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The Gift of An Extended Family

The morning began in a disconcerting way. So far, we have six house guests with a bunch more coming. I have a little coffee routine in the morning and was awake early this morning, eager for the first cup. But then one of our guests had prepared the pot of coffee and, horror of horrors, it was …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
The morning began in a disconcerting way. So far, we have six house guests with a bunch more coming. I have a little coffee routine in the morning and was awake early this morning, eager for the first cup. But then one of our guests had prepared the pot of coffee and, horror of horrors, it was weak.
 
This would never do. Have you ever tried to rectify a weak pot of coffee? I have made a mess doing this before, so I thought, “I’ll just make my own cup stronger.” And, in my sleep-deprived state, I got the filter full of used coffee grounds, added a scoop of fresh grounds, and put it on my cup.
 
But that was a bad idea – the filter container was too big. So I got a funnel and balanced the container holding the grounds on the funnel.
 
That too was a bad idea – the old coffee grounds clogged the hole at the bottom and the hot water just sat in a sad puddle on top of them. After a few minutes, only a sip of coffee had filtered through and it was cold. Ugh!
 
What to do? Anxious about the lack of coffee, I decided to move the filter full of grounds back and forth to get it to drip faster.
 
This too was a mistake worthy of a Mr. Bean episode. I was balancing a container of coffee grounds on top of a filter on top of a cup and moving it around. Suddenly, there was a shift and the coffee exploded everywhere on the counter and down the white cabinets and on the floor.
 
At this point, it was like a mini-Chernobyl situation. Forget drinking coffee. Damage containment was foremost on my mind. I looked for the dishrag, but Karen had thrown it away. I opened the first cabinet drawer, and somehow the coffee had already found its way in there. Panic.
 
I had to get the mess under control before Karen woke up and my disaster wrecked her morning. Thankfully no one was awake to make a Youtube of my frenzy.
 
I spent the next ten minutes using sponges and napkins to wipe and smear away the disaster. What a way to start the day!
 

 
My coffee misadventure was the start of this year’s Thanksgiving season for me. Thanksgiving is a time when our family grows like an expandable suitcase, accordion-like to accommodate all the other people who we count as family – our closest friends from 25 years ago. They’ve since scattered and come here from the four corners.
 
We got together as six families in a wonderful small group in FL. We all had little kids running around. We survived that chaotic stage of life by doing life together. I was an “uncle” to about 15 other kids who roamed in and out of our house and backyard.
 
This gift of extended family is a precious thing that some never receive. One of the saddest compromises I watch people make is the decision to not invest themselves deeply in lasting friendships. We need people who know us at our worst and still love us. We need lifelong friends who, when we feel like we’re drowning, help us breathe air again.
 
Sometimes church discourages me. The way I’ve seen church in its truest form is in our lifelong friends – the people I connect with as church.
 
If you haven’t found that yet or you find yourself missing it, let me encourage you. When we hunger for community, it’s a holy yearning that God has deposited in us. It may seem impossible given our circumstances, but it is the dream that God is dreaming for us.
 
This is the kind of church I want to be a part of and to plant around the world. I think it’s a gift God wants us to give.

Comments (3)

  • Happy thanksgiving Seth! What a great blog about friends and community, sometimes your guests will make bad coffee, but what’s the pleasure of a good cup of coffee if you don’t have anyone to share it with, hey?

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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