Family and Friends

“Count your blessings, name them one by one; 

Count your blessings, see what God hath done;

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”*


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Nearly two weeks ago, my wife and I took an excursion to visit members of my family in one state and then friends of ours in a neighboring state. The first stop of our journey, after driving for eight hours, was with an aunt, one of my father’s three surviving sisters (he had 14 other siblings).  This aunt, a spry octogenarian, is the youngest of the three and was a young teen when I was born.

For reasons too complicated to delve into, it’s only been within the last few years that we’ve gotten to know each other (I still only have a passing knowledge of most of my dad’s brothers and sisters and their children, my many first cousins).  I met this aunt once before, at my dad’s funeral many years ago, but had very little contact with her after that.  I vividly recall the next time we met (three years ago), as my wife and I walked up the short stairway to her home.  She met us halfway, calling me by my father’s name with a warmth that said she had claimed me.  I’ve been to her home twice since then, including within the last few days.

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She has filled-in blanks in my family knowledge, including some gems about my parents. Through her I’ve been able to spend time with four of my first cousins, one of her children and three of her other nephews, none of whom I knew previously.  And because she is now a widow living alone, my wife and I have been, and on this trip were, on the receiving end of her having someone in the house to mother…and did she!  My aunt has been a blessing to me.  A few years ago, she was just a name to me.  Now she is part of my treasure; I have claimed her in the same way she has claimed me.

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Driving north for a little over an hour brought us to the home of dear friends, my college roommate and his precious wife (one of my wife’s dearest friends). Our knowledge of each other and our prayers for each other over the years have bonded us in an uncommon way.  They are more like brother and sister to us than the word “friend” describes.  And although their five sons have their own lives and responsibilities, each of our adopted nephews, took time to come home because they knew we were visiting, some driving significant distances.

In the short letter named Philemon, the imprisoned Apostle Paul asked Philemon, a leader of a house church in Colossae, to offer him refreshment through an act of kindness.  Our friend’s home is a place where we are refreshed.  We talk, we laugh, we eat, we sleep, we pray, we worship; and when we leave we always feel a little lighter and, as the old folks used to say, glad of heart.  In them, I am greatly blessed of GOD.

The old hymn encourages us to count and name the blessings GOD has given us. I have received many.  These are two, and I am very thankful.

* Count Your Blessings.  Lyrics by Johnson Oatman, Jr.  Music by Edwin Othello Excell.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2019. All rights reserved to original text content.

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