Kisses from Braden

// September 13th, 2011 // Uncategorized

What makes a family? When I was a kid family meant the people that came to you biologically through your parents and grandparents. Mine was pretty big. Mom had four sisters and three brothers. Each of them had at least two and as many as five kids. My three siblings and I have 23 cousins. Never a dull moment for the Toll clan during our many gatherings at Grandma and Grandpa’s house or a park for a huge picnic.
My family is a bit smaller {for now} than Grandma’s. We have five kids, three of whom have started their own families.
Ethan & Maddie being goofySome of our kids’ friends would automatically call me Mom when they first met me. I’d allow it but often asked them to call me Debbie [or Mrs. Haas if their parents insisted] because I thought it was an honor to be a mom, not an automatic just because I was a friend’s mom. Maddie was different. She started coming around when she and Jae were about 15 and has been a permanent part of our family ever since. I’m Mom to her, now more than ever.
When our daughter Amy married Jeremy he came with an instant son {Josh} to go with Amy’s two daughters {Kirstie and Kyle}.
Our oldest son passed away in 2003 from complications of diabetes. But he left behind an ex {Lori, who still calls us Mom and Dad}, a wife, and two sons.
A few days after Steve died, I told his widow, Nett, “You know, don’t you, that you will always be a part of our family?”  As our daughter-in-law she held a special place in our hearts, but since then, she has become a true daughter to Dave and me and sister to Amy, Nick, Jae, and Robyn.
Reading to ShelbyAlmost five years ago Nett was ready to start dating again when she met Jon, who has been an enormous blessing to our family! Right away we could tell that he loved Steve and Nett’s son Chris as much as he loved Nett. When they married, we counted Jon as our son-in-law. This past summer Jon legally adopted Chris, giving him a new last name, but never forgetting Chris’s roots.
In the past two years, Jon and Nett have also given us two new grandchildren; Shelby in 2009 and Braden in 2010. These treasures, including Josh and Lori’s son Jonathan, are indistinguishable from the other gems in our storehouse.
So…what makes a family?
 Blood and DNA are only a small part of the definition for us. More important are the spiritual bonds we feel when God places someone in our life that fits as well as any genetic match.

One Response to “Kisses from Braden”

  1. Nett says:

    Beautiful!!! XOXO

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