In the doctor’s office where I work, we have a regular patient by the first name of Blender. That is her legal, given name. I haven’t had an opportunity to ask about the back story, but I am so curious as to what made parents name their child after a kitchen appliance. Maybe it means something beautiful in another language. I have no idea!

We don’t get to choose our birth family. Some people seem like they’ve won the family lottery, if there were such a thing, either genetically, economically, talentwise, or even just in the form of a loving, happy family life. Others, not so much. We all know someone whose family story breaks our heart. And we all know our own stories; how parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins have impacted our lives both positively and negatively. Or maybe we grew up without knowing our biological family, or know of someone who did.

As my children grow into teenagers, I’m recognizing more deeply the importance of being intentional with our family and putting in the time and effort to create the family we want. Life is also full and extremely busy, so I’m learning that I need to reexamine my priorities. Here are some things I am learning:

Do what you can with who you can. We can’t always wait for the whole family to be together in order to engage. All the dynamics and combinations of our family are important and contribute to the family “vibe.”

Community is important to family. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our kids receive so much from having other wonderful people in their lives, and so do we parents. So we invest in, and spend time with, our community.

Day by day. Family culture is developed in the little things; praying for the night together, group texts, chores, laughs, hugs, debates, and all the everyday stuff. These are the threads that weave the fabric of family much more than the annual vacation or grand events. Appreciate the value and the beauty of these things.

The family that prays together stays together. One of the best ways to teach our children to depend on God is for them to see us lean on Him.

Strong families create a strong society. I firmly believe that God is vested in our families and wants to help us build strong, happy families, even amid the challenges that abound.