Family gatherings have always been a highlight in my life. With over half of my nine children living across the west, we frequently find ourselves driving from Alabama to other places on the opposite side of the country. Many times it has been fun but other times very stressful.
These past couple of weeks we had the opportunity to attend three weddings (yes, there were three) all lined up in about a week’s time over spring break. First, my son in the Gilbert, Arizona temple, then my husband’s daughter in the Mount Timpanogos temple in American Fork, Utah and then my nephew- my brother’s son, was at the Denver, Colorado temple.
It was wonderful to go to all three events and visit with family. All three weddings, all three luncheons but only two receptions as my son opted to wait until after their three week visit to Albania to have their reception. Lots of smiles and pictures, lots of hugs and talking and the two week time had flown by fast.
Planned family gatherings are a great opportunity to visit with those you have not seen in a while. Grandchildren are shy at first then start to warm up to you, siblings look a little older, nieces and nephews a little taller and if you are lucky enough to have your parents still around, they are a little wiser. All in all it was a great trip but there were also some tough times. Our car took a turn for the worse as we were driving off to the last wedding from my brother’s house and the oil drained out of our car. We just had the engine redone and for 2300 miles it worked great. But when we started it up and drove out of the driveway there was no more oil in the engine.
Some rushing around and rethinking were in order and it ended up working out okay but we still need to get the car home from having to leave it 2,000 miles away. That will happen in June.
I think of all of this as a metaphor in life. There are those sweet moments where everything is just perfect and life is so good and then there are those disasters we have to deal with which can’t be helped, but happen to us because we are human and trials are a part of the equation in life.
From a talk in April of 2011, Russell M. Nelson, apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (LDS Church) said: “We live in a time of turmoil. Earthquakes and tsunamis wreak devastation, governments collapse, economic stresses are severe, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising. We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.”
Yet with this turmoil, we find wonderful, happy times during family gatherings which create great memories for all who participate. I remember a few years ago when we were involved in another family gathering and everything seemed to go wrong. My brother-in-law, in his funny way, just kept saying we have to move forward; our time will get better and it did. We need that faith to keep moving forward to help us find the happy times.
Ellen Smoot said it well during the October 2001 LDS Church General Conference: “We choose to be steadfast and immovable in our faith because of the promises of eternal glory, eternal increase, and continued family relationships in the celestial kingdom. We love our families and know that our greatest joy and peace come to us as we watch each family member face the tests of life and make righteous choices to overcome the world.”
The family times aren’t always perfect and even our family vacations can get stressful. But we can all find joy in the journey whether we are attending weddings or watching a movie together at home.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.