“Observe, my son, your father’s command, and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
Keep them fastened over your heart always, tie them around your neck.
When you lie down they will watch over you, when you wake, they will share your concerns;
wherever you turn, they will guide you. For the command is a lamp, and the teaching a light,
and a way to life are the reproofs that discipline. . . .”
. . . .
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.”
Family (FAM): Can anyone ever fully appreciate the critical, crucial, key, and essential role it plays in our lives?!
 Image of medieval peasant family gathered around the table taken from https://www.google.com/search?q=images+of+medieval+peasant+families&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi-y-KC6JDeAhULHqwKHc59BjMQsAR6BAgGEAE&biw=1440&bih=754#imgrc=Bcu4AsLF7qSQqM:&spf=1539894392034, [accessed 18 October 2018].
 Proverbs 6:20-23, New American Bible – Revised.
 Matthew 5:23-24, New American Bible – Revised.
Family (FAM). Who is there, among us, who doesn’t cherish or long for close, loving Family ties? Who doesn’t yearn or pine for someone who will actually be there for them, no matter what happens? Someone who can we actually and truly trust or “count on?” And who, in turn, can trust and count on us? Regardless of cultural setting or historical epoch, no matter the army or field of strife, I’ve heard it said that – apart from appealing to Almighty God for His mercy and salvation – the most common phrase on a dying warrior’s lips is, “Mom or Mother!”
And can anything or anyone ever fully compensate or console us for the loss or estrangement of a beloved Family member? I am reminded of the story of Rachel, from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
Or consider another sad tale from history, a “Greek tragedy” if there ever was one. I am referring now to the sad account of King Agamemnon, who, according to legend, sacrificed his own precious daughter, Iphigenia, all for the sake of a gust of wind.
 Scriptural Passage taken from Matthew 2:18, New American Bible – Revised, hearkening back to Jeremiah 31:15. Image of Rachel weeping taken from https://www.google.com/search?q=images+of+rachel+weeping&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjtr–xtu3mAhUQP60KHelwCnwQsAR6BAgKEAE&biw=1600&bih=760#imgrc=pygW03LXyOkKxM:&spf=1578260473924, [accessed 05 January 2020].
Or we might hearken back yet again to Holy Scripture . . . and to yet another compelling story, namely, that of Jacob cajoling his elder twin brother, Esau, to give up his birthright for “a mess of pottage.” Genesis 25:31-34.
 “Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology. While the Greek army was preparing to set sail for Troy during the Trojan War [which is traditionally dated circa 1194 – 1184 B.C., but according to more modern dating is dated circa 1260 – 1180 B.C.], Agamemnon [King of Mycenae] caused the anger of the goddess Artemis, because he killed a sacred deer. So, [Artemis] decided to stop all winds, and the [Greek] ships would not be able to sail. The seer Calchas realised what the problem was, and [he] informed Agamemnon that to appease the goddess, Agamemnon had to sacrifice Iphigenia to her. Reluctant at first, Agamemnon was [supposedly] forced to agree in the end.” See the tragic story of Iphigenia at https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Iphigenia/iphigenia.html, [accessed 05 January 2020]. You can read even more of this sad tale at https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Iphigenia/iphigenia.html, [accessed 04 April 2018]. Image of Iphigenia taken from https://www.google.com/search?q=agamemnon+sacrificing+his+daughter&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjf-pHUs-3mAhVJY6wKHWt0CpsQiR56BAgMEBA&biw=1600&bih=760#imgdii=N-YCW1fLwzGgRM:&imgrc=RIdWuq7Xgrc_XM:&spf=1578259808324, [accessed 05 January 20120].
Or perhaps you’ve heard of the story of England’s King Harold Godwinson (who lived circa A.D. 1020 – 14 October 1066)? How Harold sold out and exiled his older brother, Tostig? And to what end? The two brothers battled each other senseless in the famous Battle of Stamford Bridge (25 September A.D. 1066), during which Tostig was killed . . . only for Harold being obliged to then immediately turn tail and race southwards to face William the Conqueror just a few short days later (i.e., in the monumentally historic Battle of Hastings, 14 October A.D. 1066). And to what end? Both brothers lost it all. They lost the bonds of affection which should naturally bind blood brothers; they each, in their turn, lost all aspirations to enduring power and glory . . . and the throne of England; they lost Anglo-Saxon England to the Normans; they lost their lives. In short, both Harold . . . and Tostig before him . . . lost it all.
 Image of Esau selling Jacob his birthright for a “mess of pottage” taken from https://www.google.com/search?q=image+of+jacob+getting+esau+to+give+up+his+birthright&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi9_f-Hu-3mAhUFRKwKHZ9RA1QQsAR6BAgHEAE&biw=1600&bih=760#imgrc=R7uv-dHhHbUlFM:&spf=1578261721444, [accessed 05 January 20120]. Again, you can catch this tragic story at Genesis 25:19-34, King James Bible. And see also generally https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2372639/jewish/Esau-Sells-His-Birthright-for-a-Mess-of-Pottage.htm, [accessed 06 December 2019].
