Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Praise Of First Cousins


Today is the birthday of my awesome first cousin, Marsha Hendricks. This is in honor of Marsha, wife of Michael and mom to my amazing second cousins, Emma and Walker! It is from November 20, 2005.

I watched them as I sat in Houston's Hobby Airport on Sunday, preparing to fly to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. The woman was in her mid-thirties, very pretty and stylishly attired. With her were her five perfectly groomed children. One was in a baby carriage. Three daughters were dressed almost identically and could have stepped out of a Benetton's catalog. The oldest was a boy, whom I would estimate to be nine years old, also clothed fashionably. They were the picture-perfect family, minus the father. I would guess there is a man in the picture; everything in the scenario said there had to be. What struck me was not the attractiveness of the mother and her kids or the manner in which the youngsters conducted themselves. What I found interesting was the number of kids in this family. The students in my classes come from small families. A number are only children. I don't think I have one student who comes from a family with five children. When I ask my classes how many children they would like to have themselves, overwhelmingly, the most popular answer is two. Smaller is the trend in families in our society. There are obvious cultural reasons. Women are going to college and into the work force, thus marrying later and postponing pregnancies. Children are also more expensive than ever so each baby decreases the amount that can be spent on remaining siblings. I understand all that but I think the downsized family carries with it a measure of sadness. The concept of one big happy family is less and less applicable in twenty-first century America.

When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in Utah, authorities immediately faced a dilemma. Suspects in abductions start with family. The problem in this case was the size of the family. She had eighty-one first cousins....that they knew about. There could have been more but law enforcement could not be sure. I can't conceive of that- 81 first cousins! This afternoon, as Dad and I returned home from the St. Louis Science Center, I asked about the immediate families of my grandparents. It turns out my Chesshir grandparents and my Hawley grandparents all came from large families. Grandpa Chesshir was one of seven kids and Grandma Chesshir was from a family of six children. On Dad's side, Grandpa Hawley came from a clan of seven offspring and my Grandma Hawley was one of, get this, eleven Petersen children! So, the aunts and uncles of my Mom and Dad totaled thirty-one. Dad told me he has no idea of how many first cousins he was blessed with and how many of those are still alive. Doing simple math leads me to conclude that just by maintaining the average number of kids from their families of origin, my dad's aunts and uncles could easily have bestowed on him many more first cousins than even Elizabeth Smart has. I think it is neat that Dad has first cousins he has never met. That means I have alot of cousins I have never been introduced to either! This may seem rambling but the point I am trying to make is that children are a gift from God. In recent years, segments of our society have implied it is socially irresponsible to have more than X number of children. I think that flatly contradicts the scriptures, assuming the parents are willing and able to care for their next generation the way the Bible teaches. Let me make a practical application. My Grandpa Chesshir was the youngest of seven. Imagine if my great grandparents had decided that having one more was not the culturally advisable course of action. Walker Jordan Chesshir would never have seen the light of day which means that among others, Nelda Chesshir Hawley could not have been conceived, which leads us to the overwhelming probability that I would not have been born. And so, during this week where we focus on gratitude for our blessings, I thank God for moms and dads who brought a good number of little ones into the world and raised them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is the true definition of planned parenthood.


Applicable quote of the day:
"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."
John W. Whitehead


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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