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I grew up an only child. As much as I was loved and probably (okay, definitely) spoiled by my parents, I think part of me missed not having a sibling. There were times when it was lonely. Times when I had to use my imagination to create the extra people I thought I needed in my life. I’d have friends tell me they’d trade their siblings with me to be an only child, and of course I’d laugh, but deep down I wondered what I was missing.

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When I began writing, my stories always centered around large families. And now, years later, I tell people I write family drama. It is a niche that I stepped into naturally, because I have always loved the idea of family. Thanks to books, and shows like The Waltons, The Brady Bunch and other amazing 70’s offerings, I probably ended up with a rather skewed view of what it might be like to belong to a large family. As I discovered later in life, through talking with friends and having two children of my own, families are never perfect. But that’s what makes them so much fun, right?

Every member brings something different to the table. Everyone doesn’t always get along, and sometimes time and distance and misunderstandings sever family ties. There are many stories to be told within a family and often these are passed down through generations. And you know there will be a skeleton or two in the closet.

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If you’ve been watching the new show on NBC This Is Us, you understand the draw of family drama. Thanks to the amazing writing and acting on this show,  it doesn’t take us long to fall in love with these characters and we’re waiting week after week to find out what comes next for them. This is exactly the kind of show I adore, because it reminds me why we’re placed in families.

Because we need each other. Plain and simple. Whether you belong to a large family or a small family, if you don’t have someone beside you, someone who’s got your back, someone who loves you no matter what . . . then I don’t think you’ll ever know your true worth. Maybe those people aren’t even biologically related to you. Family takes on many shapes and sizes, but the message is always the same.

You are loved. 

And for some, that’s not an easy message to accept. Insecurity, shame, fear, so many things get in the way of allowing ourselves to be loved. But if those walls are broken down, imagine the potential. I’m getting excited just thinking about it! This is why I love, love, love writing about family. Because it’s the painful moments, the hard moments, the moments when we just want to walk out that door and slam it and sometimes we do . . . it’s about walking back in and saying sorry. Forgiving and moving on. Loving unconditionally. All the complicated and often intense emotions and feelings that tear us apart and bring us back together – isn’t it amazing?

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Life is a series of lessons in love.

That’s what I’ve learned. That’s what I’m still learning every day. How to love my friends well. How to love my family and make sure they know it. How to listen and not judge. How to just ‘be there’.

Our family stories are so important. Knowing our history helps us understand one another. My story is rather complicated but full of miracles. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As we approach another holiday season, I remind myself again to never take any of this for granted. To appreciate all I’ve been given, and to be mindful of what and how I give back.

Family is everything we need, even when we don’t realize it, and I think it’s worth fighting for. It’s a place to call home. And I’m grateful to be able to write about what I believe is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

How are you feeling about family today?

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