Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Secondary Families

I love where I am.  I love where I have been.

I miss where I have been.  I wish I knew where I will be.

My adult life has not followed any sort of "normal" pattern. I could go on about the numerous ways in which it has deviated from what my childhood self thought that adulthood should look like.  But right now I am just musing about people.

I am musing because I am stepping back into my own timeline this summer. Since my "boss" likes to travel, we are spending a whole month back in the Midwest. It's a little ridiculous, taking a toddler on two plane trips, six long car trips and five different beds. I know. I am probably going to need to hibernate for the rest of the summer.

If you have peeked into my life at all, you know that Adam and I are professional movers, or we should be by now. In eight years of marriage we have moved nine times, lived in six states, held a total of 14 jobs and attended or visited countless churches. We have met A LOT of people. God has blessed us with a lot of GOOD people. So I sit here tonight, while everyone else has of course been in bed for hours, thinking about these people.  Thinking about how blessed I am to have so many people, in so many places, that love me and care about my family. So here is a glimpse into my summer...

...We DROVE to see the girl who was my roommate but then ditched me to go to Scotland for spring semester. Even though she only lived with us for the first half of the best year of dorm life, I have very few memories of that year without her.  I guess life was boring once she left. I mean, not much can top the fringed, "flapper" dresses we wore for 20's night during homecoming. The significance of the word "drove" may be lost if you don't stop to think that I live on the West Coast and almost everywhere else I lived was along the Mississippi River. If I could drive to visit this girl, it means that she moved away too. We're both settling into a new part of the country at the same time we are settling into motherhood.  We know what it is like to parent without grandparents across town. We know what it is like to try to make new friends. We feel the pain of shopping for flights.  We are in the same stinking time zone!!!

...We hung out with long time family friends who have been family to me for decades. I didn't have family in town growing up. Ever. Not even within driving distance.  I love all of my family but I just didn't get to see them very often. My parents surrounded my sister and I with good friends that became extra aunts and uncles and their kids were my cousins. Many late nights of card games and pictionary. Salmon and fireworks. Nintendo and pool games. Ducks and dogs. We share no family traits or bloodlines, but they are my family.

...I got to hold the sweet newborn babe of the girl whom I have known since I was only a few months old. She is one of the best people with great energy for life. There isn't much about me that she doesn't know. She tried to help me when I was being stupid in high school and welcomed me back once I finally woke up. She knows my grandparents. She was a buddy to my little sister. She remembers the crazy, long birthday messages that we wrote to each other in high school. We went to preschool, elementary school, junior high, high school and college toether. She will always be there.

...I went to coffee with a girl that I met in Kindergarten and lived three houses down from me. We talked for hours. Both of us went through periods of life where we made choices that put up walls between us. Thankfully those walls are down and we have grown into better people and closer friends. We don't talk much outside of my visits back home, but I truly cherish her and the time we do get to spend together.

...Adam and I got to hug the belly of a girl that lived on my floor freshman year of college, was my RA for two years, roommate for a year and bridesmaids in each other's wedding the same summer. That belly holds a baby that no one but God ever thought was possible. The girl with the belly adopted a beautiful little girl last summer and found out that she is now pregnant and expecting this fall.  Two years ago she was feeling defeated and losing hope in motherhood, while I was pregnant.  We hit the "pause" button for awhile.  I know what it is like to watch someone become a mother when all you are getting is a big, fat "NO." Now we are rejoicing together about the wonderful stories that God is creating within our families.

...I marveled at the little girl who is going to preschool this fall and her little sister who is so eager to keep up. Their mama was my roommate the year that everyone else seemed to be an RA but us. We watched lots of Ever After and became Gilmore Girl junkies. We both lost little ones a year apart.  She was blessed to get pregnant again shortly after that and I had a hard time with that. I was overjoyed for her and the little bundle (who is now going to preschool) on the way but I had to ask her to pause our friendship for awhile.  She was ever so gracious and understanding. She didn't ask questions or get mad.  She gave me the gift of loving space. Now she is the mom that's "been there" and shares what the next stage in life is like. She is powerful woman who cares for all and gives her all.

...Nora and I went to visit one of the first friends that I made in college. We met during freshman orientation and quickly boned even though she lived on the other side of campus. There wasn't much we didn't do together that first year, including driving across the state to watch our school's hockey team. She ended up transferring out the next year but we both went to each other's weddings and are able to keep up with each other on Facebook.

...We will explore the homestead of the girl who was my first friend in Adam's family. We double dated at the Olive Garden and watched The Red Green Show in the basement. We went boating and four wheeling. She helped me to explore farm life.  She now has a beautiful, old, family farmhouse which she helped to completely remodel. While kids weren't easy to conceive, she now has four beautiful children and one up in heaven with ours. She raises chickens and goats, breeds dogs, cans and freezes everything and works. I get tired thinking about her life! She also has a little boy who is exactly the same age that Aaron would have been. We were due just a couple weeks apart.  Some days, Adam and I look at her Facebook posts about him and get a glimpse. Maybe Aaron would be doing that, too.  Would Aaron be that tall? Would he play with his sister the same way?

...I will get to worship at the church that taught me so much about who God really is and what it really means to be a Christian.  For some crazy reason I decided that I didn't want to teach when we moved to Iowa so I got a job working at our church. I ended up planning websites, organizing social media campaigns, coordinating communication projects and meeting some of the best people in the world. I don't even know how many of them remember me but I think about them often. How they stood by me through the hard years of infertility and loved me through my young working days when I thought I was pretty cool and got too big for my britches. God has provided wonderful church homes to us since leaving here, but there is just something about this place. God is doing a mighty work through these people and it is exciting to watch from a far.

...We will go HOME. Home to a place that feels like home. A place that made me stop staying that I was visiting "home" on trips like this and start staying I am visiting family, friends or the Midwest. (Though apparently the West Coast considers the Midwest "back East." Weird.) A place that is home because of the people. The people who came to my house at 5:00 am to stay with Nora when Adam had to take me to the hospital. The people who took Nora day after day this spring while I dealt with a miscarriage that went on for months. The people whose kids go through their drawers to find clothes and shoes to give to "Baby Nora." The people who I met on a local Facebook group but just happen to live across the street with a little girl Nora's age. The people who schedule their kids' birthday parties so that we can make it. The people who catch the food Nora spits out of her mouth, and think nothing of it. The people who take us to the airport, pick me up things at Target, pack extra snacks for Nora and bring me chocolate.

I don't know how long we will be there. I don't know where we will go. But I do know that someday we will leave these people, too. Someday He will call us somewhere else. He will have new people for us to meet. I am thankful for the time we have been given with all of these secondary families.

P.S. Family (Mom) I know that I didn't talk about you at all in this post. Don't feel unloved or unappreciated.  Tonight I just felt the need to reflect on the secondary families that God has given us along our journey.