I just came back from Penang late last night. Spent a few very special days there. First, we celebrated my mum’s 90th birthday. That would have been special enough. But we also had a short family holiday. There are six in our immediate family: Bernice, myself, and four sons, Mark, Stephen, John, and Andrew. Andrew is working in Toronto. Stephen, married, is in Melbourne. The last time we were all together in the same time and space was in 2014 when we celebrated Stephen’s wedding. Family gatherings with all present are few and far between. Mum/Grandma’s birthday was an ideal opportunity for a family reunion.

Bernice and I thank God for our family. Our sons, Mark and John (hers), Stephen and Andrew (mine), were from our first marriages. We had both lost our first spouses to cancer. When Bernice and I were praying as to whether we should join our lives in marriage, we were both aware that blended families are tough. We both decided to give our sons veto votes. If any of the children were against our joining our lives, we would not proceed. After all it was their lives too. We saw the children’s acceptance of the new parent as a sign that we were to proceed. We were grateful that they gave us the go ahead and we were married in 2006.

We thank God for the years since. Much has happened in the past decade. But as we saw our four boys talking, laughing, caring, discussing serious subjects that included Fantasy Premier League and Pokemon Go, Bernice and I were filled with joy. It is quite possible that if they all lived in the same town and were in each other’s faces more often, there would be more conflict. But there is an underlying sense of family for which we are very grateful. The family holiday was much too short but there may be another family meet-up in a couple of weeks’ time and we look forward to that.

As I reflected on our family, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude to the Lord. We can’t make such good things happen though we may try. I have long believed that the best things in life are gifts from the living God, to be received with thanks.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)