Featured Post

Perfect Imperfection

Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Webster dictionary defines a Family as:

1. A group of individuals living under one roof
2 A group of persons of common ancestry
3 A group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation

When Ginger and I got married we spoke and thought about the family God had created referring to the nine of us. But as I began to see at our wedding in Phoenix and again here in San Antonio, there are many more people that I would call "family."

Of course you initially think of your brothers and sisters, mom and dad when you think about family. And I have been blessed with an amazing family in that respect. And when I married Andrea I was welcomed into an equally fantastic family. June my mother in law is a wonderful woman who would buy Andrea and I food when we were in college at Texas A&M. Whenever we would come home for a visit she would load our car full with groceries. I don't think we would have made it without the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or box spaghetti that June gave us. Andrea's Dad, Doyle, married us and helped me find my first job. I was helping Doyle roof a church he was building and we stopped by Duo Fast to pick up some staples and nails when the salesman asked me if I needed a job. I said "Yes!" I had just graduated college and married Andrea and my current job of maintenance man for a company in College Station was not exactly what I had in mind after college. Not to mention I was a pretty bad "fix it guy." As Andrea would say, I could hire someone to fix the car for $300.00 or do it myself for $100.00 and then have to pay someone to fix what I had broken for an additional $400.00.

I never expected to marry again. I was quickly introduced to my new family in San Angelo and Phoenix. Ginger's parents, Jay and Judi although understandably cautious made me feel right at home. And it was when I went to visit Ginger in Phoenix that I saw the "family" I was joining was more than just in laws, it also included people who loved and supported Ginger during the 18 months since Troy had died. They are a special group much like the Chemo girls that supported Andrea every week during chemo. They all are examples of sacrificial love and I'm proud to call them family. People who helped clean Ginger's home, or do laundry, cook a meal, or most importantly held Ginger when she grieved. Men, who took the boys camping, set up basketball goals, doll houses, or a trampoline. Friends, who sat with Andrea, brought her drinks and food in the chemo room. Friends who faced the harshness of the ICU just to let Andrea know she was not alone. You are all family.

But this past weekend when I went to Ginger's annual family reunion made me think about family and this blog. It is a tradition that began in 1952 after a son who had been kidnapped was returned and the family gathered to celebrate God blessings. The tradition continues to this day and I was blessed to meet my new family this weekend. People who have been praying for Ginger since Troy died, people who felt the pain along with Ginger and the kids. The reunion began with twelve kids and their families, and it is these 12 "tribes" as they are called that gather each year in central Texas. I could not help but think of the impact of the parents of these 12 kids as I looked at this huge gathering of people and saw on the wall a family tree with a leaf for each member of the family. I was told Anthony and Nic and I had been added to the tree. Sometimes I think we forget the impact of simply being a mom and dad. We seek validation of who we are in our work or bank accounts. But this weekend I saw the impact of being a Godly parent as I listened to the members of two of the tribes pay tribute to their parents who had passed away I could not help but be humbled to be a part of this family. It was like they had all been behind Ginger, unknown to me, hidden from my mind and my sight, until now when ours lives were suddenly intertwined. Once separate we are now family. Once unknown to me, a stranger I could have passed on the street and never said a word, were now my family.

It was a great weekend. I met wonderful people who loved me and cared about me for the simple reason that I had married Ginger, and in doing so I went from stranger to family. This weekend I realized my family has grown in many ways I had not thought about. It reaches far beyond us 9, Ginger, Nic, Anthony, Boston, Greyson, Isabella, Aspen, Annalise or I. It is the joining of four families and many friends all of whom have a special place in our hearts. All of whom are our family.

You see death cannot sever family bonds in fact it has done the opposite, it has grown our family. My family tree is now a branch of four families, Ravella/Sullivan, Fuller/Brumley, Gurley/Wiman, and Gilbert, and so many friends.

This weekend I realized once again how blessed we are to have all of you in our life.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your candid sharing of your lives past as well as present and the hopes for the future. It is such a joy to see the blended family you have become in Christ. Bless your family -
    With Love,
    Mark and Jennifer Shepherd