Over Labor Day weekend we traveled to Arkansas to attend the 1st Chandler Family reunion. It wasn’t every Chandler family member, but Keith’s immediate family. His Dad, brother and sister and their families….all total, there were 31 people there. It was so good to see everyone, some we hadn’t seen in as long as 10 years. People traveled from as far away as Florida, but we also had family from Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. I think I got all the states in! We had every age group covered, from mid 70’s all the way to baby Liam who is 11 months old. There were some with real strong southern accents to those who tried their best to not sound southern. The kids enjoyed running around together and even managed to come up with a baseball game using a beach ball and an umbrella…that is what I call creative. There was a great time of talking and catching up, we played a game of Chandler Family Trivia…this was quite funny! There was badminton, golf and we even set up a swimming pool. What’s a family reunion without food? GiGi got up Sunday morning and cooked up a real southern breakfast…bacon, sausage, biscuits and eggs. There was fresh fruit, chocolate gravy and those awesome Ripley tomatoes. It was yummy! Thanks GiGi….and Brandon, who got in there and helped fry up the bacon!
With the Chandler family comes many Pastors, so of course we had a great Sunday morning service where everyone was included. Keith’s brother David headed up the service, but asked several of the men to share. Shari and Michael led worship…..which was awesome! We shared communion as a family, and also got to hear Michael, David, Jr., David and Le sing…I miss hearing them. Keith shared about his mother’s favorite scripture, Proverbs 3:5,6. He talked about how she had never sent a card or letter that didn’t have that scripture written at the bottom. He told us how important it was to lean on God and not to lean on ourselves. I have to say, I was very proud of him. At the end of the service David gave everyone an opportunity to share. Maxine, Keith’s sister, talked about how happy she was to have been able to get everyone together at the same time. Max, Keith’s Dad, shared about how proud he was of all of his children, and what a blessing it was to be there with everyone. Michele said she wanted to share something as well. I was a little surprised because she is ususally the quiet one in the back. Well, she blessed my socks off with what she had to say. I wanted to share it, but couldn’t remember it exactly, so I asked her to. Here is what she shared:
A little over a year ago I lost my close friend, Shannon. As I stood back and watched her mother and brother endure tragedy after tragedy, I found it amazing that they seemed to be strong, as though surrounded by pillars of strength, their family waiting in the wings. I also know that they have an amazing family, which led me to think about my own.
My family is one I am sure I often take for granted. I don’t often think about the fact that I am not biologically a Chandler, until someone tells me I look just like my Dad or my girls must get their blue eyes from him. If you truly know us, you know that isn’t possible. I call Keith my dad because he is just that……….my dad. Someone who took me in and raised me as his own. Unconditional love, no questions asked. While I am also blessed to know my biological father, it was Keith who raised me, and it’s Keith I call Dad.
When my mom married him, we also gained his family. It’s a family I am blessed to be a part of, and even when I get picked on or teased, I know I can always count on them to be there. You see, I never had to endure the title of a stepchild. I have only ever been a granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, and most importantly, a daughter. That reason alone makes me a very blessed person.