Family gatherings are steppingstones of life

By Joan Clayton: PNT Religion Columnist

“Okay girls, now listen up. In the morning us guys are getting up early. We’re going to the ranch and cook the best cowboy campfire breakfast you ever ate.”
“Yeah, right,” we all answered in unison.
The men of my household had jumped out of bed at dawn waking all of us with plans for the day.
The weekend family gatherings always bless our growing family. Ages range from 13 for the youngest granddaughter, 26 for the oldest granddaughter, and 25 for the oldest married grandson and his wife.
“You girls come on about 9:30 and we’ll have communion and church after breakfast.” That statement grabbed our attention.
“They really mean business,” one of the girls said, “so let’s put on jeans, boots and cowgirl hats!”
My three daughters-in-love, my new granddaughter-in-love and two granddaughters and I drove the 38 miles to the ranch. We laughed and talked about the “cowboy breakfast” awaiting us. We envisioned all they could have would be doughnuts and coffee.
As we approached the picnic area we saw the men of my household standing around with steaming cups of hot coffee. The smell of bacon frying whetted our appetites and I thought, they must have bought more than coffee and doughnuts. The aroma coming from the campfire and the crispy cool air brought a closeness that bound us together once again, a time we cherished.
“Sit down girls and have a cowboy breakfast,” the “cowboys” said as they pulled out chairs and waited on us hand and foot. We sat down in amazement upon viewing biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, pancakes with plenty of real butter and syrup, cinnamon rolls, orange juice, milk and coffee.
After the blessing prayer, we kept calling for seconds, and we ate ravenously.
“Now you have intimidated me,” I said with teasing. “You can cook better than I can.”
“No one can cook like you Mom,” they answered.
Dazzling diamond rays of sunshine beamed down around the picnic table under the shady elm tree. It seemed to me that huge old tree had enclosed us under an umbrella of love. Bob whites, quail and mocking birds joined in with their melodious psalms of praise to their Maker. I knew this had to be a special day. The family gathering of love had not only ministered to our physical needs, but to our spirits as well.
“Time for church,” our sons said as they went to the pickups for their Bibles.
We sang those faith filled hymns and they sounded heavenly, reaching all of nature that seemed to be singing too. I like to think peace spread that day as far as we could see.
“Mom, we forgot to tell you. We agreed you would preach today.” Lance was at it again, teasing me, but I took him up on it. I opened my Bible and turned to Psalm 37 to read the first seven verses and tell how we could apply them to our lives. The main principles were:
1. “Fret not thyself of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.”
2. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land.”
3. “ Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
4. “Commit thy way unto the Lord.”
5. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
Then going around the circle of loved ones, I gave each one a blessing. Lots of tears and hugs ended our service.
It was hard to say goodbye the next day, but the memories still linger. They are memories of love that filled our hearts and a campfire breakfast that filled our tummies.
I believe family gatherings are stepping stones of love on our way to heaven.
 Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: