This weekend was full! We went to visit with family, went to a goodbye party, went to my beautiful god-daughter’s 3rd birthday party, had a friend over for dinner, and did a lot of cleaning! I was unusually emotional throughout all these activities (except the cleaning!). I don’t know if it’s because my book will be out this month and I’ve had to go over the details of what I experienced when I suffered my AFE, or if it was just a weekend of noticing, or should I say—taking notice.
Some weeks, and I had many of these previous to experiencing my AFE, just passed by. There were weeks where I felt like I never got to take a moment to breathe or notice, but this weekend, as events were taking place, I was noticing. I noticed the way Ella’s cheeks squish upward when she smiled; I noticed Brady’s looks of innocence and wonder when he played pretend, and how handsome my husband is and how lucky I am to have him in my life.
When I was in high school I used to tell my friends, “Let’s all move into the same neighborhood, buy houses right next door to each other, knock down the fences and raise our kids together.” No! I wasn’t thinking cult!! I just had this idea that raising my children with friends who I respect and adore would be amazing. I thought if our kids could lean on each other and help each other grow in their faith, they would be strengthened.
Well, my dream did not come true with those exact friends, but it did come true. Before I met my husband, I met this thriving young adult community when I was in my twenties. Some of the guys in the group started a men’s house which ended up becoming the hub of everyone getting together for bible studies, parties, etc. We were building a community of faithful young people striving to live our lives for the Lord. It was a very exciting time, so I decided to rent a house the next block over and ask girls who wanted to help hold each other accountable to move in. Those were some of the best years of my life meeting all these young adults, sharing our faith and lives together in the years that most struggle with feeling displaced. We had a place with one another.
At some point, the gang split up as some got married and had children. Many of the young adults met their spouses in this community we had going, and when they did, they moved into the neighborhoods near the house I was still renting. When I got married, about 6 or 7 other newlyweds with families lived just a few blocks from us. The friends I had built incredible relationships with when we were single were now the families we were hanging out with and letting Brady play with. The men started meeting every other week for a men’s group to hold each other accountable and build their faith and then the women met on the opposite weeks. Recently, when we moved, we bought a house in the same neighborhood to stay close (proximity and relationally) to everyone.
All of our families are growing and now there are 16 little children (most under the age of 5) running around and four babies on the way. My son has various play dates throughout the week with the different children his age. It truly is a dream come true!
On Saturday night we went to a goodbye dinner for one of the families who will be moving away for a year so the husband can finish his residency for dental school. Five of the families came and tons of children were running around while the adults attempted to catch up. I began to get emotional as I took notice of each and every one of the adults and their unique personalities and how God brought us together the way He did. And, oh, the children—they were crazy and loud—and it warmed my heart; I loved every minute of it! At one point all the little girls came running into the room screaming at the top of their lungs as if they were escaping a monster. A few moments passed as the adults tried to figure out what happened and then my son and another boy jumped out behind them carrying toys they pretended were swords acting like ninjas (kind of like the picture above). Now we knew what (or I should say who) scared the girls.
As I went through the night it was as if I was trying to soak up every moment, feeling an immense amount of joy—not wanting the children to get cranky and tired, because I could have stayed all night! But, of course, the children got tired and we went home. I couldn’t contain the emotion I was feeling, so I wrote all the wives and all the husbands a letter, which is not something I had ever done before. Doug walked in when I was finished with it and noticed tears were rolling down my face. Concerned, he said, “What’s wrong; what happened?” I told him I wrote our friends a letter to tell them how much they mean to me. He gave me an interesting look back. Honestly before my incident last year in July, I would have never been this honest and emotional with this group of friends, but I’m not the same girl anymore. I want the people in my life to know how I feel about them.
I no longer think that just because I’m in my early thirties that tomorrow will always be here for me to tell people how I feel. I feel a sense of urgency in life to live in the present—to say how I feel—even when it’s awkward!
That night with my friends was one of those nights I wouldn’t have wanted to miss—it was simple, ordinary, but as God has worked through all of us and our families it feels extraordinary—a little bit of heaven on earth!
My prayer this week is that we would take the time to notice and it would inspire all of us to reach out to the people we love and not let a moment go by without telling them how much we care and love them…no matter how silly or uncomfortable we may feel!
Side Note: The book will be out later in June!! I am so excited, I can hardly take it! I treasure the book so much! I will let you know the exact date it will be published as soon as I find out!!