How do you place into words a feeling? I suppose we do it all the time, but when that feeling runs so deep, when it hits a nerve in your soul, when you feel as if you've come home to a place you've never been, but you feel as though you've been there your whole do words do it justice? I suppose they can't ever. I  suppose the intimate moments, the hugs, the I-love-yous, the laughter, the tears, the inside jokes are feelings that only the people who shared them can ever fully comprehend. They are the ones who can feel that intimacy deep within their soul. They are the ones who can pull up a memory, & feel the love & the connection deep down because they felt it, lived it.

When I met this branch of my family, I knew I'd like them - I didn't know I'd fall in love with them. They are funny, normal (relatively speaking) & fun to be around. When you walk into their home, you feel like you've been there before. You're treated as if you're a family member - they razz you like they do each other, as well as embrace you & love you without thinking about it.

The week was a whirlwind, but at the same time, we enjoyed every minute of it. We spent a good portion of our time cuddled up on couches, swapping family stories, drinking Diet Coke with marshmallow creme syrup (which just so happens to be the nectar of the gods), eating home-cooked meals, laughing until we peed, & falling in love with each other. We kept busy, cooking for hundreds of people, decorating the church just so, & making sure details were just right for Paul & Mary's 50 years of ministry celebration. That may not sound like a vacation, or even like it was that much fun, but it was a blast. Spending time with people you love, getting punchy because Hobby Lobby is sold out of the one last tablecloth we need to complete the's some of the most fun you can have, if you let yourself.

The memories we made may not mean anything to anyone else in the world, but they mean the world to us. That Facebook status about shuckin' corn, sittin' on the back of a pickup truck? One of the most fun, hilarious, goofy times I've had. Piling into a van, listening to an 8 year old tell us about the guy who slipped off the moon & fell into her principal's backyard? We laughed until we couldn't breathe! There was nothing fancy or flashy about these moments - it was solely about the people. The love for each other. The sadness behind every hug, knowing that the week was going to end. The happiness in knowing that we had secured these lasting memories. That's what it came down to. Loving each other.

By far, one of the coolest things we did as a family was after all the friends & loved ones had gone home after the celebration. We all went to our respective homes, after an exhausting day, put on our jammies, & wound up back in Papa's house an hour later. We piled onto the couches, spread out on the floor, careful of whose butt you may be too close to, & listened as Papa read 50 years of memories from people whose lives had been touched by his ministry. The intimacy in those hours, the knitting together of this family was palpable. We cried together, held each other, & then just when we couldn't handle it anymore, comic relief broke the tension in the form of a hilarious middle name given to a family member. Hysterical crying turned instantly to hysterical laughter, tears pouring down our faces from sheer hilarity.

 A week wasn't enough time to make up for time lost or to pack in all the lovin' that we needed to. But oh, was it ever healing. Sharing stories - funny & heartbreaking - was good for the soul. Weeping over missed memories, laughing over new memories made - this was the theme of our trip. We had missed so much, but we were making up for lost time. We wept as we said our goodbyes, careful to say everything we needed to say before we left, with promises of future trips & more memory-making.

I gained a huge, crazy, whacked-out, hilarious, tender-hearted family this month. I didn't even know I had them, but I have them now. That's all that matters.


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