A few weeks ago now, one of my only cousins got married.  My sister and I traveled to South Carolina for the weekend to be a part of all of the festivities.  This wedding was interesting, because for the first time in a long time this group of disconnected and broken family members was together in the same place, celebrating the marriage of two people who love Jesus.

I have a couple of goals for this summer, and not that they are only for this summer, but that during this summer I really want to focus my energy on cultivating  a couple of things.  One of those things is stronger relationships with my family.  I have often not been a very good mediator in my family; that has been my sister.  Where she tended to press in and be the glue holding people and relationships together, I tended to be gone, doing my own thing and occasionally checking-in.  I love my family, but I have not been very good at actively loving and holding together the broken places, actively valuing family members for who they are instead of what I wish they were. This wedding was an opportunity to celebrate my family in ways that I haven't done ever.  It was a time to enjoy each other and it was really (for the most part ;-) fun. Here are some pictures and a small amount of commentary...

First, my sister.  She is fabulous.  I am sure she is even greater than she realizes that she is.  She deserves to be celebrated.  She loves people well.  She connects with people who are on the fringes of society, and in many ways are seen as having "nothing" to offer back to her.  She is highly accomplished and has done a lot of amazing things, and yet, she has had to overcome some massive obstacles.  Though because she is so gracious she would never say it, but I have not always been a place of refuge for her.  I am so blessed to have her, and I want to live in a way that makes that plain to her and everyone around her.

This is my Nana-my mom's mom.  She is in her 80's.  She has lived alone my entire life.  Her and my grandfather did not have a very good marriage and she has since then lived mostly in isolation.  She is however, a beautiful woman.  She told me and Lauren stories of her childhood and of her as a young adult that I had never heard.  I realized that there are so many things about my heritage from my dad's side that I do not know and will now, never know, so I soaked up these moments to hear about her past. 

This is my grandfather and his wife Suzanne.  He is my mom's dad. They have been married almost as long as I have been alive.  They use to live in Atlanta, but now they have lived in Florida since I was a young kid.  They are huge supporters of the Boys and Girls Club so he is sad that I am no longer with the organization.  I will see them next week, as he has run the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race for the last almost 40 years.  She is one of the sweetest women I know and she loves him well.  

This is my cousin Becca and her now husband, Adam.  She is one of only 3 cousins that I have and her and her husband love and follow Jesus with everything they have. 

This is my mother and her husband Vance.  Vance can fix anything.  He is a hardworking, servant-hearted man and he would do anything in the world for my mother and for us if we needed it.  I am thankful for the way he treats her and the way he has made her feel special over the years, which is something that sadly she has not experienced very much in her life.  
My mother has dedicated her whole life to supporting her children and ensuring that they have the things that they need.  She has overcome and enormous amount of struggle and sadness in her life, and she has perceived in ways that I cannot even imagine.  In all of that, she is a loving mother, who was able to raise 3 children who seem to be doing really well for themselves.  

Sadly, there is only one surviving member from my dad's side of the family- a cousin, who I haven't seen in years.  The opportunity to know them and love them well is over, but I can look back and appreciate the things that I remember about them.