“Look at how good and pleasing it is when families live together as one!” (Psalm 133).

These are the photographs we work a lifetime for. Rebekah and I met back in 1977; we started dating, we fell in love, we married and then all this happened. Good grief. First Andrew, then Naomi, followed by two most wonderful in-law children and now four beautiful grandchildren; two remarkable families.

So, this month, we had a few people over for lunch; I believe it was 23. My mum; Andrew and Naomi’s families; my parents’ other grandchild, my niece, Hannah, along with her husband and their five children; plus our niece Lindsay and her boyfriend; and of course Tom too, Rebekah’s brother-in-law from Virginia Beach. Finally, Rebekah’s cousin, Zandra, came in from Georgia.

Consequently, my parents had all nine of their great-grandchildren over at our house, and we had all the ingredients of a beautiful, relentless, love-filled zoo.

It was the noise, the massive amounts of food, the constant banging of doors as children came in and out, the dog hiding under the table praying to be left alone, the air-conditioning pushing hard to keep up but losing ground — all adding up to classic summer family reunion conditions.

Quite the day. The day behind the calm, pristine, family photo, the accumulation of what is best described as “all this and more.”

It all adds up. Everything from being ‘that family’ at church (you know, the people with the yelling child and the toddler who escapes and then hides under the communion table), to masses of people for lunch, to constantly washing dishes and preparing more food, to hugs and goodbyes as half the crowd drove away to Florida and South Carolina and Virginia, to settling down with all the grandchildren to watch movies in the evening, to walking the dog with my now-9-year-old granddaughter before settling down for the night.

It’s all good. I am exhausted. I am happy. We are blessed. – DEREK

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.