are my people. "This is where life is LIVED. These are the moments, the people that make life worth living. These are the people who make life beautiful. These are my people. This is my tribe." ~ The Art of a Beautiful Life

Sure I may not always see eye to eye with those I love. The truth is I may even feel neglected or unappreciated at times but that does not mean I will ever stop loving my family. After all, they are MY family, handpicked by God, bonded and sealed upon my heart. No matter the disagreements or disputes my family bond is more important to me than my pride. I am imperfect, full of flaws with plenty of faults myself so how can I expect anything more from those I share a limb with on the same family tree? 1 John 4:20-21 says this. "If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both." So no, I have no room for hate, for malice, hostility or even bitterness. What I do have room for in my heart is forgiveness, love and goodwill toward those I call family. Yes, even if we are all different and divergent from one another we are still family, fruit from the same tree.

Again, I declare my family IS everything to me. My hubby, he's the love of my life. Our boys, they're the light of my life. My parents, they are the genesis of my life, the core of who I am. Jesus Christ, He is the center of my life, the Master Builder of our lives and the cornerstone of this little band of kinfolk. And together they are my whole world. I am a Dowling, a Palmer, a McBride, a Burgman, a Gronska, a Swanson, a Carlson, a Robinson and yes an Olachia. Together all these names, all these blood lines form the unique woman I am. And just as your family names and lines do the same for you, they bond us together across the generations. But now let me be clear, we're all more than a surname, a crest or a bloodline. We are individual personalities coming together collectively forming a tribe. Think of it as a tree if you can imagine with branches wide, springing upwards and roots growing downward, strong, deep and unwavering, This tree is always bending, blooming and growing, new leaves appearing while others fade away as time passes. The reality is I'm truly blessed by such a large and diverse family. I have cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family I couldn't see my life without. Quoting myself from 2014, "As for me, my family is a gift. I have been blessed to grow up surrounded by two sides of family, and inherit another who loves me. I could not and would not want to do life without any of them. Each family has molded me, made me and left footprints in my life. We laugh; we cry, reminisce, celebrate, argue, disagree and come together time and time again. Some bonds just can’t be broken, like Georgia Florida line says. “That’s how we do it around here.” So when you ask me, what does family mean to me, my answer will forever and always be EVERYTHING.

Looking back on 2016 I'm humbled by the grace, mercy and unconditional love I have experienced. And today, looking toward 2017 I'm excited. I know without a doubt I'm blessed. I know I'm loved but I'm also a part of something bigger than myself. And you know why, it's because of this little thing we call family. So my Life Lesson #109 ~ Family is Everything (The Extended Version) 2016 brings us back to where I first started, way back to life lesson #15 over two years ago. “My family is my strength and my weakness.” ~ Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, this quote could be my life's song track. Life Lesson #15, Family is everything. We come from one another, our lives, hearts and even blood are tied. We grow up together, move on in different directions and yet come back to one place, together…where our roots began." As long as we tend to our branches, water our roots, keeping our leaves always growing upward, and onward never losing sight that the pruning makes us stronger our family tree will always flourish and thrive. So to my family, both near and far I want to say I love you with all my heart. I'm an extension of your heart as you are mine. I am content knowing we are bonded, roots and branches intertwined. For me, "The best feeling in the world is knowing your presence and absence both mean something to someone." And you know, I'm so glad ya'll are my someone.

I'll never be poor, because I have you...my precious family.

~ Christina

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