Sometimes I think how easy it can be to feel left behind. We go off on an adventure and all you get to see are pictures. But we don’t get to sit together in your living room anymore. Not for a very long time. We don’t get to exchange hugs and laugh as we tell stories over a shared meal. We don’t get to talk about the latest movies or news. We don’t get to share thoughts over the newest books we have read. We don’t get to laugh over things the girls said at church when they were running down the aisle to give you a hug. We don’t get to steal away after the kids go to bed to grab a cup of coffee and lose ourselves in conversations way late into the night. We don’t get to wear Spartans gear together and cheer on the victories (or desire for victories) in your living room.
We have left. And you stayed.
But I want you to know something that is very near and dear to my heart.
When I write my blog posts, I think of walking around my mom’s backyard with her, looking at the newest flowers blooming. Hanging out in the living room with my Dad, listening to his newest adventures and his newest thoughts on passages of the Bible. I think of sitting in the dining room with Barb and Rodger, playing another game of ticket to ride with Sarah, Ricky, William, Kourtney, Cousin Brittani and James. I think about how we wait in anxious anticipation of Kat and Stephen visiting and I remember walking the streets of San Fransisco watching Hannah peak over your shoulder, Stephen. I think of standing outside in the yard with Ellen and Ron and the cousins, most of us are barefoot and laughing at the kids’ attempts at gymnastics and “soccer” or “football” in the yard. I think of sitting on the couch at Jes and Nayt’s house, laughing over the Lego movie as Nayt imitates that obnoxious song again and Eden begs for Aunt Jes to read another story with voices.
I think about standing in the kitchen with my best friend, Heather, and actually completing an entire conversation because my girls and Luke are so used to playing together that they’ve adopted him as their little brother. I think of taking a walk with Susan and Jade, talking about absolutely nothing because the girls keep interrupting to give Susan flowers, re-explain old stories and hold her hand. I think of playing at the park with Heather and Dilly, both Heather and I pushing the swings until our arms fall off but not minding in the least bit because being together gives us both an endurance we never thought possible.
I think about our Ms. Becky and how wonderfully dear she is to Matt and my hearts. How I loved “randomly” bumping into her while she was prayer walking at church. Hearing her fierce prayers for God’s people – Oh how our lives are ALWAYS ten times better because of our Ms. Becky and her beautiful heart.
I think about sitting on the floor in Darlene’s living room. Wes is in his chair covered in cats and Darlene is in her chair with the dogs at foot. And we could even steal a visit with Luanne too! And I am overcome by Darlene’s gentle heart, letting Rachael hold Allie as she marvels over God’s precious gift of the little baby.
I think of pool parties with the youth at Patty Thornell’s house and how we’d just sit on the patio together and share in life over a cup of soda and some pizza. My Jenney’s (Carrots) always prepared to be an encouragement, even though we both have missed spending as much time together as we have in the past.
I think about Dennis and Patti Stauffer with open arms at church, always ready to look past the girls’ crazier moments in light of their huge hugs and delight to see them. I think of Eden just desperately needing to hug Pastor Steve and Ms. Carla and how our Sunday morning wasn’t complete without saying hello to Sandy Vaugh and Lisa Walker at the piano. I think about Sara Fitch and how one of my favorite places to be at church was standing next to her in the praise team. Oh how sweet it is to break loose in worship of our Father over harmonies that ‘just happen’ by kindred spirits.
I think of Aunt Jes’ Housechurch (yes, that’s your official name now), oh my and sweet Ellie and Frannie, June, Suzie and Amanda, and how instantly at home we felt. How you wrapped your arms around us and still pray for us today. And how sweet Ellie still emails us asking about my girls and giving us the privilege of writing her back. And little Greta and Ethan just joining right along in the play.
I think about Ms. Betty and Ms. Patty in the nursery and how Hannah and Eden were always ready to run into their arms. Safety was found there.
