This past weekend, we put on our boogie shoes!  One of Raleigh's friends got married so we headed up to Birmingham to attend the wedding and catch up with some college friends we hadn't seen in a while.  His friend was a family friend, so Raleigh's parents went to the wedding as well.  We took the girls and had a really good time!!!!!  It worked out nice because we got to introduce the girls to all of our friends and the Prices got their grandparent time in and helped us with the girls.  It was a win-win for everyone!!!!!!

Y'all, our parents are too funny as grandparents.  My parents were up here two weeks ago, and we all cracked up at this picture of Adeline when we went to eat dinner:

My dad thought she was the cutest thing in the whole wide world!  My parents are keeping the girls this weekend as well because my dad's sister and her family are coming into town to meet the girls for the very first time!  I know they are going to have so much fun :)

As newlyweds, we all face the challenge of bringing two families together.  It is a time of growth and new beginnings for everyone.  When it comes to families, we all have to realize that each family dynamic is run differently.  Growing up, my family and Raleigh's family did some things the same but they did a lot of things differently.  Now that we have Adeline & Maralee, we have established our own family dynamic.  The key is we have to manage our own families our own way - but the goal is to align our families with God's will for our lives.  1 Timothy 3:4 says, "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect."

Friends, I just want to share with all of you that family relationships are some of the hardest to keep afloat.  From talking with my parents, in-laws, and friends, I think there is a common theme of needing open communication with each other.  When we have open communication, it helps us not keep our feelings bottled up inside.  When we keep our feelings to ourselves, we tend to pour them out to our spouses or we say comments to our parents/in-laws that aren't always appropriate.  When interacting with family members, we all need to be conscience of sensitive subject matters and learn how to communicate well with one another.

For open communication to happen effectively, we need to forget and forgive times that we have been wronged by family members.  Friends, this can be soooooooooooooo hard to do!  But, we just gotta do it.  Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Y'all, we have to forget all of those times that they made us mad in the past and start moving forward.  We do this through feeding ourselves with the word of God.  God loves us so much and it is our goal to love others like He loves us.  That means humbling ourselves and forgetting all of the wrongs done towards us.

After we forget, the next step is to forgive.  Matthew 18:21-22 says, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.""  Really, seventy-seven??????  Forgiveness has been a battle of mine for years.  When people hurt me with their words or actions, it strikes me to the core.  I dwell on the incident and have these fake conversations in my head of what I could have said or what I wish I could say to that person.  It is this horrible cycle of hurt and pain.  The only way for me to release that pain is to forgive.  We can never move forward if we don't let go.  Our parents/in-laws are going to mess up again down the road but each time adversity strikes, we have to forgive.  Even when it hurts.  Even when we did nothing wrong.  Forgiveness is the way to peace in our hearts.

Friends, I realize that each family has their own struggles.  I know that you could be the only believer of Christ in your family.  I empathize with those of you that have really tough family situations.  If you are in one of these situations, my best advice is for you to be in continual prayer for your families.  Pray with your husband or your small group for your family - the more people in prayer together the better. Luke 12:52-53 says, "From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Jesus didn't come to this earth for peace, he came for division.  He tells us that he came to bring fire on this earth but he wishes it were already kindled.  You might be thinking, "What?  He didn't come to bring peace on this earth?"  What we all have to realize is that Jesus wants you and He wants me.  Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins and for us to accept Him into our hearts as our Savior.  Once we do this, we have accepted the Holy Spirit into our bodies and this helps us to live our lives according to God's will.  Sometimes, that means going in a direction that nobody in your family has gone before.  I pray for you to find strength and courage to follow Christ.   The more we follow Christ, the more we speak and live out his will for our lives.  And, when it comes to our families, it helps us to love them as He loves us.

Friends, it is never too late for your family to start following God's will.  So often, our family dynamics are structured around what is most comfortable. We need to get out of our comfort zones and really try hard at developing relationships with our families.  Sometimes, this means we have to have honest to goodness conversations that are really tough. Mark 5:19 says, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."  At the end of the day, no matter what the situation is, as Christians we should pray for our families to live joyful lives in Christ Jesus.

Since we have been newlyweds and are now parents, I have had time to ponder over family matters. Over the years, my relationship with our families has had its high points and low points.  We have laughed and cried together.  I have left Dothan feeling happy and sad.  Even though I have had my ups and downs with our families (as I'm sure some of you have had to)  I know that we have grown exponentially over the years and I pray that we continue to grow closer to one another.  That doesn't mean that we aren't going to have roadblocks along the way, but I sure hope we can overcome those obstacles and remain close-knit.  As crazy as they make me sometimes, I love our families more than I can describe on paper.  They love us and we love them.  Enough said :)

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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