Karen’s Musings – From Strangers to Family
As I look back on this past year and half, I’m overwhelmed at how grateful that I am for the blessings poured out.
Not the least of which has been meeting our first grandchild, getting to move to the beautiful Comox Valley and having a visit from Holland with my brother and his wife. But there is so much more going on in my heart. I am being transformed by my God.
2017 has been a year of family restoration for me. Until this year, I knew that I must have cousins and family on my dad’s side somewhere out there but my attempts to find them over the years had always come up empty. Then, out of the blue, I got a suspicious email asking of my lineage and that led me to receiving a 365 page book documenting stories and photos of hundreds of family members on my paternal grandmother’s side. To say the least, I was overwhelmed so I have just focused on my dad’s 8 siblings. This introduced me (on paper) to the knowledge that there are 26 first cousins and their families (I only have 2 on my mother’s side). Turns out that I wasn’t alone in my isolation from my cousins. Something happened at our parent’s level that prevented us from growing up together or knowing each other.
August 19, 2017 changed all that and was a day of incredible proportions for me – a day that those of us that could (16 cousins and families) met for the first time in Calgary, AB. That day, I walked into a room full of strangers and left a room full of FAMILY. I was overcome by the love and acceptance that these amazing people had for each other and for me because of the blood running through our veins, and their desire to put our family back together. Our grandmother and our Mennonite roots were the conduit to bring us together but our own desire to know each other and be known made for wide open hearts that anticipated the growth of our family.
For the most part, none of us grew up having relationships with any cousins (but felt like we were the only ones that didn’t know the others). None of us were taught about our Mennonite cultural heritage or the Mennonite faith (but many of us remember or had experienced the food!). On that day, we found out that we all were strangers to the others. (Name tags were necessary!) We all had a story and all of them were different and the sharing of those happy and sad times of our lives bound us together tighter than just our blood roots ever could have.
It was such a rich time of relationship building – one I will never forget. And one that I think the grandmother I never got to know would be proud of and one that would be after God’s own heart. It was too short and left us wanting more time together, and talking of the next “Adrian Cousin’s Reunion”.
For many years, I have felt God promising me that He would restore the “years that the locusts had eaten” and that He had “plans to prosper me and not to harm me”. I feel like I’m living and watching that happen right now. I feel more wealthy because of family than I could have ever imagined or hoped for (another promise to me). All this because of not just the one summer day that we gathered to meet, but because my journey just keeps going on with these people…MY people.
I have been blessed beyond words with personal visits from cousins. They are actively reaching out to me. Each time is full of connecting and getting to know one another on a more intimate level. Such a privilege that is so humbling, just knowing that they would choose to connect with me. I have felt like a stranger in the land but yet, they love me and desire to build our family with me a part of it. It is so big! The restorative power of God is so huge.
As I read back over this musing, I realize that my words just cannot express what is going on in my heart. My heart is so full. I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness and faithfulness to me.
Thank you for reading along and accepting the heart of a very grateful woman.