Mandatory Fun Time and the Great Family Photo

We affectionately refer to my mom's requests for group activities as "Mandatory Fun Time." Most of our family interactions are two parts silliness and one part sarcasm. Sometimes the ratio is reversed, but the sister-in-laws usually keep us in check. Unlike my brothers and I, Ashley and Steph were not raised on grape nuts and snarky banter. These women are very good for us.

My mom is also on a sacred quest for the perfect family photo...every year. But with three kids under four, you just have to settle for less than perfect and call it a day. 

And what a day it was. With one brother in south Florida and another in Missouri, these gatherings are rare. And with our growing families, it is loud, messy, silly and life-giving.

It's no secret that these two LOVE being grandparents. My dad does not like taking pictures, but I swear he has never smiled so much in front of a lens as when these little guys are in his arms.

Andrew is my slightly younger and infinitely wiser brother. Ashley is my first call with "what do I do with this toddler" questions and my home made yogurt co-conspirator. Oh, and they make beautiful, giggly babies (one on the way!) and are responsible for giving my husband the baby itch.

Brian is younger, smarter, taller and arguably better looking than anyone in our family. It would be obnoxious if he wasn't such a downright caring guy. Stephie is the perfect partner for him. I'm told she totally intimidated him with her smarts in their college days, which was good for him. They are waiting to meet their little boy. We're working on a Jacobson football team, apparently.

This is probably the first sibling photo we've taken in years. My brothers are book worms, and I jokingly jumped between them on a whim. I don't actually have the attention span to finish a whole book.

My best friend is the closest thing I've experienced to a sister until Ashley and Steph came into the picture. They are fun, endearing and very patient. They truly bring out the best in our whole family.

My dad gets credit for taking this photo. It's rare for Sean and I to be in a photo together that is not a pre-party or coffee-date selfie. He is the driving force behind almost everything I do. To be honest, I'd be a mess on my own. He keeps me grounded but also inspires me to take risks and recognize my successes.

I don't usually get preachy on my business blog, but this family is a testament to God's blessing and faithfulness. It has nothing to do with any worldly circumstance. These are generous, faithful people who open their homes to strangers, move across the country to serve the Lord, help one another with selfless enthusiasm, endure each others spiritual and sometime literal messiness, and pretty much shower everyone they meet in their contagious joy. I am proud to call each one of them family.