My family safely arrived in Florida despite tornado-related flight delays.

As I previously mentioned the postponement, I offer the tornado context with humility.

I wonder if I would have been able to hang on to my happy Zen with the same gracious grip had I known we were flying into tornado warnings.

There were enough generational allusions to the Wizard of Oz that we had to agree to, “Stop it already, my little pretty.”

We hit Fort Meyers late with a robust agenda for the evening and next day, so our initial entry into the area felt more like work than vacation.

Today we slept in and woke up to sunshine and vacation.

It was a pancake morning and afterward the kids poured into the pool like maple syrup.

They swam like giggling porpoises in an eighty-degree pool, jumping from the steaming hot tub back to the pool as I left for a long run.

The time alone gave me time to filter recent experience.

It occurred to me that this visit with extended family is much like going to the ophthalmologist.

You know that part of the exam when the doctor puts that big, metal mask in front of your face and each time he adjusts the lens she asks you, “Which is better, 1 or 2?”

The beauty of family, of course, is that there is no exact prescription. You don’t have to walk out the door with one pair of glasses.

Like the best of buffets, we get to love and be loved by everyone.

The versatility of our family allows us to benefit from seeing our children from the unique lens of their love.

Each of the family members who love our babies helps us see them in a different way:

D: Their D honors this season in our lives. Her children are now grown, and when her eyes light our babies, they magnify the honor we have been given to have this season with these little people and be their parents.

Uncle T: The Baby couldn’t wait to get to Uncle T’s house, because his eyes sees each of our children as individuals of incredible potential. His perspective helps us appreciate the enormity of their futures, an easy thing for us to lose sight of when buried in laundry and bills.

G: One of D’s adult daughters, I see The Oldest Girl’s face when she looks at my girls. Her lens of love for her mother is entirely unconditional, and I am filled with wonder to imagine what our relationships with our children will be when they are adults.

Pappaw: Pappaw’s eyes have the steady gaze of a patriarch. They are our earthly lens of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Mamma-in-Law: Her eyes are like baptism. Her gaze renews our sense of wonderi.

Tia: Tia’s love endures and stands watch over our babies like a sentry. She helps us guard what is most important.

L: L’s eyes connect us to the simple delight of reunion. As much one of us as one of our own, she helps us see who we are as a family.

The members of our extended family help us see the gifts of our nuclear family more clearly and we are grateful for their lenses.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!