Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Family Reunion 2014

*Photo Taken by my Uncle, Randy Allen*

I remember as a little girl, piling in our our big blue van, every other year, and traveling to our family reunion in North Carolina. Spending a week with my Dad's parents and siblings and my cousins, was by far the highlight of my summer. It's been twenty years of traveling to our family reunion now. To the same place, Lake Junaluska, in the beautiful smokey mountains.

Now, I pile my children, into a smaller, but blue van. And travel to North Carolina, to spend a week with my parents and siblings, and my Dad's siblings, and their children, and grandchildren. My Grandparents passed away ten years ago. All my Grandfather asked was that we continue the tradition. All of us, gathering together again, year after year, and it was quite magical this reunion.

Our van driving into the mountains *Photo Credit-Tammy Hayes-my cousin*

The cabins are the same, for the most part, the grounds we played on as children, now our children play on. Yet, there is just something so sacred about it now. To bring my children, to a place I remember so fondly. Where memories were made, and stories shared. To experience it all over again through my children's eyes, that was so precious.

  Meet Reddy Freddy. He has come to our family reunion, since I was a little girl. My Aunt Cindy (pictured above) and her Husband Andy traveled Europe doing puppet shows with their family. When they came to a Reunion a looooonnnnggg time ago, my Grandmother asked them to please do a puppet show with Reddy Freddy. It's a highlight of our banquet night, Reddy Freddy tells silly jokes and made up stories about different family members. It always makes us laugh, and yes, cry sometimes too. That quilt on the front of the puppet theater is all of our previous reunion shirts, and a shirt my parents had made for my Grandfather. With a picture of them in the center. Aunt Cindy and Uncle Andy did a wonderful job of continuing this tradition, and sharing with the little ones all about my Grandparents. A highlight of our week, for sure.

I recall, running past my Grandfather, as all of us cousins played, I think I was about ten, and seeing tears in his eyes. He could and would get emotional at our Reunions. I never doubted for one minute his deep love for me, for all of us. I understand now, the tears in his eyes.

Watching generations play together, create memories together, share laughter and stories, together. It's a glimpse of Glory. Of what is to come. Family, loved ones, laughter, joy, peace, tranquility, beauty. And there, in the majestic mountains of North Carolina, every other summer, among roses, flowering bushes, and situated on a peaceful Lake, we create memories to last a life time.

I kept thinking all week, "My heart is so full!!!
All of my first cousins, and their spouses.

I also thought...  "I know one day, we will all be together, and it will be far more beautiful than this, it will be perfect because we will be in the presence of Jesus." That is what being together as a family is all about. 
Grateful for the Hope we can have and to know that one day it won't end.

The cross at Lake Junaluska
I want nothing but the best for them. I didn't want their company to end. I love them. So much. They are SO dear to me. And to think that is the way Jesus feels about me, and you, and all of my family. He want's us to live forever, He want's to be with us forever. He died so we could be with him forever.
Eternity will be a family reunion, that never ends.
I caught myself, choking back tears, as little cousins ran and played together. Becoming fast friends, most having never met. That is the amazing thing about family, even the littlest of people, sense and know, they are safe and they are loved.

I am so grateful to be a part of a wonderful family. They are my favorite people.

To my family that may read this, I love you. 
I esteem (Value, Respect, Admire, Treasure, Like, Appreciate) YOU!
I am grateful to be a small part of such a grand family. Thank you for continuing this legacy. I want nothing but the best for each of you. We are counting down until the next family reunion. Until then, all of you are welcome to visit us anytime. For those that couldn't come, you were really missed. I hope to see you all in two years. Much love always ~ Bethany

Here is a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures my family snapped.
The beautiful outdoor photos are taken by my Uncle Randy Allen
And My Dad Steve Allen
(Photography runs in the family)