Family. What a blessing. I'm grateful not only for my wife and children, my "immediate" family, but also for my folks, my brother, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. Family is a reminder of "connectedness." None of us are in this alone.
It's been nice for my folks because in the last few years they discovered that we were the descendents of a "lost" line of Weldons. The Weldon family in South Carolina has been meeting for a family reunion for years. But for the longest time, they were unable to find one branch of the family tree that headed west. But now, they found us. Yeah.
Mom has been doing a lot of research about family in the last couple years. Two of the more interesting things have to do with one relative on her side, James McGuire, who I've mentioned before. And since he's not really a Weldon at all, I'll just mention that you can go here to read about him. The other intriguing thing has to do with a Weldon ancestor.
Gabriel Wheldon (the "h" was later dropped) was a great, great, great, (something or other) great grandfather. He came from England to America early in the 17th century, but that's about the only detail that can be pinned down. Not because we don't have information. But because we have conflicting information.
In one story, Gabriel was an early settler in the Plymouth colony. They say he was a "dissenter" or "non-conformist" escaping England for religious freedom. Records indicate he left a great deal of his limited wealth to the church in his will. All in all, a great sounding guy.
The other story has Gabriel coming to Massachusetts a bit later. And far from being the religious pilgrim, this story says that Gabe and his brother jumped ship to escape punishment for some crime. They ended up living with the natives of the area, and Gabriel supposedly even married a niece of Chief Massasoit. There are lots of interesting tales about this "Indian Princess" side of the story.
The problem is that our family tree goes back to a certain point and then dead ends with Gabriel. And we can't figure which. The records seem to point to both. So whether this is two versions of one man's life, or we are getting two different men confused, we can't say for sure. Interesting, none-the-less. (If you're really interested here is a lengthy article about Gabriel, with both sides of the story, though claiming the second is pure fantasy)
Other than that, we've discovered a family crest that would have belonged to Gabriel's ancestors, which is pretty fun as well. We've talked about family crests and things at our house, but decided that we should make up our own with the family motto: "God is Good to the Stupid" (long story in there. Not enough time or space for now).
Anyway, family is truly a blessing. None of us are perfect, but we're still family. And it reminds me that while family in general is a reminder of our "connectedness," there is a greater connection and a greater family still: the family of God. Those who God saves by His grace are also adopted as sons and daughters. He brings us into His family and loves us as if we were His Only Son.
So while family is important, and I love the Weldon clan; while family history is fascinating, and I think we should all do a little research to see where we come from; in the end, belonging to the family of God is the real blessing. Having brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world; being associated with millions who have gone before; tracing our lineage back through time to the apostles and prophets; that's even more important and fascinating. So to all the Weldons out there, and all the rest of you, here's to family.