 Image from Battle of Stamford Bridge (fought 25 September A.D. 1066) taken from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/BattleofStamfordbridge.png/300px-BattleofStamfordbridge.png&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stamford_Bridge&h=290&w=300&tbnid=d6vgIfRaeVgbiM:&tbnh=186&tbnw=192&usg=__CY3_mJV8zc4PKt9hgSvNOGgGB68%3D&vet=10ahUKEwibrJ_EwabaAhWJ6oMKHQb5DqYQ_B0IrAEwEw..i&docid=07k4rxzJAT334M&itg=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibrJ_EwabaAhWJ6oMKHQb5DqYQ_B0IrAEwEw, [accessed 06 April 2018].
 Image showing the death of King Harold (i.e., at the culmination of the Battle of Hastings, 14 October A.D. 1066) as depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry taken from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bb/Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg/1200px-Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings&h=1045&w=1200&tbnid=2WdtlTQvBJOFTM:&tbnh=174&tbnw=200&usg=___wdCMogwJUUcE1NBIWoCOIPU3Ak%3D&vet=10ahUKEwj5lf_jwabaAhWi5oMKHVJTBF0Q_B0IkAEwCg..i&docid=PvkkSf5EpxFC5M&itg=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5lf_jwabaAhWi5oMKHVJTBF0Q_B0IkAEwCg, [accessed 06 April 2018].
Whether looking back into the mists of time . . . at the lives and experiences of our own ancestors (if we know anything about them) . . . or in taking account our own mother and father . . . and/or our siblings . . . or, finally . . . in looking into the eyes and faces of our children . . . and their children . . . this becomes ever more abundantly clear: Family is Family. Nothing should ever break that basic rootedness, that indescribably important bond! Thus, it should go without saying: Family is and always should be an unassailable priority!!! And that’s why it’s Pillar of Priority (or PoP) # II in the WIVLF Paradigm – Family (FAM)!!!
But, I certainly understand that for some of our readers, the term, “Family (FAM),” might have to take different or alternative meanings. Of course, by virtue of the undeniable laws of nature, each and every one of us has a biological mother and a biological father. Each of us have the blood of our ancestors flowing through our veins, whether we have any understanding or appreciation of this . . . or of them . . . or not.
Yet, what if – unlike in my case – we haven’t had the benefit of being raised in a loving natural Family setting? Or what if we know absolutely nothing about our ancestors . . . or maybe even anything about our biological mother and/or biological father . . . or any of our blood kin, for that matter?! Perhaps, tragically, you were abandoned or abused by your blood kinfolk? Perchance some of our readers have suffered terribly as a result of Family (FAM) strife or dissolution . . . or suffered terribly because of broken or severed bonds of kinship?
Maybe some reading these words know nothing at all about their roots or even where they come from . . . or who they’re related to biologically. As I’ve tried to make it abundantly clear, I, personally, have been blessed beyond measure with having had a loving natural Family . . . but I realize that is sadly not the case for many.
Nonetheless, don’t each of us still yearn, pine, and long for that special bond, that indescribably joyful feeling . . . of “belonging” . . . of being part of a loving Family unit?
So, suppose you’ve never had – or no longer have – close and loving ties with your biological kinfolk . . . who, then, is your “Family (FAM)?”
Are they really a Priority in your life?
 Image of my two daughters, Tara and Anika (from the reader’s right to left, respectively). Photo taken near Wichita, Kansas, circa 2016.
“God made a decree in Jacob,
established a law in Israel:
Which He commanded our ancestors,
they were to teach their children;
That the next generation might come to know,
children yet to be born.
In turn they were to recount them to their children,
that they too might put their confidence in God,
And not forget God’s deeds,
but keep His commandments.”
 Psalms 78:5-7, New American Bible – Revised. Image of St. Joseph the Carpenter and the Holy Family taken from https://www.google.com/search?biw=1600&bih=760&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=j7IsXpm8Dc64tAbz9Z3ADQ&q=historic+paintings+of+families&oq=historic+paintings+of+families&gs_l=img.3…124694.136574..136728…1.0..1.179.2676.41j2……0….1..gws-wiz-img…..0..0i67j0j0i131j0i10j0i5i10i30j0i5i30j0i30j0i8i30.Cr3bZUjjeWI&ved=0ahUKEwjZv-e82J_nAhVOHM0KHfN6B9gQ4dUDCAY&uact=5#imgrc=BZqHuhO9zQVdmM:&spf=1579987739116, [accessed 25 January 2020].