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.


Once in a Lifetime

A few times in life, we are given days that are wrapped up like a Christmas present. Days that you dreamed of, days that will forever hold a piece of your heart, days that you will never forget. I got a couple of those days this month. One such day was with family. An intimate time, sharing intimate memories, crying, sniffling, scarfing down pizza, laughing at inside jokes, & laughing 'til, inevitably, someone farted. Sorry, Bubby.

My first once-in-a-lifetime day was just a few days before that. I met my friend. It sounds weird to say that I have a friend I have never met, but it's true. We've spent 2 years talking & texting, crying & laughing, & learning to be a mom together. Soon after Maddie was born, I met someone a lot like me through a mommy forum. We had both suffered miscarriages in the same month, only to wind up having our babies just three weeks apart. We shared joys of being a new mama, worst-mom-of-the-year moments, & everything in between. We began our journey into photography within a month of each other.

In planning for this trip, we decided that we would meet. She would make the 4-hour drive from Ohio to come meet me & the family. Ironically, we were both nervous. Her husband...made her bring a pocket knife. I threatened that my Papa would beat her up if she turned out to be a psychopath.

Needless to say, no one was beaten to a pulp or stabbed. The moment she threw her car into park in that driveway, she was hurling herself at me, both of us with tears streaming down our faces. We then let go of each other, & made a beeline for each other's toddler. We pulled ourselves together, went inside & sat & stared at each other. The voice I'd heard a million times over the phone wasn't matching up. It was weird hearing her voice come out of her mouth. Good weird. Our kiddos played together for a few hours, we chatted & Origami'd. Yes, Origami'd. That's what you do with friends - you Origami.

She settled right into this crazy, loud family. It was as if she'd been a part of it for years; the same feeling I was having being with them. We went out to dinner with all the girls, laughed some more, cried some more, & had a sleepover. We even had a midnight run to Wal-Mart for jammies & boogie wipes - the mark of true friends. 

When it was time for her to pack up the next morning, we were sad. Lots of tears & hugs, but we were joyful. We got our once in a lifetime moment together. We got to meet each other, & hug, & cry, & laugh hysterically, & love on each other's baby. And now, we have the promise of more times together, more trips to see each other, & a new love for each other that we can be thankful for.


Lindsey, I'm so glad I got to see you & love on you. You settled right in, & I wanted nothing more. Thanks for making the trek to my favorite Fly Over State. Love you.


Kokomo Love

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