Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dennis Flake Family Reunion

It's late, but it's hard to justify not writing. Each day that passes the feelings fade a little more. Why do there not seem to be enough hours in the day? When you want to be "present" in your kids' lives, the work of the soul can get pushed off to late hours and early mornings. But the work must go on. 

We just got back from a wonderful family reunion in Idaho. It was blazing hot (even in the mountains) and there weren't any showers. There was more than 100 screaming, tired, crying kids the whole weekend. And I didn't even have to drive 22 hours to get there, like some! But I am changed because of it. I want to be better. I am inspired.

We were celebrating what would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday. 280 of her 470 descendants got together (she had 10 children, 83 grandchildren, 250+ great-grandchildren). I was born a few months before she died, so the memories shared of her were informative and inspiring. It's no wonder her posterity is exceptional. She left quite a legacy of faith, hard work, and humility herself.

My cousin Lucinda drew this beautiful pencil drawing of our grandmother. Like many of us grandchildren, she did not have the opportunity to know her very well. But, she said, she knew her daughters. She knew her sons. So it that way she knew her. It was quite touching to me. As I studied Lucinda's drawings I saw my aunt's mouth or my dad's nose. And Lucinda opened my eyes that I must also know her steady, unending service. Her passion for missionary work. Her humble, unassuming ways. Her enthusiasm and her quick wit. Because I know her children.

Just like any family, we are not without our flaws. But I have learned a few things from the Flake Family.

They are strong. They are humble. Unwavering. Courageous. Doers of hard things. They love the Lord, deeply, personally. 

This is not the mantra of the Flake Family. They do not self-identify this way. This is who. they. are. You can see it in their faces

I wish I could have captured all of my cousins so you could see their kind faces. The strength of what they are. I may have been born into this group, but that doesn't make me superior to others. My parents are not better parents because all of us have chosen the same joy-filled path that they did. Instead it is like we are part of a huge support group. A place where we can buoy each other up, point each other in the right direction, and help each other when we fall.  

If you don't have many positive role models like this, seek them out. They usually live their life on the sidelines, but would be happy to help you get what they have. You were never meant to live life feeling utterly alone in your principles. Your brother and mine, Jesus Christ, he's already carried that burden.

Christ cannot walk upon the earth as he once did. But he can place people in your life to show you what His walk would have looked like. I sacredly call these people family. 


  1. Thank you so much, Ashley, for this beautiful narrative of your feelings about our reunion. What fun it was to be together again and feel the strength of each family member, young and old. I love your pictures, your observations and appreciation of it all. From "100 screaming, tired, crying kids all weekend long" to enjoying being in a huge support group where we "point each other in the right direction and help each other when we fail." It is truly worth the sacrifice, to drive those many hours to sleep, on a board, endure the hot days and tired kids to remember who we are and the legacy that we are a part of. I love you, Ashley. I am so glad you and Ben and those sweet girls and their little brother could be there!

  2. These are great pictures! I wish I had been able to come.

    1. We missed you Kristen! Can't tell you how many times I wished you were there

  3. Beautiful summary! I couldn't agree more.

  4. You've put into eloquent words the thoughts and feelings I have. I LOVE reunions! They are so worth the challenge and expense of getting there, the enduring heat, the uncomfortable beds, nasty swimming pools, dirty-sticky-gross children, and mounds of laundry afterwards. I'd do it all again tomorrow, in a heartbeat just so my husband, our kids and I could feel the strength of a family striving, failing, but never losing sight of their goal.

  5. Very nice words and pictures. I like the shot of Lucy, Lova, and Claudia the best....