A round of giggles echoed down the hall followed by the quieter tones of Cheryl’s voice and the tromping of running feet before the children burst into the room and headed straight for the tree.

~A Christmas morning snippet from Focus On Love

There’s nothing quite like the recent Holidays to remind us of the people that mean the most to us. Yet those same gatherings can trigger painful memories or spotlight our loneliness. Why? Because we’re either surrounded by love…or we’re not.

If I asked you to list ten people you love, after a significant other (a topic for a future post), the majority of your list would likely be family members, then friends. A mom or dad. A grandparent. Your children. Siblings. Cousins. A college roommate. A childhood neighbor. Your best friend (or three).

However, if I asked you to list the people who have hurt you the most or caused the most pain, that list could also include friends and family.

The circle of people closest to us are the ones most likely to carry us through a crisis, support our pursuit of a dream, listen when we need to vent our frustrations, and be a part of our most cherished memories.

Except sometimes the very people who should support us the most, don’t. Either by choice or circumstance (like death or distance), we find ourselves cut off from a former source of love and struggling to find our footing alone.

In Focus On Love, I included the good, the bad, and the ugly of those family relationships. If you’ve read the prologue and first chapter (get them FREE here), then you already know that Liz’s father doesn’t support her dreams and that she’s estranged from her family. And staying in Colorado may only make things worse. While surrounded by friends and frenemies from the cast at The Wardrobe Dinner Theatre, Liz still longs for the happy memories from when her grandparents were alive.

On the flip side, Ryan’s set aside his own ambitions to help his sister and her kids while her husband is deployed. Yep. Today’s opening snippet of a Christmas scene spotlights a family without their father home for the Holidays. Not to mention, it’s Ryan and Cheryl’s first Christmas since their mother’s passing so they’re circling close to create new memories…and including Liz.

They are focusing on the love that shows up rather than those who are missing. Which is a lesson for all of us. Rather than let complaints, pain, and regret steal our joy, we can choose to celebrate life with those who have surrounded us with their love…and then repay the blessing.

What about you? When you focus on love, which friends and family members top your list? Which relationships need more work and how can you love those individuals well?

Focus On Love – Surrounded By Love (or Not)
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