November 2006 Linn County Leader Column – “The Importance of Family”

During this time of year, we take extra moments to spend time with our loved ones; whether they be our moms, dads, brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, cousins, or other extended family, we gather on Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate the seasons of “giving thanks” and of the birthday of Christ.

And, you know, being able to share with family is important. Oftentimes as we grow up and go our separate ways in life, the opportunities to share time together grow further and further apart. Distance, increasingly busy lives, and a myriad of other issues vex our plans for reunions and dinners as family. We forget the happy times around the dinner table; we forget about the importance of being a true family as God intended.

Jeannie and I were saddened at the deaths of our fathers last summer, just 32 days apart. They’ll be no more times to spend with them here on earth; no times for reconciliation or photo opportunities; no more dinners to share. It’s difficult sometimes when we both sit down and realize that, while we still have our moms, there is that void in the family unit now. We are thankful, though, that this is yet another experience that we’ve shared in our long relationship together (one that spans 27 years). Through Christ, we can help each other with the grief and loss.

So that brings me to the topic at hand: and that is, indeed, how important our families are to us. Sometimes we take them for granted and know that they’ll always be there to help us cope with things that come up in our daily lives; but, like the example above shows, our family members won’t physically be here forever. We are all appointed a time to be born and a time to die; there is only a set amount of time that we are given to live. And, we are given the choice on how we want to live those lives. We can love and laugh and nurture others; or we can choose to be cold-hearted and stubborn and prideful. We can live for God; or we can live for the world.

Someone may ask, “That’s all fine and well, but what does that have to do with our families?” And my answer is this: everything. Because our families are sounding boards for the way we live; they give us advice (especially our moms and dads!) and they are there to pick us up when we fail miserably at things and, like it or not, they are there for encouragement and uplifting. As a family, we can be strong; or we can be weak. It all depends on the love and commitment we give each other.

And, the same is true for our church families. We are a spiritual family unit that supports and encourages one another through thick and thin. As we grow in faith, we all press towards the mark while building up and leading others to salvation through Jesus along the way. It’s a very similar family to our biological one; there is love and laughter and nurturing…but there can also be murmurings and discontent along the way as well.

No family is perfect; and thank God that we can say that were not! We all have our issues and times of “stupidness” and “What was I thinking?” But we can be there for each other during those times, and whisper words of encouragement and give a good pat on the back. We all need that kind of building up, instead of tearing down. It helps to give us hope, and it gives us the gumption to “keep on keepin’ on”.

I’m thankful that I have my family: my Mom, my two brothers and their families, all my cousins and aunts and uncles and extended loved ones…and I am also thankful for my church family at Trinity in Brookfield. I am also thankful for my pastor, Mike White (who can take a good birthday joke) and his wife Linda; and for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for our family in the Body of Christ around the area. Each one of you gives me encouragement and hope as I travel along the ministry path, and each one of you is important to my family as well. We value your friendships, your love, and your commitment to us.

All of us have much to be thankful for with our families. As we remember this, let’s take the time to tell them and let them know that they’re special and important to us as well, and that we love them and will always be there for them.

From my family to yours, have a wonderful, happy, and safe Thanksgiving.

Have a comment for Richard? You can reach him at his online blog at or via e-mail at


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