For five years now we have traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to celebrate New Year’s. This all started because the suggestion was made, and the rest of us jumped at the chance. We rent a house for a couple nights, we pile in with our kids in tow…we play games, we sing, we dance, we laugh, we even cry. We toast the New Year and make merry for the friendship we share. Our time together has become a hallmark of great memories and a special bond we share.
An interesting fact about five of us is that we all graduated high school together. Some of us even attended grade school together, and two of us are married to each other (that would be John and me). As adults, these four couples have witnessed a lot of life and living, the twist and turns of each year passing. We have stood by each other when our marriages were rocky, we have supported one another when the challenge of being a parent seemed overwhelming, and we have laughed uncontrollably for the crazy, stupid predicaments we find ourselves.
At this point in life, all of our children are grown and have flown the coop, for the most part. Two will graduate college in 2019, one will be a junior. Three are now married, one just got engaged, and two have children of their own. That circle of seven now equals eleven…plus two grand babies and one on the way! And we have even adopted two others who we equally claim as our kids…and their sweet baby boy named Dierks. It’s a motley crew for sure.
I say all this because there really is something to how we feel about the “family we choose.” Those who stand in this circle with me are those who have stood the test of time, we speak truth into each other’s life, we love each offspring as our own, we encourage each other when we are down, give space to fumble and fall, and lend a hand to help us up. In a world where so many seem preoccupied with self, these people remind me daily the value of never going it alone. To speak up when I need something and allow them to help, especially when life is hard.
Scripture teaches us that we are not created to be alone…we are knit together to be in relationship with God and with others. When we give place and space for these relationships to form and grow in our lives, our world is far more meaningful. We are reminded of our purpose and place when we realize that the best we can offer one another is simply love and grace, acceptance and welcome. It makes all the difference!