"Mom, I miss our friends from Germany. I wish we could all just move to Missouri." I smile long, let sentiment settle. Fun plans with families here still invoke nostalgia. The rushing out for an evening of laughter and connections and memory-making is reminiscent of an earlier season. He's referring to the military families who became our family while living half way around the world. A blessed five years to live life in community with people whose jobs keep them in one place for two to five years -- occasionally longer. Then they move. To Louisiana, Missouri, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Maryland...
"But then think about who we would miss from Spokane." He considers the dilemma momentarily. "Think about all the families from Spokane who would have to move to Missouri with us."
The rest of the family is waiting in the van for us, so we hurry, door shwooshing closed behind us. The two of us begin listing families here in Spokane... people we do life with...
Friends who become family while sharing meals and laughter and tears and work and play.
Friends who pray each other through a crisis.
Friends who pick up the ridiculous birthday card that ends up getting passed around repeatedly allll night long bringing on a fresh wave of giggles each time it's opened.
Friends who come at 10 in the morning, stay for dinner, and linger long on the porch when leaving at 10 that night.
Friends who speak love and encouragement, and yes, sometimes the hard truth, into one another's lives -- the children, too.
Friends who challenge one another spiritually, financially. The ones who boldly up the ante for loving our spouses and our children better.
Friends who play long basketball games out front before a game or two... or three or four... of volleyball in the backyard then stay for s'mores around the fire pit.
The list of families is long and when Isaiah explains, the rest of the family joins in as husband turns West on 32nd. We volley names -- each one causing my heart to fill with gratitude that they're in our lives. You are in that list, Friend.
And just when I thought my heart might burst with gratitude and love, I realize this truth. This truth that in this past year while I was inviting people into our lives and accepting invitations from others for the same, wanting to share all the moments in community, that somewhere along the way... a village assembled. A tribe of sorts.
Thank you for opening your hearts and your lives to us! Thank you for all the laughter and the memories! Thank you for vulnerably sharing your struggles, for trusting us with the messy moments, for the constant journeying in a state of grace. Truly, we are blessed beyond measure!
And if we haven't told you lately that we love you, please hear our hearts... we love you!
*These photos are from a walk we took one day on a road leading West from our village in Germany. The village you see is Seinsfeld, our home for a brief season.
Today I'm linking with Lisa-Jo over at Five Minute Friday: (but I have a feeling that this post would have fit so much better with Lisa-Jo's earlier post on Together. humble smile.)