I think about my Miranda Baker and my Amanda Parson and how even though schedules were hard to coordinate, spending time with them always felt like picking up where we left off. I always knew (and still do know) that at any point in time I can just pick up the phone (or the computer now) and call and they’ll always be there.
I think about Sarah Lockwood and Jenn and Dallas Russel and how Awanas was ALWAYS a blast enjoying some playful joking between kid session needs. Oh how fun it is to serve with family in the Body of Christ.
I think of Jess Herbst and how no matter how little I got to see her (it’s hard work seeing a Pastor’s wife) we could always just laugh and laugh about life. And how Brad and the “kids” (Can we even call them that anymore? Man, they’re HUGE) were always such a blast to see. Instant friends. Instant family. And then I get to thinking about Lifepoint church and how I loved to see Phil and Trish and Max and Dexter and so many ex- FBCM family. 😉
It think about Kassie Wysong and the kiddos and Papa Bear Jacob “doing voices” in the storybooks at night. And how the kids just rolled and were completely beside themselves, begging for just one more story.
I think about family reunions up with the Stauffer and Kelly clans and how much I looked forward to sharing in the food and fun together. From the organized games to the unplanned hang-out time when I got to hear about school happenings, church joys and new house building hopes.
I think about my FPO family: Jesse, Jenna, Angela, Elise and Jay, the B Team, Andrea, Troy and Alice, Rebecca, Chris, Maris, Cy, Peyton, Mrs. Carole, Brandi, Lara, Daniel, Emily and Alison, Joy and Jonathan, Taylor, our “North Africa and the Middle East”, “Europe”, “East Asia” and “South East Asia” friends … oh my goodness, the list could go on for days!!! And our appointment friends serving in hidden places. [I know many of you will not be able to comment or “like” this post for security reasons, but I know you will read it and feel our love.]
Friends and family, there are SO MANY of you to list that I’m sure I failed to include someone of you that I’ll soon be kicking myself over for not including. Oh like Theresa, Will and sweet baby Ellie. And then there’s Jackie and Lydia (sorry, you guys always come together in my mind). And Jill Turner and her precious faithfulness in friendship. And my dear Vicki Ralston! And Aunt Yvonne, Aunt Joanna, Aunt Gayle, Aunt Greer, Cuz Christi. And Kari, Josh, Shepherd and now sweet little Griffin Ortega! And, oh my, sweet Victoria Singerman who I can’t wait to see her on this side of the ocean!!!! And Cortney Tipton and her beautiful heart. And Lynn Parson – oh man, Lynn you are always a blast with your sense of humor.
Oh friends… there are just so, so many of you wonderful people that I cherish so!
Matt, the girls and I do not deserve such a HUGE cloud of wonderful people in our lives.
And I just want you to know that when I sit here across the ocean and create these blog posts,
When this blog post world seems so one-sided, I want you to know that you are on my mind. When I write “friends and family” I see your faces in my mind.
I went online and stole some of your more recent family pictures to put into my computer’s slideshow. And the girls and I love watching it (even my conversant and I have watched it together) and we LOVE talking about you. The stories we have shared still find their way into conversations at the dinner table here in Africa. Because you’re our people. And you are not forgotten.
I want you to know that I don’t write this to you because I am feeling forgotten. No, quite on the contrary. I write this to you out of a heart overflowing in gratitude because I am overcome in thankfulness at your love for Matt, the girls and I.
Please, don’t take our time-lapse between communications personally. We are fighting to share life with you. How we love to walk this road with you all even if we’re working with third-world internet and it’s hard to fit all of you into one schedule without never serving the people here too. 😉
But I just want you to know, precious family and friends, that we are honored to take adventurous steps through the support of your love.
So to our people in Ohio, Minnesota, California, Nevada, Virginia, Peru, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Senegal, Niger, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, “Europe”, “North Africa and the Middle East”, “East Asia”, “South East Asia”, and anywhere else our people are planning on moving in the near future: 😉
Thank you for being used of God.
Thank you for being our people.
Wow, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
– We love you all so, so, so much!